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Basic Bible: Ehud Frees Israel

Judges 3:15-25, 29, 30

The text before us illustrates one cycle of a repeating pattern which transpired after Israel took possession of the land — Israel’s turning from God, God’s disciplining Israel, Israel’s calling upon God, God’s raising up a deliverer, and Israel’s enjoying a period of peace in the land. It is not the first, nor the last time which would discipline and then deliver Israel.

The historical date of the transgressions which caused the Lord to place Israel under the servitude of Moab (v. 12, 13) would have been forty years after the Lord had raised up Othniel to deliver Israel from the king of Mesopotamia (Jdg. 3:11). Othniel’s date was shortly after the children of Israel were given possession of the land (see Jdg. 1:13).

In verse 15, we note that when the children of Israel cried out to God, the Lord responded. They called out, He answered. God does not change. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Today, when men call out to God, He responds. When one calls upon Christ Jesus, believing, God responds by making that individual, a new creature in Christ. When we ask that His will be done in us, it happens. When Israel called out to God for help, He provided help.

In this particular instance, Israel needed help because they were severely oppressed by Eglon, king of Moab. Eglon was able to oppress Israel for one reason and one reason only: God strengthened Eglon. Why did God strengthen Eglon? It is a matter of cause and effect. In this case the cause was Israel’s turning from God and the effect was God’s strengthening of Eglon. Eglon had oppressed Israel for eighteen years and had constructed a summer residence in Jericho that afforded him royal comfort.

Israel’s help came in the person of Ehud. What kind of person was this Ehud whom God raised up? Verses 15 through 23 would suggest that Ehud was a clever assassin. Armed with a concealed weapon on his own manufacture, Ehud gained a private audience with the king, murdered him, and made a clean getaway. It would be error, however, to suggest that God raised up an assassin to lead His people. Ehud was a leader first and an assassin second.

In rereading verses 15 through 23, we note that Ehud came to Eglon at Jericho with a present. The present would have been the tribute which Eglon required of Israel. That tribute was the wealth of Israel. Leaders, not assassins, are made custodians of wealth. Following the assassination of Eglon and Ehud’s escape, Ehud blew a trumpet and the men of Israel responded (see v. 27). Men respond to leaders, not to assassins.

Ehud went to Jericho with a plan. That plan entailed secretly killing Eglon, blocking the fords of the Jordan with a military force, and destroying the trapped men of Moab. Ehud was the leader God raised up and the plan that Ehud executed was an integral part of God’s mission for Ehud.

During his private audience with Eglon, Ehud stated, “I have a message from God unto thee.” Ehud was not lying; he did have a message from God. That message was that Eglon’s time as Israel’s oppressor had come to an end. Ehud delivered the message by plunging a cubit long dagger into Eglon’s stomach. It was God who strengthened Eglon and placed him in a position to oppress Israel and it was God who ended Eglon’s oppression. Ehud was just the delivery boy.

In both His strengthening of Eglon and His termination of Eglon’s oppression, God was responding to the actions of the children of Israel. God chastens them whom He loves (Heb. 12:6; Rev. 3:19) and also provides a means of escape for them whom He loves (I Cor. 10:13). The cause (our actions) triggers an effect (God’s response). It is not His will that we should walk in a wayward fashion, but when we so walk, we should expect His chastening hand. When we walk upright and call upon His name, we shall be blessed beyond measure.

God has given us an example of Israel’s waywardness with the intent that we not do as Israel did. That said, the Lord is not willing that we should remain separated from Him. He looks for us to repent. When Israel called out He heard and responded by providing a deliverer. When we repent of our waywardness, He responds. I John 3:9 states: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

The Lord cleanses us for His purposes. He would have all believers to love one another and be witnesses of His love to all men in all places. Let His will be done in us. God is so good!

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