The “Here Comes The Judges!” Series  #3


EHUD – When Being Left Was Right!


TEXT:      Judges 3:12-30


INTRO:    Israel's choice to once again drift away from God made it necessary for God to act in such a way as to draw them back again.


God would use two unlikely sources to speak to them ... the Moabites would be empowered by God to come against His own people in order to get their attention; and then God would choose a man who was considered "defective" by their own standards to bring deliverance for them!


God doesn't look at the outward appearance of a man/woman ... He looks for inward qualities!  Ehud was such a person!


ILLUS:    The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. -- Martin Luther King, Jr.  Leadership, Vol. 16, no. 3.


Even the courage of one person can bring victory to many ... and inspire the faith of a multitude!  Are you such a one?


PROP. SENT:   When God is looking for a man or woman to do a job He doesn't always pick the one that seems to have the perfect outward attributes ... He looks on the heart!  God often brings victory from defects and defeats, from what the world considers as failures God brings success!


I.   PAIN OF DEFEAT!    Judges 3:12-14


A.   Disaster!    Judges 3:12

1.   The saddest words in this verse are “once again” ... a sad commentary on the human heart’s tendency toward sin!

2.   This "doing evil" was a willful decision on their part ... they chose to ignore the teaching of their forefathers and the faith of the previous generations.

3.   This deliberate rejection of God brought with it God's plan to discipline and restore!

a.    But the plan included allowing an ungodly king and an ungodly nation to temporarily have power over Israel!

b.    From this we must understand that all powers in this world exist because God allows them ... He will accomplish His purposes no matter how much the nations think they are in control!

4.   They had lost sight of God – they needed to get their eyes back on God again to see their way.  As long as their eyes were off of God they would wander aimlessly off track.


ILLUS:     The snow covered the ground, and three young boys were playing in it.  A man said to them, "Would you like to try to race, with the promise of a prize for the winner?"

The boys agreed, and the man told them that his race was to be different.  "I will go to the other side of the field," he said, "and when I give you the signal, you will start to run.  The one whose footsteps are the straightest in the snow will be the winner."

As the race commenced, the first boy began looking at his feet to see if his steps were straight.  The second lad kept looking at his companions to see what they were doing; but the third boy just ran on with his eyes fixed on the man on the other side of the field.

The third boy was the winner, for his footsteps were straight in the snow.  He had kept his eyes on the goal ahead of him.

A long time ago, another man using similar words taught the same principle.  It was Paul who said, "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" (Phil 3:13-14). – Source Unknown


B.    Despair!   Judges 3:13-14

1.   Pain struck a nerve ... and Israel realized her waywardness.

2.   In their moment of pain their desire for God was revitalized!

a.    Sometimes God uses pain to recall our attention!

b.    Pain and discipline are not pleasant at the moment ... but yield fruit later!

3.   A contingent of enemies banded together to come against Israel, they began by taking the "city of palms." (Jericho)

a.    They were not willing to fight back, only complain.

b.    There would be a price to pay to win back their freedoms, this is always true.


ILLUS:    A chaplain was speaking to a soldier on a cot in a hospital.  "You have lost an arm in the great cause," said the chaplain.  "No," said the soldier with a smile.  "I didn't lose it-I gave it."  In that same way, Jesus did not lose His life.  He gave it purposefully.  "He died that we might be forgiven and go at last to heaven." – Source Unknown


II. PERFECT DEFECT    Judges 3:15


A.    Deliverer?    Judges 3:15a

1.   They finally cry out to God for help!

a.    God's ears are always open for the heart cry of the fallen!

b.    God was waiting to hear from them!

2.   Ironically God sends them a strange deliverer ... a Benjamite named Ehud!

a.    Why was this strange ... because he was left-handed!

b.    It was the belief of that day to label left-handed people as defective or handicap!

c.    Strangely enough, the name "BENJAMIN" means "son of my right hand!"

d.    Yet it seems that many of the Benjamites were left-handed!  (Judges. 20:16-17)

e.    By the standards of that day Ehud was defective ... but not in his heart ... he was a Judge in Israel for the Lord God, those qualities of the heart are what brought him to God's attention as a potential deliverer!

f.     THUS, A LEFT-HANDED MAN BECOMES GOD'S RIGHT HAND MAN!  (Remember, “Benjamin” means -- “Son of my right hand”)

g.    Strategically being left handed would be an advantage, when he went to the palace of the enemy the king would likely have him checked for a weapon on his entrance – however, they would check on the wrong side of his body for a weapon ... they would assume he was right handed like “ALL” normal people and would only check his left side for a weapon, thus he would be able to hide a weapon on his right side and bring it in without notice!  God always knows what He's doing!  They never dreamed that God might use a “defective” person.

3.   The territory where old Jericho lay was the territory of Benjamin ... since they were most impacted God raises up one from home territory to bring victory!

a.    The tribe was probably still somewhat small from earlier heavy losses, thus making it easier for the enemy to start with controlling their territory!

b.  God's plan however doesn't see the odds the way we do!

c.    We must be willing to see beyond the scope of what is convenient to do God’s work.


ILLUS:   A missionary society was deeply impressed by the courageous devotion of David Livingstone who worked single-handedly for God in Africa.  The society wrote to Livingstone: "Have you found a good road to where you are?  If so, we want to send other men to join you."  Livingstone replied, "If you have men who will come only if there is a good road, I don't want them.  I want men who will come if there is no road at all." -- Source Unknown


B.    Debt!    Judges 3:15b

1.   This part of the story is kind of unusual ... the word "TRIBUTE" here was the normal word used for the expected offering due the Lord during their worship of God ... it was the customary tithe given to God to secure His favor ... that is when they worshipped God!  “Tribute” here meant “God’s Tithe.”

a.    They had for some time now withheld the tithes from God.

b.    They thought this would help them get ahead ... but now their tithes had to be given under compulsion to an ungodly king!

2.   God would not allow them to keep their tithes ... even if it meant teaching them this in another way!  (This is still true today!)

a.    They didn't end up ahead after all!

b.    What was once voluntary became compulsory!

c.    They ended up giving their tithes anyways, but now they had no choice as to where it went!

d.    Sometimes God brings us to a place of no choice!


ILLUS:    When the Moors set out to invade Spain, their general had them ferried across the narrow mouth of the Mediterranean.  He set up a beachhead on a narrow ledge of rock below Gibraltar.  Then he sent his tiny fleet back.  Marching northward, the Moors met the Spanish defenders.  The Moorish general said, "Before us is the enemy; behind us the sea.  We have only one choice: to win!"  And they did. -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).


III.  PERSONAL DECISION    Judges 3:16-25


A.    Deception    Judges 3:16-19

1.   Ehud comes up with a plan ... his left-handedness would open a window of opportunity for him to sneak in a weapon!  He decides to put his own life on the line to save his people!

a.    In this sense he was a type of Christ, the great deliverer who put his life on the line for you and me!

b.    He could not think of personal risk ... God's people needed deliverance!

c.    With God however he would be a majority!


ILLUS:    At the board meeting: "So the vote is as follows: Larry, Ruth, Dan, Sid, and Marcia are for the proposal.  God and I are against." -- Cartoonist Joseph Farris in Leadership, Vol. 9, no. 3.


2.   The deception he plans would have to be done just right to succeed!

a.    So as not to risk his brethren ... he does not include them in his plan.

b.    He goes with them to give the tribute, and while leaving states he must go back alone to give a special message to the king!

c.    This would be a "SPECIAL MESSAGE FROM GOD ... A DAGGER!"  He wanted this ungodly king to get the “point.”


B.    Dedication!    Judges 3:20-25

1.   Ehud is dedicated to the task and well equipped to do it!

a.    It is important that we are willing to be equipped to do the work of God!

b.    It was not enough to have faith ... he would have to express it courag­eously!


ILLUS:    There are too many needful things to be done to wait around for someone to feel gifted. -- Kent Hughes, Leadership, Vol. 14, no. 3.


2.   As the king arose to hear the "message from God," Ehud unfolds his simple plan to destroy the king ... and by doing so send the Moabites into a state of confusion ... giving the smaller army of Israel a strategic advantage since they were outnumbered!

3.   With a repentant Israel ... God was able to grant them victory!

4.   Eglon is executed in his palace of luxury!

a.    The upper room was considered a place of private luxury!

b.    Often made as the coolest room in the house during the hottest temperatures!

5.   In his soft and flabby condition the knife sinks in all the way and is completely enveloped by his fat!

a.    Ehud's strength showed well above the cripple that others thought he was!

b.    So forceful was the thrust that the knife came out the back side of the king!

6.   Ehud quickly makes his escape, locking the doors as he leaves!

a.    The guards assume the meeting is over and because the doors are locked that king Eglon was using the bathroom!

b.    They waited until fully embarrassed; they finally unlock the door to find him dead, thus ample time was given for Ehud to escape!




A.    Delivered!    Judges 3:26-29

1.   This period of time gave opportunity for Ehud to not only escape but organize a small army!

2.   Once the truth was out on king Eglon’s death the Moabites were thrown into a state of confusion, they were leaderless!

a.    This became the advantage God's people needed to route the enemy!

b.    God always knows what He's doing!

3.   It clearly states that they overcame the strong Moabites by striking down 10,000 men, not a single enemy escaped!

a.    Obedience and faith go together, and the outcome is overwhelming victory!

b.    Israel was delivered by a left handed man ... a time when being left was right!

c.    God sometimes uses unusual means to accomplish His purposes!


ILLUS:    In Enterprise, Alabama, you will see one of the most unusual monuments ever built.  It is a monument to honor the boll weevil, the little insect that nearly destroyed the cotton on which the town's economy depended.  Why a monument to so destructive an insect?  Because before the boll weevil, every family depended on cotton for its livelihood.  When the boll weevil struck, they diversified and began to plant peanuts with great success.  The inscription reads: "In profound appreciation of the boll weevil and of what it has done as the herald of prosperity, this monument is erected by the citizens of Enterprise, Coffee County, Alabama." -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).


B.    Delighted!    Judges 3:30

1.   The fruit of this adventure of faith by a seemingly unlikely hero was 80 years of peace in Israel!

a.    Two generations enjoyed real peace because of one man's faith that acted!

b.    The victory came through a man who was considered defective ... but whose faith was dynamic!

2.   The power of this one man's testimony brought two full generations’ glory and joy!

a.    Don't underestimate the power of being faithful ... and the impact it can have on you and your future generations!


ILLUS:    Years ago a young black child was growing up in Cleveland, in a home which he later described as "materially poor but spiritually rich."

   One day a famous athlete, Charlie Paddock, came to his school to speak to the students.  At the time Paddock was considered "the fastest human being alive."  He told the children, "Listen!  What do you want to be? You name it and then believe that God will help you be it."  That little boy decided that he too wanted to be the fastest human being on earth.

   The boy went to his track coach and told him of his new dream.  His coach told him, "It's great to have a dream, but to attain your dream you must build a ladder to it.  Here is the ladder to your dreams.  The first rung is determination! And the second rung is dedication!  The third rung is discipline! And the fourth rung is attitude!"

   The result of all that motivation is that he went on to win four gold medals in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.  He won the 100 meter dash and broke the Olympic and world records for the 200 meter.  His broad jump record lasted for twenty-four years.  His name? Jesse Owens. -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) pp. 26-27.


b.    God give us more Ehuds!


CONCLUSION:    God many times gives us deliverance through unlikely sources!  Ehud was not a great candidate by the standards of his day ... but he was a dedicated and brave servant of God, the very qualities God looks for that come from the heart!