I recently preached on Ehud the left handed judge. It’s too long for a blog post but I thought it might work if I split it in two. So here is Part 1 of God Qualifies the Disqualified.
God qualifies the Disqualified.
(Part 1 – History and Context)
Judges 3:12-30 NIV
The struggle that I have in just jumping into this passage is that there is so much history and context contained in this one specific event that if we don’t stop to understand the history and understand the context we miss the beauty contained in what God is doing in the book of Judges.
Let’s take a moment to understand where we’ve been and possibly even where Israel is going. Now, I do not want to go through all of the history but I would like to bring up some of the major events so that we can kind of establish a timeline for this chapter in Israel’s history.
In Genesis 12, we have Abraham. God calls Abraham out of the land of his forefathers to go to the land of Canaan, the promised land, Israel. Here we see God’s desire to give this land to his people. If you move from Genesis 12 you have Isaac, you have Jacob, you have Joseph and his brothers…
Now Joseph, is the one who God establishes in the land of Egypt and through God’s placement of Joseph in Egypt he saves His people, the Israelites, from famine and certain death because they then come to live in the land of Egypt. Now, they live in the land of Egypt for 400 years and become a great nation. A nation of slaves, but a great nation, none the less.
Moving forward into the book of Exodus we have Moses who leads the nation of Israel through the desert to the promised land but… they disobey God and so he sends them back into the desert to wander for 40 years.
As we move to the book of Joshua we see that God has passed the mantle of leadership to Joshua who leads the Israellites into the promised land where they begin a military campaign to establish the land of Canaan as their home.
So Joshua leads these people and they see some success in battle and some defeat but ultimately they do succeed in conquering much of the land of Canaan. In the book of Joshua we see a nation of people who follow God for a time but ultimately they do get tired of fighting, tired of struggling and tired of following God. In the end, they go to Joshua and ask to just be allowed to establish the lands they have already conquered rather then finish the entire campaign.
So we come to this beautiful moment in Joshua 24. Joshua stands before the people and gives them this grand history lesson of all that God has done for them. He challenges them to choose who they will serve and ultimately he makes this dire prediction in Joshua 24:20. He says, “If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after he has been good to you.”
A stern warning and a foreshadow of things to come. Which brings us to the book of Judges.
So if we if we look in Judges chapter 1 which is really the conclusion of the book of Joshua, there are a few more descriptions of epic battles and lands being established but the real story shows up in Judges chapter 1:27. This begins a long line of did nots…
Manasseh did not drive out…
Nor did Ephraim drive out…
Neither did Zebulun…
It goes on and on…
So what does God have to say about all this. In chapter 2 the Angel of the Lord declares, “I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land I swore to give to your ancestors. I said, “I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars. Yet you have disobeyed me… and the angel of the Lord ends with this declaration. “They will become traps for you and their gods will becomes snares to you.”
The most important thing you need to know about the context of the book of Judges as explained in Joshua chapter 2 is this cycle of obedience and disobedience that happens continually throughout the book. When the people are following God his hand is upon them, but when they turn from him and follow their own ways he raises up another nation to defeat them and they become subject to that nation until God sends a deliverer.
Enter the Judges.
What is a judge?
What is a judge? A judge is neither prophet, priest or king. But he is a leader of the people.
Technically, a Prophet, generally speaks to the people FOR God. He is Gods voice to the people. In Lord of the Rings terminology a prophet is kind of like the Gandalf character. Kind of crazy, got cool powers, kind of wanders around proclaiming things and selling fireworks.
A priest in a way kind of represents the people to God. Similar to a prophet and yet very different.
A King is someone appointed by God to rule over the people.
Whereas a Judge is more like the Aragorn/ Strider character in the Lord of the Rings. Epic warrior meets competent leader. He does not necessarily have the authority of the king per se but the people will still follow him for a time..
and that brings us to Judges chapter 3 and the story of Ehud the Left Handed Judge.
Why read the rest when you can watch it…