Read Judges 3
3 These are the nations the Lord left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan 2 (he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience): 3 the five rulers of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites living in the Lebanon mountains from Mount Baal Hermon to Lebo Hamath. 4 They were left to test the Israelites to see whether they would obey the Lord’s commands, which he had given their ancestors through Moses.
5 The Israelites lived among the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 6 They took their daughters in marriage and gave their own daughters to their sons, and served their gods.
7 The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord; they forgot the Lord their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs. 8 The anger of the Lord burned against Israel so that he sold them into the hands of Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram Naharaim, to whom the Israelites were subject for eight years. 9 But when they cried out to the Lord, he raised up for them a deliverer, Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, who saved them. 10 The Spirit of the Lord came on him, so that he became Israel’s judge and went to war. The Lord gave Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram into the hands of Othniel, who overpowered him. 11 So the land had peace for forty years, until Othniel son of Kenaz died.
12 Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and because they did this evil the Lord gave Eglon king of Moab power over Israel. 13 Getting the Ammonites and Amalekites to join him, Eglon came and attacked Israel, and they took possession of the City of Palms. 14 The Israelites were subject to Eglon king of Moab for eighteen years.
15 Again the Israelites cried out to the Lord, and he gave them a deliverer—Ehud, a left-handed man, the son of Gera the Benjamite. The Israelites sent him with tribute to Eglon king of Moab. 16 Now Ehud had made a double-edged sword about a cubit long, which he strapped to his right thigh under his clothing. 17 He presented the tribute to Eglon king of Moab, who was a very fat man. 18 After Ehud had presented the tribute, he sent on their way those who had carried it. 19 But on reaching the stone images near Gilgal he himself went back to Eglon and said, “Your Majesty, I have a secret message for you.”
The king said to his attendants, “Leave us!” And they all left.
20 Ehud then approached him while he was sitting alone in the upper room of his palace and said, “I have a message from God for you.” As the king rose from his seat, 21 Ehud reached with his left hand, drew the sword from his right thigh and plunged it into the king’s belly. 22 Even the handle sank in after the blade, and his bowels discharged. Ehud did not pull the sword out, and the fat closed in over it. 23 Then Ehud went out to the porch; he shut the doors of the upper room behind him and locked them.
24 After he had gone, the servants came and found the doors of the upper room locked. They said, “He must be relieving himself in the inner room of the palace.” 25 They waited to the point of embarrassment, but when he did not open the doors of the room, they took a key and unlocked them. There they saw their lord fallen to the floor, dead.
26 While they waited, Ehud got away. He passed by the stone images and escaped to Seirah. 27 When he arrived there, he blew a trumpet in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went down with him from the hills, with him leading them.
28 “Follow me,” he ordered, “for the Lord has given Moab, your enemy, into your hands.” So they followed him down and took possession of the fords of the Jordan that led to Moab; they allowed no one to cross over. 29 At that time they struck down about ten thousand Moabites, all vigorous and strong; not one escaped. 30 That day Moab was made subject to Israel, and the land had peace for eighty years.
31 After Ehud came Shamgar son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad. He too saved Israel.
Today’s chapter is a great demonstration of the power of the Spirit of God. Each of the judges in this chapter were ordinary people, but God raised them up and used them to alter the course of a nation. How did they do this? Verse 10 says, “The Spirit of the LORD was upon him.” These judges did marvelous things because they allowed the Spirit to work through them. Shamgar killed 600 Philistines with an oxgoad. An oxgoad is a stick with a pointed end and a flat end. The pointed end was for poking an ox so it would start moving, and the flat end was used to remove dirt from the plow. An oxgoad was a normal tool used for everyday work. There is no one on earth that could take this tool and kill 600 people. But by allowing the Spirit to work through him, Shamgar did just that. If we fully surrender and allow the Spirit to work in our lives, imagine what everyday tools we could use to lead people to Jesus and glorify God.
Judges 3 teaches us about God’s faithfulness and steadfast love. “The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord; they forgot the Lord their God” (v. 7), and so God allowed for them to be conquered and enslaved. For eight years, the people of Israel lived in slavery and never sought God. But as soon as they cried out to the Lord, He delivered them and restored Israel. After being restored, Israel forgot God again, and again He handed them over to be conquered.
This time, it took eighteen years for them to cry out to God. Again, the Lord restored Israel. Israel had not simply made one mistake, but rather a lifetime of mistakes. Years and years of Israel spitting in God’s face and worshiping idols. But when Israel was desperate and cried out, God saved. This cycle displays God’s love and faithfulness. No one is disqualified from God’s love. Israel had been faithless for years and years. However, as soon as Israel realized their error and called out to the Lord, He was faithful. In the same way, no matter what we have done, God is quick to save. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
- What is your “oxgoad” that the Lord could use in a radical way?
- What will it take for you to fully surrender to the Spirit of God?
- Have you ever felt unlovable? How can you remind yourself that even when you feel unlovable, God loves you so very much?
Lord, allow me to fully surrender to Your Spirit today. Give me faith like Othniel, Ehud, and Shamgar so I can be used for Your good. Spirit, use my life circumstances and my oxgoad to do marvelous work for Your Kingdom. Help me to listen to and obey Your call. Posture my heart to worship You because of Your faithfulness and love, even when I do not deserve it. Remind me, Father, that You are good even when I do not always see it. Jesus, I love You and want to grow closer to You. Amen.
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