SUNDAY MORNING WORSHIP SERVICE, 7 February 2021
Sermon Text: Judges 3:12-30
Sermon Series: “Judges” (#5)
I. Ehud, a left-handed Benjaminite
II. God calls and works through the ‘left-handed’
III. Disability into possibility
In about 9 months, we’re worshipping our God online through livestreaming. We all pray that this would be a temporary measure for the present COVID-19 situation in WA, seeking to come back to this house of God next Lord’s Day and worship Him with great joy. I believe that you remember the time we were forced to stay home early last year, not being able to gather together for worship. We longed for coming to this sanctuary and for singing praises and bowing our heads in prayers to our God. As we’re in that situation again today, I believe you realise how gracious our Father has been toward us. In the past 9 months, He granted us a good time of free worship and unhindered fellowship among brothers and sisters. A bad situation like what we have today often helps us see things around us clearly and find God’s blessings in them, thus, appreciate His grace.
The same happened to Israel. After the death of Othniel, Israel’s first judge, people did evil things and forsook their God. As its result, Israel was under a foreign rule for 18 years. They served Eglon, Moabite king, who was the leader of the allied forces of the Moabites, the Ammonites and the Amalekites. Then, the people of Israel cried out to God, seeking His deliverance. They had tasted the bitterness of being subject to a pagan, idol worshipping leader, for 18 years. Then, they remembered the good time they had enjoyed under Othniel, the one sent by their God. They craved for going back to a time of free worship and unhindered fellowship in their God-given land. It is not surprising to hear that God listened to their voice and sent His servant to deliver them. This time, Ehud was that deliverer.
This story of Ehud is a colourful story of God saving His people from the enemy’s oppression. But the important message we should hear from this story of Ehud is the way God works through His servants, how God carries out His will through the hands of His beloved. In this sense, this Ehud’s story is about you and me and how our Heavenly Father works through us to do His will on this land.
So, please come along with me and see the way of God through the lives of His children, as reflected on the story of Ehud.
I. EHUD, A LEFT-HANDED BENJAMINITE
Let us first focus on this man, Ehud, and see through whom God likes to do His works. Our text passage spares only one verse to tell us who Ehud was. It doesn’t tell us much, other than that he was from the tribe of Benjamin as a son of Gera whose name never appears again. This means that Ehud had no extraordinary family background; no special gene running through his veins, but he was as ordinary as anybody in his time.
Then, at the end of v. 15, we’re informed that Ehud was ‘left-handed.’ This is interesting. In the Bible, there are 700 Benjaminites who were described as left-handed, but as an individual, Ehud is the only one described with this kind of information – he was a ‘left-handed’ man.
Let me give you a useful tip for Bible reading and study. As you read the Bible, if you find any unique description of a person or thing, like this one with Ehud, then, that’s the point you cannot pass but dig in. You need to study that unique description thoroughly because, usually, that is the key to understanding of the message conveyed in that section of the Bible.
So, we hear from v. 15 that Ehud was left-handed. Why does God tell us this information? Is there anything special with being left-handed? Not at all. But in Ehud’s case, a couple of odd things are found. Firstly, he was from the tribe of Benjamin. And the name ‘Benjamin’ means, literally, ‘son of the right hand.’ So, Ehud was a left-handed man from the tribe of ‘the right-handed.’ It sounds like an ‘ugly duckling,’ doesn’t it? And I’ll come back to this point in a minute.
The next odd thing we find with this information is that Ehud might’ve been handicapped with his right hand as the original Hebrew words in v. 15 literally say something like, ‘left-handed, shut of his right hand.’ We’re not exactly sure what this means, but something was abnormal with his right hand and that was the cause of Ehud’s being left-handed.
Oddness is not on his disability, but on the role for which he was called by God. He was called to be a deliverer for Israel. That role was of a military leader, a general, who had to lead Israel in battlefields, inspiring them to fight against the enemies and win the war. But Ehud was left-handed because his right hand was not suitable for even holding a weapon. In this sense, his being left-handed was unusual and strange.
II. GOD CALLS AND WORKS THROUGH THE ‘LEFT-HANDED’
What does this tell us? Its message is that God calls the ‘left-handed’ from the world, like the case of Ehud. What I mean is that God calls those who are imperfect and flawed, instead of the self-confessed strong or flawless. He shows no interest in anyone who boasts of his own wit and depends on his own strength, claiming autonomy and independence from their Creator. Instead, God calls everyone who confesses his weakness, everyone who seeks the Saviour, Jesus Christ, for salvation. These ones are the odds of the world because they are ‘losers’ to the eyes of the arrogant and ‘the weak’ to the eyes of the self-dependent. In a word, these are the ‘left-handed’ of the world, like Ehud the left-handed Benjaminite. God calls and works through people who see their desperate need of a Saviour and come to Him in repentance and faith.
Let me prove this with some cases we find from the Bible. And let me begin from Abraham who is the father of all believers. Originally, Abraham was an idol-maker in the region of Mesopotamia. He wasn’t a perfect man when God appeared to him and called him to leave his father’s house and go to the land God would show him. God called a sinner and worked through him to begin Israel, God’s nation and church in both the Old and the NT.
Moses was not different; he was a murderer in Egypt and renegade in the wilderness. When God met him on Mount Horeb and called him for the task of delivering Israel from Egypt, Moses refused God’s call not once or twice, but five-times. The last two excuses he made were his being a terrible public speaker and incompetence. David was a shepherd boy who was insignificant even to his own father’s eyes. Moreover, he was an adulterer and murderer. Coming to the NT, most of Jesus’ disciples were fishermen, tax collector, doubter and so on. Paul was not a super-apostle because he was responsible for Stephen’s death and later persecuted Christ’s church. A whole day would not be long enough to examine the lives of those listed as the faithful ones in Heb. 11, the chapter we often call as the ‘chapter of faith,’ to see whom God calls and works through.
Othniel, Israel’s first judge we looked at last Lord’s Day, was a shy person who hid behind his wife. Ehud is an ‘ugly duckling’ of his time, humanly speaking. But these people God chose and called for His kingdom works. The lesson is that He calls the same kind of people even now. This is why you and I are here, being members of God’s church, worshipping Him in the name of Jesus Christ, calling Him our Saviour and Lord and God Abba Father! You and I are the odds of this world. We don’t see we’re strong; we don’t claim self-dependence. Instead, we know that we’re weak, but with Jesus, we’re strong! We know that we would’ve remained under the curse of sin, unless Jesus called us in His grace to be His own.
In fact, this is what we read earlier this morning from 1 Cor. 1. Let me remind you of the point 1 Cor. 1:26 and following makes. The Apostle Paul says this to those of Corinthian church, “consider your calling, brothers, not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are.” Then, the apostle concludes, clarifying God’s purpose of doing this – and I want you to listen carefully because this is the point I’ve been leading you to hear – it’s in 1 Cor. 1:29, “so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” but give thanks to God alone who is gracious to us!
This means that anyone and everyone of the world can come to God and be saved. Come to Jesus, God’s Son, in repentance and faith. In other words, come to Jesus, acknowledging one’s sinfulness and desperate need of a Saviour. And having come to Him, bow to Jesus and trust in Him!
III. DISABILITY INTO POSSIBILITY
Coming back to Ehud’s story, there’s one last point we need to know, that is, our disability or inability will turn into possibility in God!
Consider what happened to Ehud. He seems outstandingly clever and brave. He was a brilliant strategist, spy and general. He managed to pass through heavy layers of security and be alone with Eglon, the head of Israel’s enemy. Having deceived everyone including Eglon, he was able to assassinate Eglon quickly and quietly. Moreover, he safely escaped and led the men of Israel into battle and destroyed their enemies. What a great man he was!
But the purpose of recording Ehud’s story in Jdg. 3 is not to make us amazed by the braveness and astuteness of a man, Ehud. The real purpose is to tell us what a weak and feeble person like Ehud may become when God is on his/her side. With God, a weak person becomes strong and able to carry out God’s works. Consider the shy judge Othniel. When the Lord was with him, he overcame the ‘doubly-wicked Cushan,’ king of Mesopotamia, and delivered Israel from the enemy. When God was with the ‘ugly duckling’ judge Ehud, he became a man outstanding with many talents in planning, executing, leading God’s army in battle and more.
When God is with us, you and I can do all things, including the things that we could ever even imagine doing them. In a word, our human disability or inability will turn into possibility in God. This has taken place in the past and is continuing even today in the lives of God’s beloved. You and I are called to be Jesus’ spokespersons to our family members, to our friends, and to our neighbours. How could we be the spokespersons of God Most High? You know you’re incompetent for this; I know that I’d be the last of the entire human race to be called for this task. But, consider carefully what has been done and still continues through us. You and I bear witness to Jesus Christ in words and deeds. We’re, in a word, carrying out the role of Jesus’ spokesperson!
This is the purpose of God telling us Ehud’s story of delivering Israel. In fact, this is the message of the Apostle Paul in Phil. 4:13 when he says, “I can do all things through Him [the Lord] who strengthens me.” Our disability is possibility in God through Jesus Christ! Our inability is possibility in God!
Let me conclude. Ehud was a left-handed man from the tribe of Benjamin, that is, literally, ‘the right-handed.’ He had a disability with his right hand. But, in God, his disability became a great possibility to bring glory to God and His nation!
So, do not trust your disability but trust God. It may sound strange, but I’ll say it again, do not trust your disability, but trust in God who calls us and works through us, turning our disability into possibility. His power is immeasurable, His wisdom is bottomless, He is faithful to His promise (or we call it His ‘covenant faithfulness’), never changing His mind, nor forgetting what He has spoken. And this God urges us repeatedly and says, ‘Trust in Me!’
Ehud testifies to us through his life’s story that we must trust our God. He’ll be our Captain; He is our strength. So, let us not be discouraged by anything, but trust God and carry out what God is doing through us for His glory! ***