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HOW LEFTY KILLED HEFTY
Intro: All during the 400 years covered in the book of Judges, the nation of Israel followed a predictable pattern. They would serve God faithfully while they followed the strong leadership of their judges. When a judge died, they had no leader, and they would desert God, and began to live in disobedience to His Law, giving themselves to the worship of the pagan gods of the Canaanites. When they rebelled against the Lord, He would sent His judgment upon them, by allowing Israel to be oppressed by their enemies. After a time, Israel would repent of their sins and God would raise up a deliverer. God would use this person to defeat Israel’s enemies and set them free.
That is exactly the pattern we see a work in the verses before us today. Israel sinned against God and the Lord caused Eglon, the king of Moab, to become strong. Eglon invaded Israel, with the help of the Ammonites and the Amalekites, and together they oppressed Israel for 18 years. When they repented, God raised up a man named Ehud to be their deliverer. Ehud assassinated Eglon and led Israel to victory and freedom.
This story has much to teach us, if we will allow it to. Like Israel, we often follow the same pattern of disobedience, chastisement and restoration. Our problem is not the Moabites, the Ammonites or the Amalekites. Our problem is the flesh.
As this text unfolds, we will see that Israel’s enemies are a clear type of our own enemy. Eglon is the perfect picture of the flesh. He is out of control. He is self-indulgent. He is fat, lazy and evil. He is full of pride. He is also assassinated by Ehud.
In Israel’s defeat of Eglon, I see a picture of the battle we are supposed to be fighting every day. Every one of us has problems with our flesh. Sometimes we win our battles with the flesh; sometimes we lose our battles with the flesh; sometimes we don’t fight against the desires of the flesh at all. We are literally in a fight for our very spiritual lives every day. It is a fight we must win, every time we enter the arena. This passage gives us the help we need to fight and win the battle with the flesh.
I want to preach about Ehud and Israel and their battle with Eglon. I want you to see that they won their battle with those who oppressed them and you can too. You do not have to be a slave to your fleshly passions. You can be free from the grip of sin. You can walk in victory if you will fight the battle and fight it God’s way.
I want to preach on How Lefty Killed Hefty. As we consider the truths revealed in this passage, we will be given the tools we need to fight and win the daily battle we face with the flesh. I want to point out Israel’s Dilemma; Israel’s Deliverer; and Israel’s Deliverance. Let’s notice these truths as I preach about How Lefty Killed Hefty.
I. v. 12-14 ISRAEL’S DILEMMA
(Ill. These verses describe the horrible oppression Israel suffered because of her rebellion against the Lord. Their problems stand as a warning to all those who would walk away from the God Who redeemed them. Let’s look at these verses and learn from them.)
A. v. 12-13a Their Foes Israel faced three nations because of their rebellion against God. They faced the Moabites, the Ammonites and the Amalekites. All three of these nations were continual problems for Israel, and all three were connected to Israel by blood.
The Amalekites were descended from Esau, Jacob’s twin brother. The Moabites and the Ammonite were descendants of Lot, Abraham’s nephew. After Lot and his daughters were delivered from Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot’s daughter got him drunk, had sexual intercourse with their father and conceived Moab and Ammon, from whom descended these two nations.
All three of these nations worshipped false gods. The Moabites served a god called Chemosh. The Ammonites worshiped a god called Moloch. Both of these gods were worshipped through vile, sexual practices as well as child sacrifice. The Amalekites were a nomadic, warlike people that worshipped a variety of pagan gods.
All three of these nations were a continual thorn in the side of Israel. They were constantly attacking, hindering and seeking to enslave the people of Israel.
(Ill. These three nations are a picture of our old, fleshly natures. Moab represents the power of the flesh. Ammon represents the passion of the flesh. Amalek represents the persistence of the flesh.
Just like Israel was repeatedly attacked by these nations, the believer is continually attacked by the flesh. Our flesh has its own desires. It does not like the way of holiness and the way of righteousness. The flesh likes the way of evil and the way of Satan, Eph. 2:1-3; John 8:44.
The flesh that you and I carry around will do everything in its power to enslave us and prevent us from reaching our fullest potential in Jesus Christ. Don’t be deceived, your flesh hates God and everything God stands for. Your flesh will never submit to the Word of God. It must be forced into submission by a strong show of force. Ill. Here is how Paul described the enemy – Rom. 7:14-25.)
B. v. 13b Their Fights These three nations joined forces and came against Israel. We are told that they smote Israel. The word smote means to strike, smite, hit, beat, slay, and kill. These pagan armies did not come by for a friendly picnic; they came to destroy Israel. Israel was in a fight for its very existence.
(Ill. The battle we wake up to every day is just as serious! We are in a fight for our very spiritual lives every day we live. Paul describes this battle for us in Gal. 5:16-18.
We all have different areas in which we fight, but if you are saved, you are involved in warfare every day you live. Sometimes you win the battles; sometimes you lose the battles. Which is determined by who we yield to as we fight, Rom. 6:16. If we yield to God, we are slaves to righteousness. If we yield to sin, we are slaves to sin.
We are in a war! The Christian life is not a play ground, it is a battle ground! We need to suit up for war every day by putting on the whole armor of God, Eph. 6:10-18; by praying and reading the Word, and by taking a stand that refuses to yield to sin in any form! It isn’t easy, but it is His command for us!)
C. v. 13c Their Failures Eglon established his headquarters in the city of palm trees. This is another name for the city of Jericho, Deut. 34:3. Jericho was the first city conquered by Israel when they entered the Promised Land, Josh. 6. Jericho represented all the victories that God would give them in the future. To see their oppressors set up their headquarters in the very place where they once had enjoyed great military and spiritual victory must have been hard for Israel to swallow.
(Ill. Such is the power of the flesh! Just what you think you have achieved victory in an area of your life, and just what you think that problem with that sin is settled forever, here comes the flesh. It will do everything in its power to undermine your victories and take back any ground you have won.
The flesh is relentless. Unfortunately, the spiritual desire within us in not. We let our guard down, and when we do, we lose the battle. We fail to pray. We fail to read the Word. We fail to avoid exposure to the things that tempt us. We fail to take a stand against the flesh. We fail to do what Paul said he did, “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway, 1 Cor. 9:27. The phrase “keep under means to beat black and blue. When the flesh rises up, we must put it back in its place. Beat it, punch it, assault it, deny it, and make it toe the line for the glory of God! It isnt easy, but if we fail to do it, we will lose the battle every time!)
D. v. 14 Their Foolishness Because Israel failed to honor the will of God in their walk day by day, they became the servants of Eglon. The word served means to work; to labor; to become a slave to. Israel had been redeemed to be the servants of Jehovah God. Now, because of their sins, they have become the servants of pagan kings. This condition lasted for 18 years!
(Ill. Again, this showcases the power of the flesh. It has the power to enslave us and lead us away from the Lord. It has the power to enslave us and to cause us to work for the world and the devil. It has the power to make us labor for self every day, while we ignore the will of God for our lives. It is not what God saved us for. He did not save us so that we might remain the slaves of sin. He saved us to be free. He saved to serve Him and Him alone!
But, if you allow the flesh to have its way in your life, and you will become it’s slave. It will draw you into its trap and hold you there, squeezing the very spiritual life right out of you. I have no doubt that I am speaking to some people right now who are a mere spiritual shell of what you used to be. Your prayer life, your devotional life, your church life, your life of service and devotion to God have all fallen into a state of disrepair. You have seen the places where you used to enjoy victory become the habitation of the flesh. You see yourself living a life you never imagined when the Lord saved your soul. Well, I want you to know that you do not have to stay in that condition. The Lord can and will set you free.)
I. Israel’s Dilemma
II. v. 15-26 ISRAEL’S DELIVERER
(Ill. That is where Israel found herself. When she finally got tired of the servitude, Israel called on the Lord and He began the process of bringing her back to Himself. The first step is restoration is repentance! Let’s learn more about Ehud, Israel’s deliverer.)
A. v. 15a His Problem Ehud was from the tribe of Benjamin. Benjamins allotment of land included the area around Jericho. Thus, they would have suffered the most under Eglons reign. Ehud, and the men of Benjamin, had plenty of reasons for wanting Eglon and his armies gone.
We are also told that Eglon was “a man lefthanded. There seems to have been a great number of men from the tribe of Benjamin who were left handed, Judges 20:16. There were also many in Benjamin who were ambidextrous, 1 Chron. 12:2. When the Bible says that he was “a man lefthanded, it does not simply mean that he used his left hand. It literally means that he was bound in the right hand. In other words, Ehud was crippled on his right side. He was forced to use his left hand because his right hand did not function.
This would seem like a handicap for a would be deliverer. If the people had been voting for a deliverer, Ehud probably would not have made the first ballot. As we will see, Ehud took what many would see as a liability and turned it into an asset.
(Ill. Let me say right here what everyone already knows. We all have our problems! Moses was tongued tied. David was young. Paul was hated by the early church. We all have some issue or another that we think hinders us from being all the Lord would have us to be. Well, I have one question for you: Did God not know about your issues when He saved you? Of course He did, but He saved you anyway. He did not save you so you could fret over what you couldn’t do; He saved you so He could enable you to do what only He can do.
We need to stop making excuses about why we can’t do this or that and get busy doing something for Him! Ill. Some of our excuses! None of them change the fact that when He saved us, He placed His Spirit within us, 1 Cor. 12:13, and He gifted us to serve Him, 1 Cor. 12:7. Throw out your excuses and do something for Jesus!)
B. v. 15b-19 His Plan Every so often, the people of Israel were required to pay tribute to Eglon. So, they sent their gift to Eglon with a delegation led by Ehud. Ehud took the liberty of making himself a double-edged dagger some 14 inches long. He strapped this dagger to his right thigh, under his cloak, and went to take the tribute money to the king. His plan is to get Eglon alone, and when he does, he is going to assassinate the king. It was a daring plan!
If Ehud had been caught with that dagger, he would have been killed on the spot. But, he was a cripple! What’s he going to do? The guards would have expected to see a sword strapped to his left side, not hidden on his right thigh under his garments. They probably didn’t even search him, thing they had nothing to fear from a crippled man.
(Ill. By the way, the flesh knows you are crippled. The flesh knows you lack the power to overcome it on your own. The flesh thinks you are weak. The flesh thinks it can control you and rule your life. The flesh is right! But, the flesh forgets one important truth. The flesh forgets about the Spirit of God Who lives inside the believer. The flesh forgets that we have this promise from our Lord, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness,” 2 Cor. 12:9. The flesh forgets that, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me, Phil. 4:13. The flesh forgets that, “...greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world,” 1 John 4:4. The flesh forgets that I have been saved and I do not have to sin. The flesh forgets that I have been delivered from its power and I can walk in victory for the glory of God!)
After delivering the money to Eglon, the delegation departed. After they had gone a short distance, Ehud came back and told Eglon that he had a secret message for him. The king, supposing that he was about to hear some great secret, tells Ehud to keep silent until they are alone. Eglon dismisses all of his servants.
C. v. 20-26 His Performance When Ehud gets Eglon alone, Ehud tells the king that he has a message for the king from God. Eglon stands up to hear this message, for even a king must honor a word from God! Ehud reaches under his cloak, draws the dagger and thrusts it through Eglons body. The blade sinks so deep into the kings body that the fat closes around the handle and Ehud cannot retrieve the dagger. Not that it matters, because Eglon is dead.
Ehud locks the doors to the rooftop room where they are and he makes his escape. Eglon’s servants find the doors locked and think the king is in the restroom, which is what the phrase “covereth his feet in v. 24 means. This is gross, but the phrase “the dirt came out in v. 22, means that Eglon’s bowels emptied themselves when he died. The locked door and the odor from the chamber convince the servants that the king is on the throne, so to speak.
They wait until they are literally embarrassed, v. 25. Then they retrieve a key and enter the chamber and find the king dead upon the floor. By this time. Ehud is long gone.
(Ill. I realize that some of that was probably more information than you wanted in a Sunday sermon, but those details, while they are disgusting, plainly illustrate the nature of the fight we find ourselves in every day. If we are going to enjoy victory over this flesh, we are going to have to go to battle with it. We are going to have to get close to it and deal it a death blow. It is going to be gritty, dirt work. It isn’t for the squeamish, but it is the only way to enjoy victory. Jesus described it this way, Mark 9:43-48.
No step is too great. No price it too high. We must take whatever steps are necessary to see the flesh defeated. If we don’t we will remain its servant as long as we live!)
I. Israel’s Dilemma
II. Israel’s Deliverer
III. v. 27-30 ISRAEL’S DELIVERANCE
A. v. 27-28a It Involved Following When Ehud returned from killing Eglon, He sounded a rams horn. Trumpets were sounded for several reasons in Israel.
· They were blown to announce a feat.
· They were blown to signal a change of location. (Ill. The Rapture!)
· They were blown to demonstrate joy and to praise the Lord.
· They were blown to call the people to war. That is the purpose here.
God had heard Israel’s prayers and had raised up a deliverer. Ehud had taken the first step toward giving them victory over their enemies. He had severed the head of the serpent, they needed to destroy the body. The test now was to see whether they would follow God’s man or not. They did and they achieved a great victory.
B. v. 28b-29a It Involved Fighting Israel cut off the avenues of escape and the means whereby reinforcements could get in. Then, they killed about 10,000 men. The men they killed were lusty. That means they were robust men. They were men of valor. This means that they were men of great physical strength. Regardless of their power and military ability, they were defeated by Israel because God gave them the victory!
C. v. 29b It Involved Finishing There escaped not a man. Israel did not back off until every last one of the Moabites, the Ammonites and the Amalekites in their country had been put to the sword. It was a total victory over the enemy.
(Ill. Israel’s victory has a lesson or two to teach us about our own battles with sin and the flesh.
· God has given us everything we need to enable us to walk in spiritual victory. He has given us His Word, His Spirit, prayer and His presence in our lives. If we fail to yield to Him and walk in His will, we can never have victory. But, if we will follow Him, humbly and faithfully, He can and will keep us from the bondage of the flesh!
· We need not fear the size or the power of our enemies. We are to fight them with everything God has given us. We are to cut off every avenue of escape and every place where the enemy might send reinforcements. We are to fight until every last ounce of the enemy’s strength is gone. We are to fight until the day He calls us home to glory!
· We are not to tolerate even the tiniest bit of the flesh life within us. Every vestige of the flesh must be put to death. We are to live every day, “hating even the garment spotted by the flesh,” Jude 1:23.)
Conc: We all have problems with the flesh. It is overindulged, self-assured, and out of control. This message is a call for us to take the battle to the flesh. It does not have to carry the day. It does not have to win the victory over us. It does not have to claim the victory in our lives. You can be free!
We are lot like Ehud. We are all unlikely conquerors. We are all crippled in one way or another. We are all weak. We are all prone to spiritual failure. But, like Ehud, we can walk in victory. We need to take the Word of God, our dagger, hide it away in our hearts, Psa. 119:11, and assassinate the flesh in a sneak attack.
You don’t have to be a victim. You can be a victor! You can be a victor over the flesh! If the Lord has touch an area in your life that needs work, this is the place to bring that need!