God’s Response to Worship (Judges 3:7-3:31)
He has given us over to oppressors who are formed and shaped to be just like the gods they serve. And what is the answer? It is calling upon the name of the Lord.
I hope that you have had an excellent summer. I am happy to announce that I have received my first draft of The Boniface Option back from the publisher and have begun producing many more original long-form articles for Gab News. I will resume posting sermon content here, with the exegesis free (and application for my supporters) and I will begin posting links to my Gab columns as they come out so that you are aware of new content there. I would like to thank you all for your patience with me as the Lord has seen fit to bless my writing immensely with the tremendous reach of the entire Gab community. If you are not on that platform, I would encourage you to get on there, as that is the place for faithful Christian political and cultural content which will never be censored by the regime and its tech lapdogs. Please enjoy this sermon, and the upcoming sermons on this extremely relevant biblical text.
7 So the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord. They forgot the Lord their God, and served the Baals and Asherahs. 8 Therefore the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and He sold them into the hand of Cushan-Rishathaim king of Mesopotamia; and the children of Israel served Cushan-Rishathaim eight years. 9 When the children of Israel cried out to the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer for the children of Israel, who delivered them: Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother. 10 The Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he judged Israel. He went out to war, and the Lord delivered Cushan-Rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed over Cushan-Rishathaim. 11 So the land had rest for forty years. Then Othniel the son of Kenaz died.
12 And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord. So the Lord strengthened Eglon king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the Lord. 13 Then he gathered to himself the people of Ammon and Amalek, went and defeated Israel, and took possession of the City of Palms. 14 So the children of Israel served Eglon king of Moab eighteen years.
15 But when the children of Israel cried out to the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer for them: Ehud the son of Gera, the Benjamite, a left-handed man. By him the children of Israel sent tribute to Eglon king of Moab. 16 Now Ehud made himself a dagger (it was double-edged and a cubit in length) and fastened it under his clothes on his right thigh. 17 So he brought the tribute to Eglon king of Moab. (Now Eglon was a very fat man.) 18 And when he had finished presenting the tribute, he sent away the people who had carried the tribute. 19 But he himself turned back from the stone images that were at Gilgal, and said, “I have a secret message for you, O king.”
He said, “Keep silence!” And all who attended him went out from him.
20 So Ehud came to him (now he was sitting upstairs in his cool private chamber). Then Ehud said, “I have a message from God for you.” So he arose from his seat. 21 Then Ehud reached with his left hand, took the dagger from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly. 22 Even the hilt went in after the blade, and the fat closed over the blade, for he did not draw the dagger out of his belly; and his entrails came out. 23 Then Ehud went out through the porch and shut the doors of the upper room behind him and locked them.
24 When he had gone out, Eglon’s servants came to look, and to their surprise, the doors of the upper room were locked. So they said, “He is probably attending to his needs in the cool chamber.” 25 So they waited till they were embarrassed, and still he had not opened the doors of the upper room. Therefore they took the key and opened them. And there was their master, fallen dead on the floor.
26 But Ehud had escaped while they delayed, and passed beyond the stone images and escaped to Seirah. 27 And it happened, when he arrived, that he blew the trumpet in the mountains of Ephraim, and the children of Israel went down with him from the mountains; and he led them. 28 Then he said to them, “Follow me, for the Lord has delivered your enemies the Moabites into your hand.” So they went down after him, seized the fords of the Jordan leading to Moab, and did not allow anyone to cross over. 29 And at that time they killed about ten thousand men of Moab, all stout men of valor; not a man escaped. 30 So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land had rest for eighty years.
31 After him was Shamgar the son of Anath, who killed six hundred men of the Philistines with an ox goad; and he also delivered Israel.
So far in the Book of Judges, Israel has descended from merely disobeying God’s command to actively worshiping other Gods. And so God, in his just and righteous wrath has given them over to foreign oppressors. But God does not leave them in this condition, He raises up deliverers for them. The Hebrew word for deliver and deliverer is “yasha.” From that same root we get Joshua and Yeshua—Jesus. When we see that word in Scripture, that’s who we should see. God raising up a Yeshua to save His people, not just from an enemy that oppresses them, but ultimately from their own sin.
Othniel Delivers Israel from Proto-Babylon (v. 7-11)
Israel again turns from Yahweh and worships Baals and Asherahs. They see the Canaanites worshipping the demon-gods, the Canaanite Jupiter and the Canaanite Venus, and how the Canaanites have all the things they want. They are seduced by these demons and worship them. They forget their Lord. And so Yahweh’s anger is kindled, and He sells them as slaves into the hand of Cushan-Rishathaim (literally the Cushite of Twofold-Wickedness) of Mesopotamia. God has essentially said, if you will not serve me and my very light yoke, I will give you someone to rule over you formed and shaped by the gods you would rather worship.
For eight years, a biblically significant number, a number often correlated with new beginnings and judgment—Christians gather to worship on the eighth day, after all—the people are under the thumb of the Double-wicked Cushite. And so what do they do? They cry out, not to the Baals and Asherahs, but to Yahweh. And Yahweh raises up a deliverer, a Yeshua, for them: Othniel, son of Kenaz, who we saw earlier in Judges 1. God’s Spirit came upon him and he 1. Judged Israel and 2. leads Israel out to battle. And because of Israel’s repentance, turning away from their false gods and calling upon the name of Yahweh in true worship, God gives this enemy, the Double-wicked Cushite into Othniel’s hand. And from that point, the land has rest for 40 years. Israel’s faithfulness and repentance results in a full generation of peace and prosperity.
Ehud Sacrifices a Fattened Calf (v. 12-30)
But, as could be the summary of Israel’s entire history, not just in the Book of Judges: “Faithfulness begot prosperity and the daughter consumed the mother.” Israel’s prosperity results in the next generation again turning from Yahweh. When things are good, it’s easy to slip away or forget. And so, because of Israel’s rebellion against Him, Yahweh strengthens the king of Moab, the descendent of Lot’s incestuous child, who was begotten by his daughter who was fully enculturated into the manners and life of Sodom. Lot’s incestuous grandson-sons, Ammon and Moab, were spiritually the remnant of Sodom and Gomorrah which God had totally destroyed with fire and brimstone. And here, Yahweh is giving Israel into the hand of this Moabite, Eglon, whose name means “calf.”
Not only does Eglon take his own armies, he also allies himself with Israel’s historical enemy Amalek, who attacked Israel in the wilderness. After they defeated Israel, Eglon took the City of Palms (Jericho) and rebuilt it, making it his new capital. Jericho was supposed to be totally destroyed and never rebuilt, but here this wicked king sets to work undoing the Conquest of Joshua. Eglon set this capital up right at the gate between Israel and the Jordan, a central spot between Israel and Moab. Now, Israel is under Eglon not for eight years, but eight years and a decade.
And after this 18 years of servitude, Israel finally returns to worship Yahweh faithfully. And Yahweh responds by raising up another Yeshua for them to save them. This one is named Ehud (“Strong”), a Benjamite, and a left-handed man. Being raised up as leader of Israel, it was he who was charged with bringing the tribute to Eglon. Ehud made a dagger and hid it on his right thigh, the opposite place swords normally went. We are told specifically that the dagger was a cubit (18”) in length and was two-edged. Details like this are never extraneous in the Bible, and we will see why these details are given to us in a few moments. Then we are told he brought the tribute to Eglon, and that Eglon was enormously and comically obese. Ehud sends his men away when the reached the stone images at Gilgal. What those stone images are is a point of contention, but it seems as though the un-carved memorial stones Joshua had set up there on the edge of the Jordan had been carved by the Moabites into idols for their gods.
Here Ehud tells Eglon he has a secret message for him from God. Ehud goes back to Eglon, and when he tells Eglon of the message from God, Eglon immediately stands up and dismisses his court, who had been apparently attending him in (or at least nearby) his cool privy chamber. Ehud then reached for his dagger with his left hand and stabs Eglon in his massive gut, and we then see just how enormously fat Eglon was: this 18-inch-long sword is swallowed up by the fat all the way past the hilt. Then we are told that literally dung came out of him. The two-edged sword offered up the fatted calf as a sacrifice to Yahweh. That is the imagery the Bible wants us to see. Ehud then locked the doors and escaped through the back.
As Ehud was escaping, Eglon’s servants went to go check on him and noticed the doors had been locked. So they assumed he was going to the bathroom, and if there was a pile of excrement next to Eglon’s corpse, they could probably smell it. Why are we told all this? Because God used the excrement that came out of Eglon to allow Ehud to escape. Only after the Moabites waited so long they were embarrassed did they open the room up to check on him, and there they found him dead.
Ehud escapes to the town of Seirah, and blows his horn calling for the armies of Israel to gather to him. Israel comes down from the mountains to him and they took all the places where the Moabites could cross the Jordan to flee back to Moab, and they killed every last Moabite soldier, 10,000 in all. And because of the faithfulness and repentance of Israel, now, the land had rest—peace and prosperity—for two generations instead of one, 80 years total.
Shamgar (v. 31)
After, Ehud, another judge came named Shamgar the son of Anath. Now, that name, Shamgar is not an Israelite name, and his father is apparently named after the Canaanite god Anath, the fertility goddess. From these details it is reasonable to conclude that Shamgar is a convert who has rejected the Canaanite religion and culture for the true God Yahweh, and is so incorporated into Israel that he is elevated to be a judge. And not only is he elevated to be a judge, he is a mighty man, striking down 600 Philistines. And the last detail that we are told is something that happens repeatedly in Judges, but this is the first time: a farm implement, a tool being used as a weapon against the enemy. Plowshares being beaten into swords. Here Shamgar uses an ox-goad, a tool to get the ox going while you are plowing as a spear. And with that spear he killed hundreds of Israel’s enemies, delivering them.
What do all these things mean for us? What does these two cycles of Israel falling into idolatry, Yahweh judging them and handing them over to oppressors, the people suffering so much they are forced to repent, then God giving them a man to deliver them mean for us today?
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