International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday July 17, 2011
Purpose: To recognize that during difficult times God's salvation may come in unexpected ways
Scripture Text: Judges 3:15-25; 21-25 (NRSV)
(15)But when the Israelites cried out to the LORD, the LORD raised up for them a deliverer, Ehud son of Gera, the Benjaminite, a left-handed man. The Israelites sent tribute by him to King Eglon of Moab. (16)Ehud made for himself a sword with two edges, a cubit in length; and he fastened it on his right thigh under his clothes. (17)Then he presented the tribute to King Eglon of Moab. Now Eglon was a very fat man. (18)When Ehud had finished presenting the tribute, he sent the people who carried the tribute on their way. (19)But he himself turned back at the sculptured stones near Gilgal, and said, “I have a secret message for you, O king.” So the king said, “Silence!” and all his attendants went out from his presence. (20)Ehud came to him, while he was sitting alone in his cool roof chamber, and said, “I have a message from God for you.” So he rose from his seat. (21)Then Ehud reached with his left hand, took the sword from his right thigh, and thrust it into Eglon’s belly;(22)the hilt also went in after the blade, and the fat closed over the blade, for he did not draw the sword out of his belly; and the dirt came out. (23)Then Ehud went out into the vestibule, and closed the doors of the roof chamber on him, and locked them. (24)After he had gone, the servants came. When they saw that the doors of the roof chamber were locked, they thought, “He must be relieving himself in the cool chamber.” (25)So they waited until they were embarrassed. When he still did not open the doors of the roof chamber, they took the key and opened them. There was their lord lying dead on the floor.
(29)At that time they killed about ten thousand of the Moabites, all strong, able-bodied men; no one escaped. (30)So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land had rest eighty years.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
Wow! What a gruesome story and in today's vernacular TMI. However, there are many things about this story that I find intriguing. First, Ehud was left-handed and that is mentioned, because I am left-handed and married to someone that is left-handed, I find that somewhat intriguing. That Ehud was from the tribe of Benjamin, which means “son of the right hand” I also find intriguing. It appears from reading later in the Book of Judges, left-handedness may have run in the family of Benjamin; take a moment and read from Judges 20:15-16 “On that day the Benjaminites mustered twenty-six thousand armed men from their towns, besides the inhabitants of Gibeah. 16 Of all this force, there were seven hundred picked men who were left-handed; every one could sling a stone at a hair, and not miss.”
Let me say first that I played baseball in my youth and I pitched some, however, accuracy has never been a trait of mine or most other left-handers I have known. Now my mother and father were both right-handed but 3 out of the five children were left-handed. On the other hand my wife and I are both left-handed but all of our children are right-handed, but about half of our 8 grandchildren are left-handed to some extent.
Trying to figure out how God redeems and who he chooses to use to achieve such redemption requires a higher pay grade than I have been given. But in reading the Book of Judges we can see how this new nation soon forgot all that they had been taught under Moses and Joshua.
When the Israelites took possession of the land that God gave them, it was inhabited by people who worshiped the false gods of Baal and Asherah. Everywhere the Israelites looked they could see these gods displayed, they were everywhere. These false gods were responsible for fertility and good crops; the more immoral the greater the worship of these false gods. Baal and Asherah were very visible, but God had chosen this nation of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob's descendents to represent Him, God chose to remain invisible. Israel was to represent God's presence in the world.
After several years of wanton disregard for the God that had redeemed them out of slavery in Egypt, and given them a land of their own, they found themselves crying out once again for God's help. Baal and Asherah had brought them nothing but immorality and slavery once again. It is amazing that God's grace knows no end, and we see no great movement for repentance, just crying out to God.
A young attorney in our town that I have known for many years and who grew up with my grandchildren, recently told how he just cried out to God in his desperation, and God reached out and touched him and he experienced God's touch on his life. That all happened without him going to church or answering an altar call, that was in February of this year, he sought out a church, was baptized and joined the church and he is hungry to know more about a God that redeemed him. God does not always use the conventional, God uses whatever means he chooses to redeem those that cry out to him.
God's grace is multiplied many times over; Israel was given eighty years of peace and rest. Eighteen years of oppression (3:14) and eighty years of peace, God's grace was four fold and delivered in a single day.
God's redeeming grace does not always come the way man would do things, but as we have been told “God's ways are higher than our ways.” What else should we expect from a God willing to send his own Son to a cross of shame, so that we might have eternal life with Him? Remember that moment in the garden on resurrection morning, when Jesus told Mary, “Don’t touch me for I have not ascended to my Father.” Jesus may have been on his way to present himself on the “mercy seat” in heaven, in God's “Holy of Hollies” and there place His blood for all of us that cry out to him for redemption. It is just that easy. “Father, forgive me for I have sinned.”