Jump Start # 1921
Judges 3:23 “Then Ehud went into the vestibule and shut the doors of the roof chamber behind him and locked them.”
Our verse today comes from the amazing story of God’s deliverer Ehud. Ehud and Eglon, both names beginning with the same letter, both brought together in his amazing story, both very different. Eglon was the king of Moab. He is described as being very fat. He was oppressing Israel. God raised up Ehud, the left handed Benjaminite, to save the people. In a private meeting with the fat king, Ehud thrust a sword into Eglon’s belly. He then locked the doors and escaped. When servants came to check on the king, they assumed he was “relieving himself in the cool room,” is what the text tells us. We’d say, “he’s going to the bathroom.” After a long time, they broke through the doors and found their king had been assassinated. He was dead.
How did Ehud escape? Some assume that he crawled through the toilet, which would have been more like an outhouse. The text doesn’t really tell us but we wonder.
Now, because of this one event, the tide changed and Israel was able to subdue Moab for more than a generation and have peace in the land. As for Ehud, this is all we know. This one event. But there are lessons for us here.
First, it often takes courage to do what is right and necessary. So many things could have gone wrong. How hard it would be to have a private meeting with the king. Ehud thought this out. He made a special sword. He had it concealed on his right side, not the typical place a person carries a sword. We are not called to assassinate foreign kings, I’m glad. But there are times when we must have a serious talk with someone about their choices in life. It may be a grown child. It may be someone in the congregation that we love. Their choices are ruining their soul and hurting those around them. It’s not easy to talk to someone, especially when correction is necessary. It’s easier to tell others, than to go to the person.
Notice some things from Ehud. He had a plan even before he met the king. We need the same. How are you going to bring the topic up? Are you going to just “wing-it” or have you thought and prayed about what needs to be said. Ehud made a special sword. That took time. He didn’t just charge into Moab, he made preparations. We should do the same. Think things out. Make a plan. Ehud also arranged a private meeting. He didn’t attack the king in front of others. That’s something we ought to learn as well. When a serious conversation needs to take place, arrange a time to meet the person. Walking out the church building, while surrounded by others, is not the time nor the place.
Second, Ehud didn’t pass this responsibility to others. He was the one. He knew it. He went. Paul told the Galatians, “You who are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of gentleness.” You who are spiritual. We play that card both ways. We want God to see us as spiritual, but when it’s time for us to go restore someone, suddenly, we are not the one. Either we are or we are not. When nothing is said and nothing is done, the person drifts away from the Lord. Everyone sees it happening, but no one has the courage to do anything. In time a soul is lost, a family is hurt and the church suffers. “Someone should have done something,” is a common after-the-fact statement. Ehud was the man in Judges. Who is it today?
Third, I thought about Ehud possibly escaping through the opening of a toilet. That thought is pretty disgusting. What he fell in is even more disgusting. If that indeed happened, just think about what lengths he went to in order to save Israel. Now, turn that thought to you and I today? What are you willing to do to save your family or your own soul? Are you willing to do something that is hard, not pleasant and maybe even disgusting to save your marriage? Are you willing to move to be closer to a congregation that you can grow and your family can thrive spiritually? Move? That’s hard. We like our house. We like the neighborhood. Yet, if your family is dying spiritually are you keep doing what you are doing because you like a house? What if your job is killing you spiritually? What if the co-workers, and the demands and what is expected of you is just turning you into something that you know God is not pleased with, what are you going to do? But it’s a job. Jobs are hard to find. Are you going to remain and die spiritually or are you willing to do something that is very hard but it may be the right thing? What about your friends. You may have had these people in your life for a long time. When you get together, the conversations are not good. What they want to do pushes your buttons and you always feel a bit guilty being with them. Then why do you continue? Isn’t it time to do the courageous thing and either influence them or leave them? Why do you stay with them and allow them to pull you away from Christ? It may be time to climb through the toilet!
Fourth, removing the fat king wasn’t enough. Ehud led Israel into battle against Moab and they defeated them. We see from this the importance of finishing what was started. Removing the king was the first step. Had they stopped there, another king would have been appointed in time and nothing much would have changed. But Israel finished what they started. What a lesson for us. We can start in the right direction, but we need to stay with it and finish it. Paul said that he “finished the course.” He completed what he started, and so must we.
Fifth, Ehud needed others to accomplish the victory. When facing Eglon, Ehud was alone. But now, when Israel was facing all of Moab, Ehud couldn’t do it alone. He didn’t try it alone. He blew his trumpet, rallied the nation and led them to victory. What a lesson of leadership. Sometimes leaders want to do it all, and they can’t. We need others. Sometimes leaders don’t want others, but leaving them out will not bring about the accomplishments and victories in the Lord. We are a church and we need everyone. Ehud saw the importance of bringing others to the battle.
Sixth, there was an order in all of this. Had Ehud led the troops before the king was killed, they may have lost the battle. Removing the king, put the nation in shock and confusion. It allowed Israel a time to strike and have the advantage. There is an order of doing things. Ehud saw that. He got the order right. We need to do the same.
Who would have thought, from this old story of Ehud and Eglon that we find powerful lessons about leadership.