Jump Start # 3288
Jump Start # 3288
1 Samuel 11:2 “But Nahash the Ammonite said to them, “I will make it with you on this condition, that I will gouge out the right eye of every one of you, thus I will make it a reproach on all Israel.”
Our verse today is one that we hope that we’d never hear said to us. The Ammonites besieged Jabesh, which was in Israel. The situation was tense and bad. The people of Jabesh were willing to surrender and become the servants of the Ammonites. There was a condition, and that is where our verse comes in today. A covenant would be formed, but the right eye of the people of Jabesh would be gouged out. The right eye, for most people, is the most dominate. That would limit and hinder any future attacks from these people. Your right eye will be gouged out.
The opening sentences of Judges finds Israel fighting the Canaanites. The pagan king, Adoni-bezek was caught and his thumbs and big toes were cut off. He felt justice because he bragged that seventy other kings once struggled for scraps under his table. The big toes and thumbs of those seventy kings had been cut off by the Canaanites. Now, he was getting in return what he had done to others.
Gouged eyes and cut toes—not the stuff for a Sunday morning sermon title. There are lessons for us.
First, the world is violent and lacking mercy. It has been that way and it continues that way. It is so easy to believe that we are living in the worst times ever. And, things are dark and bad, but I don’t hear of any rulers gouging eyes and cutting off big toes. Most, outside of God’s people, have never heard of these stories, which means that history has taught no lessons.
Cruel, unforgiving, harsh, mean, evil and wicked are the words that ought to never be used to describe the people of God. Without a moral compass, and without a conscience, the depths of how far one may fall has no limits. Years ago I was sitting in a Federal penitentiary talking to a man on death roll about God. He detailed to me what he once did to the Viet Cong captives when he was in the military. If what he said was true, I don’t think the military brass would have approved and I had to wonder if the unspeakable things he did warped his mind to commit the violent crimes that put him on death row.
Sometimes we can get worked up, bothered and irritated by others, even our brethren. But, even then, that is not a reason to forget who we are and whom we serve. Far too many are willing to stand in the shadows of the prodigal’s brother, refusing to accept, refusing to forgive, and refusing to fellowship. Have we forgotten what we have done to our Savior? His love for us forgives and extends a second chance to do things better. Why can’t we be more like that?
Second, gouging eyes and cutting off big toes, was far more than punishment. It would be life long crippling of a person. Once the eye was gouged out, there was no replacing that. One would limp the rest of his life if his big toe was cut off. These things would intend to ruin their lives. They would never be the same after that. And, unfortunately, similar things happen to us. It’s not the cutting off of our toes, but it’s the gouging of our feelings, the stomping on our hearts, the ridicule, cutting remarks that stay will us for a long, long time. They cripple our confidence. They make us feel like a dog. Unwanted. Uninvited. Avoided. Ignored. Talked about. Gossiped. Excluded. These are the things that make preachers quit for good. These are the very reasons why some drop off the charts spiritually and never return.
Jesus was treated this way. They called Him names. They accused Him. They twisted His words. They hated Him. Peter tells us that Christ suffered and left us an example to follow. He uttered no threats in return, although He could have. He spoke no harsh words, although He had ever reason to. He entrusted Himself to His Father. Those are the steps we are to follow. Toxic co-workers, mean family members, nosey neighbors and cruel brethren test our patience and faith. We must take the higher road. We must act as our Lord did. No cutting toes when they want to gouge your eyes.
Third, practicing the golden rule is hard sometimes. It’s hard to be nice when someone wants your toes. It’s hard to be a light to those who want to pull out your eyeball. If everyone wore smiles and was friendly, we wouldn’t have to think much about being the light as Christ wants us to. But that’s the challenge. Jesus prayed for the very men who put nails in his hands and feet. Jesus put the ear back on one who came to arrest Him. Being nice to people who are not nice is a real test for us. Some will not thank you. Some will try to take advantage of you. Some will still be mean and nasty.
Both Paul and Peter told the disciples to pray for kings and those in charge. Those in charge would eventually put those two to death. But our lights shines the brightest when we are in the darkest places. It’s pretty easy to be a Christian in Sunday worship. It’s the days we are at work or in the stores or around the public and we witness selfish, rude behavior. Be the light.
Gouged eyes and cut toes—those things are in our Bibles for a reason. Maybe it’s to help us remember our place in this place.