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A Left-Handed Leader 9-15-04

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A Left-Handed Leader

Judges 3:12–30

Purpose:  To discover the ugly consequences of sin and the surprise of God's forgiveness.

In one of those cheaply produced local television commercials, a large, smirking man smoking a huge cigar is identified as the greedy landlord.  He is grabbing money from a line of discouraged-looking tenants and stuffing it into his already-full pockets.  But when the announcer shows how you can buy a new home and make payments lower than rent, the tenants triumphantly toss Mr. Landlord into his swimming pool.

Like those discouraged tenants, the Israelites found themselves paying tribute to a greedy king.  Their unwise choices to ignore God had caused the loss of their independence, so they were desperate for someone like the television announcer who would help them throw the greedy king off their back.

Judges 2:16  Nevertheless the LORD raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them.  17  And yet they would not hearken unto their judges, but they went a whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves unto them: they turned quickly out of the way which their fathers walked in, obeying the commandments of the LORD; but they did not so.  18  And when the LORD raised them up judges, then the LORD was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it repented the LORD because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them.  19  And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way.

1.  What would happen to a life if a person gradually turns away and stops worshipping God?

2.  How do the attitudes and emotions of the Israelite people change in this story (vv. 12–15, 27–30)?

Judges 3:12  And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD: and the LORD strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the LORD.  13  And he gathered unto him the children of Ammon and Amalek, and went and smote Israel, and possessed the city of palm trees.  14  So the children of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years.  15  But when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, the LORD raised them up a deliverer, Ehud the son of Gera, a Benjamite, a man lefthanded: and by him the children of Israel sent a present unto Eglon the king of Moab.

27  And it came to pass, when he was come, that he blew a trumpet in the mountain of Ephraim, and the children of Israel went down with him from the mount, and he before them.  28  And he said unto them, Follow after me: for the LORD hath delivered your enemies the Moabites into your hand. And they went down after him, and took the fords of Jordan toward Moab, and suffered not a man to pass over.  29  And they slew of Moab at that time about ten thousand men, all lusty, and all men of valour; and there escaped not a man.  30  So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land had rest fourscore years.

3.  The conquering Moabites attempted to keep Israel weak by forcing them to pay a heavy tax called tribute.  Describe what it would have been like for Ehud to deliver tribute to King Eglon.

Note:  Eglon – means “calf-Like.”  Ehud – means "I will give thanks: I will be praised" or "undivided, union"

How does this picture highlight the painful consequences of poor choices?

Question 3. The demand for tribute was commonly used to weaken an enemy.  By forcing a country to pay tribute, the conqueror was able to impoverish the weaker state while increasing its own revenues.  Tribute also served as a simple instrument of administration.  If a subjected country failed to send its annual tribute, this would be taken as a sign of rebellion and a military expedition would be sent to deal with the insurrection.

4.  The Israelites paid a high price for ignoring God.  Without giving much detail, what has been the price of your bad choices?

5.  How is God characterized in this story?

My Notes:  God is shown to be just, patient, forgiving and eager to liberate.  He uses unlikely people to act in unexpected ways.

Psalm 103:8  The Lord is merciful and gracious,  Slow   to  anger, and abounding in mercy.  9  He will not always strive with us,  Nor will He keep His anger forever.  10  He has not dealt with us according  to  our sins,  Nor punished us according  to  our iniquities.  11  For as the heavens are high above the earth,  So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;  12  As far as the east is from the west,  So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

1 Cor 1:26 (NKJV) For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.  27  But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;  28  and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are,  29  that no flesh should glory in His presence.  30  But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God--and righteousness and sanctification and redemption--  31  that, as it is written, "He who glories, let him glory in the Lord."

6.  Why do you think the Bible gives such a gory description of how Israel was saved?

Romans 6:23  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Question 6. God often uses visual illustrations of truth.  Sacrifices, burning bushes, the Communion supper and even the cross are used to teach.  This gory story of how Israel was saved was also an illustration of God's salvation.  Disobedience is ugly, and God's work to save us is bloody.  Even though the people of the Old Testament thought of salvation as a physical deliverance from an enemy; God still wanted them to see that sin was the root cause of their predicament.  Thus salvation was not a simple matter of destroying the enemy, there must also be repentance and sacrifice.  The battles and shedding of blood were to remind the people of the seriousness of their sin and the price of their forgiveness.

7.  Which of Ehud's qualities did God use in fulfilling his plan?

In what ways do you see God's hand in how Ehud's deed was carried out?

Question 7. King Eglon would certainly not have let just anyone deliver the tribute, nor would he have consented to a private meeting with someone he did not trust.  Ehud did not appear to be a threat to the king, perhaps because of his left-handedness.  Ehud also returned to kill King Eglon by himself.  This must have taken a great deal of courage and a strong confidence that he was being led by God.

8.  Ehud's left-handedness was considered to be a handicap.  What does this tell you about God's surprises?

Judges 20:16  Among all this people there were seven hundred chosen men lefthanded; every one could sling stones at an hair breadth, and not miss.

Note:  The sword was usually worn on the left side; so that Ehud’s was the more likely to escape detection.  Ehud did not have use of his right hand.  Perhaps it was even deformed or paralyzed in some way.  Ironically

Ehud belonged to the tribe of Benjamin, a name which means “son of the right hand.”

9.  Which of your weaknesses would you be surprised to find God developing into assets?

10.  After eighteen years of subjection to the Moabites, freedom seems to have come quickly and easily.  What kept the Israelites from gaining their freedom sooner?

Judges 3:13  And he gathered unto him the children of Ammon and Amalek, and went and smote Israel, and possessed the city of palm trees.  14  So the children of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years.  15  But when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, the LORD raised them up a deliverer, Ehud the son of Gera, a Benjamite, a man lefthanded: and by him the children of Israel sent a present unto Eglon the king of Moab.

2 Cor 7:9 (NKJV) Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to  repentance . For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing.  10  For godly sorrow produces  repentance  leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

Question 10. For eighteen years the Israelites had failed to call out to God, to repent or to admit they had a problem which they could not solve on their own.  During this time, they continued to pay tribute to Moab, hoping that this would bring them peace. They had settled for this existence as a conquered country, not understanding or believing that God had something much better in mind for them.

11.  What has this story taught you about the way back to God?

Next Lesson:  Trust and Betrayal (Judges 4)


 

A Left-Handed Leader

Judges 3:12–30

Purpose:  To discover the ugly consequences of sin and the surprise of God's forgiveness.

In one of those cheaply produced local television commercials, a large, smirking man smoking a huge cigar is identified as the greedy landlord.  He is grabbing money from a line of discouraged-looking tenants and stuffing it into his already-full pockets.  But when the announcer shows how you can buy a new home and make payments lower than rent, the tenants triumphantly toss Mr. Landlord into his swimming pool.

Like those discouraged tenants, the Israelites found themselves paying tribute to a greedy king.  Their unwise choices to ignore God had caused the loss of their independence, so they were desperate for someone like the television announcer who would help them throw the greedy king off their back.

Judges 2:16  Nevertheless the LORD raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them.  17  And yet they would not hearken unto their judges, but they went a whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves unto them: they turned quickly out of the way which their fathers walked in, obeying the commandments of the LORD; but they did not so.  18  And when the LORD raised them up judges, then the LORD was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it repented the LORD because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them.  19  And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way.

1.  What would happen to a life if a person gradually turns away and stops worshipping God?

2.  How do the attitudes and emotions of the Israelite people change in this story (vv. 12–15, 27–30)?

Judges 3:12  And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD: and the LORD strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the LORD.  13  And he gathered unto him the children of Ammon and Amalek, and went and smote Israel, and possessed the city of palm trees.  14  So the children of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years.  15  But when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, the LORD raised them up a deliverer, Ehud the son of Gera, a Benjamite, a man lefthanded: and by him the children of Israel sent a present unto Eglon the king of Moab.

27  And it came to pass, when he was come, that he blew a trumpet in the mountain of Ephraim, and the children of Israel went down with him from the mount, and he before them.  28  And he said unto them, Follow after me: for the LORD hath delivered your enemies the Moabites into your hand. And they went down after him, and took the fords of Jordan toward Moab, and suffered not a man to pass over.  29  And they slew of Moab at that time about ten thousand men, all lusty, and all men of valour; and there escaped not a man.  30  So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land had rest fourscore years.

3.  The conquering Moabites attempted to keep Israel weak by forcing them to pay a heavy tax called tribute.  Describe what it would have been like for Ehud to deliver tribute to King Eglon.

Note:  Eglon – means “calf-Like.”  Ehud – means "I will give thanks: I will be praised" or "undivided, union"

How does this picture highlight the painful consequences of poor choices?

4.  The Israelites paid a high price for ignoring God.  Without giving much detail, what has been the price of your bad choices?

5.  How is God characterized in this story?

6.  Why do you think the Bible gives such a gory description of how Israel was saved?

Romans 6:23  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

7.  Which of Ehud's qualities did God use in fulfilling his plan?

In what ways do you see God's hand in how Ehud's deed was carried out?

8.  Ehud's left-handedness was considered to be a handicap.  What does this tell you about God's surprises?

Judges 20:16  Among all this people there were seven hundred chosen men lefthanded; every one could sling stones at an hair breadth, and not miss.

9.  Which of your weaknesses would you be surprised to find God developing into assets?

10.  After eighteen years of subjection to the Moabites, freedom seems to have come quickly and easily.  What kept the Israelites from gaining their freedom sooner?

Judges 3:13  And he gathered unto him the children of Ammon and Amalek, and went and smote Israel, and possessed the city of palm trees.  14  So the children of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years.  15  But when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, the LORD raised them up a deliverer, Ehud the son of Gera, a Benjamite, a man lefthanded: and by him the children of Israel sent a present unto Eglon the king of Moab.

2 Cor 7:9 (NKJV) Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to  repentance . For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing.  10  For godly sorrow produces  repentance  leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

11.  What has this story taught you about the way back to God?

Next Lesson:  Trust and Betrayal (Judges 4)

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