Lefty Kills Fatty, Escapes Through Outhouse – Judges 3:12-30
Open your Bible to Judges 3; this is a fascinating book to go through, especially in terms of our own generation. The theme of the book of Judges is stated twice, and that is that "there was no king in the land, and everyone did what was right in their own eyes." Now both of those statements are pregnant with meaning. The first statement, "there was no king in the land" is a double entendre; what that means is that there is a double sense or double meaning to that and what we'll find is that this writer is filled with double meanings and double entendres; in fact we're going to see several of them, and several puns or paronomasia; paronomasia is the technical word for a word play or pun. We are going to see a number of them in the Hebrew in the passage that we're looking at this morning. In fact, the writer is poking fun at the whole scene that takes place in this second cycle in Judges.
This is important, some of you are going to be so shocked by some of the things that are said here you're going to vibrate a little bit because it's not necessarily the highest level of humor or subject matter at times; it is a little bit course, but remember it is inspired by God the Holy Spirit. So you're just going to have to relax and have fun with it because there is a lot of humor in the text and some people get a little uptight when they start getting into some of the subject matter and they just can't relax and have a little fun with this so just remember this is God the Holy Spirit pointing His finger and making fun here and it just runs completely contrary to the whole political correctness mentality of today. I mean, if you're buying into political correctness and the whole modern scenario of post-modernism multicultural diversity then the Word of God is really going to pull your chain this morning so you might just get prepared for it mentally.
Judges 3, the point in the book is that they have rejected the kingship of God. I was talking about double meanings; the fact that there was no king in the land had a double meaning. First, there was no literal physical king like all the other nations had which indicated there was a level of freedom in Israel during the period of the Judges under the theocracy that was unknown to any other nation on the planet. But because of their rejection of doctrine, because they failed to obey the precepts of the Mosaic Law, and because of their negative volition to God they were continually forgetting God, abandoning God and turning to the false idol worship of the Canaanites around them. Because they failed to appreciate doctrine, because they failed to assimilate doctrine and make that the strength of their soul, God was continually disciplining them according to the pattern of the Mosaic Law and He was selling them into slavery to the various foreign powers, and they were being overwhelmed.
By the end of that period they had been in carnality so much that finally God discipline them in a way with giving them a king like all the other nations and warned them that as a result of having a king like all the other nations there would be an increased taxation, there would be a bureaucracy and they would lose a measure of freedom that they had under the theocracy. But rejection of doctrine destroyed their capacity for freedom, their ability to live responsibility based on the first divine institution of human responsibility, and the result was that they continually collapsed internally as a society and as a culture. They didn't have a physical king and they had rejected God, the theocratic king, as the true king of the nation. So by rejecting God as the ultimate authority in the land and the ultimate determiner of absolutes and of values, by rejecting Him they were in complete relativism and they were doing whatever they thought was right. And you see this not only with the people which we'll come to towards the end of the book, but also it's evidenced among the leadership.
So before we get into this second cycle we need to review the structure of the book just to orient ourselves to what is taking place and going on. Last time we finished the first cycle, which is the judgeship of Othniel, and Othniel is sort of presented as the perfect paradigm of leadership in the nation. Nothing negative is said about Othniel, everything we learn about Othniel is very positive, he trusts the Lord, the Holy Spirit comes upon him to give him military victory and there we recognized the principle that freedom only comes through military victory and as a result of that in Judges 3:11 we have the conclusion to that first cycle, that "the land had rest forty years. And Othniel, the soon of Kenaz, died." Well, apparently during the end of his judgeship, the end of those forty years, the nation was going negative to God again and they were deteriorating into disobedience.
So we have the continuous cycle in this section of the book. Now if you look at the overall structure of Judges it has three sections. The first section, from 1:1 to 3:6 is the introduction and gives us the various cycles of deliverance that will take place in the book. There is a cycle of disobedience, then discipline, and then deliverance by a judge. And the word for judge, shaphatim means deliverer, not just judge in the sense of a judicial figure like we have today but also had a military capacity and he was a…I guess a good translation would be that of deliverer. So it sets the tone in 1:1-3:6 that the nation continuously disobeys God, they have compromised with the nations in the land and instead of annihilating the Canaanites they have allowed them to continue to live.
Now that is analogous to the believer in the Church Age who compromises with the sin nature and continues to let the sin nature operate in certain areas of his life without applying Bible doctrine in the direction of the sin nature to bring it under control. Remember Paul makes the mandate in Romans 6 that we are to put to death the deeds of the sin nature. Failure to deal with the sin nature inside they lost the capacity for freedom because they were first enslaved to the sin nature and that prepared them for slavery to external enemies. It's important to remember that of the internal enemies that are mentioned backing the first part of chapter 3 that God allows to survive in order to test Israel, the internal enemies are not the external oppressors in the remainder of the book. So you have this cycle going on of disobedience, discipline and deliverance.
In the main section of the book what God is doing is indicting the leadership of the nation, that the leadership has failed to fully, completely, exhaustively trust God using the faith rest drill and that they too have assimilated the practices and the thinking of the Canaanites in the culture. They are living now with these Canaanite groups, the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, all represent sort of a homogenous culture in the land. Because they are intermarrying with them, they are compromising with them; the result is that their own thinking is being torn away from exclusive obedience to God. This is affecting the entire culture and so the theme of Judges is how a people, how a culture, how a nation becomes paganized. And I use that word in its technical sense which means to live and operate in a manner of thinking that is 180 degrees opposite the Word of God. It is operating on human viewpoint instead of divine viewpoint, operating on cosmic thinking instead of Bible doctrine, operating on the thought forms of the culture around us, which in James 3:13-15 is defined as soulish, earthly and demonic. Human viewpoint, cosmic thinking, are all tantamount to thinking like Satan thinks, operating on arrogance and antagonism to God, which are the twin polls of cosmic thinking.
So in Judges 3:7 to 16:31 we see how the leadership breaks down because they too have assimilated pagan thinking into their soul. And then in 17-21, in the appendices, four chapters, we see the breakdown of the people.
Now there are various cycles through the Judges and we'll see this again and again, going from disobedience to discipline to deliverance and then they go right back to disobedience again and this is where we are in verse 12. We see that "the sons of Israel" are moving from deliverance to disobedience. So we've moved from our first cycle, which is Othniel, to our second cycle, our second major judge, Ehud. And there are six more judges, Deborah, Gideon, Jephthah and Samson plus a few minor judges.
Let's look at Judges 3:12, "Now the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD." Now this is a very short statement of Israel's problem. Again and again we see in these cycles that the author doesn't major on the problem, he's already outlined that in the first chapters, down through 3:6. So he just goes back to that theme, reminding us of what they have done. Now when it says that they "did evil," evil is defined in the Old Testament in this kind of context specifically as idolatry. It is a violation of the first two commandments of the Mosaic Law, the Ten Commandments. Now when God gave the Mosaic Law to Israel He gave it according to the covenant treaty form known as a suzerain vassal treaty form which was a very common and typical treaty form utilized in the ancient world at that time. We have copies of that that have been discovered in archeology from the Hittites and it is a treaty that is given from a great king to an inferior power that is a satellite nation or is a subservient power that is on the fringe of the great king's empire.
And the great king enters into a contract with this smaller power, this satellite nation and says if you are obedient to me and you follow all the precepts of the contract, then I will bless you in certain ways and I will give you financial blessing and I will prosper you, but if you disobey then this will be the result. So there is always a blessing and a cursing addendum to the contract and that's what we have in the blessing and cursing motif of Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28-29. So "the sons of Israel do evil," and this is in relationship to the contract and the contract is summarized in the Ten Commandments which is the basis for all of the freedoms for the nation Israel and the basis for their law; it's like the preamble to our Constitution, it just gives a summary of everything in the Ten Commandments. Now when it states "the sons of Israel again did evil," this isn't talking about immorality, this isn't talking about criminality; it's not talking about the fact that they're engaged in sexual sins although they are because of their involvement with the phallic cult and the fertility religions of Baal worship and the Asherah. But it's specifically talking about the fact that they are involved in idolatry; they have forgotten or abandoned God and they have exchanged the worship of God for the worship of the creature and the worship of idols.
Now again, evil is defined in terms of an absolute in this passage. Every time we see this in Judges the writer is going to emphasize that it's evil in the sight of the Lord. There is an absolute standard in the universe and that is the character of God, His absolute righteousness. So God establishes the standard, that right and wrong is not determined by what is culturally acceptable, what the majority in the society think is right and wrong, evil is defined in terms of God's revelation and God's character. That is the moral absolute. As long as Israel was positive to God and applying doctrine to the soul and fulfilling the mandates of the Mosaic Law there was political freedom in the land and they were not under bondage to an external power. But what we see here again and again is as soon as things get going a little well for Israel they abandoned God, just like many believers do today, as soon as life gets good they forget doctrine. You see this over and over again, where people go through problems in their life, they go through trauma in their life and they say well I've got to get back to doctrine because I know when I was leaning doctrine, applying doctrine, obeying doctrine, things were going pretty well. So they go to church for a while; five, six months life starts to level out, they start making some good decisions, they get out of the hole and the next thing you know you don't see them any more because everything has smoothed out and leveled out for them.
This is what happens with Israel again and again; they do cry out to God which is tantamount to confession in the New Testament, they confess their sin, they cry out, Judges 10:10 says they admit that they're in idolatry, but it's temporary. It's like the baby believer who confesses his sin but ten minutes later he's doing it again; he does not understand that the point of confession is not simply to get forgiveness but to stay in fellowship by not sinning. It is not that he is to use 1 John 1:9 as a license to sin, but as a grace recovery procedure so they can stay in fellowship, because the point is to stay in fellowship and grow, not simply to get forgiven for your sins over and over again. Unfortunately the way that most of us operate as babies is that once we trust Christ as Savior and we are entered into eternal relationship with Him where we are in Christ and we have an eternal relationship with Him that can never be broken, never be taken away from us, we also enter into a different relationship in terms of time, in terms of our day to day relationship.
And what happens with a lot of Christians is the first time they hear about 1 John 1:9, that for example when you trust Christ you go into the bottom circle and you are filled with the Holy Spirit and you are in fellowship with God. But as soon as you sin you are out of fellowship in carnality, you are grieving and quenching the Holy Spirit. So you understand that Jesus Christ paid the price for all my sins so all I have to do is confess them, 1 John 1:9 and I'm back in fellowship. And then two seconds later they're sinning again and even while they're thinking about confessing their sin they're planning their next sin and so it becomes kind of a vicious cycle and that's all they ever get is from one second to the next, they are bouncing back and forth, in and out of fellowship, in and out of carnality and they don't go anywhere.
And this is pretty much what happens in Israel, they just stay in fellowship and positive to God for a very short time, there is no real deep change of mind. That's what repentance really means, metanoeo, means a deep change of mind and really following doctrine, and so they go through this continuous cycle of decline all through the period of the Judges. So they violate this and even though they have cried out to the Lord they don't stick with doctrine and as soon as they get a little prosperity off they go into carnality again. Now the result is that God is going to discipline them. The second part of the Judges 2:12 reads, "So the LORD strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the LORD." This specifically states that the reason for God's action is their violation of the mandates in the Mosaic Law. The word for "strengthened" is in the Hebrew the piel vav consecutive imperfect of the verb chazaq which means to strengthen, to give courage, and to provide military strength.
Now the interesting thing here is the picture we're going to get of Eglon, the king of Moab, is that he really needs a little additional help in order to get courage. And so it is only because of God's strengthening that has allowed Eglon to gain military victory over the Israelites at this particular time. We need to note that the verb chazaq is an active verb and the subject is God. God is the One who is strengthening Eglon. God is the one who is in charge of human history and God is the One who moves the national pieces on the international chess board in terms of raising up nations and destroying nations in relationship to His plan of human history so we need to realize that God uses other nations, even evil nations like Moab, in order to discipline His covenant nation Israel.
Moab is located in what is called the Transjordan area of Israel. It is on the east side of the Jordan and the Dead Sea, to the southeast of the main portion of Israel and it is near the area that was given to Reuben, designated as tribal land for Reuben. So in order for Eglon and the Moabites to gain victory and establish a stronghold, as we shall see in Jericho, which is located just inside the west bank of Israel, just inside the western bank from the Jordan River, that in order for them to have gained victory there they had to have already taken control of…defeated Reuben and Gad and gained control of the Transjordan area before they invade into Israel proper after crossing the Jordan River.
Now what we see in this verse is that this king is called Eglon. I don't know whether this is his proper name or not; just as last time with Othniel we saw that the oppressor was Cushan-rishathaim which was more of an epithet rather that a proper name. Cushan indicated his area of origination which was in Midian and rishathaim is a Hebrew word meaning doubly evil or doubly wicked, so it seems more of a nickname. Well, Eglon might have been a nickname as well and it has certain connotations. This whole section starts turning on these puns that begin with the name of Eglon. For example, Eglon is a paronomasia on the Hebrew word 'egel, you can see that the consonants are the same, these three letters, this is an 'Ayin, a Gimel and a Lamed, and it's the same consonants; remember Hebrew is a consonantal language as most Semitic languages are, Akkadian, Ugaritic, Arabic don't have vowel points, the vowels were added later.
So when you do a comparison of different words in terms of their consonant roots you can see that there are certain similarities. Well, 'egel, Eglon is the diminutive, the "on" indicates something small, like you would say Tom or Tommy, Bob or Bobby, Bill or Billy, the Eglon is a diminutive suffix and it's a paronomasia on the word 'egel, which means a bull or a calf. This is specifically in reference to a fatted calf used for a sacrifice and it is talking about…also it's related to the adjective, agal which means round or rotund. If we were to take Eglon and bring this pun over into English it would be a word that would instantly bring to mind the term "fatty." Now that's not politically correct, the Jews are poking fun at this guy. He is obese. If you look in verse 17 we read "and he presented the tribute to Eglon, the king of Moab; now Eglon was…" and we need to expand the translation a little bit, it is not simply "a very fat man," he is "an exceedingly fat man." The term is bariy' mee'od in the Greek, it is the adverb mee'od which means exceedingly or greatly or to the extreme, plus the noun bariy' which is also a term used to describe the fatted calf brought to the altar for sacrifice.
So what's happening, in the Jewish culture, you're sitting around, you'd be telling these stories and they're talking about fatty, remember when fatty the king of Moab defeated us. And so there's all this pejorative insulting terminology here as they're poking fun at their enemy and all of the words that are used here are bringing to mind just how obese this guy was. We're going to see that he's so fat that when Ehud assassinates him and drives his homemade dagger into Ehud's belly the guy's so fat that it just swallows the dagger whole and he just loses it in his stomach. This is very graphic and some of you are going to get a little queasy at times but remember this is the Word of God and the writher is just having a lot of fun with this. This guy is an exceedingly fat man.
Now what's interesting here is the double meanings of some of these words. The word here for bariy' and fatness here, is also combined with the word for kill it, in this verse where he jabs the dagger up into him in Judges 3:22 and says the fat flows over the blade; the word is also used to describe the fat of sacrificial animals. The subtext here is that Eglon is being viewed as a fat obese dull-witted sacrificial animal that God is taking out of the picture. And you also have references, for example in Psalm 119:7, 70 and in Psalm 73:7 that this relates to stupidity, that it's not simply fat of body but fat of heart, fat of mind. That's the phrase that is used and it is an idiom for being obtuse and stupid, and it's clearly played out in this scenario because Eglon as the king lets this enemy agent come into his throne room and he sends all of his guards and everybody else out so he's got this private audience with the enemy. How stupid can you get; there's no protection there. So the Jewish writer of Judges is pointing out how stupid, and obtuse and imbecilic and inept Eglon the king of Moab is, and he's just poking fun at them.
But it's not for the sake of simply poking fun at Eglon because there's a stronger message underneath that. If this fat stupid obtuse man who can't even protect himself ruled over us then how stupid, fat and spiritually obtuse are we? This is exactly what happens when we get into reversionism. Now let's briefly review the doctrine of reversionism. There are eight stages of reversionism. In the spiritual life we are mandated to grow by means of grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Notice you don't grow by prayer, you don't grow by memorizing Scripture although Scripture is used in growth; you don't grow by getting involved in programs or singing praise songs, you grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. So once we trust Christ we are filled with the Spirit and as long as we continue to take care of sins through 1 John 1:9 and advance spiritually we will grow; as long as we are learning doctrine and applying doctrine. But at some point people go negative, they reject doctrine and they begin to reverse themselves in their spiritual growth. That is the meaning of reversionism, to go into spiritual reverse and spiritual decline. It happens with individuals and if you get a large number of individuals in a nation involved in personal reversionism then the national entity goes into reversionism. And that's the exact picture we see with the Israelites at this stage.
The first stage of reversionism is reaction and distraction; something happens in your life and suddenly you're too busy to go to Bible class, you're too busy to get involved in listening to tapes every day, you're too busy to focus on your personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ so you're distracted. Or you react, you get mad at the pastor, the pastor says something you don't like or somebody at church does something that you don't like so you leave church and say they don't know what they're talking about and you start reacting to doctrine and you say doctrine really doesn't work and come up with all kinds of excuses in order to make yourself look good.
You start with reaction and distraction, and then because you are no longer focused on God as the soruce of happiness your life starts to fall apart and you start looking for happiness in the details of life. You look for happiness in success, in money, in materialism gain, in friendship, social life, sex, whatever it might be, you get involved in the frantic search for happiness. This leads to soul poverty based on the passage in Proverbs that God answered their prayers, that is the prayers of the Jews in the wilderness, but He sent leanness to their soul. That's what happens, all of a sudden you realize that there's a vacuum inside your soul and you constantly try to fill that up. So we look at it through emotion. This is what's happening in our nation as a whole, we're operating on emotional revolt. I've noticed in just the last few months that whenever I watch one of those morning news shows, I put the word "news" in quotation marks, or just about any of them, that you watch the woman and one or two specifically, if you watch the women news people who are conducting their interviews, they're constantly asking such probing questions as, well how did that make you feel, well just how hard was that, and they are all these emotional questions and they don't ask any issue oriented questions, any content or policy questions, it's more based on feeling and it just shows that the whole orientation of our culture is on emotion. You just hear it again and again in everyday language; listen to yourself, how many times do you ask somebody, well how do you feel about that? I really don't care what anybody feels about anything, what do you think about it? Let's engage our minds and quit engaging our emotions.
Emotional revolt of the soul leads to an ingrained negative volition; an ingrained negative volition where it becomes more and more difficult to turn around and get positive because we've surrounded ourselves with unbelievers, we've surrounded ourselves with friends and put ourselves in circumstances and situations and we are going through divine discipline, it just becomes more and more circumstantially difficult to turn around and to go to Bible class and to exercise positive volition. This leads to blackout in the soul where we have rejected doctrine and our souls are getting darker and darker because of the absence of truth, which is light, and that leads to scar tissue on the soul, we become hardened towards God, ultimately to full blown cosmic degeneracy which is where Israel is at this point because they've assimilated so much of the pagan thought of the Canaanites around them that their lives and their thinking is virtually indistinguishable from the thinking of the unbelievers around them. And that's exactly where Israel is and frankly I think that's where our nation is today. We are so caught up with the pagan thought forms of our day that most Christians are thinking so much in terms of cosmic thought they don't even realize it because it's been so long since they've heard anybody teach any level of Bible doctrine.
So Israel is in reversionism and the point of the author here is it has screwed up your thinking so much and your ability to perform so much, because that's always the result of sin in the life. When we get involved in reversionism and we get away from the Lord, then we start losing objectivity, we start operating on subjective impressions and emotions and we no longer make good decisions from a position of strength and we start making bad decisions from a position of weakness, which is the sin nature. And whenever we come under outside pressure, whether it's the outside military pressure Israel was going through or any sort of outside pressure we might be going through, either from a job, personal problems, health problems, financial problems, whatever it might be, when we go through those instead of handling it with the problem solving devices and the stress busters, then what we do is we are converting that outside pressure of adversity into stress in the soul. We have studied how stress destroys our ability to think and before long our thinking, our cognitive abilities just begin to shut down. We can't analyze the problem correctly because we can't see it objectively any more. We're not longer using doctrine and so one bad decision builds upon another bad decision and the cumulative effect is self-destructive.
And that is exactly where Israel is and so the writer here is pointing out that Ehud may be absolutely horrible and degenerate and he's an old fat slob and he can't really do anything, he's not very effective but he was effective enough to defeat you militarily and to rule you for 18 years. So he does this, we're told in Judges 3:13, he does this in a coalition; "And he gathered to himself the sons of Ammon and Amalek;" so these are two other tribal groups. Now there is a relationship between Moab and Ammon, they are cousins and they are both descendants of Lot. We will see that in just a moment, and Amalek is a more distant cousin. But what I pointed out when we looked at the first series of discipline under Cushan-rishathaim is that through all of these cycles there is always a coalition of external enemies, that is, enemies outside the land that are against Israel, but they always involve the same people, the Midianites, the Amalekites, the Ammonites and the Moabites, it's just at different times there's a different power that has moved into the position of authority within that coalition against Israel.
These are the same people that are against Israel today. We'll go back and review our genealogy of the Arabs; where did the Arabs come from, because to understand the modern Arab-Israeli conflict you have to understand that it has its roots in the Bible and it's basically a family feud. After the great flood, give generations of Noah, down through Peleg. Peleg had a son, Joktan, and Joktan is the father of 13 Arab tribes that came to live and dominate the Arabian Peninsula, what we call Saudi Arabia. Then he had a son, Nahor, who is the father of the Chaldeans and Nahor lived down in Ur of the Chaldeas. He had a son Terah, who had a son Abraham. He had three sons actually, Abraham, Nahor and Haran. Abraham had a son by a handmaiden, an Egyptian handmaiden named Hagar and Ishmael became the father of the Bedouin Arabs. Abraham's promised seed was Isaac, and then Abraham had a second wife, Keturah, and he had six sons from Keturah, one of whom was Midian who is the father of the Midianites. Now Nahor, who was Abraham's brother, had a son, Lot who is Abraham's nephew. One night Lot got drunk and his two daughters had incestuous relations with him and the result of that incestuous relationship was two sons, Ammon and Moab. Ammon and Moab are the progenitors of the Ammonites and the Moabites. So we can see that they are second cousins to the Jews who descend through Isaac through Jacob. Isaac had another son, a twin of Jacob, Esau, who is the father of the Edomites, and it is from Esau that Amalek was born, the father of the Amalekites.
So you can see there's just a family feud that's going on here and it is all related to the spiritual issues outlined in the Abrahamic Covenant. And God has promised that His seed would go through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the Jews are descended from Abraham and it is through the Jews that God will bless all nations. That ultimately was fulfilled in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ who went to the cross and died there as a penalty for the sins of the world. And because of the family feud going back into the ancient times, this was fueled by Satan who was using these cousins and these other families to attack Israel in order to try to prevent the Lord's plan of salvation from coming to pass in the Lord Jesus Christ. And he is still using all of these Arab tribes today, all of the Palestinian conflict we see today. Ammon, that same word is found in the name of the capital, Amman for Jordan and it is Jordan which is the modern state or ancient Ammon and Moab. And all of this is still Satan's ploy to try to destroy the Jews because God has promised the Jews that they would possess the entire land, something they never possessed and that He has a plan for their future. So if Satan can somehow block that he thinks he will have victory in his war against God. But God is not going to allow Satan to have that victory.
Now Moab, this is a map of the modern state, this is the Dead Sea, Jerusalem is located here, and ancient Jericho is located here and this is only about twelve miles from the Dead Sea and only about ten miles from the crossing of the Jordan. So it's just barely inside Israel proper on the west bank. God is carrying out this discipline, when it says that God strengthens them, he his coalition of Ammon, Amalek, and Moab, that they go and defeat Israel and they possessed the city of the palms which is Jericho. This is fulfillment of God's discipline warning of five cycle of discipline on His covenant nation Israel given in Leviticus 26. Leviticus 26:14 says "If you do not obey Me and do not carry out all these commandments,  And if instead you reject My statutes, and if your soul abhors My ordinances so as not to carry out all My commandments and so break My covenant," this is the Mosaic Covenant,  "I in turn will do this to you: I will appoint over you a sudden terror, consumption and fever," so there would be health problems, "consumption and fever that shall waste away the eyes and cause the soul to pine away." So that's that stage of soul poverty in reversionism, that God would answer the prayer but send leanness to the soul, "cause the soul to pine away; also you shall sow your seed uselessly, for your enemies shall eat it up."
And this is what's happening, that they will have production, manufacturing and they will have agricultural production but it would be taken by their enemies. No matter how hard they worked the fruit of the fields would be absorbed by the enemies, and that's what was taking place here with Moab. If you look at the map, what was happening here is that at the fords of the Jordan, down in this vicinity, is where cattle and other crops were moved from the Transjordan tribes of Reuben and Gad into the central part of Israel. So this was a major area for the movement of goods back and forth, and trade goods, part of the caravan route, and what happened is that when Eglon moved in and set up his summer palace and headquarters in Jericho then he would control the fords of the Jordan and exact an enormous tribute or tax. I guess this is one of the first toll roads in history. They're operating down here on the fords of the Jordan and he's exacting this tribute that is paid on either a quarterly or annual basis in order to let the caravans go through and move the troops, and that's just a fulfillment of the promise of divine discipline there in Leviticus 26:16. "You shall sow your seed uselessly for your enemies shall eat it up.  And I will set My face against you," so God becomes the enemy of the nation, even though he is the suzerain who has entered into a special covenant with them, He is going to become an enemy to them because of their rebelliousness and their infidelity to Him. "I will set My face against you."
This is reminiscent of the statement in the New Testament that God hates the arrogant and God makes war against the arrogant but God gives grace to the humble. So when we allow ourselves to go into carnality we're always operating on arrogance and when we operate on arrogance God is going to set Himself against us. If you are a believer and you are child of God then God is going to bring divine discipline into your life that may be absolutely horrendous in order to get your attention and focus you back on the right priorities of Bible doctrine first and obedience to God second.
So God says "I will set My face against you so that you will be struck down before your enemies," there will be military defeat. Notice the cause of military defeat is not bad military budgeting; it is not the fact that they don't have a stock pile of weapons. All of these are other factors.
[Tape turns] … is a spiritual reason and the application we're seeing again and again is the reason there are cultural problems, the reason they lose freedom, they reason they're defeated militarily, the reason they have economic collapse; it has nothing to do with the policies in force, it has everything to do with their rejection of God. The policy that any nation adopts politically ultimately reflects an underlying spiritual reality. And when that underlying spiritual reality is a rejection of God and Bible doctrine then the consequences of that nation that has enslaved themselves in their soul is going to be enslaved politically and economically as a result of their policy, because when you're not thinking on the basis of doctrine, you're thinking on the basis of paganism and pagan thought always leads to subservience and defeat.
So that is exactly what happens here. The ultimate problem is not political and the ultimate solution is not political. And when people run around today thinking somehow that they're going to solve our problems through politics, if we just get the right party into power and the right person in the Presidency that we're going to solve all our problems, well you're mistaken because that's not the problem . The problem is the people and the people have rejected God and rejected doctrine. See, all we're to get when we have this election is we're either going to get one man who is going to hasten the decline or we will get the other man who won't stop it or slow it down. So it's a case of bad or worse but it's not a case of good because that's not the problem and that's not the solution. That's not to say don't vote, it is just to say don't put your hopes on that or get crushed when the person you think is going to solve the problems doesn't make it because that's not the problem, but we need to get out and vote and make sure that the right man gets in office.
Leviticus 26:17, "I will set My face against you, so you shall be struck down before your enemies, and those who hate you shall rule over you, and you shall flee when no one is pursuing you," and that's emotionalism, you're afraid all the time so you're running away from shadows. So you see Israel's culture at this time, because they have gotten involved with paganism, is really no different from the kind of culture and problems that we face today.
In Judges 3:13 we read that they came across the Jordan and "they possessed the city of the palm trees," which is just another term for Jericho. Now apparently the Jews had started to rebuild Jericho at least because there was an oasis there. Jericho is eight miles northwest of the Jordan River, it's 800 feet below sea level and there is a gorgeous oasis there which provided water and sustenance for the area. And apparently Eglon established a temporary palace there where he would go for a while and the area was covered with date palms and banana trees, balsam, sycamores, henna, it was a very productive area, a very beautiful area, and he would go there in order to relax. This city was not rebuilt for many, many years, until 850 BC which is about 400 more years under the reign of King Ahab. When Joshua, if you remember, when Joshua defeated Jericho he put a curse on the Israelites who rebuilt the city and that is not fulfilled until sometime later when Heil [sp?] attempts to fortify the city in 850 BC. Eglon isn't a Jew so the curse doesn't apply to him. So he refortifies the city and establishes at least some sort of temporary residence there, sort of a Camp David type thing I think
Judges 8:14, "The sons of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years." Here we run into one of the words I've studied a lot, 'abad, it's the qal imperfect of 'abad which means to work, to serve, to be enslaved to and it also means to worship in certain contexts. The writer continually uses this with various meanings because they moved from serving God and worshiping to serving and worshiping the false gods and whenever they served and worshiped the false gods that leads to political and economic slavery. And he uses the same word in order to tie the three events together. Failure to serve God leads to serving other gods. Whenever you reject God something else always moves into the vacuum and then you become enslaved to that and to other forces and other factors. Because they served the king of Moab it took eighteen years this time for the message to get through that this is really a bad situation, and finally they cry out to the Lord
Judges 3:15, "But when the sons of Israel cried to the LORD," za'aq which does not imply any kind of real confession, it may simply be nothing more than Lord I'm miserable, help. There may be no recognition of sin at all, it is only used one time in Judges where it gives content to the cry and that's in Judges 10:10 where they cried to the Lord and say we have sinned by serving the Baals and Asherah. But they can simply be like many believers who, after going through a certain amount of divine discipline say Lord, deliver me. And the Lord in grace still gives them a little grace and a little blessing in order to give them a little opportunity to turn back to Him and to confess their sins and get with the program spiritually. So the Lord answers their cry and He "raised up a deliverer for them," and the word for deliverer comes from the root word, it's a participle that comes from the root word yasha' which means to save or deliver and is the same root for the name of our Savior, Jesus. It is Yeshua in the Hebrew from the noun and verb yasha' which means to deliver or to save and the principle here is that only God can deliver us from the consequences of our sin.
So He provides a man named Ehud. Now Ehud is a fascinating individual; he shows a lot of fine character qualities but I'm not sure he shows any spiritual qualities. There is a marked absence of spiritual references to Ehud. After this point you don't hear about God any more except once when Ehud invokes His name at the very end when he tells the armies of Israel, after he's assassinated Eglon, he says go and attack them because God has given them into our hand. But other than there's no mention of the Lord, He's completely absence from the text and the silence is deafening. And then the writer leaves God out in a context like this he's saying something about the individual. Apparently Ehud had military capability, he was a good planner, he was crafty but he not necessarily had a good relationship with the Lord unlike Othniel in verse 10 earlier, the Spirit of the Lord does not come upon him.
And it's interesting that in Hebrews 11 when there is a list of judges that are listed because of their faith and trust in God, Ehud is conspicuously absent. So it seems that Ehud is not listed here because he has great spiritual ability. God can raise up many different people in order to provide deliverance. We might even say that God raised up a Dwight Eisenhower in order to lead the allied troops to victory during World War II. That does not mean that he is necessarily given any special spiritual ability by God, but that God simply raised up an individual who had that ability to bring victory. We could say that God raised up Norman Schwarzkopf to provide victory in the Gulf War. But that is not saying anything about their spiritual quality or their spiritual capability. It's simply saying that that's the man that God prepared and put in that place in order to perform the job but it doesn't mean that they are necessarily even a believer; it can just mean that God has prepared a certain individual in order to bring about His plan.
So there's no indication here that Ehud has any real spiritual relationship with the Lord. He is called Ehud, the son of Gera, the Benjamite," now Benjamite…the word plays here are phenomenal. Benjamin, the name Benjamin, means son of my right hand. So we have here "Ehud is the son of my right hand, a left-handed man." What's going on here, as soon as you see something like that in the text you have to say wait a minute, what's the Holy Spirit trying to emphasize here. He's a left-handed man. This is something unique and there's a lot of people who write on this and say finally the "lefties" get their day in court here and they have a hero. I've heard all kinds of things, but the point that the writer is making here, especially when you compare it to other passages like later on in Judges 20:16, also in comparison with a phrase in 1 Chronicles 12:2 where we have this same phrase, "a left-handed man," and it literally means shut up to the right hand. Now in Judges 20 there's an entire unit of Benjamite warriors who are said to be left-handed. Were they all born that way, is there some sort of genetic preponderance. That's what some people say, well you know, this was just sort of a genetic tendency among the Benjamites and shows that they all come from the same tribe.
But it's more than that; this phrase isn't the same phrase used in 1 Chronicles 12:2 for being left-handed. There is a different phrase; this one literally means bound in the right hand, and the best explanation of this is the Benjamites had prepared a special unit of warriors and these warriors had been trained, they had bound up their right hands so that they learned how to use their slings and their javelins with their left hands so that they were ambidextrous. And the purpose for that is that in combat the enemy soldiers were all trained to fight with other right-handed soldiers. If they came up against a whole company of left-handed warriors they would be undone because when you're fighting with the sword and a shield and you're trained to strike with the sword with your right hand and hit the shield that's held in the left hand of the opposing person and all of a sudden he's got a sword in that hand instead of a shield you're bumfuzzled for a moment, you're confused, you don't know how to handle it, and so the Benjamites had apparently put together an elite group of soldiers who had trained themselves to be ambidextrous, and Ehud is one of those soldiers, so he has a military background; he has been trained to use certain weapons, and he is a very thoughtful individual and a good planner because of the way he carries out his episode of deliverance.
Judges 3:16, he also has a certain ability with developing weapons, "Ehud made himself a sword," a double edged sword, a cubit in length," the Hebrew cubit was about 14 to 16 inches long, a little larger than a good bowie knife, "a cubit in length and he bound it on his right thigh under his cloak." So when he was searched, because they had sort of a cross draw he would be searched on his left thigh, not his right thigh and he can get in past the guards, close to the king and even if he makes a move with his left hand nobody is going to think that it is a threatening move. He has to make his own weapon. Now this is another indication of what has taken place during this period. The Philistines and these other nations have prevented Israel from having blacksmiths in the land; we know that from 1 Samuel 20. It's an early form of gun control, an early form of arms control, and the way they kept Israel in a subservient position and a position where they could be defeated is to keep them from having the latest technology for weapons. So it's interesting that people like Ehud and Shamgar, have to make their own weapons. Ehud makes his own sword; Shamgar defeats the Philistines with an ox goad. They used very primitive type weapons. All of this is because of policies of arms control that had been imposed upon them by these external enemies.
He comes to Eglon, he brings the tribute, he's in charge of the caravan, and Judges 3:17, "He presented the tribute to Eglon king of Moab." Then we have a little parenthetical observation to remind us that Fatty was an extremely fat man, "Now Eglon was a very fat man." So Lefty now comes to see Fatty in the throne room. Now after Lefty leaves in Judges 3:18, "It came about when he had finished presenting the tribute, that he sent away the people who had carried the tribute.  But he himself turned back from the idols which were at Gilgal," so they've left Jericho and their caravan, they've made it about five miles out to Gilgal, which has important significance for a Jew. It was at Gilgal after the nation came into the land under Joshua, defeated the Canaanites at Jericho, at Ai and in the south, they gathered together and reaffirmed the covenant with God at Gilgal. But what's happened now to Gilgal, this tremendous shrine in ancient Israel to their unique relationship with God? There are not idols there, which shows the complete reversionism of the nation that they still haven't turned away from their idols, they are still practicing that, even though they've cried out for deliverance.
So he turns back at the idols at Gilgal and he sends everybody else on, and he comes to the king and ye says, "I have a secret message for you, O king." And this implies sort of secret prophecy from God. Just like so many people in power, they want to know what God has to say to them and they'll go to astrologers and they'll go to tarot card readers and all kinds of soothsayers in order to find out what the future might hold. Eglon is extremely gullible and he's going to let Ehud come in and give him a secret word from God. So apparently Ehud has studied his opponent and realizes that he has religious superstitions and so he's going to use that against him. So he comes in and he says, "Keep silence. And all who attended him left him." He sends out all of his attendants, all of his body guards, all of his servants and he lets Ehud get close to him.
Judges 3:20, "Ehud came to him while he was sitting alone in his cool roof chamber. And Ehud said, I have a message from God for you." Now the "cool roof chamber," there's a lot of debate as to what means because it's a Hebrew word, it's a hapax, it's only used one time and we're not sure exactly what this means, whether is outside or there some indication from looking at cognate languages that it could just be the upper throne room, but in any case it is a private room where there is only Ehud and Eglon. And Ehud came to him in verse 20, "while he was sitting alone in his cool roof chamber. And Ehud said, I have a message from God for you. And he arose from his seat."
Judges 3:21, "Ehud stretched out his left hand," now this isn't a suspicious action, "he stretches out his left hand, reaches under his robe, grabs the sword that's strapped to his right thigh and thrust it into his belly."  The handle also went in after the blade," so apparently there's no hilt on the dagger, and he just rams this thing, just shoves it right up into all the folds of fat that just wrap around it and encompass it and the sword is swallowed up into his intestines, "and the fat closed over the blade," very graphic, "for he did not draw the sword out of his belly; and the refuse came out." It's such a nice way of putting it, the King James says "and the dirt came out." What happens when you die is your bowels immediately evacuate, that means everything comes out. Now there's great humor here because what the writer wants you to understand and wants the Jews to understand is this fat man who's been oppressing us 18 years that you've been so afraid of, well there's nothing left of him but just a pile of refuse, just a pile of feces.
Ehud is very crafty, Judges 3:23, "Then Ehud went out into the vestibule" now we don't know what that is either, but in light of all the discussion here, that the slaves are outside and they think later on, they don't know what happened, they're going to think he's in the head (for you Navy guys), that he went to the rest room, they won't come in to the room. So Ehud goes out into the vestibule, and there's some indication that this word is not really a vestibule but some architectural feature probably related to the latrine, privy or the head. So what he does is that this is a private part of the throne room and he locks from the doors from the inside and then either escapes through some door inside the chamber, some other exit, or he goes on the roof and goes over the outside wall, but whatever the case, he manages to get out without anybody seeing him and he locks the doors from the inside.
Judges 3:24, "When he had gone out, his servants came and looked," they knock on the door and wait for the king to call them in, "and behold, the doors of the roof chamber were locked; and they said, He is only relieving himself in the cool room." That's not what it says in the original Hebrew. The original Hebrew, you do have a euphemism, it says that "he was covering his feet." You know when you drop your drawers they land on top of your feet, so that was the euphemism for going to the bathroom and relieving yourself. You "covered your feet." So what they actually said was he's in there covering his feet so let's not bother him. Of course, the guy had evacuated all of his bowels so there's this rich odor that's permeating the outer throne area so they think that's what's going on here. See, you just have to live inside the text for a while and understand all the humor.
Judges 3:25, So they wait outside, and they wait and wait and "They waited until they became anxious;" and that's not what the Hebrew says either, it says "they waited until they were embarrassed, they had just been out there for so long, they're just embarrassed, man, this guy is really taking his time in the can, but finally they get the key and they open it up they go in and they find "behold, their master had fallen to the floor dead." That's allowed Ehud time to escape in verse 26.
Judges 3:26, "Now Ehud escaped while they were delaying, and he passed by the idols and escaped to Seirah.  It came about when he had arrived, that he blew the trumpet in the hill country of Ephraim; and the sons of Israel went down with him from the hill country, and he was in front of them." So if you look at the map he heads out from Jericho and heads up into this central area highlands here, blows the trumpet and basically what the text says is again a little bit of a mistranslation, "pursue them," he really says "charge," and off they go. He gathers the forces that are up in this area and they come down and they bypass the troops at Jericho, an excellent military maneuver and they seize the fords of Jericho. And that way they trap them inside the land and they're able to take the Moabite army apart piece by piece.
Judges 3:28, "He said to them, Pursue them," that is "Charge, for the LORD has given your enemies the Moabites into your hands. So they went down after him and seized the fords of the Jordan opposite Moab, and did not allow anyone to cross.  They struck down at that time about ten thousand Moabites, all robust and valiant men; and no one escaped." So this is a more in depth picture, they've been up in the area of Jericho, and they just come down here and seize the fords and then when the Moabites try to get across they set up an ambush and they wipe out ten thousand of them.
The result, Judges 3:30, "So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land was undisturbed for eighty years." As a result of military victory they now have freedom in order to pursue day to day life and two more generations will go by before they forget God and abandon Him and go into another cycle of discipline. Now the point of application for us is to remember that we're in the same position Israel is. When we compromise with the enemies within, the sin nature, then that makes us susceptible to all of the ideologies and religions and philosophies and rationalizations of the pagan culture surrounding us. And once we allow ourselves to operate in the sin and under the power of the sin nature then we become slaves to the sin nature according to Romans 6. Once we become slaves to the sin nature then we will become enslaved to the external ideas and forces and thoughts of the cosmic system.
That leads to an enslavement of our soul that is only broken by turning back to God. We have to begin with 1 John 1:9. No matter how bad we've messed up, no matter how great the failure, no matter how heinous the sin, God will forgive us. Christ paid the penalty, there's no sin too great for the grace of God. That's great optimism because it means we can still recover if we're still alive, and then we can continue to learn doctrine, begin to apply it to the problems and all of the horrible situations we've created for ourselves, and then we can advance forward in peace and stability just as Israel did. But the issues in life, we must realize, are ultimately spiritual; everything else is a symptom of our spiritual condition.