68 - The First Two Judges – Othniel and Ehud
March 9 - Nº 68 Judges 2:6-23; 3:1-30
A new generation of Israelites was growing up in the Promised Land. They had not been alive when God fed their parents in the wilderness; miraculously stopped the Jordan River from flowing; fought great battles so they could enter Canaan. They did not grasp the importance of driving the unbelieving people out of their new land. Instead, they began to marry them and worship their pagan gods. This made God angry! Since they no longer desired a relationship with Him, God withheld His blessing and protection. This left them vulnerable to other nations—who attacked them and put them in bondage. When they realized that it was their sin that was causing them to suffer, they cried out to God for help. He responded by sending “judges”—not to condemn them but to save them. The “judges” God sent were men and women who remained faithful to Him in an unfaithful culture. They led the Israelites out of bondage and restored peace to the land. The people were grateful and worshiped God if the judge He sent was still alive. But when that judge died, they sinned again. This 5-step cycle of (1) sin, (2) suffering, (3) sorrow and repentance, (4) salvation, and finally (5) spiritual prosperity, was repeated at least six times in the book of Judges. And with each cycle, the sins of the nation grew worse. The first judge God sent was a man named Othniel. The Israelites had sinned by worshiping pagan gods. So, God allowed the king of Aram (part of northern Mesopotamia) to attack them. Without God’s help, they were unable to defend themselves, and they became subjects of Aram for eight years. The Israelites finally cried out to God for help. When they did, He sent Othniel to save them. Othniel defeated the king of Aram, and Israel had peace for 40 years. Then the people sinned again. This time, God allowed Eglon, the king of Moab to conquer them. Eglon controlled the lives and money of the Israelites for 18 years. When they finally admitted their sin and begged God for mercy, He sent Ehud to rescue them. The Israelites owed Eglon a large amount of money. Ehud decided to deliver it personally. Before he left, he made a 16-inch, two-edged sword and strapped it to his right leg under his robe. (He was left-handed.) After he and his men delivered the money, Ehud requested a private meeting with King Eglon. The king asked all his attendants to leave. When they were alone, Ehud drew his sword and plunged it into the king’s stomach. Eglon was so obese that the fat folded over the sword and Ehud could not retrieve it from his stomach. He left the room and locked the door behind him. When the king’s attendants found the door locked, they thought the king must be using the bathroom. They finally decided to get a key to check on him, but it was too late. King Eglon was dead, and Ehud had escaped! Ehud rallied the Israelite troops and led them in a great victory over the Moabites. This time, Israel had peace for 80 years.
Are you in a relationship with God that would allow Him to use you as a “judge?” (Not as someone who condemns, but as a faithful follower of Jesus who is willing to help others find peace in their lives?) We must be faithful and strong and willing to confront things that are evil in our society—just as the judges did in the Bible.