The First Two Judges: Othniel & Ehud
March 9 - Nº 68 Judges 2:6-23; 3:1-30
A new generation of Israelites grew up in the Promised Land. They had not been alive when God fed their parents in the wilderness; or miraculously stopped the Jordan River from flowing; or 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. When they realized that it was their sin that caused them to suffer, they cried out to God for help. He responded by sending a “judge,” not to condemn them, but to rescue 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 as long as the judge He sent was alive. But when the judge died, they sinned again. This 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 each time, the sin grew worse. The first judge God sent to the Israelites was named Othniel. The Israelites had sinned by worshiping the Baals and other pagan gods. Without God’s help they became weak, and the king of Aram made them his subjects. His powerful dominance continued for eight years before they 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 be their judge. The Israelites owed Eglon a large amount of money, and Ehud decided to deliver it. Before he left, he made a 16-inch, two-edged sword, and strapped it to his right leg under his robe (since he was left-handed). After he and his men delivered the money, Ehud went back alone and asked if he could give a secret message to Eglon. The king, who happened to be an obese man, asked all his attendants to leave. When they were alone, Ehud drew his sword and plunged it into the king’s stomach. The fat folded over it and Ehud could not pull it back out. He left the room and locked the door. When the king’s attendants found the door locked, they thought the king was using the bathroom. When they finally decided to get a key to check on him, 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.