Monday, October 8, 2012

My Favorite Old Testament Action Hero

I love action movies.  Whether it’s a Jackie Chan flick, 007, or Transformers, I am in.  I like chases, plot twists, and dim-witted bad guys.  If they can throw in some humorous punch lines, I’m hooked.  So, when I read this story in the Old Testament many years ago, it became an instant favorite. 

Picture with me: 

An evil king has been ruling over God’s people for 18 long years.  As they finally cry out for a deliverer God sends one man.  He goes to the king with a gift.  Because he is a Jew, and thus an enemy of the king, the guards would surely have checked him for a weapon.  A right-handed man would carry his sword on his left side.  Finding none, they let him in.  The king accepts the tribute.  The man of God turns to leave, but then turns back and says, “I have a secret message for you, O king.”  Unable to ignore such a mysterious turn of events, the king dismisses his attendants and the Israelite approaches him in his private chamber. 

He leans in close to the king and says, “I have a message from God for you.”  The king begins to stand up and the man grabs an 18-inch sword from his RIGHT thigh with his left hand and buries it in the king.  The sword goes all the way through the king and sticks out his back.  But that’s not all.  The king is so fat that the sword and handle completely disappear in his fleshy belly.

The man of God calmly exits the room, closing and locking the doors behind him.  The king’s servants arrive on the scene and finding the doors locked, they assume he is going to the bathroom and wants privacy.  After they wait “to the point of embarrassment,” they unlock the doors and find the king lying on the floor dead.  While they had wasted time standing around, the Israelite escaped.  He made it back to the army and led them down to defeat their enemy.      

That is the story of Ehud from Judges 3:12-30.  It’s the story of a clever, left-handed man who uses his uniqueness to defeat the king and free his people.  Ehud’s my hero.  But, more importantly, God’s my hero.  

I love this story because it shows how God’s plans are so much bigger and well-planned than anything man can conspire.  Ehud was born left-handed.  Being left-handed was not something to be proud of in the past.  Even today, the world is largely made for right-handed people.  The word sinister originated from the Latin, sinistra, which means “left” or “unlucky.”  To be left-handed meant you were clumsy, unlucky, or even evil.  It was not a coincidence that Ehud was left-handed.  It was for this very reason that he was able to sneak a weapon into the palace and quickly pull it out when it was time to assassinate the king. 

Ehud was also clever.  He knew how to use timing and words to get the king to allow him to be alone with him.  He planned to have a sword short enough to be hidden on his thigh and be just long enough to kill.  Whether he knew the servants would assume the king was going to the bathroom when they found the locked doors, I don’t know.  He did seem to know it was best to leave quietly and calmly to raise the least amount of suspicion. 

God can use beautiful, multi-talented people who seem to have it all together.  But, more often God uses people who are rough around the edges.  People who may not initially stand out as the “cream of the crop.”  This is the only story of Ehud recorded in Scripture.  He was one of Israel’s judges.  The next judge, Shamgar, gets one verse stating he killed “six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad.”  I have a feeling I would have enjoyed hearing the details of that story as well, but it wasn’t included.

The nineteen verses of Ehud’s deliverance of Israel is important, if for no other reason than because he got nineteen verses.  If God can use a guy like Ehud to fulfill His plans than I know He can use any of us, as long as we are willing.  The cool thing is that God wants to use the talents we have developed over time, but He may also choose to use traits or characteristics we have had since birth. 

A more modern day example of this was Amy Carmichael.  When she was a child she dreamed of having blue eyes instead of brown and was disappointed that those prayers weren’t answered.  Years later, as an adult ministering in India she would often dress in Indian clothes, dye her skin with coffee and by blending in she was able to save many young girls from temple prostitution.  If she had had blue eyes she would not have been able to blend in and would not have been so easily accepted by the Indian people.  God gave her brown eyes for a reason.

Is there a physical trait that you wish was different about you?  Do you wonder why God made you the way He did?  Have you considered that God may have a greater purpose for you and that He made you inside and out, exactly for that purpose?  God had a plan for Ehud’s left-handedness and Amy Carmichael’s brown eyes; He has a plan for you.

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