Fat kings and swords don’t mix

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Eglon was a fat and proud Moabite king who subjected Israel for 18years in the time of the Judges. In this sermon transcript, Andy Moyle shows how God picked the unlikely guy, Ehud to deal with him and rescue Israel. It’s a gross story where Eglon dies wallowing in blood and poo, but it’s loaded with theology and application for how God wants to use you for kingdom purposes too (Note: not by stabbing evil fat kings in the loo)

The Big Picture – Judges

The big picture has got us to the time of the Judges – that time between the death of Joshua and the start of the monarchy. Not a great time for Israel – summed up by the last verse of the book 21:25 “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” The theory was that the Israel would look to God for to give judgement – be their judge – which in 1:1 they do – but they quickly fall into what some call a cycle, but is actually a downward spiral outlined in chapter 2:11-19

  1. Israel does what is evil v11
  2. God hands them over to an oppressor v14-15
  3. They cry out to God
  4. God raises up a judge to rescue them v16

Israel has rest for a generation before the judge dies and the cycle is repeated.
It’s really a downward spiral because the judgements get worse ending up into almost completely assimilation and capitulation to Philistine values in Samson's time and Israel stops crying out to God in repentance or even misery.
The spiral starts with Moabite invasion in ch 3, cruelty by the Canaanites in ch 4, Midianite devastation in ch 6 and being given into Philistine hands in 13 – where they fraternise, intermarry and the elders would rather hand over Samson than rock the boat.
But we are jumping ahead in the story. There are 12 judges in the book of Judges and two who come later – Eli a priest judge and Samuel a prophet judge.
Some will be very familiar Gideon gets 100 verses, some you may not have heard of Shamgar just one – Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar, Deborah, Gideon, Tola, Jair, Jephtah, Ibza, Elon, Abdon and Samson
We are going to look at Ehud, who is sandwiched between the first judge Othniel and the third Shamgar. You probably haven't heard a sermon on Ehud – but if like me you heard his story in Sunday school, you will have enjoyed the plunging of a sword into Fat Eglon's tummy so that poo spewed out! Which is probably why he hasn't featured in enough sermons!
Ehud is the first judge who gets some detail – so let us read his story in 3:12-30
Like I say he is sandwiched between Othniel and Shamgar. Othniel sets up a pattern for the book of Israel sinning, angering God, an oppressor coming. Israel crying out to God, God raising up a deliverer, Othniel, filling him with the Spirit. The judge rescuing Israel to give them rest for a generation and then dying. Shamgar gets just one verse – doing it completely differently – he rescues Israel by killing 600 Philistines with an ox goad. Cannot put God in a box, He will act how He wants to act!
Ehud is a story of surprises. Othniel was a clear leader, anointed by the Spirit, publicly acclaimed as leader and then a warrior. Ehud comes very differently.
The most memorable detail of the story is Eglon the baddies fatness and the poo! The most theologically significant detail, that you probably missed when I read the story is that Ehud is a left handed man. No biggie? How many are left handed here today.
It's significant for two reasons
Firstly God acts by his right hand – a quick search on right hand will give us
• God swears by His right hand to bless His people Isa 62:8-9
• God destroys his enemies with His right hand Ex 15:6
• At God's right hand are pleasures evermore Ps 16:11
• Jesus sits at God's right hand Ps 110:11
God's right hand is the one of power, glory and blessing
So God stretches out his right hand to rescues Israel and uses a guy, Ehud, from the tribe of Benjamin which means “Son of my right hand”. If he'd have used his right hand we'd have thought how apt.
But our translations say he was a “left-handed man” – the Hebrew says “shut of his right hand” – he couldn't use his right hand – he was disabled in some way, it was withered.
No one expects a strong right hand – so Ehud is acceptable to a thoroughly subjected Israel and an oppressing Moab and then able to see Eglon, the king of Moab privately because he presents no threat. He is not a security risk, because he can't wield a sword!

Although a quick reading would have missed it – this is mind blowing for the original readers. Othniel had been a mighty warrior, God is now using a disabled man to be a warrior rescuer. Othniel had been publicly recognised. Ehud is a wimpy diplomat until he has assassinated Eglon.

So Ehud and his diplomatic team bring tribute – gifts to Eglon and then the team return, all except Ehud who is on a mission from God. He has made a special sword, hidden under his cloak on the wrong side, where no one wears a sword and he looks safe with his withered word arm anyway. So he gets to go into Eglon's private suite to deliver a message, the door is locked and Ehud delivers the message from God – drawing the sword and stabbing the fat king in the stomach, so the blade disappears under the wobbling blubber and bood and excrement spill out. Eglon is so fat he can't resist, can't move and dies wallowing in blood and poo.

The excrement is mentioned because it adds to the shame of the death – fancy the king found lying dead by his toilet, wallowing in blood and muck. Yuck.

The secret service men wait outside for a long time – he must be having a no2 – and you don't interrupt a no2 (only place to get peace and quiet, isn't it mums!) And Ehud gets time to escape and get back to the people of Israel. He blows the trumpet, rallies and army and they kill every one of the 10,000 oppressors – Strong inESV,lusty in the KJV – stout in Hebrew! Can be taken either way strong or fat. Think of a body builder who stops training and the muscle turns to fat – this is the picture here of the Moabites once strong not fat and proud and…. Dead.

Ehud gets to be a judge for 80 years – two generations worth – one of if not the longest leaderships.
It’s a fascinating tale. Moab – once insignificant but then a mighty oppressor for 18years who gets fat and proud and then falls mightily.
Israel whose sin is unoriginal.
Satan shouldn't be underestimated but he is very predicatble with his temptations. Israel have gone for their classic sin of preferring the local gods to the One True God. They have chased after idols, because as Spurgeon said the heart is an idol factory. Very easy to slip into adoring things other than God.
We have God who hates sin and longs for Israel to repent and then to act on their behalf when they do.
Every judge is different – Deborah is a woman, Gideon is a non-entity, Jepthah is a bandit and Samson is a chav. Ehud was a left-handed guy with a withered right hand.
God will do what He has promised to do, but we cannot dictate how or who He will use!

God loves to use the “left-handed” – the principle of the Left hand!

He loves to use the unexpected people.
Even Jesus came in a left-handed way – Isaiah 53 he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
The principle of the left-hand is most clear in 1 Cor 1 “For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God”.
Paul was a little Jewish guy, not particularly eloquent of speech, but a powerful church planter and amazing letter writer. David was the last picked shepherd boy. Gideon the weakest in the weakest clan of the weakest tribe. James and John were sons of thunder – that's nothing impressive! Peter was good at sticking his foot in it. But God called them, moulded them and used them.

Don't write yourself off or let others write you off or look down on you.

If I believed or took on board what people have said to me I wouldn't be leading or following what God has said. “You'll never be a church leader”, “You wouldn't be a leader in that stream”, “You are a horrible pastor” … You've got a withered right hand.
We’ve all got a withere right hand in one way or other!
Don't take on board rubbish that people say – sometimes they are as Job puts it words for the wind – words that were said rashly and should be allowed to blow away, other times Satan means them for harm. Examine them for any truth with a friends help. Reject the bad and hold onto the good.
Sometimes others will have written you off, sometimes, you write yourself off with a lack of confidence. That will be a battle for many of us – but these words in Jer 17 should ring in our ears to keep us going to the source of confidence.
Somehow though Ehud had been written off as the left handed withered right hand guy, he had found confidence in God in the secret place, to hear from God. Confidence to make a special dagger in secret and hide it to get past the secret service men. And then confidence in God to act in faith and rise up and lead Israel for 80 years.
God uses the weak to shame the strong, the foolish in the world's eyes to shame the wise.

Ehud left a legacy

– I’m pretty sure he lead the longest of the judges and he is the only one who doesn’t have the “again Israel did evil in the eyes of the Lord” after his death. He passed on the baton to the one verse guy Shamgar. Whatever you do for the Lord, make sure you are training someone up to take the baton after you.

Lastly are you stuck in the spiral that Israel were in?

– sin, judgement, repentance, rescue. Some seem to be trapped in that old covenant cycle. Jesus came as the ultimate rescuer and died to get us out of that cycle.
Gal 5:1 tells us that it is For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
The Lord wants to take you out of a cycle of sin, defeat, repentance – some of you may be trapped in repetitive cycles of sin in whatever form – whether it be sexual sin, how you treat members of your family, money or whatever.

God wants you to live in the good of your new nature 2 Cor 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
Become a Christian
Allow the truth to penetrate your thinking – take every bad thought captive and think on 2 Cor 5:17.
Stay away from areas of temptation!



Andy planted the Gateway Church in Sept 2007. He and Janet love to gather different nations together to grow in Christ while eating good food! He also helps to shape and serve a couple of Relational Mission's church plants in mainland Europe. Andy and Janet run regularly, largely to offset the hospitality eating! He also runs a popular WordPress plugin Church Admin