Today’s Reading: Judges 1 – 3:30
I love superheroes! Maybe it comes from the cartoons I watched every Saturday morning growing up or from my love of Wonder Woman, but I enjoy the plot of a superhero coming in and saving the day. Therefore, when I read the book of Judges, I can easily see it as a comic book of superhero stories. The people get themselves into a mess and God sends a superhero (or judge) to come in and save the day! We will spend the next five days going through the book of Judges and studying how God gave some pretty ordinary people some pretty extraordinary moments!
Now these superheroes are not perfect. After all, even though Superman was “faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound,” he did have this aversion to green Kryptonite. He went from strong and powerful to pained and nauseous in the presence of this substance.
The heroes in the book of Judges do not have superpowers like Superman, but they are flawed like he was. They are just regular people willing to let God do something extraordinary with their lives. God called them into leadership and filled them with His Spirit so that God could rescue His people through them. The true Superhero in this book is God Himself and He is looking for regular people who are willing to let Him do something amazing and heroic with their lives.
When the tribes of Israel went to conquer the land and defeat the Canaanites, they did not fully obey the Lord’s command. After all we have learned about the Israelites over the last several weeks, this comes as no surprise. Most of the tribes failed to drive out the people living in the land, even though God’s command was to completely destroy them. Because of their disobedience, God declared He would no longer drive out the people living there but would allow them to stay and be thorns in the sides of the Israelites and a constant temptation with their false gods (Judges 2:2-3). The presence of these foreigners would be a test of whether or not the Israelites loved God enough to obey the commands He had given their ancestors through Moses. (3:4)
This first generation wept at their sin but the next generation did evil in the Lord’s sight and served the images of Baal. In His anger, the Lord allowed raiders to come in and steal their possessions. He turned them over to their enemies (2:10-14). After 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, God’s plan was to give them a peaceful and beautiful land but, because of their disobedience, they would instead struggle against “villains” – needing rescued over and over again.
The Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight. They forgot about the Lord their God, and they served the images of Baal and the Asherah poles. Then the Lord burned with anger against Israel and he turned them over to [their enemies]…But when the people of Israel cried out to the Lord for help, the Lord raised up a rescuer [superhero] to save them…The Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he became Israel’s judge. – Judges 3:1-10
First there was Caleb’s nephew, Othniel through whom God gave the Israelites victory over King Cushan-rishathaim of Aram-naharaim after 8 years of suffering (don’t you wish you had that name?!!) Again the Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight and King Eglon of Moab controlled Israel for 18 years. When they cried out to the Lord, He gave them their second hero or judge – Ehud. Now here’s a superhero story for you:
His name was Ehud son of Gera, a left-handed man of the tribe of Benjamin [I did not understand this detail at first but it makes sense later, I promise]. The Israelites sent Ehud to deliver their tribute money to King Eglon of Moab. So Ehud made a double-edged dagger that was about a foot long, and he strapped it to his right thigh, keeping it hidden under his clothing. He brought the tribute money to Eglon, who was very fat.
After delivering the payment, Ehud started home with those who had helped carry the tribute. But when Ehud reached the stone idols near Gilgal, he turned back. He came to Eglon and said, “I have a secret message for you.”
So the king commanded his servants, “Be quiet!” and he sent them all out of the room.
Ehud walked over to Eglon, who was sitting alone in the cool upstairs room. And Ehud said, “I have a message from God for you!” As King Eglon rose from his seat, Ehud reached with his left hand [see what I mean, surprise attack], pulled out the dagger strapped to his right thigh, and plunged it into the king’s belly. The dagger went so deep that the handle disappeared beneath the king’s fat. So Ehud did not pull out the dagger, and the king’s bowels emptied. Then Ehud closed and locked the doors of the room and escaped down the latrine. – Judges 3:15b-23
Perhaps God is calling us to do SUPER things with His help. Perhaps today you will have a SUPERHERO MOMENT. The trick is to remember who the real Super Hero truly is. In the moment I see myself as Wonder Woman, I forget about the Wonderful Counselor. When I believe myself to be Mighty Mouse, I forget who is the Almighty God! When I start believing I am like a Marvel Hero, I take my focus off my Marvelous Lord! There is only one Savior in this world and His name is Jesus Christ! To God be the glory, great things He has done!
Lord, you know the desire of my heart to do great things for you and you know my issues with pride and perfectionism. Please remind me today that I am nothing without you. Please give me a fresh infilling of your Spirit today and prepare my heart for whatever you would have me to do. Please give me a heart of obedience like Moses, daily reminders to be strong and courageous like Joshua and please do not let me miss any potential superhero moments today! To you be the glory, great things you have done! Amen.