According to body- image surveys, most girls are overly concerned about weight and body shape. They strive for their “perfect” body and judge themselves by their looks.
Most boys are also concerned with their body, their size and strength. Boys live in a culture that showcases males as glamorous, “macho” figures, who build muscles and sculpt their bodies – if they want to fit in.
The media plays a big part. Surrounded by photo-shopped models, teenagers and adults are presented with an impossible goal. A female should apparently look like Barbie and a male should look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. In our image-dominated world, image is everything and we are taught to hate any imperfections or deficiencies.
This creates depression and anxiety, because very few of us look like Barbie or Arnold – nor were we meant to. How do you think about yourself? Do you have a low self-image? Perhaps you have a glaring imperfection, disability or limitation, that causes you to think less of yourself? Perhaps you even think you’re worth less to God?
In Judges Ch. 3 we are introduced to a very unexpected, Israelite assassin, Ehud ben Gera, who is most likely a person with a disability. The entire chapter is marvelously unexpected and teaches us, among other things, that God is not impressed with image.
Ehud is left-handed. Or more literally, “restricted in the use of his right hand” (v15). This could simply mean that he was left-handed, but it probably means more than that, because later in the story, fat King Eglon (v17) is happy to dismiss his guards and see Ehud alone (v19). The King would probably only do that if he didn’t think Ehud was a threat – due to his disability.
Ehud’s right hand was most probably limp or shriveled. Ehud was impaired, limited and imperfect.
But God uses people just like this.
It was a time in Israel’s early history in the Promised Land when, because of their unfaithfulness to God, He has allowed His people to be subdued by the Moabites under the rule of King Eglon. God had become an enemy.
Yet God raised up the disabled Ehud to rescue His people.
Ehud took a tribute to King Eglon and after presenting it to the king claimed he had a special message, from God, for the King that only he may hear. The king sent everyone out of his chamber believing that Ehud posed no personal threat to him.
The king’s guards would have checked for swords on the left thigh where right-handed men would strap them. But Ehud had no sword there, plus he is disabled – not much of a threat…but his sword was on the other side, strapped to his right leg, hidden under his clothes. The scene is set.
In v21-22 we have a slow-motion action-replay of the murder:
And Ehud reached with his left hand, took the sword from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly. And the hilt also went in after the blade, and the fat closed over the blade, for he did not pull the sword out of his belly; and the dung came out.
The dung came out probably means that Eglon lost bowel control.
The very thing that represented weakness to Eglon’s untrained eye (Ehud’s disability), was what God in his wisdom used to deliver Israel (v30).
Sadly, Ehud’s deliverance could not deal with Israel’s main problem: it could not change the heart or deal with sin because in Ch. 4:1 Israel again do evil in the sight of the Lord.
Ehud reminds us that we need a deliverer who can deal with sin.
The account reminds us that because of our sin God has become our enemy (v12). And yet, God in his great mercy has raised up a very unexpected deliverer.
Who would have thought that a carpenter’s son from Nazareth would be the Saviour of the world? Very unexpected.
And God used a very unexpected method: who would have thought that by being executed, Jesus would achieve a great victory over the enemies of God’s people?
The power of sin is broken because Jesus paid the penalty for sin that we deserve: death.
The power of death is conquered because Jesus rose again.
The power of Satan is shattered because Satan cannot accuse us before God anymore.
And because Jesus deals with our sin, God is no longer our enemy.
The very thing that represented weakness to the people of the 1st century (crucifixion), was what God, in his wisdom, used to deliver his people. An unexpected deliverer, using an unexpected method, delivering us from an unexpected enemy.
The account of Ehud also teaches us that God uses all kinds of people in his service.
You don’t have to be Barbie or Arnold Schwarzenegger. God loves imperfection, weakness and inadequacy, because it highlights God’s perfection, strength and adequacy.
Do you think you are imperfect, weak or inadequate?
Good. Because you are. But we serve a God who loves using imperfect, weak and inadequate people. If we were perfect, Christ died for nothing.
Keep trusting and serving Jesus and remember that God made you as you are, weaknesses included, so that the glory would go to God, not to you.