“And the Angel of Yahweh appeared to him, and he said to him, ‘Yahweh is with you, mighty warrior!”
With Ehud we discussed God’s sense of irony and ironic humor. Here we find that once again. Gideon is here hiding in a wine-press to beat his grain so the Midianites won’t find him and the Angel of Yahweh addresses him as a “mighty warrior.” You can almost imagine Gideon looking around in a dumbfounded way, looking for who it is that the Angel of Yahweh might really be addressing.
Yet, lest we be tempted to suggest that God is being a little bit mean in a sarcastic way, let us remember another principle from scripture.
“For a man sees with the eyes, but Yahweh sees to the heart.”
(1 Samuel 16:7b)
How often we fall into the trap of judging others by the standards of men…how often we judge ourselves in that way, too. You see, in the case of Gideon, God sees in Gideon that which Gideon cannot see within himself — a man who will become a mighty warrior and leader of men for God. And why is it that God sees this where Gideon cannot do the same? It is because God has placed that potential in Gideon’s life (God is Gideon’s creator!) and God is now ready to develop that potential into something mighty and wonderful to deliver the people of God from the oppressive hand of the Midianites.
And while the office of the Judges no longer exists and we are not in a context where we need to beat out our grain in wine-presses to hide from Midianite raiders, we live in a world where God is still God and where He still raises up his people to lead. I recently spent some time talking to my son about not allowing the fun hobbies of his life distract him from his goals. How easy it is for that to take place and how often we miss doing things that will have lasting and eternal impact because we got caught up with a personal hobby, sport, game, or other form of entertainment. How often, in doing so, we fail to see what God sees in us until such a time as God gives us a sovereign wake-up call. Gideon is getting his wake-up call in this way. Moses got his at the burning bush. God doesn’t work quite like that anymore, but He gives us His Word — the Scriptures — to guide us in the paths that would best bring glory to His name. Shall we walk in them?
“Then the Sons of Israel cried out to Yahweh. So Yahweh raised up for them a deliverer, Ehud, the son of Gerar, the Benjaminite, a man which was left-handed. And the Sons of Israel sent a gift in his left-hand to Eglon, the king of Moab.”
As I mentioned above, this account is filled with humor if you look for the double entendre, some of which we find here, though it is sometimes lost in English translations. Many of our translations simply state that Ehud is the one who will take the tribute to Ehud. In ancient times, it was common for the conquered people to have to take a tribute either seasonally or annually to the conquering King. And, that may indeed be what Ehud’s assignment is, yet, that is not specifically what the text states. It states that Ehud is bringing a gift for Eglon “in his left hand.” We have already been told in this verse that Ehud is a south-paw, so we know that something is afoot. If we know the rest of the story, then we know that the item that will become most accessible to his left hand will be his long dagger, but that gets ahead of the story. The fact that this man’s left-handedness is mentioned twice in the same verse is meant as an indication that something is coming with respect to the left hand…namely that this gift or left-handed tribute, is not the ordinary kind that we might expect. And certainly not the kind that Eglon will expect.
Ehud’s name means, “He that Praises,” so right up front there is an indication of the kind of man that God chooses to use. He is not predominantly a warrior, though he is clearly skilled in combat, he is a man who praises God first and foremost in all he does. And beloved, if you wish to be used by God in significant ways in life, this is the kind of person that you, too, must be. God will win the battles, build the churches, change the culture, and evangelize the lost, and he will do so through the person whose first aim is to praise and give glory to His great name. There is an old saying that goes, “God does not call the equipped; he equips those he calls.” And those he calls are those who will honor him and not themselves. Ehud is presented to us as such a man.
Too often Christians feel inadequate to change the world. And that is because we are. Yet God is more than adequate and he will work through you if you honor him in all things. The question that we are all faced with is, “will we seek first the kingdom”? God will honor nothing less.