Well, if you would like to, take a seat and, you can turn in your bibles to judges chapter 3.
And, those words will also appear on the screen, and we're gonna read from verses 7 through to the end of the chapter. Judges 3. The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the lord. They forgot the lord their god and served the bales and the asheras. The anger of the lord burned against Israel so that he sold them into the hands of Cushan Risha Thane, king Arab Nam to whom the Israelites were subject for 8 years.
But when they cried out to the lord, He raised up for them a deliverer, off kneel, son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother, who saved them The spirit of the lord came upon him so that he became Israel's judge and went to war. The lord gave Khushan Rishathane, king of Aram into the hands of Othniel, who overpowered him. And so the land had peace for 40 years until off the old son of Kenaz died. Again, the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the lord. And because they did this evil, the lord gave Eglon king of Moab power over Israel, getting the ammonites and the Amelekites to join him Eglon came and attacked Israel and they took possession of the city of Palms.
The Israelites were subject to Eglon king of Moab for 18 years. Again, the Israelites cried out to the lord, and he gave them a deliverer, Ehood, a left handed man, the son of Gheera, the Benjaminite. The Israelites sent him with tribute to Eglon king of Mohab, Now, EHood had made a double edged sword about a cubic long, which he strapped to his right thigh under his clothing. He presented the tribute to Eglon King of Moab, who was a very fat man. After EHood had presented the tribute He sent on their way those who had carried it.
But on reaching the stone images near Gilgau, he himself went back to Eglon and said, your majesty. I have a secret message for you. The king said to his attendants, leave us, and they all left. EHood then approached him while he was sitting alone in the upper room of his palace and said, I have a message from god for you. As the king rose from his seat, he had reached with his left hand, drew the sword from his right thigh and plunged it into the king's belly.
Even the handle sank in after the blade and his bowels discharged. Eahood did not pull the sword out and the fat closed in over it. Then Eahood went out to the porch He shut the doors of the upper room behind him and locked them. After he had gone, the servants came and found the doors of the upper room locked, They said he must be relieving himself in the inner room of the palace. They waited to the point of embarrassment.
When he did not open the doors of the room, they took a key and unlocked to them. There they saw their lord fallen to the floor dead. While they waited, Ihud got away. He passed by the stone images and escaped to Sierra When he arrived there, he blew a trumpet in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went down with him from the hills with him leading them. Follow me, he ordered, for the lord has given Moab your enemy into your hands.
So they followed him down and took possession of the fords of the Jordan that led to Moab They allowed no 1 to cross over. At that time, they struck down about 10000 moabites, all vigorous and strong. Not 1 escaped. That day, Moab was made subject to Israel and the land had peace for 80 years. After EHood came Shamgar, son of Anath, who struck down 600 Philastines with an ox code.
He too saved Israel. Pete's gonna come now and preach those words to us. Well, my name is Pete Woodcock, and I'm 1 of the ministers of the church here. We're actually only gonna look at 1 verse properly, which is that verse right at the end verse 31. But let me pray.
Father god help us now. As we look at your word, please challenge us. Encourage us, spur us on, that we may be people that love you more and are seen by the world to love you more. And we need your spirit to do that. So help us as we look at this word, your spirit word.
But by that spirit, implant truths into our minds and hearts and actions in Jesus' name, amen. Now as we saw actually on that video, the the Bible clearly says that and plainly says that god is love. How how does the Bible define god? Love. That's the big thing.
His character, his actions, his motives, his very being, is love. If god was a physical being and you could dissect him, then you could cut right through to his core and you'd find love all the way in every area, in every atom, in every molecule. His essence is love. And, he's never been anything else, but love. And I think we need to get that.
He's always eternally been love. It's 1 of the proofs and 1 of the mysteries of the trinity, a triune god. 1 god in 3 persons because love has to express itself to another, and, it's never just self contained. It's always looking out to another. Otherwise, it really isn't love.
And that's what happens. There's always beloved and there's always a lover and god the father has always loved god the son who's always loved god the spirit. And so it goes round in this eternal delight of love for each other. The great, fourth century theologian, Augustine, defines sin as the absence or the defamation that deforming of love. He said that sin has this willful misdirection of love, which is fundamental to the life and soul of of a human being.
Jesus said if you love me, you would obey my commands. The com the commands of god that they're not they show us basically how much we don't love. That's what they do. And so when you see that, you see that sin is very personal against god. It's a very personal thing.
It's not some abstract breaking of rules. It's breaking of love. We were made to love god and to love our neighbor. Now as we've been saying, and as we've seen in the book of judges, we see just what humanity is like when when it misplaces love, just what we're capable of when we misplace love, and this will form misdirection of love into the 1 and only living god into these false man made gods. And just when we misplace our love into these false man made gods, we we actually become inhuman We become less human, and our behavior is horrific, and we become trapped and drained and enslaved people into habits and addictions and behaviors that actually in the end of the book, if you're if you've read it, that even discuss themselves.
It's very hard. Wasn't it reading those last few chapters? It's quite disgusting. And yet, as we read that book with all of this sin and misplaced love, we see god's love as a strong undercurrent calling people back to himself, raising up a savior judge, a judge who will judge the sin and judge the idolatry, and nevertheless save us at the same time. Judge the sin but save us from the sin.
A savior judge. And what you notice and I hope you did notice this But again and again, god, this holy god that we've just been singing about, is unafraid to get his hands dirty in the repulsive, isn't he? I think that's 1 of the big things. People that have shunned his love again and again he comes to. He reaches out into the filth and the mess that sin brings us.
He reaches out and he raises up a savior judge. Now in that reading, We see 3 Soviet judges, and we're gonna very briefly, look at all 3 of them, and then I'm gonna come back to the last 1 that that last verse, shamgar. And I wanna I wanna show you just how god in his love works in this world. So here's my first point. Just see how different all of these savior judges are.
Because what we gotta be careful of is that we might miss the love of god if we put god in a box, but we'll come to that in a minute. Just see how different they are. So you've got off now. You see that? He's the first judge.
He's a retired colonel. He's a much decorated war hero. He's very much related to the the old god, the faithfuls. He's a faith he's not a traitor. He's a faithful.
He's very much related to that. He can go back to Caleb and Caleb was Joshua's right hand man. You may remember, in fact, he's the brother of Caleb. So he goes right back to the faithfuls. He's got breeding, he's got background, he's got guts, initiative.
And if you wanna know more about him, come tonight because Rory's gonna open up off now tonight to see more about him. But that's 1 character. The second judge is this bloke called EHood, He's disabled. He's a left handed man in a right handed world, and that is very, you know, a considerable disability. And, not only is he left handed, the Hebrew, suggests that he's actually, seriously disabled or been seriously injured in the right hand, and that's why he's left handed.
So for a left handed savior, That's that's quite unique. Come in 2 weeks time on Sunday evening, and I'm gonna open up Ehood. I'm telling you I'm really excited by it. Alright? I've done more work on that than this sermon.
But anyway, so we have Ehood, very different to off off now. Then we have this quote called shamgar. And, there's this 1 verse right at the end of the chapter. He isn't an Israelite at all. This is a hittite name.
So he's a convert to the god of Israel, and he's not a soldier. He seems to be a farmer by the by the weapon he uses. He uses an ox code, which we'll come on to in a minute. So the point I want you to see is just how different they are. When god steps into this world with his love, when he steps into the world to deal, as a savior and a judge with the revulsion of sin, very different, very different aspects.
To god's character and what he does. And here's the first thing I want us to get from that. Don't put god in a box. Be very careful of that. God when you read judges is the god of surprises.
Just when you think you've got him nailed, he surprises you. 1 commentator says this, and it's the best line I I think I read in the whole of judges. 1 commentator says this. Out of the osmil hat, god produces a shamgar rabbit. I love that.
Out of the off they'll have, god produces a sham god. Don't don't second guess god. These are very, very different men. Very different men. Don't put him in a box.
Oh, c s Lewis puts this so well, doesn't he in the narnia stories? When Lucy is hearing from missus Beaver about Azland, this great big Ryan, which is a picture of Jesus. And Lucy hadn't met Azlan yet, and Lucy's getting scared at the descriptions of of Azlan. And and she said she says to Mrs. Beaver, you know that.
You know this. It's such a good little bit. Is is is he safe? Is he safe? And Mrs.
Beaver says, my dear, of course, he's not safe, but he's good. God isn't safe, but he's good. I I remember 1 apprentice. At another church. And, he started leading of service.
And 1 of the things he said was, kick back your legs. He welcomed everyone. Kick back your legs, stretch out, relax, and let's enjoy god. And I said to him afterwards, mate, there's everything wrong about that. You should have said, sit upright.
Put your hash back on, put a helmet on, because god is going to speak. It there's nothing safe about god. And if you're not careful, if you put him in the box, if you sanitize god, you'll miss his work. Jesus says this to the to the pharisees. Very religious men.
He says, you study the scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life, these are the very scriptures that testify about me. Yet you refused to come to me to have life. They so put god in a box They missed him when he was there. And that's idolatry. Thinking that we can sanitize or make a religious version of god.
Be very careful. 1 commentator, David Jackman, a book on judges. I thought this was great. So if if have a listen to this, you have to forgive my voice. I'm feeling well, sir.
Let us remember that Israel's flotation with other gods came from their over domesticization of the living god. Let me read that again because this is so important. Let us remember that Israel's flotation with other gods came from their domestication of the living god It was because they thought they had god sewn up in their pockets. His unbreakable promise led them to presume upon his mercy to the point of indulgence. They thought they had got in a box.
They thought that they had trained god, and that is always the essence of idolatry. Then God teaches his rebellious people their total dependence on omnipotence by breaking out of their predictable boxes to use methods and those that no 1 could imagine. All of these 3 are very different. We can miss god if we think that we work out his boundaries for him. That god can't work through a bunch of people like that.
That look a little different to me that sound a different different to me that come from a different background that don't quite put it in the words that I I think I start putting god in a in a box. And we turn god into our own image. The second thing I think from those 3 different types of people is don't think that you have to be a particular mold to be used by god. Don't think that you have to have certain qualifications to think that I must have them before I can be I must be a certain type of person or my my my my background, my history. You don't know what I've been into before you can be used by god.
And if this chapter teaches us anything, it teaches us that god always was breaking the mold. He uses a senior citizen off now. He uses a handicap man, e Hudd, and he uses a new convert, shamgar. There's no stereotypes here that and the very thing, actually, that you think that might disqualify you in EHOOD's case's left hand is the very thing God uses. Coming 2 weeks time and hear that in the evening.
It's amazing, isn't it? Because god chooses the foolish things of this world, to shame the wise, and the weak things to shame the strong. Hudson Taylor. He wrote, he wrote these words after he re had recruited 600 missionaries to China Chinese people, you should know about Hudson Taylor. You're a Christian because of him.
Yeah. British bloke. So all comes down to Britain. British, a northerner, actually. And so Hudson Taylor, he got an amazing bloke.
So you really should read up on him. He goes to China, and he he starts the church up in China. He's a very significant missionary. But he said this. Now listen to this.
I love this. God is sufficient for god's work. God is sufficient for god's work. Listen, God chose me because I was weak enough. God does not do his great work by large committees.
Have you ever been on those Christian committees? My word, they're awful. Yeah? He says he trains someone to be quiet enough and little enough, and then he uses them enough. Spurgeon said this, my great hero, Victorian Preacher.
There there will always be people that will not fit our neat systems. The danger is that we can organize the Holy Spirit out of office by our patterns and assembly lines. Let's keep sensitive to the Holy Spirit, and how god loves to use the weak. In our evangelical world, is we've gotta be so, so careful. We don't think of the factory line and get rid of the Holy Spirit.
It's well said, isn't it? God makes snowflakes. Everyone is different. Man makes ice cubes. Everyone's the same.
Be very careful. Be very careful. And it seems to me that if there's Anyone that's slightly different, sometimes in our evangelical world, then we must deplatform them. We've gotta be careful. Watch those people.
So off the off Neil, rode out with a troop, E Hudd entered into a single combat with Agron, and shamgar steps onto the battlefield alone against 600 Philistines. Yeah? Marvelous. Paul says this in 2 Corinthians. We have this treasure, that's the gospel, in clay jars, jars of clay, to show that this all surpassing power is from god, not us.
Isn't that wonderful? So don't put god in a box. Be careful you're doing that if you're doing that. You'll lead to idolatry, and don't think god can't use you. Or all us in our differences.
Let's not make ice cubes. Don't miss his love in how he expresses it in the different people. That are around. That's the first point I I want to make the comparison between those 3. Now let's get on to shamgar.
Are you ready? Verse 31. Here he is. After E Hudd, came Shangar, son of Anath, who struck down 600 Philastines with an ox code. He too saved Israel.
Shangard. This 1 verb is there so much here. Shangard. His background is a surprise. I've already told you.
Shamgar, son of Anath. His name's a hittite name. It's not a Jewish name at all. He's called son of Anath, Anoth was a canaanite goddess, and she's the canaanite goddess of war. That was either the sister of Ball or the lover of Ball or probably both.
That's the type of goddess she was. And he's called the son of Anoth. And if you look up pictures of her, which you can Google, it's easy. She she has 2 spheres in her hand, but 1 1 in each hand. She's the goddess of war.
Now, It's obvious that shamgar has turned from these false gods and the name that he was brought up with and he's turned to the living god. And as I say, it seems he's not a warrior. It seems that he's a farmer because of the weapon he uses. Which is an ops code. An ops code was just a long stick, about 2 and a half meters, about 8 feet long, and it had a point at 1 end, and it was, sort of like a, like, a sort of spade at the other end, a little spade at the other end.
The point was to jab the ox to keep it going. So you're holding on to the reins. You got this 8 foot pole, and you're jabbing the ox in the bottom, and it keeps it going. And then the other end of the of the poll was to get the sort of mud off off of the, of the plow. So it's not a military weapon.
Yeah? It's a farmer's weapon. Yeah. But it's that ox code It's a piece of wood in the hands of the right person that saves Israel. It's a savior with a piece of wood.
See it? Shamgar, his whole way of saving, is a surprise because he simply goes out with this Oxford. I mean, he's in a big tradition of how god does use different people. Moses, had a staff, Aaron, had a a rod, David. The shepherd had a sling, and so forth.
God uses this simple to accomplish great things, you know, it said, isn't it that big doors swing on small hinges? And god uses the little for the big. So Chandra, I get this. He steps onto the battlefield alone with a with an ox code and 600 Philistines. Can you get that?
This is legendary stuff, isn't it? This is like a marvel film or something, you know, this is worth going to see if this film comes out. 1 man, and he's got the strength of 600. Yeah? He's the Jackie Chan of the Bible.
He's the Bruce Lee of the Bible. He's the ninja. He's the 1, isn't he? He's the 1 that fights this whole enemy army on his own. God sends this surprising lone champion with a piece of wood to save Israel.
Now don't don't think this isn't a bloodless fight. The piece of wood isn't a Harry Potter wand, where he can just swish it round and 600 drop over with some magical spell. This is a flight This would have taken him effort. There would be blood and sweat and tears, and And perhaps even shamgar died, we don't know in this battle, but he saved Israel by doing it. It's surrounded by the enemy.
Can you just imagine it? Sword after sword with a with a 8 foot piece of wood, an ox code. He's coming at it. He's a gin and a ninja. It's it's it's extraordinary.
You know, to go out onto the field to fight swordsman with a piece of wood is a bit foolish, isn't it? But he does it. And shamgar is a picture of Christ. That's why he's in the Bible. The lord Jesus Christ is the sum of the whole Bible.
He's prophesized, he's typified, he's he's prefigured, he's shadowed, he's illustrated, he's longed for The whole Bible is looking to hear me found on every page of the Bible, if not every sentence. Every line. Jesus said, remember, he said it to the pharisees. These very scriptures testify about me. And here in judges 3, verse 31, god is presented as a merciful delivering god who sends a human champion to save with a piece of wood That salvation through shamgar is a mere shadow of the eternal salvation that comes through Jesus.
That's what it's there for. From shadow to substance, from shamgar to Jesus. Someone said, God's attributes and god's work sing at their highest pitch in Jesus Christ and him crucified. Everything you see about god sings louder in Christ crucified. And once you've got that truth, once you got that in you, You can see the fulfillment of Christ in here.
God sent a champion, heaven's champion onto the field to fight in our place. Alone surrounded by the enemy. If that doesn't remind you of Jesus on the cross. I don't know really what world would do with hundreds of enemy around him. It's foolish, as I say, to take a stick to a sword fight.
But is there anything more foolish tend to put a savior on a cross to save us. So we see that. But now come with me. And if you have a Bible, turn to Psalm 22. If you don't listen more carefully, Let's see shamgar's fight, and let's look at Jesus' fight and let's compare them.
Jesus on the cross, Psalm 22 describes Jesus alone surrounded by his enemy on the cross. And I want you to feel the pain and I want you to feel the exhaustion. 1 man against 600 Shamgar was alone, but listen to Jesus and how he felt. Verse 1, of Psalm 22, my god, my god, Why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me?
So far from the cries of anguish You hear him battling and fighting alone on the cross? My god, I I cry out by day, but you do not answer by night, but I find no rest. Yet you are in you you are enthroned as the holy 1. You are the 1 Israel praises in your ancestors. In you, your ancestors put their trust.
They trusted you. You delivered them to you they cried out and were saved. In you, they trusted, and no were not put to shame. Do you see? Shamgar fighting.
Oh my lord, my god. Am I on my own? My god. My god. You seek Christ?
On the cross fighting? A lone figure? If you had a bird's eye view of the 600 men, surrounding shamgar. He would look absolutely insignificantly small, wouldn't he? And if you heard the mockings from the 600 they must have this is easy, isn't it?
Is this all Israel could put up? 1 man with that. Hey. Oh, look at that. Come here.
Let's have a look at him. This bloke, he's been converted to this god. That's so small and petty, there's 1 man, and there's 600 of us. I mean, who wants to go first? You wanna go Fred?
Yeah? You ever can't come on get your sword out, man. Hey, look, give him a bit of a break. He's only got a lump of wood. So be careful, because you might just kill him straight out.
Let's Let's cause some agony with this bloke. Look at verse 6 of Psalm 22. Listen to Jesus. But I am a worm and not a man. Scorn by everyone despised by the people, All who see me mock me, they heal insults shaking their heads.
He just in the lord, they say. Let the lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him. 600 men surrounding shamgar Listen to Jesus. First 12.
Many bulls surround me, strong bools of Basham encircle may roaring lions that tear their prey open their mouths wide against me. The energy and the pain and the thirst to fight 600 men listen to Jesus verse 14, I'm poured out like water. And all my bones are out of joint, and my heart has turned to wax, and it has melted within me. My mouth is dried up like a potsherd and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth. You lay me down in the dust of death, dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircle me.
They pierce my hands and my feet. All my hopes. All my bones are on display. People stare and gloat over me. You see the battle?
It's bloody. It's excruciating. Now Shangar's enemy was the Philistines. But who is the enemy Jesus is saving us from? The new testament says in 1 peter chapter 2, he bore our sins in his body on the cross so that we might die to sin and lift the righteousness by his wounds.
We have been healed. Who's the enemy Jesus is fighting on the cross? Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5, he made him that Jesus who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of god in him. Who's Jesus fighting? Your sins?
That's who he's fighting. Your sins stand against you to judge you and to condemn you. You deserve to be struck down by every single sin. They stand hostile to you, and they surround you with your guilt Your sins are fiercer than the wildest warriors and each 1 of them would bury you in hell forever. If you break 1 of god's laws, we're told you've broken them all.
James says this, for whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at 1 point is guilty of breaking it all. You break 1 law you break them all. If you just take the 10 commandments, you break 1 of the 10 commandments, and you break all of the 10 commandments, and then you break another of the 10 commandments and you break all of the 10 commandments. And that's what's happening. Sin is pressing around you like a mob of Philistines.
And there's more than 600, and it's demanding that you face up the justice and everyone has the sword of judgment against you. But it's not only sin that you're surrounded by. You've made yourself an enemy of god none other than god, because you've not loved him. You've not lived for him. You've given your love to others.
And somehow that sin needs paying for, but God, so loved. Now if you're surrounded by your sin, then that sounds good news. But god, so loved the world that he gave his 1, his shamgar, his 1 and only son, God demonstrated his own love for us in that while we're still sinners, while we're still in sin, price. The 1, the shamgar died for us. Do you see that?
Every sin gives birth to sin. It's like that, I can't think what it is at the moment for but forget it. There's hundreds of sins surrounding you. The magician's nephew, you know, when he tries to sort out and the bucket off the bucket, and there's if you've ever seen that, there's 1 after the other. And every time you try you sin, there's more and more, and it doubles and it increases, and it surrounds you.
And these Philistines are far too big for you. You can't save yourself. Notice it says in verse 31, he too saved Israel. They needed a savior judge. They needed someone to take judgment on the sin, but to save them from the sin.
They couldn't do themselves. Your sins do you think you can sort them out? I mean, that's the daphness of us, isn't it? We sort of bounce, don't we, from the illusion that we're in control of our lives, and of our sin. We sort of bounce I'm in control and we sort of bounce over to see that we're not in in control.
We're completely out of control, and that's exactly what happens in judges. We're in control. No, you're not. You're completely out of control. And we go somewhere.
I can sort my life out. If I pray more, if I become more religious, if I read the Bible even more, yeah, I can gain control. No, you can't. You're limited. You're surrounded.
There's no hope for you. And the beauty of that, the beauty of sin when you realize sin in your life. The beauty of that is you see your limitations and you cry out. Is there 1? Is there a shamgar?
Is there a man with a piece of wood? Is there a man that will come and rescue us? When you sense your sin, he himself bore our sins, on the cross, will you praise him? When you sense you've fallen into sin, He himself bore our sins. Will he praise him?
When sin says to you, you belong to me. You've done it so many times. He himself bore our sins. Will he praise him? Look to the 1 with blood on his hands and on his feet.
The 1 who is 1 for you, 1 man and a piece of wood and salvation comes to Israel. Imagine not thanking Shamgar. Imagine that. Imagine after he's slaughtered 600 that you ignore him and you forget him. The way to deal with sin is not that you can deal it with it yourself, is to look to the savior and then even sins can show us that god is working because when we sense our sin we're driven to the 1 that slaughters them on our behalf.
After EHood came, Shangar, son of Aetna, who struck down 600 Philsteines, within an ox code, He too saved Israel. Let's pray. Let's just take a few minutes quietly to, to respond to that. We've been hearing very clearly from god's word that we're no longer surrounded by, physical enemies, Philistines, obviously, but we are surrounded by our sin and by spiritual enemies. And just as god's people needed to do in the time of the judges, we need to look away from ourselves.
If these sins and these enemies are gonna be defeated and we need to to Christ. And so just take a couple of minutes. You might like to confess some of those sins. Take an opportunity to name them quietly before the lord, to renounce them, to look again, to that piece of wood that our savior used the cross to rescue us. Let's just do that now.
Lord Jesus, we thank you for how this little story, just 1 verse of a story, points us to the the riches of Jesus Christ. We thank you that just as shamgar was surrounded and mocked and left alone, that you too had that experience on the cross. As you were mocked by your enemies. As you cried out, my god, my god, why have you forsaken me from the darkness of the cross all alone? We thank you lord Jesus that just as, shamgar had, nothing that we would think of as a weapon.
So your cross looked weak and embarrassing, and what sort of, weapon was that for the Messiah to be carrying, and yet lord in your wisdom and sovereignty that was the the means by which our enemies would be destroyed and Satan would be disarmed and our sins would be buried. That cross, which looked so weak, has destroyed the enemies of god for all time. And we praise you for that great rescue. Please help us lord Jesus to keep looking to you, not to, not to think that we're in control, not to think that, the battle belongs to us. But to recognize how needy and helpless we are and to turn to you to remember what Jesus has accomplished for us and to live in the strength of that victory.
Help us to do this. We pray in Jesus' name. Oh, man.