Was God allowing or permitting murder in this instance?
NLT - 21 Ehud reached with his left hand, pulled out the dagger strapped to his right thigh, and plunged it into the king’s belly.
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At first glance, it might seem that this passage, and many others that detail the war exploits of the nation of Israel, reveal contradictions in the Bible regarding what was acceptable and not acceptable according to God regarding the sanctity of human life. However, there is a difference to note between killing in self-defence (or killing to defend the nation of Israel in the Old Testament) and killing for jealousy, revenge or in a fit of rage. Note what Matthew Henry's Commentary has to say about the commandment, "Thou shalt not kill": Self-defence is lawful; but much which is not deemed murder by the laws of man, is such before God. Furious passions, stirred up by anger or by drunkenness, are no excuse: more guilty is murder in duels, which is a horrible effect of a haughty, revengeful spirit. All fighting, whether for wages, for renown, or out of anger and malice, breaks this command, and the bloodshed therein is murder. The entire book of Judges, in which we find the account of Ehud and his clever attack upon and murder of King Eglon, is devoted to recounting the events that occurred after the Israelites entered their Promised Land and before they asked to be ruled by a king. God appointed "judges" to govern Israel during this time period, and part of the office of judge was to lead the persecuted Israelites to victory over various adversaries. The nation of Israel defended themselves and overcame their enemies by performing acts of war and battling those who were oppressing them. True, it can be difficult to imagine that a God who forbade murder would endorse war and the taking of lives for the sake of promoting one people over another, but this is precisely what we see in the Old Testament over and over again. God chose the nation of Israel as His, to bless them, reveal Himself to them, to offer them a righteous way of living, and to orchestrate events involving them to demonstrate His power, character, and loving heart for His people. We should be careful to note that God is no longer relying upon a physical, geo-political nation to reveal Himself or to demonstrate His power, character, or love for His people. Rather, this all changed when God made the decision to send His Son, Jesus, to die for the sins of every person on the face of the earth. God no longer has any need to rally His followers--His holy nation of Christians--to kill others in order to establish His purposes. Ephesians 6 tells us, 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Also 2 Corinthians 10: 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. Jesus' last words before He died for our sins were, "It is finished." Among many other things, these words indicated that whatever God needed to do in order to reveal Himself to His creation and to bridge the gap between Himself and mankind was now finished; therefore, no more "holy wars" are necessary to reveal God and His purposes to mankind, such as what we see happening in Judges. In closing, yes, God allowed the murder of Eglon and many others like him--evil, god-hating, power-hungry, prideful rulers and their armies who opposed, oppressed and ravaged His chosen people--because He was passionate about defending His name and rescuing His children from their merciless enemies. This was an OT practice, no longer relevant or necessary since Jesus' death on the cross.
Great question, Alaina Cormier! Why should we be surprised that God would give His people victory by the use of such unlikely weapons? After all, God has chosen to achieve His purposes by using unlikely people: 13 'When they saw the boldness of Peter and John and discovered that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized these men had been with Jesus. 14 And because they saw the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say against this" (Acts 4:13-14). He made a double-edged shortsword about a cubit (18 ") long, useful for a stabbing thrust. Being left-handed, he could conceal the sword on his right thigh, where it was not expected. And Ehud was an ordinary man. He was just a judge. Being left-handed, he could conceal the sword on his right thigh, where it was not expected. --- "But we have this treasure in clay jars so that the extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us" (2 Corinthians 4:7).
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