by Dan King
Momentum is a funny thing.
When you have it, it seems like it would take the whole world to stop you. But when you don’t, it seems to take the whole world to get it. A train running away at 60 mph could smash through a brick wall, but a train at rest couldn’t move an inch with a pebble stuck under the wheels.
I don’t have to talk to you about how important it is to have momentum, but we all want to know how to create it when it’s otherwise nowhere to be found.
As we look at the ancient leaders of Israel, the second judge who led the nation after arriving in the promised land was a man named Ehud.
After Othniel died, Israel was overtaken again, and was under foreign rule for a period of eighteen years. This would be difficult for most of us in the United States to understand, since a president these days can only serve a maximum of eight years. Imagine what it would be like to have a known enemy (like the current leaders of Iran or North Korea) leading the government over our nation. Times would be uncomfortable and difficult.
So the people cried out to God. And God sent them Ehud.
Ehud was your normal, every-day kind of guy…that is, until God raised him up as the nation’s deliverer. Ehud was the guy with the job of delivering tributes from his countrymen to this foreign king. Then one day Ehud made a sword. Being left-handed he bound it to his right thigh under his clothing, and after delivering the tribute to the king, he killed him and snuck out of the palace unnoticed.
After doing away with the foreign king, he went back and rallied troops to attack the foreign armies, and they ended up killing 10,000 that day alone. From that day forward, there was peace in Israel for eighty years, as long as Ehud lived.
Did you see what happened there? Ehud took a nation that was at a standstill under foreign rule, and created the momentum not only to get them moving in the right direction, but to regain their independence and stay that way for 80 years!
The other amazing thing is that for Ehud to live for 80 years after this means that he must have been a young man when he changed Israel’s direction. It’s quite possible that he was in his teens, and was even born under the rule of the foreign king that he so boldly defeated. He wouldn’t have known any other way of life, but he still rallied to lead his nation into an new era of independence and peace.
Let’s take a look at four key principles that we learn from the life of Ehud, especially when it comes to building momentum:
- Build trust – Ehud worked in an environment which he probably knew he wanted to get out of. However, rather than complain, he sucked it up and used his unfulfilling role to help him build credibility. Ehud never would have been able to do what he did if he didn’t do the dirty work required to build the trust that he needed.
- Get creative – Ehud was left-handed, and his job was simply to deliver tributes. We know that left-handed people are typically right-brain dominant, which means they work more from the creative side of the brain. If Ehud was going to pull this off, he needed to have a creative plan. The passage also talks about how he made (the original Hebrew says fashioned) his own sword. He needed not only a special plan, but also a special tool that would do the job. This required thinking outside of the box.
- Do the unexpected – Some commentaries on this passage point out that Ehud was able to get his weapon past “security” because it was placed on his right thigh, an unexpected place to carry a weapon. Normally a sword or dagger would be carried on the left thigh or hip for easy access by a right-handed person. Because of the trust and the creativity he had, he was able to execute an event that was totally unexpected. Nobody, not even the king himself, saw this thing coming.
- Build on your success – When Ehud left the palace, he went out to lead his people into battle and achieve some great victories. He eventually built on his success enough that nobody dared to mess with the nation of Israel for as long as he lived, another 80 years. The key here is that when you knock one ball out of the park, you’ve got to line right back up with others and say, “now let’s all do this together.”
Ehud was able to create, build and ride his momentum to a long, peaceful rule. He wouldn’t let anything stop him, nor should you.