Recovery in a Day of Failure
by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 4 - Standing on the Ground of our Union in Christ

"And the children of Israel again did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah: and Jehovah strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah. And he gathered unto him the children of Ammon and Amalek; and he went and smote Israel, and they possessed the city of palm-trees. And the children of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years. But when the children of Israel cried unto Jehovah, Jehovah raised them up a saviour, Ehud the son of Gera, the Benjamite, a man left-handed. And the children of Israel sent tribute by him unto Eglon the king of Moab. And Ehud made him a sword which had two edges, a cubit in length; and he girded it under his raiment upon his right thigh" (Judges 3:12-16, ASV).

"And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court, and said... And now, behold, the children of Ammon and Moab and mount Seir, whom thou wouldest not let Israel invade, when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them, and destroyed them not; behold, I say, how they reward us, to come to cast us out of thy possession, which thou hast given us to inherit. O our God, wilt thou not judge them? For we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee" (2 Chron. 20:5-12).

Ehud - Unity or Joining Together

In our last meditation we were considering Othniel, the first judge. We now come to look at the second, Ehud. Ehud means "joining together", or "unity". Another meaning of his name is practically the same as the meaning of Judah, that is, "praise" or "confession". We shall see that these two things are really all of one.

Then it is said that Ehud was a Benjamite, and that fact in itself carries a significance, because, as we know from the Word, Benjamin means "the son of my right hand"; but it is said that he was left-handed, which looks like contradiction, though it is not. Then he made a sword with two edges, and the length of it was one cubit.

That is all we need say about Ehud, because in those features we have all we need to show of the features of Christ which lead to deliverance from a wrongful bondage and limitation into which we as the Lord's people may come by our own spiritual decline, and which lead us out into that fulness of life and fulness of victory which is the Lord's mind for us.

Unity of God's People

The name itself surely is significant, and I wonder if in the Holy Spirit's fuller and deeper knowledge and understanding of things, this name itself does not go to the root of the matter - unity or joining together. That may not have to be understood, in the first place, in the collective sense. It is quite true that a good deal of the condition among the people of God in this book of Judges was that of intertribal conflict and strife. They were a divided people, and we read of several very painful exhibitions of their state of schism and division. Probably Ehud has something to say to that, and as he speaks of joining together, or unity, he indicates quite clearly that there can be no going on into the fulness of the Lord, no knowledge of the Lord's fulness in life and victory only as the Lord's people are together in love. That is distinctly an Ephesian characteristic. The body builds itself up in love, makes increase by love. The Lord's people come really to the Lord's fulness in life and power and fruitfulness by being together in the true concord and fellowship of the one Spirit, in the one Body. There is no doubt about that being true, and if Ehud has a message for the church as a whole, that is the message very largely. We have proved it to be true both by the positive and the negative side of it. There is always loss, arrest, paralysis and defeat when once the enemy can divide the Lord's people. That is a master method of his to defeat the end of God which is the coming into the fulness of Christ. And we know, on the other hand, that apart from any organising or human efforts to bring about oneness or union, and apart from all the mechanical contrivances of registers and what-not to make a people one, if they come together in one Spirit and one testimony, there is a very great spiritual increase; there is an enlargement of the Lord among them; there is growth, progress, a pressing back of the horizon to a great revelation, vision, and unfolding of the purpose of God. That is surely known to us to some extent at least. Get the Lord's people together on a spiritual basis, and you get enlargement and enrichment.

Unity of the Individual

That is one side of it, but Ehud has something more to say than that, and what he has to say is very largely in connection with the individual. The application is true to the company, but it is just as true, and just as important, for the individual. The individual has to be united. The individual has got to be joined together. The individual has got to be a solid whole. Just as a master-stroke of the enemy is to divide the Lord's people collectively, to break into the fellowship of the saints, so a master-stroke of the enemy is to divide the soul of the individual, to make the individual two rather than one. If we for one moment, for one instant, have a question as to the Lord, and as to our standing or our relationship with the Lord, the enemy makes full use of that doubt to bring a divided state in our lives. This will cause conflict with ourselves and a continuous warfare going on inside; we are divided against ourselves. A house divided against itself cannot stand. The enemy always makes full use of any kind of uncertainty in our hearts in relation to the Lord to bring us down into bondage, and to destroy us and prevent our spiritual progress. That is a thing to be recognised. We know it, but we need to lay that to heart. Any kind of dividedness within that is of uncertainty, of question as to the Lord, as to our relationship with the Lord, as to our spiritual position, or as to our place in the will of God, lays us open immediately to a watching enemy who takes instant advantage of that uncertainty, and encamps upon it, and seeks to force a breach in our own souls to our undoing. The result of any question like that is always to bring us into bondage, to arrest our spiritual progress, to turn us in upon ourselves, and to make us totally incapable of serving the Lord's fuller and higher interests in others unto the fulness of Christ.

That is why it is significant that the Holy Spirit takes care to give us details like that. Ehud, meaning unity, joining together, was a Benjamite, "the son of my right hand". Surely that means standing in the place of strength. It speaks to us of our standing in the Lord, and a standing in the place of strength. You will know what we mean when we speak of our standing. Have you any question about your standing before the Lord, about your position, about your acceptance? Have you any question as to whether, after all, your sins are all remitted, that the sin question has been fully and finally dealt with, as far as you are concerned? Have you any shadow of a doubt as to your acceptance by the Lord and that that acceptance is an abiding acceptance, that you stand there not on the ground of what you are? If that were the ground, you would not stand there two seconds, but on the ground of what Christ is you are able to stand securely. Do you believe that Christ is settled in the presence of God, without any fear whatever that He will be ejected? Have you ever thought that Christ will ever be turned out of God's presence? Do you think it is possible through all eternity that the Lord Jesus will be expelled from the presence of God because of something in Him that is wrong? Such a thought is ridiculous. We would never entertain such a thought. Well, that standing is yours by faith. If you will only, by faith, take Christ as your standing you come into the Son at God's right hand. That is what it means to be in Christ: established, settled, fixed in the presence of God.

A true acceptance of that will never make us careless, it will never leave room for presumption, it will never lead to the sin of saying, "Well, I am saved, nothing will alter that!" A true appropriation of Christ, which is a true appreciation of Christ, will always smite anything like that in our hearts. When we come to the place of faith's settlement in Christ as the Son at God's right hand, we have beaten the devil of most of his tactics, and are delivered from paralysis. Have a question about that, and you are defeated; it is into that crack which defeats you that the enemy forces his way and he will drive it home until you become two in one, fighting within, the house divided, ready to fall.

This Son at God's right hand speaks to us of our standing, meaning we are whole, a unity; we are one, we are joined together. There is nothing like this faith position as to our standing in the Lord to make us a solid whole, and to defeat all those forces of the enemy that would bring us into bondage and defeat, uselessness and barrenness. This eternal questioning about the Lord, our acceptance, our sins, how we stand with the Lord, what His attitude is towards us, and a thousand and one forms which this questioning takes, can destroy unity.

Ehud, the Benjamite, speaks of the divine side of things, that we are established as a unity on the ground of our acceptance in the Son at God's right hand. We know that he was a left-handed man. Paul was a Benjamite, and he was a left-handed man. The Word does not say that anywhere, but he was. What is meant by a left-handed man standing in a right hand position? "In me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing." As for myself, I am weak. Left-handedness in the battle is a type of weakness. It speaks of man's own weakness; here is a man who in himself is weak, who is regarded as less than others, a man who is at a discount, under a handicap in himself, and yet is nevertheless in the Son at God's right hand.

There are two sides: there is the divine side, and our side. These two sides must go together; they are not contrary, they are one. We have to come to the place where we recognise our left-handedness; that is, that in ourselves we are nothing, we are weak. When we have come to the full consciousness of that, we are in the strongest position. Paul was of the tribe of Benjamin, but look at the two sides of that man. Was there a man more confident, more assured, more certain as to his standing? See the words he uses of positive conviction: "...hath translated us out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of the Son of His love" (Col. 1:13). It is all quite certain on that side, yet he was always ready to confess his own weakness, his own faultiness, his own worthlessness.

Do not think you have got to feel tremendously able and worthwhile in yourself to have this assurance. We have got to know how utterly worthless we are in ourselves before we can fully appreciate our standing in Christ, because it brings us to the position that it is not what we are, but what He is. God demands that, and that is where God's strength is found.

This left-handed Benjamite, a solid unity in himself, made a sword with two edges. See the man who wields the Word of God to good effect! We are not dealing with all the typical elements in the book of Judges. If we were dealing with Eglon, and all that that man represents, you would see the point, but we take the positive side. Here is the two-edged sword, which leads us to think of Hebrews 4:12:

"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."

This sword goes right through, as did Ehud's.

The Spiritual Application

In applying this, first of all let us say that the only man who can wield the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, to real effect, is a man who is a unity. When you and I have this dividedness of soul, this question, this uncertainty, we can never use the Word of God to real effect. We shall never be able to take the Word of God into our hands and do real work with it for the deliverance of others. We have to be sure of our standing, our acceptance, and place in the Lord.

Ehud made his sword a cubit in length. A cubit is a measure from the elbow to the finger tips, and you will see that a cubit is said to be according to the measure of a man. That cubit from the elbow to the fingertips is therefore representative of the measure of the man. Ehud made his sword according to the measure of a man. That does not mean that the Word of God is brought typically down to human dimensions, but it means that the Word of God was vitally related to his human life.

It is just possible to take the wonderful revelations of the Word of God and use them, or talk about them, out of all relationship to ourselves, without our having a living, practical relationship with the Word of God. The very first thing that the Word of God has to do in the one who uses it is to measure him up and deal with him. If you and I use the Word of God out of correspondence with our own lives, then we have gone beyond our measure, and we shall not be effective. The Lord is able to say, "That man is talking about something which he is not living. That is out of relationship; that is not true in life." The Lord will bring conviction on such a one sooner or later. The Word of the Lord has got to be brought into active, immediate relation to the life of the one who uses it. Ehud was such a man. He was in living oneness with the Word of God, typically speaking; and, being this kind of man, he dealt with and destroyed the power that had imposed itself upon the Lord's people, and led them out into liberty!

We have referred to 2 Chronicles 20. Do you see the parallel? In that chapter the enemies Moab and Ammon were mentioned. They came against the Lord's people. It is very inspiring to notice that what we have been saying is closely related to this chapter. Here you have these forces rising up, and you notice that Jehoshaphat says that these are the people whom the Lord Himself dispossessed, and gave the land unto His people. These dispossessed foes sought to repossess themselves and dispossess the Lord's people. Jehoshaphat made it a matter of the Lord's purpose, the Lord's mind, the Lord's intention about this. He says, in effect, "You never intended this; You showed what You intended when You drove them out! Now it is not Your intention that Moab and Ammon should dispossess Your people; Your purpose is the other way round!"

Then you notice that everything here is a matter of strong confidence. We are left-handed in ourselves, "but our eyes are upon thee"! The Son of the right hand!

Then listen to Jehoshaphat later: "Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper." Isn't that what Ehud means? "Believe in the Lord your God", get rid of all doubts, uncertainties; get rid of the dividedness of heart; get rid of the questions; stand solidly in your God, "so shall ye be established".

You see the message to our hearts. If there has come arrest, limitation, defeat and a falling short of what the Lord intended, and the forces against us have obstructed our way and imposed themselves upon us so that we feel incapable of getting through, what is it that is said to us regarding the way of deliverance?

The first thing is faith's laying hold of God's strength. The second is coming to a settled place as to all questions concerning our relationship with the Lord, our standing, our acceptance; getting rid of all dividedness of soul and standing by faith firmly in the Son of God's right hand. Then, on that ground of faith's assurance of the Lord, the faithfulness of God, the certainty of His will for our being in a place of victory, rising up with the Word of God closely related to our own lives to strike those forces that are besieging, that are hemming us in.

We have in our remembrance how the enemy tried this very thing with Martin Luther. He tried to divide his soul regarding his acceptance with God, by bringing against him his own left-handedness; that is, his own worthlessness, his own weakness, and the devil sought to write his sins over his head as a charge against him. Martin Luther said he felt himself going to pieces, sinking, and losing confidence and faith, until he recollected the Word of the Lord. Then he laid hold of the Word of God and rose up and smote the enemy by declaring: Yes, all that is true which you have said but you have forgotten one thing, "The blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleanseth from all sin." The devil left him, and Luther came out in victory. This is a simple, and well-known illustration of this very thing.

If the enemy can divide our souls with doubt, with questions or uncertainty, we are a bound and defeated people; but, taking our place solidly upon the fact of Christ our life, Christ our righteousness, Christ our standing, Christ our everything, and refusing this dividedness of soul, we can take up the Word of God and use it against the forces of evil and cleave a way through. The whole matter resolves itself into a strong standing on the ground of our certain union with God in Christ, and refusing all dividedness of heart. If the enemy could have succeeded with us, very few of us would be where we are today. The enemy can create dark, dense and thick atmospheres so that it seems that heaven is closed and hell circles around. Then he immediately tells you that the Lord has a controversy with you, the Lord has left you to your own devices, and the Lord is not with you any longer. The devil is always the accuser of the brethren. How are we going to escape? If we give in, that is the end of our progress, the end of our victory, the end of our spiritual growth. How are we going to overcome? By being united in heart with God's testimony concerning His Son, and, standing on that ground, to use the Word of God, "It is written...". It was after the Lord Jesus had said those words that the devil left Him. It was when Ehud had triumphed that the land had rest forty years. It would have been much longer if the people had not gone wrong again. While we stand our ground there is the rest and peace of victory. The Lord speak that word to our hearts.

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