Forged In Fire is the name of a current TV show. Several bladesmiths are given various hunks of steel, and each one is asked to forge and create a knife of his own design. Their blades are then tested for sharpness, strength, and durability, by which tests the field is narrowed to two finalists, who then are challenged to recreate an iconic weapon of the past. The winner is declared the Forged In Fire champion.
Ehud, a bladesmith in his own right, was the second judge of Israel (Judges 3:12-30). Because of evil committed, God had given Israel over to Eglon, king of Moab, to whom the nation had paid tribute for eighteen years. When the children of Israel cried unto the Lord for deliverance, God raised up Ehud, a man who is described as “a left-handed man.” (v. 15) The Hebrew term suggests that Ehud may have had a physical disability that affected his right side.
Ehud would deliver the next tribute payment to Eglon at Jericho, but the judge had a plan. He went to his forge and made for himself a double-edged dagger about a foot and a half in length. Though it might have lacked the strength of a single edge, his blade had the advantage of having two cutting edges. This dagger he hid, strapping it to his right thigh, and then went to pay homage to Eglon.
If Ehud had a visible physical disability, it’s not hard to imagine how he got by Eglon’s bodyguards. Much like a young David versus Goliath, Ehud might have been mocked and never taken seriously, never even frisked. After all, what sort of dangerous threat could a physically disabled person pose?
But Ehud also had a bold spirit forged in fire. After paying the tribute and rather slyly arranging a solo audience with the king—described as a very fat man—Ehud approached him and said, “I have a message from God for you.” (v. 20) Then he unsheathed his dagger and plunged it into the king’s belly. The double-edged blade cut in so far that Eglon’s belly fat closed over the hilt, and his entrails burst out.
Following this bold act, Ehud made his escape. He summoned the fighting men of Israel, who under his command seized the fords of the Jordan leading to Moab. Ten thousand of the enemy were killed, and not a man escaped. So Israel was delivered and lived in peace for the next eighty years.
The thought arises that our God Himself is a most accomplished bladesmith. For Scripture says that “the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” God knows all, for “all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:12-13)
From the forge of eternity, God sent forth His Word to mankind, saying, “I have a message for you.” His Word is not some dull book on a shelf, but living and active and like a double-edged sword. It cuts right to the heart of a person, or as some cultures might say, to the guts of the matter. It reveals the marrow of sin and the tough tendons of self-righteousness. Those who reject God’s Redeemer and His Word in unbelief will surely face Him who wields “the sharp two-edged sword” on Judgment Day (Revelation 2:12).
But God’s Word is a sword that cuts another way also. For it is the “sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17), and has a mighty and gracious edge, being “the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16); indeed, “it is perfect, converting the soul.” (Psalm 19:7) Ehud’s dagger cut and killed and revealed the stink of unbelief, with the result that God’s people were delivered and lived in peace. God’s sword is that which cuts into the fat of human pride, converts the soul, and by faith brings us into peace with God. Forged in fire, what an instrument of God’s justice and mercy is His double-edged sword! What a Champion He is!
David Fuerstenau is pastor of Holy Truth Lutheran Church in Ketchikan, Alaska.