Battleground Earth 6: The Power of The Stranger - David Mitts
Click here to listen to "Battleground Earth 6: The Power of The Stranger"
In these times of great upheaval, as we face powerful choices that will shape our culture and civilization for times to come, justice is crying out to be heard. From racial divisions to the voice of injured women and damaged children people are forming movements to champion the causes. In the background or maybe it’s truly the foreground of the unborn victims of selfishness screaming for justice and to be remembered in the carnage of death that feeds the monsters of individual demands for “rights” while displaying no compassion for the most vulnerable, the ones with no voice.
At the core of this titanic struggle, the book of Judges speaks to us about the divine strategy for navigation of these treacherous waters. We have looked at 2 deliverers whose name and message have given us 2 pieces of the puzzle. Othniel, the “lion of God” reveals the enemy who is not flesh and blood but an evil strategist or schemer who devours our souls through conflict. Othniel responds through the Lion of The Tribe of Judah, who by praise brings us into the healing power of God’s glory.
Next, we looked at Ehud, whose name is the noun version of Echad or oneness. Yeshua declared and prayed that we would be one and not polarized or divided. It is through the lens of differences and slights and injuries that we have become a divided kingdom which cannot stand.
In this chapter, I want to look at the power of the stranger. The third Judge of the Book of Judges or Shoftim, is Shamgar. Sham means “there” like over there. The word for heaven is shamayim. There is mayim, or water. Mayim, water is the carrier of life, so heaven is the place where the carrier of life is. Shamgar is the place of the “gur” or stranger.
Before we get fully into Shamgar, one more point to add, shema, the word for listen and obey contains sham and the ayin, the letter for seeing or perspective. So, there is a seeing, a listening, a perspective that can release the waters of heaven, the prophetic flow in our lives.
Now let’s focus in on the “gar” or “gur” part of this third judge of Israel. This is the word for stranger. Turn with me first, to Matthew 25:31-34:
""But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. "All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. "Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." Mat 25:31-34 (NASB)
This is a time of separation of kingdoms. Yeshua is proclaiming what will happen at His return. He will separate sheep from goats and the sheep will inherit the kingdom….
What differentiates sheep from goats? Let’s continue on… Verse 35:
"'For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.' "Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 'And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 'When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' "The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'" Mat 25:35-40 (NASB)
This is the critical justice key according to Yeshua. He divides us based on the stranger key. How we treat strangers is critical to our place in the kingdom. What we do to the least of these, is what we do unto the Lord.
In this hour of racial and social unrest, the cry of the least of these rings loud in the spirit. Ask yourself, who is the stranger? The stranger is the outsider, the alien.
In fearful times, people recoil from the stranger. The Lord warned Israel in Exodus:
"You shall not oppress a stranger, since you yourselves know the feelings of a stranger, for you also were strangers in the land of Egypt." Exo 23:9 (NASB)
The hardness of heart towards another is what Israel experienced in Egypt. The lack of appreciation for the contribution of the life of another and the rejection of that person is what makes someone a stranger to us. It is in the heartbreak of divorce. It is in the abandonment of intimacy.
Shamgar, the third judge of Israel gives us the directive to open our eyes and heart to those we call strangers. We have one verse in the book of Judges to tell us his story:
"After him came Shamgar the son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad; and he also saved Israel." Jdg 3:31 (NASB)
Shamgar was the son of Anath. Anath means the answer. This tells me that there is a question in our attitudes and thoughts about justice towards the stranger. Let’s ask, who were the Philistines? Their name means immigrant. The Philistines, who later became the source of the name Palestine given by the Romans when they conquered Israel, were originally from southern Europe, Crete or perhaps Greece. They were seafaring people who raided and pillaged. They came to Israel and became an arch enemy for the people of God.
In this way, the Philistines were a picture of immigration like we have in the US. They bring the inherent violence of culture clash. Since the inception of this nation, culture clash has been the norm. Whether we are speaking of the initial British, French and Spanish cultures invading the Native American cultures or the multitude of spiritual cultures that clashed and had to find a way to co-exist and yet honor their uniqueness and diversity, this land and truly all nations have been built on the struggle of dealing with the stranger.
Shamgar slew the 600 Philistines with an ox goad. What is an ox goad and why is that mentioned? An ox goad is a tool used to guide and direct the oxen. It is a long poll with a sharp attached metal point. The point of the tool is to lead and guide the ox as they plow the field. The Hebrew reveals that the same root for the Ox goad is the same root for the word for teaching, Lamad.
So, we bring the picture together. Shamgar, deals with the issue of clashes with strangers or immigrants with a tool that yes, kills 600 but also tells us that ultimately there has to be a teaching that will guide us in how to be just in the Kingdom of God.
This is the message of the part of justice that relates to how we deal with the stranger.
One more thing I want to mention. Yeshua speaks to us about the voice of the stranger. Turn with me to John 10, Verses 1-5:
"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers." Joh 10:1-5 (NKJV)
Yeshua is marking a distinction between two voices in our life. One is the voice the sheep will follow if they have intimacy with His voice, His character, His essence. For the rest there will be confusion of voices to follow. Let’s read on: Verse 6-
"Then Jesus said to them again, "Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd. "Therefore, My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father."" Joh 10:7-18 (NKJV)
Ok. There is a lot in this passage. I am not going to attempt to unravel it all, except to make a few observations that are related to our pursuit of justice in this hour of injustice. First let me jump to the end where Yeshua explains that He voluntarily lays down His life for His sheep, His people. I start here because what is competing with the voice of the Lord in this hour and has always competed in the victim spirit, the victim's voice. Yeshua declares that He alone has the power to lay down His life and He alone has the power to take it up again.
What does that mean in the context of justice? What does that mean in the context of the stranger? Isaiah tells us:
"He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely, He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, everyone, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all." Isa 53:3-6 (NKJV)
This is the picture of the stranger, the outcast. It is the result of a choice by a loving God to deal with the fundamental injustice in our hearts. This is the place where the sheep have gone astray. How? By listening to the voice of the stranger and becoming estranged to one another. This is the message of the book of Judges, everyone turning aside to their own way. This is what Yeshua laid down his life to make possible the healing, the salvation, and the unity of our souls. He took the iniquity.
Iniquity is the guilt in the soul for the wrongs of mankind. It is the stain of generational sin and the pain and torment of wrongs committed one against another. It is the voice of the stranger making us strangers one unto another. The Hebrew word is avon and the picture is of a twisting a turning away from the light and love. Yeshua wounded and bruised to heal and restore through His voice.
As we celebrate our nation’s independence, realize that is our dependence on the love of God and His voice to guide us that is the true source of our liberty. Meditate on God’s love for all people and listen to His voice of love and abundance and stop the madness of the stranger! Remember that what we do to the least of these we do to Him.