Strange Weapons Lesson 1: The Prod (comparisons and conclusion)

March 9, 2011 at 11:01 am | Posted in Biblical farming, Strange Weapons | 13 Comments
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Last time we looked at the background information on Shamgar and his ox-goad (or cattle prod), which you can read about in Judges 3:31 and 5:6. Here are three comparisons between Shamgar’s prod, which he used as a weapon, and the weapons of our spiritual warfare today:

1. A prod is used in provoking.

And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

Acts 9:1-5

Before the Apostle Paul became the Apostle Paul he was the dreaded Saul of Tarsus, the scourge of the early Christian church, and one day he was charging down the road to Damascus like an angry bull. Suddenly, he felt the prodding of the Holy Spirit. Have you ever been prodded by the Holy Spirit?

And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Hebrews 10:24-25, emphasis added

The Greek word which is translated as “provoke” in Hebrews 10:24 is paroxysmos, from which we get the word “paroxysm,” and which means “a violent fit.” This shows how serious and earnest and even urgent we are to be as we provoke each other to love and to good works. The Holy Spirit prodded Saul as he was traveling to attack Christians, but we, as Christians today, are supposed to prod each other and exhort each other to get into the battle and fight our enemy, Satan.

2. A prod is used in plowing.

For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.

Jeremiah 4:3, emphasis added

If you’ve ever done any farming or gardening, you know that ground must be broken up before seeds can be planted.

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.

Ezekiel 36:26

In addition to breaking up the ground before planting, there are usually stones which must be removed from the earth before the ground is soft and useful.

And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

Luke 9:62

Plowing is not a one-time-only event for a farmer. Plowing is continuous work in the life of a farmer. Allowing the Holy Spirit to use us to break up hard hearts, to remove stony obstacles, and to stay busy moving forward in the Christian life are all important parts of our spiritual warfare.

3. A prod is used in purifying.

Remember that part of Shamgar’s prod (ox-goad) was used for cleaning off dirt. There was a sharp point on the front end and a small spade on the back end. This is a picture of the Holy Spirit’s role in cleaning out the sin in our lives so that we can be pure and used of God. The part of the prod that cleans the plow also makes the plow lighter, thereby making it work better and more efficiently. As a Christian I certainly want to be free from sin, but there are many things which may not necessarily be sinful in and of themselves. These things become a problem when they consume my attention and energy, and take me out of the battle that Christ wants me to be fighting.

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

Hebrews 12:1

The Holy Spirit may be speaking to us right now and telling us to lay aside every weight that would keep us from finishing the work in our assigned field.

CONCLUSION AND REVIEW

A prod is a strange weapon, but Shamgar lived in a time when the Philistines had taken away all the Israelites’ conventional weapons (I Samuel 13:19). I am afraid that the world and the devil are stripping Christians of our weapons today. The world may take away public prayer, Bible study in the schools, the right to speak out at work, but, if and when that happens, will you take your “prod” and use it for the Lord? Our warfare and our weapons are not conventional because we are in a spiritual, not a physical, war. Does your automobile become a strange weapon when you use it to drive to someone’s house to tell him about Jesus or to the hospital to pray for a sick person? Do your shoes become strange weapons when you wear them to walk up and down the streets of your neighborhood, inviting folks to church and sharing the Gospel? Is a pecan pie a spiritual weapon when you bake it and take it to your neighbor who needs a friend in times of trouble? Is your telephone a strange weapon when you use it to call someone who hasn’t been to Sunday School in a while and invite them to come back? Will you take whatever is at hand to provoke, to plough, to purify?

Strange Weapons Lesson 1: The Prod (background)

February 28, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Posted in Biblical farming, Strange Weapons | 15 Comments
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Strange Weapons: A Prod, a Peg, and a Pitcher

Lesson One: The Prod

BACKGROUND INFORMATION AND HISTORICAL SETTING

And after him was Shamgar the son of Anath, which slew of the Philistines six hundred men with an ox goad: and he also delivered Israel.

Judges 3:31

This verse interrupts the suspenseful tale of Ehud and Eglon the way a breaking news story will sometimes interrupt a television program. The breaking news story that day was about a man named Shamgar. The Bible does not tell us a great deal about him. Judges 3:31 and Judges 5:6 are the only Verses in the Bible about him.

In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were unoccupied, and the travellers walked through byways.

Judges 5:6

Shamgar was apparently honored, because the Bible refers to “the days of Shamgar” in the same way that our secular history books speak of “the Roosevelt years” or “the Reagan years” or “Victorian England.”

Because of the honor afforded to Shamgar and because his account is given in the Book of Judges, it is possible that Shamgar was a judge, although he is not called a “judge” in the Bible.

Judges 5:6 also tells how dangerous the land of Canaan was in those days. It says that “the highways were unoccupied, and the travelers walked through byways.” In other words, travelers had to sneak around the country to avoid the perils that came with being out in the open or away from inhabited areas in a lawless land.

This is a good place to pause and review this important lesson from the days when these events took place. In the days which are recorded in the Book of Judges, every man did what was right in his own eyes. Judges 17:6 and Judges 21:25 say almost the same thing, and that is one of the main themes in the Book of Judges: “In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” In that respect, it reminds us of America today. We do not live in a society where there are no laws, and for that we may be thankful, but certainly today the most common barometer for a person’s behavior when it comes to moral matters is “what is right in his own eyes.”

When Shamgar appeared on the scene, the Philistines were seriously oppressing God’s people. The reason for this is that God’s people were not acting like God’s people. In fact, the name “Shamgar” isn’t a Hebrew name. Shamgar is called the son of Anath, and Anath was a Canaanite goddess. She was the goddess of sex and war, and she was worshiped as the wife and sister of the false god, Baal. Therefore, it is possible that Shamgar was from a very worldly family. Being raised in a worldly household is certainly not a positive thing, but the fact that God used Shamgar in a great way should be an encouragement to those today who are Christians, but who did not have the advantage of being raised in a godly family. God can choose you and God can use you regardless of your background or upbringing.

Shamgar was probably a simple farmer, not noble or wealthy, but one day something caused Shamgar to rise up on behalf of God and kill 600 Philistines with a very strange weapon. This weapon was his ox-goad – what we would call a cattle prod. It was a tool that was probably between five and ten feet long. It would have had a sharp iron point on one end and a small shovel or spade on the other end. The sharp point was used to keep the oxen moving while plowing and the spade was used for cleaning the plow which the oxen pulled.
http://tommyboland.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/ox-goad.jpg

This prod was a useful tool, but it made a strange weapon. Keeping this background information in mind, next time I will make three comparisons between Shamgar’s prod, which he used as a weapon, and the weapons of our spiritual warfare today. The prod was a strange weapon, and the weapons which God will use in our lives today as we wage spiritual warfare may seem just as strange.


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