Leadership Series # 2
The Spirit of the Lord
050-00737 Judges 3:7-11
I. What does it take to be a leader?
A. There are many answers to this question.
1. Some say it takes a gift, whether natural or supernatural.
a) Some people have a special ability to lead.
b) Others tend to follow them because of this unique gift.
2. Others say it takes training and education.
a) Such is the underlying premise of many of the books written about leadership.
b) Learn what it takes to be a leader and practice certain leadership skills and you can become an effective leader.
3. Many think it is a combination of the two.
B. When it comes to the people of God, though, we must keep in mind that the Lord does not work the way the world thinks he should.
1. Throughout the ages God has made leaders out of the most unlikely characters.
2. He hasn’t chosen those who were most qualified.
3. He hasn’t chosen those who were most charismatic.
4. He hasn’t chosen those who were smartest or wisest or most dedicated.
5. Truth be told, God has chosen some of the most unusual people to speak for him and lead his people.
C. Othniel is an example of what God does to make a leader for his people.
II. The stories of the Judges are cycles of sin and salvation.
A. In each case, though the details may differ, the theme is the same.
1. The people of God when left to their own devices sin against God.
a) They do what pleases themselves.
b) It may seem right for the moment, but their activity is essentially disobedience.
c) God told them to be unique, to remain different from the world, to refuse to accept other objects of worship.
d) God had warned his people that he was a jealous God and that there was no other God but him.
e) God had commanded that they teach their children to fear him and that no matter what the situation surrounding them looked like they were to follow his direction and law.
f) And repeatedly God’s people disobeyed.
2. When God’s people sinned, he remained faithful to his covenant with them.
a) He did not allow them to continue in their sin.
b) Instead, God disciplined his people.
c) It is interesting that the text says that God “sold” them into the hands of a foreign king.
(1) To sell implies ownership.
(2) These were not people who were free to do whatever they wanted.
(3) They were not free to be whoever they wanted to be.
(4) These people belonged to God. He had made a covenant with them and they had accepted his covenant.
(5) They were His people. Even as we are his people. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 You are not your own; you were bought at a price.
d) Hebrews 12:6 …the Lord disciplines those he loves…
3. The end of God’s discipline is salvation.
a) Judges 3:9 But when they cried out to the Lord, he raised up for them a deliverer…
b) It is the Exodus story all over again.
c) It is a story repeated numerous times in Judges, numerous times in the Old Testament, and repeated one last time in the gospel.
B. We know very little about Othniel.
1. We know he was Caleb’s nephew – the Caleb who was one of the spies sent into the land of Canaan.
2. We know that Othniel was victorious in battle before this time.
a) Judges 1:9-13 After that, the men of Judah went down to fight against the Canaanites living in the hill country, the Negev and the western foothills. They advanced against the Canaanites living in Hebron (formerly called Kiriath Arba) and defeated Sheshai, Ahiman and Talmai. From there they advanced against the people living in Debir (formerly called Kiriath Sepher). And Caleb said, “I will give my daughter Acsah in marriage to the man who attacks and captures Kiriath Sepher.” Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, took it; so Caleb gave his daughter Acsah to him in marriage.
b) We can also note from the above that Othniel was from the tribe of Judah.
3. But we do not know the details of Othniel’s victories as a Judge.
a) We only know that he was victorious.
b) And we know that he lived and ruled for forty years, although this number is probably not literal but refers instead to a generation.
C. But what we do know, what is told to us, is significant.
1. God raised up a deliverer.
a) The story is not so much about Othniel as it is about God.
b) We are not told that Othniel wanted to be a judge.
c) We are not told that Othniel had any particular characteristics that would make him a good judge.
d) We are not told that Othniel was in any way more righteous than any other Israelite.
e) We are simply told that God, in response to the cries of his people, raised up a deliverer.
f) We are told that God chose Othniel for his service and for this role.
2. More importantly, we are told that the Spirit of the Lord came upon him.
III. The Spirit of the Lord.
A. There are different ways the Bible speaks about the Spirit of the Lord and these differences are meaningful.
1. First, the Spirit is poured out. This is the case prophesied by Joel and fulfilled on Pentecost.
a) The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost does not relate to individual experience.
b) It is not about salvation and it is not about empowerment.
c) It is about a sign of the New Covenant and its establishment by God with his New Covenant people.
d) The sign is repeated three more times in Acts and in each case signals the extension of the Covenant to greater circles of peoples as predicted in Acts 1:8: Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, Gentiles.
2. Second, Christians are said to be baptized with or by the Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Ephesians 4:3-4 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit…
B. The language here, though, is specific and formulaic.
1. The Spirit of the Lord came upon him.
2. This formula is repeated throughout the Old Testament.
3. In each case, God’s Spirit comes upon an individual in such a way that the person is overcome with God’s power to accomplish God’s will.
4. The Spirit of God is the means by which God works, and when this Spirit comes upon someone it is to be understood that God, not the individual, is active.
5. Othniel was a minor character who by the Spirit of God was raised to save and rule all of Israel.
6. The same language is used of Gideon, Sampson, Samuel, David, Ezekiel and others.
7. In each case, God took someone and made them into a great leader, a deliverer.
C. Now, with this in mind, we read: Matthew 3:16-17 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” John 1:32-34 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.”
1. The fact that the Spirit descended upon Jesus was not lost by those who knew their history.
2. The coming of the Spirit upon Jesus was affirmation that God had sent a deliverer, a savior.
3. There is no one after Jesus about whom the Scriptures say that the Spirit came upon him.
IV. Othniel is in this way a type of Christ.
A. All true leaders before Christ, those who were called by God, those who were equipped by God, those who were empowered by God to do what they could never have done themselves pointed to Jesus Christ.
B. Because Christ has come, all who follow him are also leaders who are called to point to him, to reflect him, and to direct all attention to him.
C. What does it mean to be a leader in the Church?
1. It means to be a follower of Christ.