Templar Knights? – Check. A group of assassin’s who promote peace on earth through selective violence? – Check. Real world locations, actual historical figures, and a sharp blade in the place of my character’s amputated finger? – Check, check, and a big fat check-a-roo. I sat down in front of Assassin’s Creed and jumped into the shoes of an acrobatic, highly skilled death dealer who also happens to be saving humanity from tyranny through each assassination contract completed. The beauty of the game is that I am no mere murderer – oh no… I am tasked with the elimination of only the critical characters in history that would do harm to others on a grander scale, so in a way I am a hitman who aims to rid the world of violence through proactive prevention. Somebody just put paradox in my peanut butter.
As I continued to play, I found it disturbing that I could actually start to rationalize this concept within the gaming experience, especially as a Christian. I mean, we are commanded to simply turn the other cheek, right? Pray and wait for God to sort it out? How do I justify these two seemingly disparate concepts? Surely I am in uncharted waters. But to my surprise, not only does the Bible have much to say on the subject, but I found that an even more remarkable tale took place many thousands of years prior to the fictional accounts of my video game protagonist, in the Biblical book of Judges. Enter the Animus with me…
In Judges chapter 3, we have the story of a man chosen by God to be an assassin. Yes, you read that right. Before you gasp in shock at this notion, let’s look at read Judges 3:14-15.
Judges 3:14-15 So the children of Israel served Eglon king of Moab eighteen years. But when the children of Israel cried out to the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer for them: Ehud the son of Gera, the Benjamite, a left-handed man.
The nation of Israel was trapped in bitter servitude to Eglon, the evil king of Moab. They had been in this position for eighteen years, due to their failure to follow a protective covenant they had agreed to with God. When they finally reached the point where they were prepared to ask for God’s help, God had an answer – an assassin named Ehud. There is an interesting notation about this particular assassin, however – Ehud is described as a man with a disabled right hand. Now you might say, “Hold on… it doesn’t say that. It just says he was left-handed”. But the original Hebrew does NOT say he was left-handed… it says he was “right-hand disabled”:
ye-mi-now – right
yad – hand
itter – shut up, bound, restricted (from the root word atar which is translated as impeded, shut up, or closed/bound)
Surprised to hear that the chosen assassin to deliver the nation is a man with a disability? You shouldn’t be – 2 Corinthians 12:9 tells us that God’s strength is most powerful in our weaknesses, meaning that the tools that can be used most perfectly in God’s plans are those that are weak and contemptible in the eyes of others. And in 1 Corinthians 1:27-28 we see that God has chosen those considered foolish in this world to show up the wise, and those perceived as weak in this world to defeat the mighty. A powerful message here exists for those that feel they cannot be used by God – God can (and HAS) used everyone from a disabled man (Ehud), a murderer (Moses), a prostitute (Rahab), an adulterer (David), and even a donkey (unfortunately the donkey chose not to be credited by name) to do His will!! He will use you too – the choice is yours.
So back to Ehud – we find this hitman/deliverer in an act of subterfuge that would fit right in with the world of Assassin’s Creed, creating a double-sided dagger that was small enough to be concealed; about 18 inches long, and strapped it to his right thigh. Why is this significant? Because weapons in that time period were typically carried on the LEFT SIDE of the body, as most soldiers were right-handed. When a search was performed for weapons before approaching the king, undoubtedly this would bypass their notice, and combined with his unassuming appearance due to his crippled hand he appeared that he did not present much of a threat. What a perfect assassin! So now we have his weapon of choice and his method of concealment – all that is left is how will he get the king alone long enough to fulfill the contract?
Altair, Ezio, and their like have nothing on Ehud – the cover Ehud has chosen is to blend in with his countrymen who were traveling to offer the tribute owed to the king. This will assure him easy access to his target, the greedy king of Moab, a man who was quaintly described in verse 16 as a “very fat man”. This seems to be adding insult to injury, but this detail is actually important becomes it becomes important momentarily…
Judges 3:16-19 Now Ehud made himself a dagger (it was double-edged and a cubit in length) and fastened it under his clothes on his right thigh. So he brought the tribute to Eglon king of Moab. (Now Eglon was a very fat man.) And when he had finished presenting the tribute, he sent away the people who had carried the tribute. But he himself turned back from the stone images that were at Gilgal, and said, “I have a secret message for you, O king.” He said, “Keep silence!” And all who attended him went out from him.
The Bible doesn’t mince words, does it? So imagine this picture – sitting in opulence is this obese king, rich from the taxes he imposes on the countries he rules. Ehud, this disabled representative of no particular notoriety uses cunning to bypass the security measures of the king’s security detail, sneaking a dagger into the king’s chambers. After presenting the tribute money, he informs the king he has a secret message. And what is this king’s response? His arrogance knows no bounds as the king sends his protectors out of the room – the ruse this assassin is perpetrating has worked perfectly! His threat going unperceived, Ehud informs the king that he is carrying a message from the God of his people. A quick word of warning… this get’s VERY mature and descriptive very quickly…
Judges 3:20-26 So Ehud came to him (now he was sitting upstairs in his cool private chamber). Then Ehud said, “I have a message from God for you.” So he arose from his seat. Then Ehud reached with his left hand, took the dagger from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly. Even the hilt went in after the blade, and the fat closed over the blade, for he did not draw the dagger out of his belly; and his entrails came out. Then Ehud went out through the porch and shut the doors of the upper room behind him and locked them. When he had gone out, Eglon’s servants came to look, and to their surprise, the doors of the upper room were locked. So they said, “He is probably attending to his needs in the cool chamber.” So they waited till they were embarrassed, and still he had not opened the doors of the upper room. Therefore they took the key and opened them. And there was their master, fallen dead on the floor. But Ehud had escaped while they delayed, and passed beyond the stone images and escaped to Seirah.
Unfortunately for the king, Ehud gets straight to the “point” of his message quickly and quite literally. When the king stands to hear the “message”, Ehud produces the dagger and using one fluid motion that would make Ezio proud he drives it straight into the portly stomach of the stunned and defenseless king. The Bible is quite descriptive in this sudden, violent act – Ehud’s weapon is cleverly designed for penetration, and the blade disappears into the king’s body and remains there, leaving no evidence for Ehud to discard and no mess to clean up. His assassination contract from God complete, Ehud creates a cover by leaving the king in a private chamber and shutting and locking the doors behind him, leaving the servants to believe the king was going to the bathroom! This gave Ehud the needed time to escape, and when the servants tired of waiting they unlocked the doors expecting to find their king on his “porcelain throne”, only to realize Eglon had been DE-THRONED – permanently!
Don’t spend another moment of your life wishing you were made different than what you are, or believing the lie that you will never be more than what you are now. You are perfectly designed for purposes that you will not understand until you accept God’s contract for YOU. As the fictional characters Altair and Ezio, as well as the real life assassin Ehud learned, their lives found fulfillment once they accepted their purpose and acted on it. A life of true purpose and fulfillment for you is one decision away!
So now to the closing cinematic – The final result of Ehud’s efforts was a successful war with the Moabite army, leading the Israeli army in slaughtering 10,000 Moabite soldiers and bringing 80 years of peace to his people through his one singular act of violence. As we come full circle on this assassin’s story, we realize that God has a unique plan for each of our lives, not based on what we perceive as our weaknesses and disabilities, but on the opportunities those very weaknesses create for amazing accomplishments we could never imagine!
Ehud went from a man disabled to an assassin ENABLED all because he chose to be the weapon God had fashioned him to be. There was never anything wrong with Ehud – and there isn’t anything wrong with you either. Those areas that you may perceive as limitations are the reason your enemy under-estimates you and creates the opportunity for Christ’s victory through you! So for everyone who has felt marginalized, disqualified, or ostracized because of a real or perceived deficiency, remember this… You were uniquely created to serve a purpose only YOU can fulfill!
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