In light of the recent events in our country, I find it interesting that Michael Jordan has announced his plans to return playing professional basketball. America is searching for heroes and leaders in all shapes, sorts, and sizes. You would wonder if our search is to find legitimate leaders or to simply find a diversion to captivate our minds away from the tragedy and fears. In his former playing days, Michael was balanced with a mixture of a rugged competitive fire, and a calm, cool collectiveness under pressure. In a word, he was clutch. In such difficult national times, can we find someone who is spiritually clutch?
In Judges 3, Israel was facing equivalent days of uncertainty. Israel had been tremendously prosperous, but guilty of forgetting God. Therefore, in order to prove the allegiance of His people, God allowed a wicked nation eight years to be a “thorn in the side” of Israel. The truth of the matter is, it lasted eight years because that is how long it took for Israel to cry! However, out of their tears came swimming a man from total obscurity onto the national scene named Othniel. In all of God’s Word, we only have 5 verses that tell us about this man. Yet in these verses, we find a man who was spiritually clutch. Does God have an Othniel for America? Are we truly ready for him? Here is a few observations about him.
Othniel was God-sent. “..the Lord raised up a deliverer..” I wonder if he was Israel’s obvious choice as they observed the crowd? I mean, what credentials did he have? He had no seminary degree. He had no famous father whose coat-tail he could ride. In the little information we have about him, one would question his oratory giftedness. All he had was preparation and direction from God. We are so dazzled by brilliance, drawn to intelligence, and dictated by credentials, I’m not sure we’d even recognize Othniel if he was standing right in front of us. In times of national spiritual crisis, God’s deliverer will typically be an unlikely source. Wasn’t it Nathanael who said, “..can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?”
Othniel was God-saturated. “And the Spirit of the Lord came upon him.” What does that mean? It meant he was the exclusive property of God! Does God have such a man today? It is so difficult to be under the exclusive ownership of God because it cramps our egos and our agendas. Othniel was content living in the obscurity of God’s shadow. He did not market himself. Books were not written about him. For some reason, I can’t picture Othniel on a “Got Milk?” billboard.
Most of us say we would go wherever God leads, but our heart whispers, “what’s in it for me?”
Othniel was God-shaped. “..and he judged Israel..” His entire life had been molded for one task: to save God’s people. All he learned left him with a loyalty to God and righteousness that stood above the loyalty to his nation. A man with such a heart is a man who feels with God’s heart. Does anyone truly know what God feels today? Do you realize the courage it would take to be given a national platform, and then have to use it to publicly call out sins? How politically incorrect! How spiritually insensitive to their hurts! How damaging to our reputation! If only God could find an Othniel who would believe Him when everyone else says “NO!”
Finally, Othniel was God-sustained. “And the land had rest forty years.” Those few words say so much. God had given Othniel the blessing of Jacob; “..thou hast power with God and with men.” He had both trust and favor. Trust with God, and favor with men. When will God send America an Othniel? He will when America WANTS one, and when America is ready to follow one. Not until.
God has wounded my heart as I’ve written these words today. It has broken my heart to realize how far away I am from being an Othniel. “God, separate me and make me exclusively yours. May I not struggle against you, but allow you to shape me for a task beyond my means. Teach me your trust, guide me with favor. God I want to be a clutch man.”
©2004 Alan Stewart
Alan Stewart: Dr. Alan Stewart has served as Senior Pastor of Rechoboth Baptist since December 1999. He attended The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Moody Bible Institute, Covington Theological Seminary, and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary.
Prior to pastoring the Tennessee church, Alan was an evangelist for 15 years. He has preached revivals/pastor’s conferences in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland. He also preached crusades/conferences in India, Hungary, and conducted a crusade in South Africa in August of 2009. Pastor Alan is married to Jeanne, and they are blessed with two children – Sierra and Seth.