1 Shephatiah son of Mattan, Gedaliah son of Pashhur, Jehucal son of Shelemiah, and Pashhur son of Malkijah heard what Jeremiah was telling all the people when he said,
2 "This is what the LORD says: 'Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine or plague, but whoever goes over to the Babylonians will live. He will escape with his life; he will live.'
3 And this is what the LORD says: 'This city will certainly be handed over to the army of the king of Babylon, who will capture it.'"
4 Then the officials said to the king, "This man should be put to death. He is discouraging the soldiers who are left in this city, as well as all the people, by the things he is saying to them. This man is not seeking the good of these people but their ruin."
5 "He is in your hands," King Zedekiah answered. "The king can do nothing to oppose you."
6 So they took Jeremiah and put him into the cistern of Malkijah, the king's son, which was in the courtyard of the guard. They lowered Jeremiah by ropes into the cistern; it had no water in it, only mud, and Jeremiah sank down into the mud.
7 But Ebed-Melech, a Cushite, an official in the royal palace, heard that they had put Jeremiah into the cistern. While the king was sitting in the Benjamin Gate,
8 Ebed-Melech went out of the palace and said to him,
9 "My lord the king, these men have acted wickedly in all they have done to Jeremiah the prophet. They have thrown him into a cistern, where he will starve to death when there is no longer any bread in the city."
10 Then the king commanded Ebed-Melech the Cushite, "Take thirty men from here with you and lift Jeremiah the prophet out of the cistern before he dies."
11 So Ebed-Melech took the men with him and went to a room under the treasury in the palace. He took some old rags and worn-out clothes from there and let them down with ropes to Jeremiah in the cistern.
12 Ebed-Melech the Cushite said to Jeremiah, "Put these old rags and worn-out clothes under your arms to pad the ropes." Jeremiah did so,
13 and they pulled him up with the ropes and lifted him out of the cistern. And Jeremiah remained in the courtyard of the guard.
Jeremiah was the sole prophet in Jerusalem prophesying its destruction. His message was so contrary to the false prophets who were preaching peace and safety. The message did not go very well with the people. Hence, Jeremiah was imprisoned and later thrown in a cistern filled with mud (38:6) by the spineless King Zedekiah (38:5), with the real possibility of having to face death (38:4, 6, 9). All he could do was cry out for mercy and help. Unless God rescued him, he was not going to last long in the thick mire. (Psalm 102:19-20)
God has His own peculiar ways and resources to rescue his people. He has His chosen people in every corner ready to do His bidding and His will.
"Ebed-melech (meaning "servant of the King") an Ethiopian, one of the eunuchs who was in the king's palace, heard that they had put Jeremiah in the dungeon; he went to the king's house, and spoke in defence of Jeremiah. He went on to get the king's approval and rescued him from the cistern through some old rags and worn-out clothes with the help of 30 others.
- What motivates courageous people like Ebed-melech-or Jeremiah, to speak up boldly?
- What was the physical and spiritual state of Jeremiah in the cistern? Can you relate to being in a spiritual pit? What kind of feelings do you go through? Psalm 37:7
- Have you stood up for what is right even when it was risky?
- Ebed-Melech could have given a lot of excuses but he did not? Why?
- What are the excuses we give to serve God or his people?
- What prompted Ebed-Melech to go out of his way to help Jeremiah? Write down his traits in your journal.
- Have you gone the extra mile for someone recently? What made you do it?
- We see Jeremiah suffer, what is the purpose of such suffering? Does God intend to have a desired effect of some sort? Have you gone through some trials recently? What are some lessons learnt?
God delights in using people like Ebed-Melech. They are the nobodies in society; the rest of the world views them as useless, rejected by everyone. However, God sees them as His remarkable treasure. God used him to save a prophet who went on to preach God's word and saw them be fulfilled.
- How do you feel about yourself today? Do you feel insignificant, small, inferior, rejected or useless? 1 Cor 1:27. Do you believe he can use you powerfully?
- Are you motivated to serve God when people around you are not doing so? If yes, what motivates you?
15 While Jeremiah had been confined in the courtyard of the guard, the word of the LORD came to him:
16 "Go and tell Ebed-Melech the Cushite, 'This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: I am about to fulfill my words against this city through disaster, not prosperity. At that time they will be fulfilled before your eyes.
17 But I will rescue you on that day, declares the LORD; you will not be handed over to those you fear.
18 I will save you; you will not fall by the sword but will escape with your life, because you trust in me, declares the LORD.'"
God rewarded Ebed-Melech. God never forgets us (Isaiah 49:15).
What were the five promises given to Ebed-Melech through Jeremiah for his faithfulness?
There are many people, including some disciples who are in a spiritual pit today. They are in despair, feeling hopeless and lonely and are yearning for someone to rescue them. Pray and ask God to help you reach out to someone stuck in a spiritual pit this week.