JEREMIAH CHAPTER 38: The good samaritan of old testament-Ebed-Melech.
It was just in the last chapter that we discussed the enemies of the prophet and how they threw him into a dungeon only to be rescued by the king (Chapter 37). In today`s chapter, we read about four of the king`s officers planning another attack on the prophet. They accused Jeremiah of discouraging the miltary situation of Judah by his gospel of surrender and live. Yeah, in the previous chapter he had been accused of turning his back on the country (treason) and now another mistake is forced onto him (verses 1-3). For the above reason, they deducted that Jeremiah deserved death (verse 4). When the devil attacks us and we escape the trap, he prepares for another day in either a similar way or a different trap, get ready all the time.
Like we earlier saw, Jeremiah was exactly like Plato of Jesus` times. They both feared to lose their faces before their people or officers even when it meant losing God`s favor. Indeed, Zedekiah handed Jeremiah over to the enemies. This was not because he thought Jeremiah was wrong as they accused him, it was only because he feared to antagonize with his great servants. It is a mistake to just call them servants since they were a threat even to their king. The officers took Jeremiah and threw him in a dungeon expecting him to die in days either due to hunger, bad conditions or any other trouble in such a horrible dungeon (verses 5-6).
Verse 7 comes up with a good Samaritan of the old testament. Ebed-Melech was an African from Ethiopia who had by God`s grace become one of the king`s servants. Even though the other officers had tried to make their moves discretely, somehow the news leaked (after all the dungeon was not far from the court yard) and this Ethiopian and good man learned that Jeremiah had been thrown there in the well. He was courageous enough to face the king and accuse the plotters face to face or discretely. Either way, it was a great decision that took his time, courage and mind (verses 7-9).
It seems that the King could only listen to whoever spoke and he who spoke lastly had the best luck. And now this man takes over the stage. The king immediately ordered 30 men to go with Ebed-Melech and lift Jeremiah out of the dungeon (verse 10). This is amazing. Reality reveals that about 3 men were enough to lift the prophet out and thus there must have been a separate special reason why the king needed 31 men to carry out the job. Some writers say that there was too much hunger in Judah in times of siege and it needed about 30 weak and hungry men to lift up one man from the dungeon. Others suggest that since Jeremiah was very old and weak with the dungeon being too deep, many men were necessary to lift him up with less difficulty. However, the fear that the already four enemies of Jeremiah could again interfere with the rescue mission could be the most real reason the King used more men for the mission so that defense would be guaranteed.
So the Ethiopian did as told and Jeremiah was saved. Following his rescue, Jeremiah was informed to meet the king for a private talk. Before saying anything, Jeremiah seeks assurance from the King that His prophecy was not gonna be the reason for his death. Upon the King`s oath of not killing him or handing him over to enemies, the prophet says it the way he always did. There was no any other way of saving their asses but to surrender to the Babylonians. I am sure in the previous chapters we learned the value of surrendering to your enemies as a strong weapon at times. Upon hearing this message, the King builds up an excuse of not following the word. He was afraid that Jews who had already surrendered to the Babylonians would abuse him when they see him doing the same thing he had condemned for years (What will they say to see me surrendering when i have been a leader of no retreat no surrender group?). The excuse is immediately smashed by th prophet but the king changes not. Anyway, the conversation is ended on terms that none would be told what the King and Jeremiah had discussed, a secret that Jeremiah kept (verses 11-26).
As already anticipated by the King, the officers later asked Jeremiah what he discussed with the King and the prophet told them as the King had instructed. This is not a lie as many may think: It is the whole truth for it is what the King had ordered the prophet to say and there was no any new word or order from God. This can be compared to the wise men who promised Herod that they would return and show him the way to baby Jesus but never returned. It can as well be compared to the Rehab`s trick when she saved the spies from the Israelite by deceiving the killers. So Jeremiah stayed there in the court yard under close surveillance and guarding till Jerusalem fell into the enemies` hands (verses 27-28).
Our Today`s focus is on verse 7, "But Ebed- Melech, a Cushite and a servant in the palace....." This verse simply reveals that this man was not from the chosen nation of Israel or was not a Jew. Another thing is that he was a servant in the palace. while the killers of the prophet were great officers and of the same blood with Jeremiah sharing the same ancestral background, this man was a gentile and a servant. While his people planned to only hurt and kill him, Jeremiah found mercy and refugee in a foreigner. I am sure my message is clear. It is not your background that matters, it you yourself. You may be bragging that you come from a christian family yet you are rotten compared to those born from pagans. Actually, most Jews lost salvation because of this bragging. No wonder they killed their own blood Jesus, the one who saved us the gentiles.
Hey, the one planning for your fall and attack could be of your family. It could be your father, mother, brother or sister or any other relative, be careful at the sight of even simple and small signs. Your mother, your father, brother or sister is any man who has a tender heart for you and who is really into you. Go with that man or a woman who loves and cares for you and mindless about those other familial factors mbu you are relatives. So the Ethiopian showed a good heart to a Jew who had been betrayed and done away with by his fellow Jews. This world!
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