As Nebuchadnezzar’s armies surrounded Jerusalem and continued to take it apart piece by piece, the Lord spoke to the people of Judah through Jeremiah and warned them not to resist His judgment. He assured them that He would be with them in their Babylonian exile and would be their protection. But God’s message was not believed, and the life of Jeremiah, God’s messenger, was in peril.
Jeremiah told everyone:
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. They will escape with their lives; they will live.’ 3 And this is what the Lord says: ‘This city will certainly be given into the hands of 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. Jeremiah 38:2-6 NIV
At this point, faithful Jeremiah was in a position of utter powerlessness. His life and its preservation were totally in God’s hands. There was absolutely nothing he could do about it but to pray.
Have you ever found yourself in such a position? Many of us have. It may be at a time of grief, after the receipt of a bad report, in the midst of a challenging circumstance, in an unfavorable medical situation, at the bottom of an out-of-control addiction, or in a place of deep depression. The situation around us has evolved into one far beyond any possible power we have on our own to control, change, or escape it. We are totally dependent upon outside help to save us.
It is during these times of shock and despair that many of us realize how truly dependent we are upon the grace and mercy of God. He is our only hope to survive and to make it through our crisis to a better day.
God would save Jeremiah out of his crisis. He would not reach down Himself to pull Jeremiah out of the mire. Instead, about the time Jeremiah must have given up struggling in his hunger and thirst and prepared himself to suffer a rejected and forgotten death, God sent him a savior. Someone who would step out of his comfort zone to take a significant risk in order to save Jeremiah from sure death.
An Ethiopian named Ebed-Melek, who served in the king’s palace, heard about Jeremiah’s fate and desperate situation in the cistern. Feeling compassion in his heart, he approached King Zedekiah as he was attending to government affairs and condemned the evil act the officials had done, pleading for Jeremiah’s life.
Ebed-Melek must have known that the king had given his approval to those officials to do whatever they wished to Jeremiah. And there was a strong possibility that the king would respond to his plea by instructing them to throw Ebed-Melek into the cistern along with Jeremiah. But God granted Ebed-Melek favor for his brave and faithful action to save the prophet. The king agreed with his plea and sent thirty officials with him to pull Jeremiah out of the well, saving his life.
Six centuries later, another Ethiopian official would become the first recorded person in the Bible after Pentecost to hear the good news of Jesus Christ from a missionary and to believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ. The missionary, the disciple Phillip, was specifically sent by the Lord to meet this Ethiopian official who was riding a chariot home on a remote road after worshiping in Jerusalem. Was this special blessing due to the faithful action of the Ethiopian man who had come forward to save the prophet Jeremiah many hundreds of years earlier? God’s blessings are not limited by time or space. (The account is found in Acts 8).
What situation surrounds you today that you are totally powerless over?
Lord, I acknowledge my utter dependance upon You and Your grace, mercy, and love for me. I lift to You the crisis before me and ask for your favor, deliverance, and guidance. Show me what I or my loved one must do to survive and to come through it to a brighter day. Thank You for all that You do and have done for me. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.