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Jeremiah’s Friend (May 2020)

I thought we would now look at some other lesser known people in the Bible. There are some that we know the names of, others that we don’t, but I will try to find some that have an interesting story about them. If you have any suggestions,please let me know.

What do we know about Jeremiah? When you look him up in the dictionary, you find it talks of a ‘doleful prophet’, one who proclaims doom and destruction or ‘a denouncer of the present age.’ (Perhaps we need one in this day and age!) Certainly we are told in the Bible that Jeremiah’s prophecies were not welcomed in his day. The king, Jehoiakim, cut up the scroll that Jeremiah had dictated with his penknife, and fed it into the brazier that he sat by to keep warm! Of course, it did not stop Jeremiah as the scroll was rewritten and added to.

Nebuchadnezzar replaced Jehoiakim’s son who followed him, with Zedekiah, who had Jeremiah arrested and confined in a dungeon for a long time. Eventually, the king sent for Jeremiah to see if he had any message from God. Easing the confinement meant that he was now locked up in the palace courtyard and given a loaf of bread each day, but because Jeremiah continued to proclaim the messages he had from God, some of the officials wanted to put him to death. They asked the king for permission, and he said they could do what they liked with him. They let him down into a cistern where water would be stored, but there was only mud in the bottom after all, and he sank into it.

We then meet his friend, Ebedmelech, an official at the palace, who had originated from Sudan, and was probably black, but It doesn’t say whether he was a slave or even a servant. When he heard what had happened to Jeremiah he went to the king. The king agreed that he could rescue Jeremiah, and ordered him to take three others with him to pull the prophet out of the mud. We know very little about Ebedmelech, but he seems to have been considerate and kind.  

As he didn’t just let down a rope so that Jeremiah could be pulled up, but  firstly  went to the palace store room to get some rags and old clothing, which he let down by ropes. He then told Jeremiah to tuck the rags under his arms, so that the ropes would not hurt him. He knew that, by now, Jeremiah would be very thin and would need some protection, and so Jeremiah was rescued from the cistern and kept in the courtyard.

God did not forget Ebedmelech, and sent him a message through Jeremiah that his faith would be rewarded, and although he would see the destruction of the city, he would be kept safe. (Jeremiah 39: 15-18)  It seems such a little thing that he did, one of those random acts of kindness that we hear a lot about. He did it because he trusted in God and his faith was shown in action.

Incidentally, Jeremiah also had messages of hope for the future. Things were going to get bad before they got better, and it might take time for the future prosperity to come, but it would come. Read Jeremiah 29: 11-13. We have God’s promise of a future with him even though things look difficult. Let us put our trust in him, come what may.

Margaret H