Traitor or Patriot? (Jeremiah 38:1~13)
1 Shephatiah son of Mattan, Gedaliah son of Pashhur, Jehukal[a] 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[b] 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.
7 But Ebed-Melek, a Cushite,[c] an official[d] in the royal palace, heard that they had put Jeremiah into the cistern. While the king was sitting in the Benjamin Gate,
8 Ebed-Melek 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-Melek the Cushite, “Take thirty men from here with you and lift Jeremiah the prophet out of the cistern before he dies.”
11 So Ebed-Melek 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-Melek 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.
Silencing the Truth (38:1–6)
This story reveals how far some will go to deny the truth of God’s Word. High ranking officials accuse Jeremiah of treason and say that his words are undermining the morale of the people and the remaining soldiers. They argue that Jeremiah should be put to death for his disloyalty, but the weak King Zedekiah refuses to take action himself. Instead, he tells Jeremiah’s accusers that his fate is in their hands. In an act of intense cruelty, they lower Jeremiah into a cistern to die a slow death by starvation. Jeremiah’s love for his people is seen in his willingness to speak the truth of God’s Word, regardless of the cost. The prophet’s faithfulness should encourage us to do the same.
- When have others sought to silence you from speaking the truth of God’s Word? What are some ways the truth of God’s Word is silenced by His enemies today?
Unlikely Hero (38:7–13)
Throughout Scripture, God often uses unlikely people to accomplish His purposes. Here, a servant from Cush named Ebed-Melek hears about Jeremiah’s cruel fate and informs Zedekiah, who had previously given free rein to Jeremiah’s enemies. Agreeing that Jeremiah’s punishment is too harsh, he commands Ebed-Melek to take thirty men and pull Jeremiah from the cistern and place him in the courtyard. By emphasizing the servant’s ethnicity, the author is making the point that while noble character and compassion toward God’s servants can be found among the foreigners living in Judah, it is completely lacking among the officials of the people themselves. Like Ebed-Melek, may God use us to refresh and encourage those who labor to teach us His Word.
- When has God used you in unlikely ways to accomplish His will? How can you bring refreshing encouragement to someone who needs it today?
A letter to God
Lord, I acknowledge there is nothing more important in my life than to be a witness to Your truth. Grant me the courage to faithfully point others to Christ through both my words and actions. In His name, amen.
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