Text: Jeremiah 37-39; Isaiah 23
Jeremiah’s prophetic word is not very welcome in Jerusalem as the Babylonians lay siege to the city and collapse is imminent. Jeremiah is imprisoned, released, but then cast into a cistern – a deep pit used to collect water. It must have been quite deep, as it says they let him down by ropes (38:6).
What happens next is an attention grabber. An Ethiopian (a foreigner) named Ebed-melech, petitions the king on Jeremiah’s behalf. The king orders that thirty men accompany Ebed-Melech and help lift Jeremiah. Here’s the detail that spoke to me: Ebed-Melech goes to the king’s rag closet and gets old cloths, then lowers them to Jeremiah. The text says;
Then Ebed-melech the Ethiopian said to Jeremiah, “Put the rags and clothes between your armpits and the ropes.” Jeremiah did so. Then they drew Jeremiah up with ropes and lifted him out of the cistern. (Jer 38:12-13)
This foreign man sees that, to rescue Jeremiah, he needs to be gentle. Gentle rescue – what a guiding concept. We are surrounded by people who have been cast into one sort of cistern or another. Many are captives to things that make them very unlovable. When we think about helping them hear the Gospel that they might be saved, how often do we think about treating them with thoughtful care and gentleness? I have to admit to myself I think a lot more like a combat rescue pilot than like Ebed-Melech. “Fight my way in, snatch them from harm, and fight my way out out.” I pray that I might be more thoughtful, more careful, and bring something soft so as to be gentle when I interact with people. “Gentle rescue” ought to be on my mind.
in Him, Mike