Nepaug Bible Church - http://www.nepaugchurch.org - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes - http://www.nepaugchurch.org/pm/pm20050907.htm
JEREMIAH: STAYING UPRIGHT AMIDST EVIL PRESSURES
Part X: Events Just Before Jerusalem's Fall
E. Staying True To God's Will When Left Vulnerable To Harm By Unreliable Relationships
(Jeremiah 38:1-28 with Jeremiah 1:17-19)
Lesson: Though threatened with death through being left dangerously vulnerable to the whims of an unreliable king, and all for staying true to God's call that he tell Judah to surrender to Babylon, God rewarded Jeremiah by making that very king preserve his life so he could complete his divine ministry!
- As we have learned happened to Jeremiah, heeding God's will can be a challenge to our faith when we face opposition by slander or physical retribution in the process. Yet, being left vulnerable to harm due to unreliable relationships can lead to even worse fears and greater temptations to faithlessness!
- God had told Jeremiah to stay true to his divine call though opposed by all men, Jer. 1:17a, 18-19a. Were he to do so, God would help him so he could fulfill his assigned ministry, Jeremiah 1:17b, 19b.
- Jeremiah 38:1-28 presents God's care of Jeremiah when he faced the threat of the loss of his earthly life for doing God's will all due to the unreliability of the leadership decisions of Judah's vacillating king Zedekiah. It encourages us to obey God even if we are left vulnerable to harm by unreliable relationships:
- Staying True To God's Will When Left Vulnerable To Harm By Unreliable Relationships.
- When Judah's princes heard that Jeremiah urged the city to surrender to Babylon to stay unharmed, they errantly concluded he was traitorously trying to weaken the city's morale to harm it, Jeremiah 38:1-3, 4b.
- Thus, they asked and received [the vacillating] king Zedekiah's consent to put Jeremiah to death, 38:4a-5.
- Jeremiah was thus let down into a rain water cistern that was empty of all but the mire at the bottom, and he sank down into it, Jeremiah 38:6. We presume from Jeremiah's words in Lamentations 3:52-54 NIV, ESV that the princes also began throwing stones at him possibly to render him unconscious so he might fall over and suffocate to death in the mud, cf. Bible Knowledge Commentary, Old Testament , p. 1183!
- Yet, God had promised Jeremiah He would deliver him from his foes were he to heed his will, cf. Jer. 1:17-19. Since Jeremiah had heeded God's will, God kept this promise even in this difficult situation:
- There was a eunuch in the court named Ebed-Melech, a "Cushite", a dark-skinned African [as the same Hebrew word, cushi is used in Jer. 13:23 to describe one with an unchangeably dark skin as here in Jer. 38:7 ( cf. Kittel, Biblia Hebraica, p. 730, 777; Ibid., B.K.C., O.T., p. 1147)]; when he heard of the plight of Jeremiah, he was moved by God to plead with the king for Jeremiah's release, Jeremiah 38:7-9 NIV.
- The vascillating king gave Ebed-Melech permission to use 30 men to rescue Jeremiah from the cistern, Jeremiah 38:10, Ibid., p. 1184. Special ropes and rags were placed under his armpits to suck Jeremiah up out of the mire and place him back onto dry ground, Jeremiah 38:11-13.
- Zedekiah then privately asked Jeremiah for God's Word, but Jeremiah replied he might lose his life for sharing it with him due to Zedekiah's vacillating record of both supporting and harming him, 38:14-15!
- The king promised not to kill or turn Jeremiah over to his foes, so Jeremiah repeated his past message that had led to his time in the cistern: (a) if Zedekiah surrendered to the Babylonians, no harm would come to him or his family, and Jerusalem would not be burned, Jer. 38:16-17; 38:2-3. (b) Yet, were he not to surrender, Jerusalem would be conquered and burned and Zedekiah and his family hurt, 38:18.
- Zedekiah replied that he feared the Jews in Babylon would abuse him were he to surrender himself, but Jeremiah responded to say the Babylonians would not let them harm him; rather, Zedekiah was to obey God's word that Jeremiah was telling him and all would go well for the king, Jer. 38:19-20. Failure for Zedekiah to heed God would lead to Zedekiah's being mocked by his own harem as having his own feet sink in the mire [as in Jeremiah's case], and Zedekiah and his family would be hurt, 38:21-23!
- Though these words repeat the message in Jer. 38:1-3 that had led to his stay in the cistern, Jeremiah was amazingly not harmed by sharing it again with Zedekiah : God KEPT the previously vacillating king protective of Jeremiah from his foes, the princes of Judah; accordingly, Jeremiah stayed safe in the prison court until the city of Jerusalem finally fell to the Babylonian army, Jeremiah 38:24-28.
Application: May we in faith keep doing God's will even if we face potential harm in the process due to unreliability in others with whom we must relate -- God will work to give us room to finish our mission!