When Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, a eunuch who was in the king’s house, heard that they had put Jeremiah into the cistern—the king was sitting in the Benjamin Gate—Ebed-melech went from the king’s house and said to the king, “My lord the king, these men have done evil in all that they did to Jeremiah the prophet by casting him into the cistern, and he will die there of hunger, for there is no bread left in the city.” Then the king commanded Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, “Take thirty men with you from here, and lift Jeremiah the prophet out of the cistern before he dies.” So Ebed-melech took the men with him and went to the house of the king, to a wardrobe in the storehouse, and took from there old rags and worn-out clothes, which he let down to Jeremiah in the cistern by ropes. 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. And Jeremiah remained in the court of the guard. Jeremiah 38:7-13 ESV
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalm 103:1-5 ESV
Many years ago a little girl named Jessica, 18 months old, fell down into an old well in her aunt’s backyard. This old well was very deep, and little Jessica was trapped far down in the earth for 58 hours. Rescue workers brought machinery like a backhoe, jackhammers, and a drill used to dig holes for telephone poles. People kept calling down to the little girl, worried that she’d die before they rescued her. They talked to her and sang to her and listened for her cries. They dug a shaft parallel to the well, then carefully dug over to where Baby Jessica was, and they were able to bring her out alive. Every one was very happy when Baby Jessica was rescued.
Jeremiah was also rescued from the muddy cistern where some of the angry leaders of his people had thrown him. A court official from Ethiopia named Ebed-melech pleaded for Jeremiah to the king, and the king allowed Ebed-melech to pull Jeremiah out of the cistern. Ebed-melech was a very kind man. He didn’t want to see Jeremiah die, and he was careful not to hurt him when he got thirty men to help pull him out of the cistern. They got some worn-out clothes and rags and sent them down to Jeremiah along with the ropes they used to pull him out. Jeremiah used these old clothes and rags to pad his armpits from the rough ropes that hauled him up. Soon the prophet was free from the terrible pit. God had seen to his rescue.
We were also helplessly trapped in something much worse than an old well or a muddy cistern. We were stuck in sin and death, and there was no way we could ever have rescued ourselves. But God loves us, and he came down to us in Jesus to rescue us. Jesus died on the cross to defeat all the sin and death that had held us captive. Because of Jesus, we are free from all the forces of evil that had us trapped, and we are able to live our lives in love and service to the God who loves us and rescued us, now and always.
Dear Jesus, thank you for coming to our rescue when we were trapped in sin and death. Help us to live for you always. Amen.