By Kingsley Baehr

One of them was Ebed-melech. You will find his account in Jeremiah 38:1-13 and 39:15-18
"Jerry!" he shouted. "I'm Ebed, come to get you out!"
"Ebed! Hurry! I'm sinking in the mud down here! And thanks!"
"Here, Jerry, some old rags. I'll drop them down. Put them under your arm-pits; then slip your arms through the loops in these two ropes you see coming down at you. I have thirty men here to haul you up. We'll have you out soon!"
And so, Jeremiah the prophet, the lone voice in Jerusalem speaking God's truth, was rescued from an unused well by Ebed-melech, an African official in King Zedekiah's court.
Other officials-- Israelite officials-- had wanted Jerry dead. They had accused him of treason against Judah because he had said that the only way to stay alive was to surrender to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, who had been besieging Jeru-salem for two years. They had been responsible for persuading the spineless king to turn Jerry over to them. They had then lowered him into the old well that was now used as the dungeon in the prison where he was already being held, hoping that he would die a slow death in the sucking mud at the bottom.
God's Word is often very unpopular with people because it tells them that sur-render is the way to eternal life-- surrender of person, pride, plans and prospects to God. Therefore, faithful communicators of God's Word become unpopular as well. Jeremiah told it like it was. What is our reaction to the truth?
However, Jerry's enemies did not account for Ebed. His differences in nation-ality, skin color, and outlook were probably contributing factors, but here was a man, a real man, ready to do what was right and be a "friend in deed," even though he was endangering his own position in the palace and maybe even his life.
He went to King Zedekiah, told him of Jerry's predicament, and asked permis-sion to save his life. Yes, the same king who had just allowed for Jerry's presence in the well was being asked to authorize his removal from it.
I cannot help but think that Ebed-melech's request had been bathed in prayer before he brought it before the king. How else can we explain his belief that his request would be granted? All evidence seemed to show that the opposite would happen. He is to be admired for his willingness to go through channels rather than trying to circumvent them, which human wisdom would have advised. It shows his trust in the power of God. Are we as willing to trust God in the face of all evidence to the contrary?
And then there was the matter of the old rags. Even though time was of the essence, Ebed was caring and thoughtful enough to realize that the rough ropes would be extremely painful to Jerry's armpits because of his own weight and the added suction of the sticky mud. So Ebed rummaged in the basement under the treasury building, found the rags he knew were there, and used them as padding to prevent pain and rope burns as Jerry was being hoisted out.
Ebed was an official. Knowing the location of old rags is not usually consider-ed part of an official's necessary knowledge. But Ebed did not consider such know-ledge beneath him. He showed himself to be a loving, thoughtful, creative, humble servant of God and God's people. Could we be described in a similar fashion?
What was the eventual outcome? Jerusalem was overrun by Nebuchadnezzar. Jerry's enemies were killed. King Zedekiah was blinded and carried away into capti-vity. Jerry was left behind with the common people and poor folk considered too worthless to deport or kill.
And what of Ebed-melech? Listen to what God said to him! "I will ... destroy [this city] before your eyes, but I will deliver you. You shall not be killed by those you fear so much. As a reward for trusting me, I will preserve your life and keep you safe."
God still delights to say to those who have put their trust in Him, "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My Hand." (John 10:28)