Truth and Love
Jerusalem was under siege by the nation of Babylon because God’s people had turned their back to him. Jeremiah the prophet had been sent by God to warn the people that they must repent in order to be spared from death. The message of repentance is not accepted any more today than it was then, for the great majority of the people rejected it. As a result, Jeremiah was hated and had been cast into a dungeon where there was no water, no food….only mire. Jeremiah sunk into the mire. That would have been a dismal and lonely place to be.
Thank God that there was one man who heard what had been done to Jeremiah and who had compassion on him as we read in the following verses:
7 Now when Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, one of the eunuchs which was in the king’s house, heard that they had put Jeremiah in the dungeon; the king then sitting in the gate of Benjamin
8 Ebedmelech went forth out of the king’s house, and spake to the king, saying,
9 My lord the king, these men have done evil in all that they have done to Jeremiah the prophet, whom they have cast into the dungeon; and he is like to die for hunger in the place where he is: for there is no more bread in the city.
10 Then the king commanded Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, saying, Take from hence thirty men with thee, and take up Jeremiah the prophet out of the dungeon, before he die.
11 So Ebedmelech took the men with him, and went into the house of the king under the treasury, and took thence old cast clouts and old rotten rags, and let them down by cords into the dungeon to Jeremiah.
12 And Ebedmelech the Ethiopian said unto Jeremiah, Put now these old cast clouts and rotten rags under thine armholes under the cords. And Jeremiah did so.
13 So they drew up Jeremiah with cords, and took him up out of the dungeon: and Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison.
Ebedmelech could have turned a blind eye to Jeremiah’s plight. There was nothing compelling him to take action…..except a love for God’s truth and a love for the man who had proclaimed it. He could have shook his head and said to himself, “Oh well. This looks like the end of Jeremiah. There is certainly nothing that I can do. After all it is the king himself who gave permission to treat Jeremiah this way and who am I to challenge the king?”. Instead, he went boldly unto the king and took a stand. Then God gave him the opportunity to help Jeremiah. If you were to read the previous verses in this chapter, you would see that Jeremiah had been let down into the dungeon with cords. Now we learn that he was drawn up out of the dungeon with cords. But something was different this time. Instead of just being pulled up with cords, things had been added that were seemingly useless: old “cast clouts” (apparently discarded pieces of cloth) and old rotten rags. These were used out of compassion so that the cords would not cut into him as he was lifted up. This reminds me of the following verses:
That we henceforth be no more children,
tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine,
by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness,
whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
But speaking the truth in love,
may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
The truth can be used to lower people down or raise people up. If we want to raise people up we must speak with godly love.
The world may discard something as useless, but God may use that same thing for a noble purpose. I am afraid that some of the people in the care facility where I gave this message are treated by their family like old rags to be tossed away. This wicked world treats God’s people the same way. The King of Kings was treated that way: “He is despised and rejected of men”. But God can use these old rags to make all of the difference in the world to someone who has sunk into the mire of life and who needs to be lifted up.
There are people all around us who need to be lifted up today. Let us take the cords of truth and the old discarded rags of compassion and do just that.