Ebedmelech and You
by Dr. Ken Matto
(Jer 38:11 KJV) 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
One of my favorite chapters in the Bible is Jeremiah 38 because it tells of a story of a man named Ebedmelech whose name means “servant of the king.” It is a story that when Jeremiah was thrown into a prison which had no floor except that of deep mud which meant Jeremiah went down into the mud and had to stay there. Ebedmelech went to the king and asked permission if he could extract Jeremiah from that place. So he took thirty men and had rescued Jeremiah from that miry prison. As a result of the help that Ebedmelech gave to Jeremiah, we read in Jeremiah 39:15-18 that God promised him that he would not be killed and God would deliver him. Ebedmelech’s concern and involvement brought God’s promise that when the city of Jerusalem was taken by the Chaldeans, he would be brought safely through the ordeal.
This story has a tremendous teaching for all of us. Ebedmelech was a brave soul in that he went directly to the king concerning Jeremiah. Normally in ancient days, the king was a protected person, and no one could gain an audience with him unless it was his top advisors, or by invitation. Ebedmelech was a eunuch and didn't seem to have a top position in Zedekiah's government. For a servant to approach the king, and then make a demand, was almost unheard of. However, another scenario may have taken place. Maybe king Zedekiah knew Ebedmelech as not only a servant, but a confidant, since it seems that he was able to gain access to the king. No matter what the relationship was, it seems that Ebedmelech had good insight into who Jeremiah was, and who he represented. He knew there was a conspiracy against Jeremiah, and that is why he went to the king to have him released before it was too late. Zedekiah hearkened unto the word of Ebedmelech and Jeremiah was brought out of the dungeon.
One of the great principles that we gain from this event is that Ebedmelech had come to the aid of Jeremiah in his time of distress. He did not act out of a desire for personal gain, for what would he have gained by helping Jeremiah when the nation was angry at him for prophesying the coming captivity? Ebedmelech exhibited the true servant spirit. He was willing to help in this situation. We, ourselves, need to capture that mindset in our own lives. Are we willing to help when it is for the greater cause of the salvation of souls? Even if it means we are to take a back seat? In God's Kingdom, everyone is equal, and there is no job which is more important than another. We see this frame of mind whenever there is a disaster. Everybody pitches in and everyone's job is equally important. Sometimes we feel that what we are doing may be insignificant, especially if it is done behind the scenes.
Ebedmelech acted out of concern for Jeremiah and to possibly avoid further consequences that the prophet's mistreatment would bring on Judah. Ebed-melech's faithfulness to the Lord was noticed by the Lord, and he was delivered from any retribution from his enemies. (Jer 39:17 KJV) "But I will deliver thee in that day, saith the LORD: and thou shalt not be given into the hand of the men of whom thou art afraid." He was a true servant of the Lord, in that he rose to the occasion of helping God's prophet when he needed it. Now, let us ask ourselves if we are willing to do the most menial tasks at church. That is, are we willing to take second chair? Because remember, in God's economy, position is ancillary to faithfulness where you are right now, and in what you are doing! If you keep this in mind, your Christian Walk will always be fulfilling.
Unfortunately we have a mistaken notion that unless we are doing the most public part of the ministry it has little or no value. Nothing could be further from the truth. As we read above, that position is second to faithfulness. Remember even the Lord Jesus said that if a person cannot handle money, then who can trust them with the true riches. (Luke 16:11 KJV) If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? Handling money is a good indicator of how we would handle the ministry. If we are lacking in wisdom in the handling of money, then that condition would definitely carry over into the ministry. Would you hire someone who constantly goes into debt and makes no effort to come out of debt? If they are sloppy in handling money which is temporal, then who would entrust to them eternal riches?
This is why we must be diligent in all our affairs on this earth. If we are able to handle the temporal affairs, then we will be able to handle the eternal affairs. Maybe the reason that some of us are not involved with the ministry is because God has been nudging us to get our earthly houses in order. How can God commit the eternal word ministry to those who cannot even handle the smaller things in life?
Ebedmelech was in a position which was not the most public or important position yet he had the desire to help Jeremiah. God honored his effort and that resulted in him being saved from the sword by the encroaching Chaldeans. I wonder how many times each of us have had a smaller opportunity offered to us and we rejected it thinking it was below our talents. God sees our attitude toward the smaller things in life and if we fail those tests, it may be a long time before we get another opportunity and hopefully by them we will have learned our lesson. (Zec 4:10 KJV) For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.
In Zechariah 4:10 we read a question which was asked concerning small things. God is very careful about details. In fact, if we glean over the word of God without really getting into it, we will miss many of the great truths of Scripture. If we somehow believe that we should rocket right to the top, then we are going to miss out on some of the greatest ministry opportunities in the world. We should never be offended by being asked to do something below our talents. Sometimes I like to use an illustration from the business world. This past season on The Apprentice, Donald Trump was going to pick someone to run one of his companies at a $250,000 yearly salary. During the season, the candidates worked at Burger King, made Pizzas, designed T-shirts, etc. These are all menial tasks for what does working a cash register at Burger King have to do with running a major company in a high profile organization? It has to do with character, attitude, and teamwork. The only way someone can be assessed for a high profile job is to see how they perform in the smaller tasks.
Ebedmelech is not mentioned after Jeremiah 39. He probably continued to live his life after the Babylonian captivity and maybe he befriended Jeremiah and they became close. Whatever the situation was, God mentions him in the Scriptures as being someone that can be counted on in a bad situation. The Apostle Paul was abandoned by some who loved the world more. We must garner the mindset that even the smaller tasks which God assigns us has eternal results. Even if you go shopping for disabled people, you can place tracts on the store shelves and make the trip an evangelistic crusade. Keep this principle in mind, opportunity exists in the confines of every task, no matter how small the mission. If we keep our eyes focused on that principle, then any and every task we face will be a great door of opportunity. (5/22/05)