Committed to the Task
by Dr. Ken Matto
I want to look at a person in the Bible who helps personify the idea of being committed to a task until it is complete. Our Christian walk is a continuous thing yet our lives are broken up into small tasks or projects. This week I want us to look at faithful Ebed-melech who came to the aid of Jeremiah when he was persecuted and tossed in the dungeon for bringing the truth about the coming Babylonian invasion and captivity of the people of Judah for 70 years. We will be looking at the life of this man from selected verses out of chapters 38 & 39 of Jeremiah.
The name Ebed-melech means "servant of the king." Ebed-melech was an Ethiopian and it seemed he was a very God fearing man. As an Ethiopian he probably knew very well of the slaughter of the Ethiopians under the leadership of Zerah by King Asa (2 Chronicles 14:9-13). This was a great defeat since the Bible tells us that Zerah may have had an army of over a million men ready to invade Israel. King Asa prayed to the Lord and the Lord defeated the Ethiopians and opened the door for the troops of Asa to pursue them to the point the Ethiopian army was never again a power.
Ebed-melech believed the message of Jeremiah and recognized his authority which was given to him by God to deliver the true message. Immediately it triggered a three principle response by Ebed-melech:
A) Boldness - In Jeremiah 38:8 we read that Ebed-melech approached the king instantly. In ancient times the kings of nations were considered gods on earth and no one, unless by invitation, was allowed in their presence. Yet Ebed-melech went in to see King Zedekiah on behalf of Jeremiah in defiance of the King’s edict of incarceration. The King could have thrown Ebed-melech in with Jeremiah and the matter would have been settled according to the King’s thinking.
B) Stability - In Jer. 38:9a we see that Ebed-melech was bringing some stability to the situation in explaining to the king that the men who threw Jeremiah in the dungeon were acting in an evil manner. Zedekiah was not initially concerned about Jeremiah since he let his cronies have their way with him but Ebed-melech knew that this was evil and informed the King to take the right action.
C) Projection - In Jer. 38:9b we see that Ebed-melech knew that Jeremiah was going to starve to death which could mean the fury of God would fall upon them. Remember Ebed-melech knew the fear of God because of the defeat his people suffered about 300 years prior to this. Ebed-melech was not taking any chances and wanted to avert any confrontation with God because of a foolish king.
At this time I would like to offer six principles of committing yourself to the task which is shown by Ebed-melech.
1) Ebed-melech became part of his request
(Jer 38:10 KJV) 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.
Here we see the King commanding Ebed-melech to take 30 men with him and free Jeremiah from the dungeon. Ebed-melech did not take the attitude of "I did my part" by speaking to the King instead he took part in the physical labors at hand. It is the same with us, whenever we pray for something, we must always be prepared to be part of the answer of that prayer. Don’t ask God to send someone else to do the work which you are capable of doing.
2) Ebed-melech knew the situation
(Jer 38:10 KJV) 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.
Ebed-melech knew of the dire situation of Jeremiah and wanted to rectify that evil before there were national consequences. Before a person becomes saved they are also in the dungeon of sin until the King (Christ) commands one of His servants to go and bring them out of it. Everything we do for the Kingdom of God has eternal results, whether there is success in our ministry or not. Keep in mind that Noah preached for over a hundred years and only 8 souls were saved. As Christians we know the situation the world is in and our focus must be on the things of the Lord and the propagating of the gospel. On the local level, whenever we know of a situation, we are to become involved if God so moves us to be part of it. Recognizing a situation is only half the battle, becoming involved is the big half.
3) Ebed-melech took immediate action
(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 Jeremiah.
Here we see that as soon as he received permission from the King to rescue Jeremiah he took immediate action and commenced the rescue. Whenever we know the revealed will of God in a situation and then give the old excuse, "well I’m still praying about it," we are standing in disobedience to God. If there is an open door to a task in front of us and we hold back hoping someone else will do it, we have proven our inability and uselessness for the Kingdom of God. If this attitude prevails, do not be surprised if all doors to service are closed before you. God uses Christians who take action not permanent vacations.
4) Ebed-melech took command of the situation
(Jer 38:12 KJV) 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.
Even though God’s prophet was on the premises, Ebed-melech took control of the rescue operation. Sometimes we might be called on to help those who humanly out rank us because they may be bound by the situation. This is how the body of Christ works, in that we help each other in a time of need. Sometimes when we go into a certain situation, it is there we discover the spiritual gifts God has given us and it may be a watershed experience thus pointing us to the right place of future ministry. When a Christian knows their spiritual gifts they can work within the proper place God has empowered them which will make it a joy to do His work and not a chore.
In case you do not know what your spiritual gift(s) are and you are looking to discover them, I have prepared a study on how to identify your spiritual gifts.
5) Ebed-melech’s volitional spirit
(Jer 38:13 KJV) So they drew up Jeremiah with cords, and took him up out of the dungeon: and Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison.
Ebed-melech became involved with the ministry of Jeremiah by helping him out of a dire circumstance. He did not have to become involved and could have just left Jeremiah in the hands of the king and let come what may. He chose to get involved because he knew of the coming judgment and wanted to right the wrong of the king. We as Christians see the coming judgment of God and we must become involved not out of a feeling of obligation but out of a desire to see the balance of God’s elect come into the kingdom.
6) Ebed-melech’s reward for faithfulness
(Jer 39:15-18 KJV) Now the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah, while he was shut up in the court of the prison, saying, {16} Go and speak to Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring my words upon this city for evil, and not for good; and they shall be accomplished in that day before thee. {17} 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. {18} For I will surely deliver thee, and thou shalt not fall by the sword, but thy life shall be for a prey unto thee: because thou hast put thy trust in me, saith the LORD.
Ebed-melech’s reward for being faithful to God and fearing Him was a deliverance from the hand of his enemies. When a person becomes saved, they are also delivered from the hands of the enemy which is the kingdom of Satan, of whom he and his people have no authority over the true child of God. We may not be rewarded on earth for being faithful to God, as a matter of fact, just the opposite will occur. Our real reward will come in heaven and that is eternal life. Just the fact that the true child of God will not be going to hell should be reward enough.
There will be times when we will have the opportunity to help someone or do something for the kingdom of God and we should take the opportunity if we are physically capable to do so. We must always focus on what we can do and not what we can’t and to be able to set limitations on our involvement. This is where many Christians get discouraged when they look at a ministry of others and wish they could have that type of ministry and attempt to do it. If they are not spiritually gifted in that area, then their ministry may fail and then discouragement sets in. Ebed-melech helped Jeremiah out of the pit yet he did not desire to take over the prophetic ministry of Jeremiah but would remain to be a helper and friend. This found favor in God’s sight as evidenced by the special mention Ebed-melech received. Also when the siege of Judah came God said he would not be harmed by those he feared which were probably the Judean officials who might want to take revenge on him for helping Jeremiah. In Jeremiah 38:19 God says specifically that Ebed-melech’s life will be spared and given to him as reward for trusting Him.  (3/4/01)