Salvation By Grace Alone Through Faith Alone.
“Because you trusted me, I will give you your life as a reward. I will rescue you and keep you safe. I, the Lord, have spoken!” – Jeremiah 39:18 NLT
Ebed Melech. Not exactly a household name, and certainly not one that people have on their short list of names for their newborn sons. Yet Ebed Melech, this rather obscure character holds a very important place in the history of Israel and the plan of God. He is recognized for his faith and remembered for the risk he took to preserve the life of the prophet of God when everyone else was ready to see Jeremiah silenced for good. When Jeremiah had been arrested, thrown in an empty cistern, and left for dead, Ebed Melech came to his rescue. He reported Jeremiah’s circumstances to the king and then formed a rescue party to extract the prophet from the cistern. And he did all this at great risk to his own life. As an official of King Zedekiah’s court, Ebed Melech ran the risk of angering his boss and alienating his peers. He also risked being misunderstood for his compassion for the prophet and ending up in a similar of worse predicament. But Ebed Melech stepped out in faith and did what he believed to be right. He knew the prophet of God was not guilty or deserving of what had been done to him. He knew that Jeremiah had been speaking truth – even though he was an Ethiopian and not a Jew. As a Gentile, he better understood what God was going than the children of Israel who claimed to serve Yahweh. And God makes it clear that it was Ebed Melech’s faith that saved him. God told him, “Yes, I’ll most certainly save you. You won’t be killed. You’ll walk out of there safe and sound because you trusted me” (Jeremiah 39:18 MSG). Ebed Melech trusted the God of Jeremiah. The Hebrew word used here for trust is batach and it means “to put confidence in, to trust in.” Ebed Melech was not trusting in King Zedekiah, or the military strength of Judah. He was not trusting in his ability to keep quiet and mind his own business. He was going to do the right thing and trust God for the outcome. He knew what he had to do and he did it. And his faith resulted in not only Jeremiah’s salvation, but his own. God responded to his faith with grace. He extended to this Ethiopian, non-Hebrew official, His undeserved mercy and grace. God did not save Ebed Melech because of what he did, but because what Ebed Melech did was based on a confidence and trust in Him. His action was trust in action. Doing what he did required that he ignore common sense and reason, and step out in faith. Ebed Melech didn’t know how any of this would turn out. He wasn’t assured that the king would even listen to him when he appealed for Jeremiah’s release. He didn’t know how his fellow officials would react when he secured the release of the very one they had tried to get rid of. Ebed Melech was probably not going to be a popular figure for having rescued the prophet from death. He would not be hailed as a hero. But his actions were not based on a preferred outcome. They were based on faith. He did not do what he did because he knew it would all turn out for the best, but because he knew it was the right thing to do. He saw an innocent man being unjustly sentenced to death and he knew he could not stand by and just watch it happen. So he put his faith in God into action for Jeremiah, and he trusted God for the outcome.
Every day, you and I are faced with opportunities to put our faith into action. We are given occasion after occasion to take our trust in God and bring it to life through acts of love and service to others. We are given the chance to do the right thing, when we don’t know how it will turn out if we do. We are prompted by the Holy Spirit to speak up, stand up, reach out, and rest in the power of God. Stepping out in faith is not a guarantee that all our problems will go away. Ebed Melech still had to go through the fall of Jerusalem. He would still have to witness God’s punishment on the nation. But he would be spared. God would protect him through it all – all because he showed faith. When you compare Ebed Melech with Zedekiah, the king of Judah, you see a marked contrast. The king of Judah refused to trust God. He had placed his faith in Egypt. He had hoped for salvation from a different source than God. He had refused to trust God and leave the results up to Him. God had told him to simply trust and obey, and things would turn out for the better. “If you will turn yourself over to the generals of the king of Babylon, you will live, this city won’t be burned down, and your family will live” (Jeremiah 38:17 MSG). All Zedekiah had to do was trust God. He had to give up his plan for God’s. He had to exchange his will for God’s. He had to quit trying to control the future and leave it in God’s faithful hands. Ebed Melech did just that, and he enjoyed salvation at the hand of God. He was extended the grace of God as a result of his faith in God. And we can enjoy that same experience each and every day of our lives.
Father, thank You for the life of Ebed Melech. He is a picture of what it means to trust You in the midst of life’s darkest moments. May I learn to trust You more with each passing day. May I learn to step out in faith, based solely on Your trustworthy character and grace-filled love for me. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men