Jeremiah’s enemies were not content to ignore him. They wanted to kill him. Zedekiah gave them permission to do with the prophet as they saw fit. They lowered him down to the bottom of a muddy well, abandoning him to a slow and miserable death.
An Ethiopian man came to Jeremiah’s defense. He brought news to the king, asking permission to rescue the Lord’s suffering servant. This the king allowed.
When King Zedekiah later called for Jeremiah, the prophet used the imagery of his unusual suffering to describe the situation that Zedekiah faced. All of his friends, advisers, and false prophets had deceived him. The king was like a man left all alone, stuck in the mud at the approach of the Babylonians.
Zedekiah needed to surrender to the Babylonians. Not only would he thus save his own life, but the whole city would be spared as well. Zedekiah rejected God’s Word yet again. He was afraid of others who had already deserted to the Babylonians. What would they do to him if he followed Jeremiah’s advice?
There was no way out for Zedekiah, at least in his own mind. He was bogged down in his own anxious thoughts. The fear of man was more potent in his life than the reverence of Almighty God. He considered it a small problem to ignore the Lord’s instruction through Jeremiah, and a much larger danger to suffer the harm that men might inflict upon him.
Zedekiah did not even want anyone to know the truth of his conversation with Jeremiah. He did not people to find out that he was very concerned about his own safety.
Would we have fared better in such a troubling situation? Our confidence is not in our own reaction under fire. Our hope is entirely vested in the Man who had the courage to give Himself into the hand of a betrayer. He allowed Himself to be horribly mistreated, unjustly condemned, and brutally tortured and killed by evil men. More than all of this, He gave Himself up to the wrath of His loving Father. In this one great act of obedience we find our salvation, for He is our Substitute. Our Savior was entirely unwilling to come down from the cross when wicked men mocked Him and taunted Him. By His wounds we have been healed.
No other king could have accomplished what Jesus did for us. This great Son of David sent no ambassador out with half truths to try to protect His body or His reputation. He was despised and rejected by men, and even His own disciples abandoned Him. Yet from this moment of His greatest shame has come the power and love that is the boast of millions today. We who believe in Him love His cross. We have come to see that through His death, we have eternal life.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Merciful God, the servants of Your Word are in great need. Some are being threatened by those around them. Others are already in prison or have had their property confiscated from them. Appoint someone to help them today, that they might have food to eat, healing for their illnesses, aid for their financial distress, friendship for their loneliness, and especially Your strong presence in their lives. Make them to be men of great courage. Though the wicked seek their lives, You are able to preserve Your servants again this day. Through all this distress, help those who are true messengers of Your Son to continue with the fullness of Your holy counsel. Though their homes and even their families be destroyed, preserve Your servants through every trial.