Are You Bookmarked By God?

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There is so much exciting stuff I can post about today! The backdrop is that king Jehoiakim has just burnt a scroll on which the prophet Jeremiah’s words of warning were written, but right now in Jeremiah 37 the new king on the scene is king Zedekiah and what is interesting about king Zedekiah is that he cannot look away from himself. He is so obsessed with himself he keeps twisting, turning, vacillating and changing his decisions to suit many different interests and fears. It so happened that Irijah confronted Jeremiah and accused Jeremiah of double crossing – choosing to talk in favor of the Babylonians. (Jeremiah 37:12-13) This same Irijah took Jeremiah to the “congress” / “cabinet” where the princes became wroth with Jeremiah and smote him and put him in prison. (Jeremiah 37:14-16)

Zedekiah sends for Jeremiah secretly so that he can ask him the hottest question of that political time – “Is there any word from the Lord?” Jeremiah does not back down he tells king Zedekiah plain flat out: “There is”…”thou shalt be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon. (Jeremiah 37:17) Jeremiah 38 is full of the drama that goes on as king Zedekiah tries to seek advice from Jeremiah. Stunningly enough when the princes ask king Zedekiah to allow them to put Jeremiah to death we hear the words of a king that cannot be trusted: “Therefore the princes said unto the king, We beseech thee, let this man be put to death: for thus he weakeneth the hands of the men of war that remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, in speaking such words unto them: for this man seeketh not the welfare of this people, but the hurt. Then Zedekiah the king said, Behold, he is in your hand: for the king is not he that can do any thing against you. Then took they Jeremiah, and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah the son of Hammelech, that was in the court of the prison: and they let down Jeremiah with cords. And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire: so Jeremiah sunk in the mire.” (Jeremiah 38:4-6)

With this sentence from king Zedekiah: “Behold, he is in your hand: for the king is not he that can do any thing against you.” – we know for certain this king is a king who has the backbone of a feather garnished with the will power of soggy sliced bread. However, a stranger in the land by the name of Ebed-melech stepped up to the injustice and pleaded with Zedekiah to release Jeremiah – “Now when Ebed-melech 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; Ebed-melech went forth out of the king’s house, and spake to the king, saying, 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. Then the king commanded Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, saying, Take from hence thirty men with thee, and take up Jeremiah the prophet out of the dungeon, before he die. So Ebed-melech 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. And Ebed-melech the Ethiopian said unto Jeremiah, Put now these old cast clouts and rotten rags under thine armholes under the cords. And Jeremiah did so. So they drew up Jeremiah with cords, and took him up out of the dungeon: and Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison.” (Jeremiah 38:7-13)

The heat of Jeremiah 38:13 to Jeremiah 39:14 reveals that Zedekiah just wanted to know what God had to say but had no real interest to actively believe and obey God’s direction. Zedekiah was looking towards Zedekiah for help. He was more wrapped up in his own feelings and tangled up in the respect he had for people. He allowed satan to extinguish his faith and stamp on his courage by entertaining doubt and perplexing himself with strategic plans, when God had already used Jeremiah to tell him on several times what he should do.

In contrast, as we see the invasion of Jerusalem taking place and sense the tension in the atmosphere as Nebuchadnezzar’s army takes over Judah and Jerusalem – we see the compassion of a loving God who sends a special message by Jeremiah to Ebed-melech letting Ebed-melech know that He has his back.

How do I know? This is what Jeremaih 39:15-18 says: “Now the word of the Lord came unto Jeremiah, while he was shut up in the court of the prison, saying, Go and speak to Ebed-melech 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. 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. 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.”

What a powerful word of encouragement – even in the midst of the struggle, the disaster, the displacement, the captivity – Ebed-melech was “bookmarked” by God as one who trusted in God. Ebed-melech stood up for justice and God was now saying to him – Ebed-melech! I will deliver you – I have your back -I have bookmarked you for greatness – I have bookmarked you as one who knows how to trust in God even when things look scary. Today I pray for each of us, myself included, that God gives us the Pilgrim strength we need in this cold, hard world to obey His words and stand for what is right and trust Him all the way!

*** All Bible texts quoted above are from the King James Version, unless referenced differently.
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