Title: Jeremiah 38:1-13
Introduction: In his acceptance speech for the Democratic party’s nomination for the president of the United States, Barack Obama made this claim. That he was an unlikely candidate due to who he was and what he was about. He may be an unlikely candidate but he spoke to the masses and challenged the powers that be with a warning if change did not occur for our nation. Here in our text is some else who would be considered an unlikely because of who they were. The prophet Jeremiah would be considered unlikely because of his age yet God used him to call a nation back to God. Not everyone enjoyed Barack address especially the Republicans. This is parallel of how the people of Israel felt about what Jeremiah had to say to them. Jeremiah had an unlikable message for Israel. Which is our first point.
I. Unlikable message vv.1-3
Our story opens up with 4 of King Zedekiah’s officials hearing what the prophet Jeremiah was saying while he was in the prison court yard concerning the people of Israel. Mind you, Jeremiah was in prison for doing what called told him to do i.e. prophesying, speaking truth to power in the land of Judah were his people turned away from the God to worship idols. In verse 2, he says, “thus says the Lord...”. It was not his words but what the Lord had commanded him to speak. My beloved, what you say concerning God’s people should always line up with scripture confirming what God has already said. People will have a problem when you come against them with the Word of God. The prophet gave a hard message that they did not appreciate. That message starts in verse 2 says, “He that remaineth in this city shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: but he that goeth forth to the Chaldeans shall live; for he shall have his life for a prey, and shall live. Thus saith the LORD, This city shall surely be given into the hand of the king of Babylon’s army, which shall take it”. People don’t like to the word of God when they are being challenged. These officials did not like it either. But the prophet was uncompromising and spoke with authority. My beloved, when you challenge thoughts and popular opinion, people and not going to like it and they are not going to like you! But remember you have been called by God and he is with you. So, if God before you who can be against you! And since Jeremiah had an unlikable message that was offensive to the power that be; these officials tried to slander his name with false accusations. This leads us to our next point.
II. Because you are unlikely, People will be unfair, vv.4
The king’s officials made unfair statements about Jeremiah. Look at the text. These officials accused Jeremiah of discouraging the people and the soldiers by speaking the Word of God and not seeking their welfare. This was an unfair statement. Prophecy is not always going to give you the warm and fuzzys. It calls people to line up with God. That is what Jeremiah was doing. He wanted the people to be right with God which is the best type of welfare. It might be tight but it is right! But people want to do their own thing. And they get mad when they are called on the carpet. This is what happened. Their guilt made them lie and twist the truth concerning Jeremiah which was unfair. They did Jesus the same way. It was unfair because like Jeremiah, He only wanted the best for God’s people. Yet He walked in truth without compromise. My beloved, if you are right with God, what people do doesn’t matter. So, continue to walk in truth. Doing God’s will not only make people say some unfair things about you as an unlikely person but also it can put you in a…
III. Unlikely place vv. 5-6
Jeremiah was already in prison for speaking what God told him to speak but now they want to put him under the jail literally. In v. 5, the king gives the officials card blanche to do whatever they wanted to do to Jeremiah. He says “I am not going to stop you”. So in verse 6, they cast him in a cistern or dungeon under the king’s son house which was in the prison court. They let him down by ropes in the cistern with no water and left him the mire. The text says that Jeremiah began to sink in mire. He is in an unlikely place for a child of God. Many of us who serve God feel just like this at times. We have been put in bad situations by people that we tried to help only to cause us sink further in trouble. You are in the mire when bad situation get worse. You have been put in the mire when you have been the right thing on your job but your boss still rides you. You have been put in the mire a relationship when you want to do right and your spouse don’t. You have been to in the mire when all hope is gone and there is nobody to help you. Have ever felt like you been in the mire? And like Jeremiah who had no water, you are thirsting to get out but it seems impossible. Also you are confused because you are a child of God and you thought that you are in Christ, life was not suppose to be like this. Well, welcome to real Christianity! God never promised it would be easy. God never puts us in places of comfort to serve. He calls you to a hard place to give comfort! Jeremiah was called to serve a stiff-neck people where he would experience suffering. Jesus himself suffered by the hand of those He came to help. So don’t think that God is not responsible for the place you are in now. Jer. 29:11 reminds you that you are in the right place! My beloved we should not curse our dungeon experiences. It is cistern of life where we learn to trust God. It is the dirty places we grow. If you are in God’s will, He is there with you and in His time He will bring you out according to His promise. He will deliver you in time of trouble. But He may do it in an unexpected way. It is in the unlikely that God manifest His presence. This leads which leads to our next point.
IV. He uses unlikely people in the time of need vv. 7-9
Look at the text. Now Ebed-melech the Ethopian, a eunuch official who served in the kings’ house heard about the unfair treatment of Jeremiah. When the king was at the gate of Benjamin, he went to speak to him on this matter. Ebed-melech means the kings servant. He was not a Jew. He was a eunuch in which he was castrated. He was the official keeper over the royal harem. This foreign official from the very same people responsible for putting Jeremiah in the cistern is the one who comes to his rescue. God uses unlikely people to bless you. Ebed-melech risked his life by going to the king on behalf of a prisoner. But the Lord put compassion in his heart to stand up for justice. In verse 9, “he says my lord the king they have done evil to Jeremiah and he is going to die of hunger down there…” My beloved, I pray we have a church full of Ebed-melech’s! And that we become a people of compassion to those who are in trouble. That we would have faith that is selfless and risky and the love that is unconditional.
It is because of Ebed-melech that we can be encouraged that God always has an unlikely advocate for us when we are in the trouble! Thank God for the Ebed-melech’s! My brothers and sisters when we move with the compassion of Jesus, God will give you favor with a surprise outcome. Look at what happens when Ebed-melech goes to the king. Zedekiah has change of heart! The king commands Ebed-melech to get some help, 30 men and lift Jeremiah out of the dungeon. So this unlikely man is going to help Jeremiah but he is going to use something that would be unthought-of.
V. He uses unlikely means vv.11-13
When Ebed-melech gets to the house where the dungeon was he goes under the treasury and takes out some old clothes and rags. The treasury was the place to store valuable, important and things of worth. He could have gotten something from there to help the cause but did not. He goes under it and pullout some unlikely used and worn out pieces of clothes. One thing we can learn is that to get what you need, you have to look underneath the surface. You may have to look past the exterior. It may look like what you want on the outside but make sure you look deeper. You have to get underneath the flesh to get to the spirit. Like Jeremiah you have to get down low to get what you need from underneath. You have may have to humble yourself which points to prayer. But most importantly, there may be things in your life that people would consider to have no value but will be valuable to you. My beloved, some of you may feel you have no value because you are too old or you have been worn out but God can still use you. You might be unlikely but you are valuable! Jeremiah used some old rages and sent them down by ropes into the dungeon to lift Jeremiah out. He told Jeremiah to put the old clothes and rages under his arms. And Jeremiah did it and was lifted out. But why didn’t Ebed-melech just use the ropes? Ebed-melech had sense enough to know that if he would have lifted Jeremiah by the ropes, he would have hurt him due to the ropes tearing into his flesh…The old rages where there to comfort Jeremiah as he was lifted up out of the dungeon. My beloved, God wants to lift you out of your situation unscathed and that is why He provides comfort. That comfort comes from the Holy Spirit. Some of you right now are coming out of some mess that should have killed you and you should have the scares to show for it. But God gives you comfort while you were coming out. Verse 13 goes on to say that after they took Jeremiah out of the dungeon, he remained in the prison court. He is not completely free but he is in a better place them he was. Some of us can testify that we have come along away and God has kept you. But you aren’t out of the woods yet. But you can shout because you in a better place than what you came out of. It ain’t great but is it is better. You still got some symptoms but you are not lying in the hospital bed. You still got bills to pay but you are not going to lose your home! Your children are still not doing there best but they understand there is better place than being locked up! Things are not complete but they are not as bad as before! Jeremiah is not in the dungeon but in the prison court until God is ready to release him. In chap 39:14, Jeremiah is set free! My beloved God has promise to set you free but you may just have to wait and endure for awhile.
Close: God works with the unlikely in unlikely ways. He will be with you in an unlikely place. He will use an unlikely person with some unlikely means to get you out. Who would figure? That old scraps from underneath a treasury could use by an unlikely man to deliver somebody out of the mire. God works with the unlikely. You might not feel that you are worth anything but you are the unlikely that God wants to use. He used an unlikely stuttering murderer named Moses. He used an unlikely farmer, name Gideon. He use unlikely prostitute name Rehab. He used an unlikely sheep boy name David. He used an unlikely church persecutor named Paul. He used an unlikely carpenter to save the world. God uses the unlikely! This is why when I think how an unlikely person like me go out of trouble, I have to not do some that is high unlikely for me to do. That is to shut up when I think about how Jesus brought me out! It is unlikely that I am not going to say thank you. It is unlikely that I am not going to worship. It is unlikely… God likes the unlikely to give an un-praise! Unexpected, unpredictable, unrehearsed, unconditional, uncommon, unquenchable….Does any have an “un praise”?