2 Kings 25, Jeremiah 39, 40 and 52 all describe the fall of Jerusalem at the hand of Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC. For many, many people, it was the worst day ever. After four months of famine and siege, the walls are broken down and the Babylonian armies overrun the beautiful city which should have been the place where God’s glory dwelled. The sins of the people finally catch up to them, and all the prophets who had pleaded and warned were finally justified. God keeps His word.
In my reading today, two people are specifically mentioned as being rescued and saved in the middle of the chaos and captivity because they trusted the Lord. The first is Ebed-Melek, the Ethiopian eunuch and servant of King Zedekiah, who had spoken up against the guards’ cruelty in throwing Jeremiah into the cistern. Ebed-Melek was the man who went to the king, reported what they had done, and received permission to rescue him. Put yourself in his place. A eunuch would not have been respected or liked by the guards; he would have been seen as a “nobody,” someone not worth their time and certainly not their equal. It would have taken courage to speak out against them, even risking the king’s wrath if he sided with the guards. Yet Ebed-Melek knew that Jeremiah was God’s man, and he was willing to do the right thing. Because of his obedience and trust, God promises to rescue and save him when the city falls.
The second person mentioned specifically is Jeremiah. When the city is captured, he is found by the Babylonian commander, Nebuzaradan, bound in chains among the exiles who were being carried out. Nebuzaradan says something very strange. He recognizes that all that has happened is because the “Lord your God decreed this disaster for this place … because you people sinned against the Lord and did not obey Him.” (Jeremiah 40:2-3). Only by God revealing it to him could he recognize this truth and know that Jeremiah was a true prophet of God. Nebuzaradan offers Jeremiah the choice to go with the exiles or to remain free in Judah under Gedaliah, the man whom Nebuchadnezzar had appointed to oversee the country. Jeremiah chooses to stay with the few poor people left in his beloved land. Because of his faithfulness, God protects and rescues him in the middle of the chaos as the city falls.
Sometimes your world may fall apart right around you, not because you’ve done anything wrong, but because of the sin of other people in your life, or simply because we live in a fallen world filled with heartache, disease, and death. But take heart, God is well able to rescue us in the chaos. Like Ebed-Melek, we must simply choose to do the right thing, even when it’s difficult or scary. And like Jeremiah, we must simply choose to keep proclaiming the truth, even when it’s rejected. God keeps His word, and He is quite able to take care of His children, even in the middle of the worst circumstances, on the worst day ever.