Updated: Sep 5, 2019
Wednesday, February 6th, 2019 -
I've been blessed reading today In the Shadow of Joseph: Letters from Prison, my friend and former colleague David racer sent me which he's co-authored. It contains letters from Thomas Birth, a Lutheran pastor wrongly convicted of murdering his wife, and his friend, Reverend Kenneth Kothe, with short meditation by Dave at the end of every dialogue. Dave has also written Thomas Bird's biography, called Caged Bird, which I expect he'll send me as well.
Chapter seven's letter from Tom seemed so pertinent. I thought I would quote it verbatim here, as I could have easily written this too many of you who are reading these words:
Dear Ebed-Melech, I won’t address you as “Ken” today. For today, I’ll call you “Ebed-Melech.” You’ll see why.
Joseph’s brothers wanted to kill him for unjust reasons. Yet, unwilling to have the blood of a brother on their hands, they threw him into an empty cistern. (Genesis 37:24)
This was not the only time someone was unjustly thrown into a cistern.
Recorded in Jeremiah 38, King Zedekiah’s officials were afraid of Jeremiah and did not like his prophecy against Jerusalem. They wanted to kill him; but fearing to have the blood of a prophet on their hands, they opted to lower Jeremiah into a cistern where he “sank down into the mud.” (Jeremiah 38:6) There he would starve to death. The king, though in charge of justice in the city, allowed this to happen.
Now, it was not the best of times for people of Jerusalem. The Babylonian army had surrounded the city. People were discouraged, hungry and panicky. Anyone remotely connected to the king’s palace would be put to death or carted off as servants to Babylon.
In this darkest moment of Jerusalem, there arose a man named Ebed-Melech, a minor court official in King Zedekiah’s palace. Ebed-Melech put aside all his personal cares and worries. He boldly went forward to the king and declared, “My lord the king, these men acted wickedly in all they have done to Jeremiah the prophet.” (Jeremiah 38:9)
The king, struck by the caring concern of Ebed-Melech, told him, “Lift Jeremiah out of the cistern before he dies.”
Risking their own lives, Ebed and 30 men came to the dramatic rescue.
Even though Jeremiah was an inspired prophet of God, we cannot sell short the depth of his human suffering. Jeremiah was living in mud and darkness. Can you imagine the joy and vitality he felt when that rescue rope dropped to him from Ebed?
Ken, where the courts and justice system has failed me, you have dropped a rope and lifted me up. No, I am not literally sunken in mud or starving; but I am mired in the system and languishing through so many years of imprisonment. It is truly a joy to look up from the bottom of this cistern where I live and see you.
It’s not you alone, either.
As Ebed gathered 30 men to make this dramatic rescue, so I have been blessed with hundreds who are supporting and participating in my deliverance: My wife, Terry; my father; family; friends and many I do not even know.
Oh that there were more Ebed-Melech’s in our modern day Christian churches!
The Lord is pleased with His people who set aside all their problems to take an opportunity to help others in need. Ebed-Melech was blessed for his saving of Jeremiah. When Jerusalem fell and all the people were being captured or killed, the Lord said to Ebed, “I will save you, you will not fall by the sword but will escape with your life because you trust in me.” (Jeremiah 39:18) Ken, you are my Ebed-Melech, which in Hebrew means, “King’s servant.” You certainly are a servant of Christ, our King. I am grateful!
Substitute your name for "Ken", "Kathie" for "Terry," "Mom" for "Father," and I could have easily written this to you!