Jeremiah, a famous prophet of God to his people, was charged with delivering some very unpopular news. The king of Babylon was coming and he would conquer Jerusalem. For hundreds of years, God’s people had been super-flaky with Him. They worshiped Him and were devoted to God one minute and then they would run off to worship and serve the false gods of their neighbors the next. God was fed up and a conquering enemy king would be their punishment.
As is often the case with those who deliver bad news or just the truth, Jeremiah wasn’t very popular, especially with Zedekiah, the king of Judah. Finally, Jewish advisors to the king convinced him that Jeremiah needed to be put to death. The king conceded because he was also angry about Jeremiah’s prophecy that all Judah would be captured.
So, these royal Jewish advisors took Jeremiah and lowered him down into a well. No trial, no judge, no jury, and no explanation of charges. They took matters in their own hands.
There’s no water in this well, but there is plenty of mud. This well was obviously no longer useful to the people. And to make sure starvation kills him instead of the fall, they lower him into this hole by a rope. Jeremiah, a prophet unto the Lord, finds himself up to his knees, deep in the mud with no food, water, or room to move. Basically, he was left to starve to death.
Ebed-Melech, according to the Bible, was a Kushite, a person of color and a servant of Zedekiah. But, Ebed-Melech saw the injustice done to Jeremiah and he petitions the king for the prophet’s life. The king says, “Do whatever you want.” So, Ebed-Melech got the 30 men recommended by the king to help him rescue Jeremiah from the muddy well.
Led by Ebed-Melech, a Black man, the prophet is pulled from the mud and certain death. God is pleased with Ebed-Melech’s efforts, announcing through Jeremiah that though Jerusalem will fall, “I will rescue you on that day, and you will not be handed over to the men you fear.” (Jeremiah 39:17)
The bottom line that I learned from Ebed-Melech is that each one of us is responsible for justice. When it comes to racism, we are all responsible to seek justice and procure equality for all humanity. Even if it’s someone that we don’t necessarily know, if we see that someone is being treated unjustly, according to God’s measurements, we must spring into action.
We are not to concern ourselves with the consequences of our actions, but wholly leaning and depending on the guidance of the Holy Spirit, knowing that The Holy Spirit will give us His Favor as we carry His justice to all mankind. White believers, and all ethnicities, too often place the mantle of justice on the government, on elected officials, on the court system or someone of higher authority. Ebed-Melech risked life and limb to right a wrong. It’s time for us to do the same for our brothers and sisters of color.
Ebed-Melech demonstrates to us how far selfless care and concern will lead us. It is this kind of love and daring challenge that makes Ebed-Melech, a Black man, our Unsung Biblical Hero in Black History.