No food. No water. The city is in chaos.
Brawls break out over waning supplies, and boulders hurled over the wall crash into ruined buildings and broken streets. Evil officials gloat that they have finally silenced the nay-sayer.
Wind whistles through the tattered awnings and collapsing structures that once formed the border of a sunny, bustling market. Now there is no sun. The air is thick with smoke.
Having been dumped into a yawning, dark hole in the ground where he remains trapped, Jeremiah grows desperate.
His voice grows hoarse and his cries are drowned out by the noise of a city under siege. Unseen, unheard, he sinks deeper into rotting sludge; deeper toward the slow, almost certain death of God's message and his last faithful servant...
an official of the court who catches wind of Jeremiah’s situation, and makes a bee-line to the palace.
He, too, is facing crisis. He, too, feels the lack of food and the siege on the city wall. The crumbling system and the swarming Babylonian army pressing in on every side.
It is not from a place of security and safety that he reaches out to help. But even in the midst of his own concerns, he notices Jeremiah.
He bursts into the palace, exclaims to an already over-tasked king that Jeremiah has been placed in desperate straits, and gains permission to take men and go rescue him.
Then they go, not straight-away to the cistern, but to a lower room in the palace and they start to scavenge rags.
I read it and thought, How resourceful, they must not have any rope. I bet they’ll tie them end-to-end and use that to get him out.
But I was wrong.
They had enough rope.
Ebed-melech took the detour for another reason:
“…He carried these to the cistern and lowered them to Jeremiah on a rope. Ebed-melech called down to Jeremiah, “Put these rags under your armpits to protect you from the ropes!” Then when Jeremiah was ready, they pulled him out…”
It’s a small detail, but something about it caught inside me, and I've been mulling it over for days.
There’s a guy stranded in the bottom of a well, starving and sinking, and his rescuer’s first thought is not the rope they need to get him out, but the rags they need to protect his skin.
All the thoughts that must have been pressing in on his own burdened mind, and yet he goes out of his way for rags, because raw rope on raw skin would probably be uncomfortable.
All the noise pressing in on Jerusalem, and yet Jeremiah did not go unheard; because the living God was listening to his cry.
And there is no one who can arrange the details
more perfectly than He.