It is Father’s Day. Our annual day to honor and remember dear old dad. They can be the unsung hero in our lives. This week I was thinking of another unsung hero in the Old Testament, which reminds me of a lot of the dads we remember this morning. Just very practical.
This hero is found in Jeremiah 38 but because the incident is not well-known, a bit of background is in order. Jeremiah had been cast into a dry, but muddy, cistern by the leaders of Judah. Jerusalem was about to come under siege, and food was becoming scarce. Left in the well, Jeremiah would die. Forgotten.
When Ebed-Melech, an Ethiopian eunuch, learned of the prophet’s plight, he protested to Zedekiah, the king, and eventually was given permission to rescue the prophet of God. The eunuch, with the help of 30 men, went to the cistern, taking with them “some old rags and worn-out clothes.” As these were lowered to Jeremiah with a rope, Ebed-Melech yelled down to him, “Put these old rags and worn-out clothes under your arms to pad the ropes.” Jeremiah did so and was rescued from certain death.
Under such urgent circumstances, Jeremiah, I suppose, would have been grateful for just a bare rope – even though it might mean raw and bleeding armpits! But Ebed-Melech was a “Barnabas” and anticipated that such a consequence might happen, so he brought along those old rags to pad the prophet’s armpits! God was watching. And when He saw that act of kindness, He promised in the next chapter to spare the eunuch’s life as evil days enveloped the nation.
“How blessed,” writes Vance Havner, “to know that the Almighty, with a whole universe on His hands, caught a glimpse of Ebed-Melech with those old rotten rags, preserved him from judgment and remembered his rags in the Holy Record.”
Blessed be all those saints (and dads) of God who belong to the order of Ebed-Melech! They never preach great sermons, but they are the unsung heroes of the cup of cold water in Jesus’ name. They make the bed smoother for some weary patient; they leave a meal on the doorstep and drive off without waiting for thanks; they sit up some long, lonely night with a child who cannot sleep. They were never meant to be teachers, prophets or evangelists; but they are helpers, and their greatness consists in doing with great care a ton of quiet, hidden things.
Have you ever been touched by a descendent of the order of Ebed-Melech? Have you ever been a card-carrying member of the order? May his tribe increase. And dads? It’s not too late to join the order or thank your dad who modeled that for you. Blessed be the order of Ebed-Melech.