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What the Bible says about Ebed-Melech
(From Forerunner Commentary)

In how many ways is "Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian, one of the eunuchs" typical of true Christians today?

u Ebed-Melech is a nameless nobody! His mother did not call him Ebed for short, because Ebed-Melech, meaning "the servant of the king," can hardly be his real name. Someone else renamed him, later on, to reflect his position in society—which is not very high. His name appears to be only a title.
u As a eunuch, Ebed-Melech lacks hope in this world. He cannot even hope to make a better life for his descendants, because he, of course, cannot reproduce.
u As an Ethiopian, Ebed-Melech is a stranger. He is a foreigner, separated from natural Israel by birth. In fact, the Mosaic law forbids one such as he from entering "the congregation of the LORD" (Deuteronomy 23:1). Ethnically and socially, Ebed-Melech is on the outside looking in.

No, in terms of power and alternative, Ebed-Melech has little going for him. A fine example of the weak of the world (I Corinthians 1:26-27), he becomes a fit representative of the people of God, whose "citizenship is in heaven" (Philippians 3:20). The great irony lies in the fact that he is more a man than his master the king, who, by his birth and position, represents those having a vested interest in "this present evil world" (Galatians 1:4). Is it not Zedekiah who in fear flees responsibility first, and in the natural course of things, his enemies later?

Years before Zedekiah's acts of cowardice, God called Ebed-Melech, perhaps in Africa, to do a work for Him. Unlike Zedekiah, who immobilizes himself by fear, Ebed-Melech overcomes his fear, sets aside his humiliation, discounts his disenfranchisement—all to the effect that he boldly approaches the king, reproaches his princes, and risks his life in an act of mercy on behalf of God's prophet. He receives a prophet's reward (Matthew 10:41-42).

Charles Whitaker
Servant of God, Act One: Going Around, Coming Around

Related Topics: Ebed-Melech


Deuteronomy 4:5-9

Gentiles' observing the results of Israel's obedience to God's law would be drawn to reject their pagan belief system in favor of God's true religion. There is no reference to God's calling these people. Rather, conversion is treated as a fully rational and voluntary choice made when thoughtful pagans recognize the superiority of God's way over their own satanic practices.

In other words, Israel's role was to be an example. God did not command missionary activity on the part of ancient Israel. Israel's proselytism was to be non-verbal, as distinct from the overt verbal action of preaching through the written or spoken word.

Not proselytism through words, but through works, is the God-sanctioned method for ancient Israel. Israel was not so much to preach as it was to obey and to teach. Obeying God's law was an individual responsibility; teaching that law was a parental duty. Notice verse 9, which stresses both roles.

The Old Testament is replete with examples of Gentiles who were won over to Israel by witnessing the unquestioned superiority of God's way of life, and subsequently becoming convinced that His way was for them. One early example may be "Eliezer of Damascus" in Abraham's day, the chief servant in his household. Other examples, certainly, are Ruth in the period of the judges, Uriah the Hittite in David's day and Ebed-Melech in Jeremiah's time. All these quickly come to mind as Gentile converts.

Later on, however, Hellenized Jews caught missionary fever and discarded the approach sanctioned by God. Active—and far-flung—evangelism became the order of the day. Indeed, the first New Testament occurrence of the word proselyte appears in Matthew 23:15 where Christ chastises the scribes' and Pharisees' for their hypocritical approach to spreading their corrupt religion.

Charles Whitaker
Proselytism Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow (Part One)

Jeremiah 38:7-10

It is not likely that Ebed-Melech sways the king by humanitarian or moral considerations. He simply stresses to the king his belief that Jeremiah is a prophet about to die. Zedekiah probably acts to return Jeremiah to the relatively posh digs of the royal guards because he too realizes that Jeremiah is a prophet. He does not want to lose his crystal ball. Evidently, the king holds an audience with Jeremiah just after his release from the pit (verse 14).

Charles Whitaker
Servant of God, Act One: Going Around, Coming Around

Jeremiah 39:17-18

God recognizes that Ebed-Melech is no superman, but like everyone, is fearful in the face of mortality. He overcomes his fear, subordinating it to his conviction that Jeremiah is God's spokesman. It is his trust in God that empowers him to show mercy by speaking up for—and then by acting on behalf of—Jeremiah.

God, who "shows no partiality" (Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11), answers in kind, characteristically granting mercy to the merciful, more specifically in this instance, granting mercy to him who "receives a prophet in the name of a prophet." Christ makes it plain that God is resolute in His promise of reciprocity (Matthew 10:41-42).

Using a different image, Solomon says the same: "Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days" (Ecclesiastes 11:1).

God is adamant: What goes around, comes around.

Charles Whitaker
Servant of God, Act One: Going Around, Coming Around

Find more Bible verses about Ebed-melech:
Ebed-melech {Nave's}

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