Week of Monday, March 6 ­– Sunday, March 12
Rescue Mission – Man as Battle Buddy

"Then the king commanded Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, 'Take thirty men with you from here, and lift Jeremiah the prophet out of the cistern before he dies.' So Ebed-melech took the men with him and went to the house of the king, to a wardrobe in the storehouse, and took from there old rags and worn-out clothes, which he let down to Jeremiah in the cistern by ropes. Then Ebed-melech the Ethiopian said to Jeremiah, 'Put the rags and clothes between your armpits and the ropes.' Jeremiah did so. Then they drew Jeremiah up with ropes and lifted him out of the cistern. And Jeremiah remained in the court of the guard." - Jeremiah 38:10-13
Rescue missions. I have been on a few during my time in the military. Some missions were not successful, like the attempt to free American citizens held hostage in the U.S. embassy in Iran on the night of April 24-25, 1980. Others were successful, like the rescue of the medical students held by communists in Grenada or the rescue of journalist Kurt Muse imprisoned in Panama. The rescue that had the greatest personal impact on me was the rescue of five missionaries in a remote part of Sudan. It was an honor to help people in need while serving my country.
In Jeremiah 38, Jeremiah is in need of a rescue. Preaching God’s truth had landed him in trouble with the rulers and religious crowd in Jerusalem. Jeremiah had already nearly died in a dungeon in chapter 37, but King Zedekiah had mercy on him and gave the starving prophet a daily food ration. However, in chapter 38, Jeremiah’s situation went from bad to worse. Continuing to faithfully preach God’s truth had gotten him into even more trouble. The powerbrokers around the king charged Jeremiah with treason and condemned him to die. To that end, they had Jeremiah lowered into a dark, dank, mud-filled cistern.
Can you imagine? Being sunk down into the mud, up to your armpits, shivering in the darkness, and left down there with seemingly no way out. Have you ever been in a place like that in your life? When you felt like you were deep down in a pit and had no hope? We can only wonder what Jeremiah was thinking, feeling, and praying. But then we see how God answered and delivered Jeremiah through a surprising Battle Buddy named Ebed-melech.
Ebed-melech was a surprising Battle Buddy to Jeremiah for several reasons. First, he was a foreigner—an Ethiopian, not a Jew. Second, he was a eunuch (this, in combination with his foreign status, might mean that he was a prisoner turned servant). Third, his name Ebed-Melech means servant of the king, and it was the very sinful King Zedekiah he was serving. Yet, here’s the most important fact about Ebed-melech: he feared God. We pick up that important detail in 39:18: “you have put your trust in me, declares the Lord.” So, this unlikely Battle Buddy trusted God and apparently respected Jeremiah, the man of God. (Side note: it’s interesting that a God-fearing Ethiopian eunuch was among the first converts to Christ as a result of Philip’s mission in Acts [see 8:26–39], and many Ethiopians continue to be strong believers to this day. But I digress.)
Ebed-melech went to the king and pled for Jeremiah’s life. The king, who seemed to be easily swayed by everyone except Jeremiah, acquiesced in verse 10: “Take thirty men with you from here, and lift Jeremiah the prophet out of the cistern before he dies.” So, Ebed-melech executes a rescue mission to extract Jeremiah from the miry pit, saving his life (vv. 11–13). In chapter 39, God returns the favor and declares through Jeremiah that Ebed-melech would be delivered when the Babylonians prevailed in taking Jerusalem.
Men, sometimes we find ourselves in a “pit” and need a Battle Buddy to come on a rescue mission and lift us out. And sometimes, we need to be the Battle Buddy that lifts another guy from his pit. The point is we all need a Battle Buddy. Find one. Be one. Start searching now for a Battle Buddy because I can assure you that you will need one in the coming days. That Battle Buddy relationship requires nurturing and development, so get going so you are both prepared when you need to be rescued or need to be the rescuer.
- Have you ever found yourself in a seemingly hopeless situation—a miry pit of a situation—and a Battle Buddy came on a rescue mission and bailed you out?
- Have you ever seen another guy in a bad spot—a pit—and helped him out of it? What about now? As you survey the landscape of your relationships, who needs you to be a Battle Buddy?
- Ask God to help you develop a genuine care and concern for guys in your life who may need you to go on a rescue mission to get them out of their pit.