The book of God’s prophet Jeremiah is not exactly where most of us turn for a good read; however, there is a beautiful story tucked away in it that bring to life the Christ’s words in Matthew 5:7:
“Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.”
It all started with a bundle of rags and old clothes….
Jeremiah was a model of faithfulness to God. Enduring a lifetime of humiliation, persecution and abuse, he continued calling out for his nation (God’s chosen people) to turn around and get right with God. That didn’t go over well at all with his contemporaries.
In chapter 38 we find Jeremiah cast into a dungeon. God’s enemies expected Jeremiah to suffer a long, tortuous death there. They lowered him down with ropes “and in the dungeon there was no water, but mire. So Jeremiah sank in the mire.” (Jeremiah 38:6)
Right after Jeremiah sunk in the mire, we find these words: “Now Ebed-Melech…”. Ebed-Melech was an Ethiopian serving in the King’s court, who interceded before the king on Jeremiah’s behalf. He begged the king to do justice to God’s servant and the king, moved to compassion, commanded Ebed-Melech to get 30 men and get Jeremiah out of the pit before he dies.
Here’s where the bundle of rags and old clothes come in: on the way to rescue Jeremiah from the miry dungeon, Ebed-Melech got old clothes and rags to cushion his pain when they pulled him up. He instructed Jeremiah “ ’Please put these old clothes and rags under your armpits, under the ropes.’ And Jeremiah did so. So they pulled Jeremiah up with ropes and lifted him out of the dungeon.” (38:12,13)
What does that have to do with “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy”? Later, when the Babylonians besieged Jerusalem, the king was carried away, the city was burned down, and Jeremiah had a special message from God for Ebed-Melech: “ ’I will surely deliver you, and you shall not fall by the sword;…because you have put your trust in Me’ Says the Lord.” (39:18)
Ebed-Melech’s act of kindness toward God’s servant Jeremiah did NOT go unnoticed by God. God honored and rewarded him with mercy, because he showed mercy…with a bundle of rags and old clothes!
We might think that it really doesn’t matter if we show mercy or not; but it DOES!
We may forget that God uses His people (US!) to show compassion; but He DOES!
We consider it “no big deal” when we go the extra mile to help someone; but it IS!
We don’t understand how, when or why God repays mercy for mercy; but He DOES!
Even if no one sees that small act of kindness, God sees it and WILL reward it!
If all you have is a bundle of rags and old clothes to cushion someone’s pain, USE IT! You will be blessed!