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Purpose in the Pit

Pastor Travis Burkett

Jeremiah 38:1-13

Verse 6, “Then took they Jeremiah, and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah the son of Hammelech, that was in the court of the prison: and they let down Jeremiah with cords. And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire: so Jeremiah sunk in the mire.”

Jeremiah ended up in a pit for an unlikely reason. He was simply obeying God. Jeremiah was obedient, but it seems like his obedience leads him to an emotional and physical struggle. Can you imagine the temptation to question and doubt God’s control at this moment? So, what does Jeremiah do?

We know Jeremiah as the weeping prophet; he was one of the most tenderhearted guys in the Bible. Jeremiah’s heart was broken because the nation of Israel refused to listen to the message that God had given him. Jeremiah 43 tells us that the people chose to listen to those who gave false truth instead of God’s message through Jeremiah. Jeremiah’s heart was broken for his people but God told him that the people wouldn’t listen (Jeremiah 7:27; Jeremiah 14:12). Jeremiah loved his people and was passionate to see his people change, but Israel didn’t want it. They were rebelling against God and seemed fine with doing it.

God told Jeremiah that the Babylonians would capture the people of Israel. Jeremiah knew that resisting would end in a mess for the people of Israel. Jeremiah proclaimed this truth, but this was a message that the leaders didn’t want to hear. They punished Jeremiah and called treason! They lowered him into a pit full of mud, so deep that he couldn’t squirm his way out.

It seemed like Jeremiah couldn’t win. Looking at his life, he faced so much while trying to live for God. He was threatened (Jeremiah 26:8), people tried to stone him (Lamentations 3:53), he was grieved by persecutions (Jeremiah 20:2), he was mocked (Jeremiah 20:7), and now this? It seemed like his fate was sealed. With no food or water, Jeremiah may die at the bottom of a muddy pit. The question is, what’s the purpose in all this?

Jeremiah shows us something valuable: when God called him, he couldn’t remain silent or sit still. Now our obedience to God may not lead us to a muddy pit, but we can certainly feel the insecurities of following in active obedience. Perhaps you’ve lost a relationship with a friend because you’ve made the commitment not to engage in gossip. Maybe you lost a job because you refused to lie for your boss. Maybe your relationship with a child is shaky because you’ve made the tough decision to protect him from a foreseeable end. Our obedience to God can feel a little bit like a muddy pit, but the great news is that God will see us through!

Verse 29:11, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

For Jeremiah, God sent Eded-Melech, an Ethiopian court official. He didn’t want Jeremiah to die in that pit. The king granted him permission to retrieve him (Jeremiah 38). The rescue was full of compassion and actually took great sacrifice! Jeremiah trusted that God had a purpose in the pit. In the end, God promised to keep Jeremiah safe, but God also promised to protect Ebed-Melech.

Jeremiah 39:17-18, “But I will deliver thee in that day, saith the Lord: and thou shalt not be given into the hand of the men of whom thou art afraid. For I will surely deliver thee, and thou shalt not fall by the sword, but thy life shall be for a prey unto thee: because thou hast put thy trust in me, saith the Lord.”

See, you may feel like Jeremiah at times, stuck in a muddy pit for trying to do the right thing. I want to encourage you to understand that God knows and is with you through the highs and the lows. However, you may feel like Ebed-Melech, compassionate for someone going through a struggle. I want to encourage you to reach out and help someone hurting today.

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