By: J G Bellet

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Ebed-Melech

Ebed-melech, in the days of another Elijah, was a man of this Obadiah generation, not, however, so strongly marked as his elder brother.

Like him he loved the prophet of God, and in the face of an injurious and insulting court, and hindered by the timid policy of the king, pleaded for Jeremiah and served him with gracious personal service.

But he was not a witness as the prophet was. He was afraid of the Chaldean – Jeremiah 39:17 – the sword of the Lord’s anger, and such was not the condition of the Lord’s witness. But his weakness was not despised in the rich grace of God. His measure received its measure again, and in the day of the judgment of the Lord Ebed-melech got his life for a prey when Jeremiah was had in honour. Ebed-melech was saved then, but that was all; the prophet was rewarded.

Thus have we seen a generation in other days who, though the people of the Lord, shew themselves sadly apart from the place to which the call of God would have led them. Such was Lot and such was Jonathan, and such were Obadiah and Ebed-melech. It was more or less double-mindedness in them or love of the world in greater or smaller power in their souls.

But such a generation is abundant to this hour. Saints are seen in situations and connections from which the call of God would separate them just as surely as it would have kept Lot out of Sodom .

But this may be added with equal sureness in a multitude of cases: this impure connection arises from ignorance or want of hearts instructed in the kingdom of God . They have not listened to the voice of the mysteries of the kingdom but conferred with flesh and blood. They have not heard the Shepherd’s voice calling them outside.

They have not understood the church as a heavenly stranger on the earth, and that connection – religious connection – with the world is Lot in Sodom , or an Israelite with a garment of “divers sorts, as of woollen and linen”. The world is marked for judgment even more surely than Sodom was; ten righteous would have spared the cities of the plain, but nothing can cancel the judgment of “this present evil world”.

Here let me add, however, that the distinction of Lot and of Jonathan may be seen in many a soul now a days. Lot had nothing to sanction Sodom to him; all that he knew to be of God was outside; and even nature had no plea to plead for Sodom .

Abraham and Sarah were outside, the witnesses of the call and presence of God, and his kindred in the flesh. All that was sacred in religion or nature were outside; and providences pleaded with him to the same end, for the plains of Sodom had already brought him into jeopardy of life and liberty, and warned him to dread the city.

It was the world and nothing else that was heard in Lot ’s heart in favour of Sodom . But with Jonathan nature had a plea. All that was of God, it is true, was in that day outside Saul’s court and camp; but the claims of kindred, the voice of nature, nay, the authority of nature, were known and felt from within. The father and the family were there though David and God were not.

And so now-a-days. There is many a thing that pleads from within. Nature, things moral and religious, plead there; opportunities of service and testimony, obedience to authority, maintenance of order, the dangers and evils threatened to the social well-being, the peace of families, and example to children and servants: these things are pleaded, and they all come from within, and put in various claims for the course of the world. But these, and all such put together, can never speak to the saint or plead with him with the authority of the call of God.

If the church be a heavenly stranger on the earth, alliance with the world defiles her, nay, ruins her as a witness for God; and to defile after this manner, to seduce from the place of testimony, is the enemy’s purpose and has been so from the beginning.

Was not the serpent in the garden seducing Adam from the place the Lord God had set him in? Nay, earlier even than that, are we not told about the angels that sinned that they kept not their first estate?

So afterwards with Israel , “Ye are my witnesses”, says the Lord of them; but the enemy prevailed till the testimony was gone. “His house shall be called a house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves”. Here were successful attempts of the enemy to drag from the place in which God had set His witness.

It is not merely that there was a soil, or a blemish, or a rupture, but a revolt, a departure, a yielding up to the enemy the great purpose or thought of God.

The contrary effect precisely, in the precisely like attempt, as has been observed by another, is seen in Jesus. “If thou be the Son of God”, said the tempter. His design was to lead Him to the abandonment of His place, His place of perfect and entire subjection which knows only God’s will.

But all was perfection and victory in Jesus, but in Jesus only, whether before Him or after Him; for the witness of this dispensation has been as corrupted as others. That which was set to be a heavenly stranger on earth, the companion of the rejected Christ, has faithlessly allied herself with the rejecting world; and what ruin can be more complete than this?

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