Jeremiah is thrown into a cistern while King Zedekiah refuses to stop the attackers. To the king’s shame, his servant Ebed-Melek, whose name means “king’s servant” in Hebrew, proves to be much more faithful to God’s messenger than Judah’s leader is. Add to this, we are told that this servant is a Cushite, someone from the region that corresponds to modern-day Ethiopia. This Cushite’s righteous protection of God’s spokesperson, while a king in the line of David lets the mob do as they will, sheds light on just how far those in the biological line of Israel have fallen. At the same time, we also see in this Cushite a thematic link to people like Rahab the prostitute, the Queen of Sheba, and even Melchizedek, who were not biological children of Abraham. However, through faith they were truer to God’s righteous call than many people in the line of Jacob.
Many view the Old Testament as an account of God blessing one ethnic people to the exclusion of others. Instances like this point to the continuity between the Testaments, making obvious God’s delight to welcome followers from every nation, tribe, and tongue. This also prepares the way for what Paul will elaborate years later: true children of Abraham are made by faith (Galatians 3:7-9, Romans 4:9-23), not primarily by biological descent. Paul’s message doesn’t reveal God’s new purposes on this side of the cross. Rather, Paul sees that Jesus’s cross uniquely draws all peoples to God, fulfills the Jewish sacrificial system and so makes a global church possible, and reveals the righteousness of God in way Israel and her kings never could. Praise God that representatives from the nations delighted in God’s righteous character before the cross, disproving any notions that God changes in character.