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The Marvel of God’s Work

 When we carefully read our Scriptures, we are awed by the “project management” we see by our God and His angels. He is steadily working in the nations to bring about the fulfillment of His will.
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I was exposed to many talented project managers when I worked in the pharmaceutical and medical device industry. Project managers tracked the development of products through R&D, clinical studies, and a lengthy discourse with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the review and approval process. Their work spanned many years. I always admired their ability to see a pathway to success. They were able to identify potential roadblocks by anticipating and being proactive rather than reactive.

When we carefully read our Scriptures, we are awed by the “project management” we see by our God and His angels. He is steadily working in the nations to bring about the fulfillment of His will.

There is nothing like the incredible work of the angels.

The angels are invisibly influencing the decisions of the most powerful world leaders. The angels are creating events that shape major decisions. Yet, at the same time, they are also working in our humble lives, bringing about circumstances and opportunities to shape us to be more like our Lord. There is nothing like the incredible work of the angels. Since Eden, they have been a powerful force in the human experience.

Benefit of a Chronological Study

Our online Bible reading group has been following a chronological Bible reading planner this year. It has been quite an eye-opener, as we see the historical development in Scripture. I would say it has improved our insight into the “context” of Scripture. When we begin to see the details of how God’s will unfolds, it heightens our appreciation to see the work of the angels in new ways.

Over the past weeks, we have been reading the prophecy of Jeremiah. During the period of King Zedekiah (reigned 597-586 BC) the final days before the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, we have been able to see a few new patterns. 

To begin with, Jeremiah had Divine assurance that, while he would face persecution as he prophesied to the stiff-necked Jews in Jerusalem, he would not be killed. He would be put in stocks, lowered into the mire of a prison dungeon, and threatened, but God would be with him. God commanded Jeremiah to carry a message to His people that was difficult for Jeremiah to preach. However, God provided him with this assurance:

Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them. For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brasen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land. And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee. (Jer 1:17-19).

Jeremiah didn’t know how God would deliver him, and certainly, his faith in that Divine assurance must have been greatly tested as he languished in unspeakable conditions below the palace. But he believed that God was true to His word.

Even though Jeremiah couldn’t see how, he knew he could trust in the arm of God. Jeremiah’s challenge was to speak God’s word without fear.  God’s appeal through the prophets was not done to punish Judah but as a final warning to His people who had forsaken Him. God was telling Jeremiah to do the work He put before him, with an assurance that He would guard his life. 

How Jeremiah’s faith in this was tested! The first test was by the people of his homeland, Anathoth. Isn’t it ironic how frequently persecutions begin within our household? He received further persecutions from the false prophets, royalty, and the priesthood. As Jeremiah remained sunken in the dungeon mire, the daily food provision began to wane as the city ran out of bread. He must have thought surely God would not leave him here to die, would he? How was he to be delivered?

Surprising Developments 

It is doubtful Jeremiah could have foreseen the intervention of Ebed-melech, the Ethiopian. This eunuch of the palace went to King Zedekiah to protest the evil done to Jeremiah and alerted the king that if he did not act, surely Jeremiah, the prophet of God, would perish. Zedekiah permitted the eunuch to pull Jeremiah out of the pit, and he would then remain in the court of the prison “until the day that Jerusalem was taken.” (Jer 38:28).

Because of his righteous act, Ebed-melech was saved when Nebuchadnezzar II (630-561 BC) and Nebuzar-adan arrived. (Jer 39:16-18).  Nebuzar-adan was the commander of Nebuchadnezzar’s guard who was in charge of the destruction of the Temple and the deportation of the people of Judah.

But the work of the angels in this matter was even more spectacular. When Nebuzar-adan took control of the palace, Nebuchadnezzar specifically told him to find Jeremiah and “look well to him and do him no harm; but do unto him even as he shall say unto thee.” (Jer 39:12-13).

This interaction between the powerful Babylonian king and his captain of the guard is very curious. How did they know about Jeremiah, and why were they so favorable to his cause?

This is where we can begin to appreciate the proactive work of the angels. There can be little doubt that Nebuchadnezzar had been made aware of Jeremiah by Daniel, who had been in Nebuchadnezzar’s court from the royal seed of Jehoiachin. But it is the process of awareness about Daniel that leaves us breathless.

The first domino to fall was that “God had brought Daniel into favor and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.” (Dan 1:9) How this occurred, we are not told, but clearly, God was working well in advance, through the angels, to give Daniel great favor with Ashpenaz, the master or prince of the eunuchs.

Daniel then requested of Melzar, the steward of the eunuchs, that he be permitted to eat only vegetables and grain and drink water. Melzar was also positively impressed with Daniel and his friends, for Melzar was worried he would be put in great personal jeopardy if their countenance were weak. Melzar knew he could lose his life over this approved deviation of diet. 

While in the higher court of learning in Babylon, Daniel and his friends excelled, so much that the king “found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in his realm.” (Dan 1:20).

We can see the hand of God at work here.

But why were they so much better? We are told that “God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.” (Dan 1:17). We can see the hand of God at work here. He blessed these four faithful men with wisdom and knowledge that far exceeded the leading Chaldean scholars of the day.

The Hand of God Perseveres

But still, Jeremiah was languishing in Jerusalem, either in the mire of the dungeon or the court of the prison. How would God fulfill His oath to Jeremiah to make Jeremiah “a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brazen walls against the whole land.”? (Jer 1:18). How would God deliver him?

Far away in Babylon, the gears were moving rapidly for the salvation of Jeremiah, though he could not have known it. Daniel was now known to Nebuchadnezzar, and he and his three friends “stood they before the king.” (Dan 1:19). Still, this was not enough to save Jeremiah. Another major intervention was required.

In the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, he dreamed of the metallic image. This dream greatly troubled Nebuchadnezzar and he did not want to have the Chaldean magicians, astrologers and sorcerers concoct a made-up interpretation of his frightening vision. This ushered in Daniel, the man who “had understanding in all visions and dreams.” (Dan 1:17).  In this case, Daniel found an open ear in Arioch, the king’s captain, who had been sent to kill all the wise men. Daniel appealed to Nebuchadnezzar for time, whereby he would seek his God and then make the interpretation known. 

You know the rest of the story. Daniel revealed first the dream itself, and then the interpretation. Nebuchadnezzar was so moved that he, the great “king of kings” (Dan 2:37) “fell on his face, and worshipped Daniel.” (Dan 2:46). Daniel was promoted, given great gifts, and he “sat in the gate of the king.” (Dan 2:48-49).

Daniel was well aware of the prophecy of Jeremiah, as well as the condition of this faithful prophet. In Daniel 9:2, Daniel specifically referred to the writing of Jeremiah and the prophecy of seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.  While sitting at the king’s gate, there can be little doubt this “ruler over the whole province of Babylon” (Dan 2:48) may have told Nebuchadnezzar of him.

Indeed, Nebuzar-adan related to Jeremiah when he brought him out of the prison in Jerusalem that “The LORD thy God hath pronounced this evil upon this place.” (Jer 40:2). Further, Nebuzar-adan explained that this evil was come on them because the people had “sinned against the LORD, and have not obeyed his voice.” (Jer 40:3).

These clearly are not the natural cogitations of brutal men of war. Rather, they reflect the transferred wisdom of Daniel, a man of God, who clearly understood why Jerusalem was being delivered to the Babylonian head of gold.

Nebuzar-adan offered Jeremiah the choice of returning to Babylon with him under his care or staying in Judea. If he stayed in Judea, he was welcome to go wherever he wished (Jer 40:4). Always faithful to his people, Jeremiah chose to stay.

Saving the Righteous

When we put this remarkable story back together, here’s what we see. God moved an Ethiopian eunuch to pull a hungry and thirsty Jeremiah out of the pit. Long before it was required, God worked through His angels to curry favor for his servants in Babylon.

The great dream was given to King Nebuchadnezzar, which resulted in the promotion of Daniel and his friends. Later, an angel was seen by Nebuchadnezzar in the fiery furnace, safeguarding Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. In Nebuchadnezzar’s nineteenth year (2 Kgs 25:8), some sixteen years after young Daniel was first brought before the king, Nebuchadnezzar fulfilled the prophetic word and attacked Jerusalem, burning the temple. But through all of this, a pathway was made clear to deliver faithful Jeremiah. 

When Habakkuk contemplated God’s plan to bring Babylon down upon Jerusalem, he questioned God. Why would he use such a terrible nation to decimate God’s covenant people? God patiently explained to Habakkuk,

Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvellously: for I work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you. (Hab 1:5).

God had a plan to save the righteous who lived by faith (Hab 2:4). Habakkuk would not understand it as it unfolded, even if it were told to him. But God would enact His plan and there would be no frustration of His purpose.

Do you experience feelings of being overwhelmed, exposed, or anxious? Do you think your problem is so complex that you see no way out? The story of the deliverance of Jeremiah should encourage you to rethink your own difficulties.

God is working a plan in your life that you would never believe if you were told. If you feel like you are sinking into a pit of mire, I can assure you that your faithful God is working to deliver you, in ways you may never be able to sense. His ways are so very far above ours. His angels are ministering to us well before our hour of need. We can trust that our God knows how to deliver those who trust in Him.

You see, our God watches from a high hill, seeing what we cannot. Peter tells us that we are “kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Pet 1:5). The word “kept” is the Greek word phroureo. It means to be a watcher in advance, a mountain guard, a sentinel. This is why we can rest assured that even though we can’t see what is coming, or how to escape our trials, our watchman will. And if we will learn to trust in His protection and care, it will bring about “the peaceable fruit of righteousness.” (Heb 12:11). He offers a true peace, one that will dissolve our worries and deliver us from the dungeon of despair.

 Dave Jennings

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