The Ethiopian Boy Scout


One of the first knots you have to learn in Boy Scouts is the bowline.  The bowline is strong, sturdy, and makes fantastic loops at the end of ropes.  It’s perfect for tying up canoes, hanging a bear bag from a tree, or pulling prophets out of holes.

The prophet Jeremiah had a nasty habit of upsetting the king and his officials.  Jerusalem is under a Babylonian and many are hoping for help from the Egyptian army.  Inspired by the Lord, Jeremiah thinks that’s a stupid idea.  He thinks the city should give it up, surrender to the Babylonian army, and take it all as medicine from the Lord for running after false gods.

Jeremiah manages to get enough people mad that they throw him into an empty cistern.  But there was no water in it, “and Jeremiah sank in the mud” (Jeremiah 38:6).

Bowline in action

But one man, Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, realizes that was a poor idea, because really, there’s no way to shut out God’s word.  So he asks the king (who is getting played by everybody) if he can drag Jeremiah up out of the pit.  “Sure,” the king says, “do it before he dies.”  So Ebed-melech takes a bunch of old clothes, ties them together, and throws it down to Jeremiah saying, “Just put the rags and clothes between your armpits and the ropes.”  Voila! The bowline saves the day!

Of course, I don’t really know if he tied a bowline.  But that description of putting the rope under his armpits is exactly what you have to do to wear a bowline to get out of a pit.

So is this post about knots?  No, it’s about following God.  Sometimes, when you speak God’s hard truth, you get thrown in a pit, precisely because God isn’t always so popular.  Good thing there are folks around always willing to help pull you out.  But here’s the real trick – once you’re out of the pit, you can’t sit back and soak it in.  You have to go right back to what you were doing that got you thrown into the pit in the first place – you have to keep following the Lord.

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