Summary: This text reminds us that God still uses old stuff to lift us up where we belong.

7Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, a eunuch in the king’s house, heard that they had put Jeremiah into the cistern. The king happened to be sitting at the Benjamin Gate, 8So Ebed-melech left the king’s house and spoke to the king, 9“My lord king, these men have acted wickedly in all they did to the prophet Jeremiah by throwing him into the cistern to die there of hunger, for there is no bread left in the city.” 10Then the king commanded Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, “Take three men with you from here, and pull the prophet Jeremiah up from the cistern before he dies.” 11So Ebed-melech took the men with him and went to the house of the king, to a wardrobe of the storehouse, and took from there old rags and worn-out clothes, which he let down to Jeremiah in the cistern by ropes. 12Then Ebed-melech the Ethiopian said to Jeremiah, “Just put the rags and clothes between your armpits and the ropes.” Jeremiah did so. 13Then they drew Jeremiah up by the ropes and pulled him out of the cistern. And Jeremiah remained in the court of the guard. (Jeremiah 38:7-13; NRSV)

Our text is set in the Judah in the 6th Century BC, during the reign of King Zedekiah. Jeremiah had been prophesying that the Babylonians were going to overthrow Judah. There were some people who did not like that series of sermons, so in response to the prophecy that Judah would be overthrown, these people threw Jeremiah into a pit to die. Jeremiah was rescued by some friends who used old clothes and rags to support his body weight as he was pulled out with ropes. In effect, to get out of the pit, Jeremiah had to hold on to the old stuff.

You may have never been in a pit, but most certainly as some point you have been down in the dumps, discourage and depressed; felt abandoned, left alone to fend for yourself like Jeremiah. This text suggests a method of out getting of that psychological/emotional rut and back on top – you need to hold on to the old stuff.

For us, there are three types of ‘old stuff’ on which you need to hold. First, the Old Hymns of the church – There is absolutely nothing wrong with the contemporary songs; I am a big fan of them and have been listening to them for at least 30 years. For some of you, 30 years is old stuff, but I am referring to the really old stuff like:

• A Mighty Fortress is Our God

• Amazing Grace

• At the Cross

• Blessed Assurance

• Come Thou Fount

• He Leadeth Me, O Blessed Thought

• Hold to God’s Unchanging Hand

• I am Bound for the Promised Land

• I Must Tell Jesus

• I Surrender All

• Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross

• Just As I Am

• My Faith Looks Up to Thee

• My Hope is Built

• No, Not One

• Pass Me Not O Gentle Savior

• Rock of Ages

• We’ll Understand it Better By and By

• It is Well With My Soul

• Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus

• Sweet Hour of Prayer

• There is a Fountain

• The Old Rugged Cross

• I Need Thee Every Hour

• No, Never Alone

These old hymns sustained the church, especially during the 19th century when scientific methods were being used to study the Bible, and people needed something to encourage their hearts, as the basis of their faith was being questioned. These old hymns lingered in the hearts of the worshipers long after the benediction. People may not remember a sermon, but they hold on to the hymns. We need to hold on to the old hymns.

Second, in addition to the old hymns, we need to hold on to the old scriptures; the ancient text that became sacred text and gave birth to the hymns. We need to hold to scriptures such as:

1) Joshua 24:15/ But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord

2) Psalm 23/The Lord is my Shepherd

3) Psalm 27/The Lord is my Light and my Salvation

4) Psalm 34/I will bless the Lord at all times, his praise shall continually …O taste and see that the Lord is good, blessed is he who trusts in Him

5) Psalm 37/Fret not thyself because of evil doers, for they shall soon be cut down like the grass and wither as the herb …the steps of a good person are ordered by the Lord

6) Psalm 51/Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me

7) Psalm 91:1/He that dwells in the secret place of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty

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