Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. (Psalm 37:3)
Karma characterizes the eastern idea of reaping what you sow. If you sow good deeds, you will reap good. If you sow evil deeds, you will reap evil. To be fair, the Bible teaches the same thing in a more realistic way.
“The wicked worketh a deceitful work: but to him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward” (Proverbs 11:18).
“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Galatians 6:7-8).
Of course, the Bible also says that such is not always the case. To us, it sometimes appears as if the wicked receive good for their evil.
“The tabernacles [i.e., “houses”] of robbers prosper, and they that provoke God are secure; into whose hand God bringeth abundantly” (Job 12:6).
“I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men. Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment. Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish. They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily. They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth. Therefore his people return hither: and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them. And they say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the most High? Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches” (Psalm 73:3-12).
The difference between karma and the Bible is that for karma, the axiom is sure and constant. The Bible makes no promises that good will be rewarded or evil will be punished in this world. The Bible offers many examples of good individuals suffering evil consequences: Joseph, Jesus, Paul, and the other apostles. Just rewards are reserved for eternity.
However, the Bible also gives examples of those who were rewarded for their righteous acts. Such was the case with one Ebed-melech. “Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, one of the eunuchs which was in the king’s house.” Ebedmelech was probably not his real name. My KJV Bible hyphenates the name emphasizing the compound word, which means “Servant of the King.” He was an Ethiopian; therefore, he did not have a proper Hebrew name. Scripture tells us that he was a eunuch meaning he had been castrated at some point in his life – probably when he entered the king’s service.
“Eunuchs would usually be servants or slaves who had been castrated to make them less threatening servants of a royal court where physical access to the ruler could wield great influence. Seemingly lowly domestic functions—such as making the ruler’s bed, bathing him, cutting his hair, carrying him in his litter, or even relaying messages—could, in theory, give a eunuch “the ruler’s ear” and impart de facto power on the formally humble but trusted servant. Similar instances are reflected in the humble origins and etymology of many high offices.
Eunuchs supposedly did not generally have loyalties to the military, the aristocracy, or a family of their own (having neither offspring nor in-laws, at the very least). They were thus seen as more trustworthy and less interested in establishing a private “dynasty”. Because their condition usually lowered their social status, they could also be easily replaced or killed without repercussion. In cultures that had both harems and eunuchs, eunuchs were sometimes used as harem servants.”
King Zedekiah, in whose service Ebedmelech was employed, had been set up as king over Judah by King Nebuchadnezzar following the first deportation. Zedekiah called on Jeremiah for counsel from the Lord, but he despised what the Lord had to say. Zedekiah sent word to Jeremiah asking him to pray to the Lord for them. At this time, the Egyptians had come up to defend Judah, but the “Chaldeans,” i.e., the Babylonians, turned them back to Egypt.
“Then came the word of the LORD unto the prophet Jeremiah, saying, Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel; Thus shall ye say to the king of Judah, that sent you unto me to enquire of me; Behold, Pharaoh’s army, which is come forth to help you, shall return to Egypt into their own land. And the Chaldeans shall come again, and fight against this city, and take it, and burn it with fire” (Jeremiah 37:6-8).
God advised Zedekiah not to deceive himself into thinking that the Egyptians could defeat the Babylonians. “For though ye had smitten the whole army of the Chaldeans that fight against you, and there remained but wounded men among them, yet should they rise up every man in his tent, and burn this city with fire” (Jeremiah 37:10).
While the Chaldeans were off fighting the Egyptians, Jeremiah left Jerusalem and went to the territory of Benjamin. There, he was overtaken by Irijah, one of Zedekiah’s officers and accused of defecting to the Chaldeans. So, Jeremiah was arrested and imprisoned in a dungeon. While there, Zedekiah came to him requesting “any word from the Lord.” The word from the Lord was that he would be delivered over to the king of Babylon. The word displeased Zedekiah and he put Jeremiah back in prison.
Jeremiah continued to prophesy from his prison cell in the court where all passersby could hear. Jeremiah’s message was harsh but true. All in the city would “die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence.” However, anyone surrendering to the Chaldeans would be spared. The message did not appeal to the leaders because they felt it would dishearten the people. They asked Zedekiah to do something about Jeremiah, and he gave them permission to do whatever they wanted with the prophet. So, their solution was to put Jeremiah in a deep cistern that held no water but was deep in mud. Here is where Ebedmelech comes in.
“Now when Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, one of the eunuchs which was in the king’s house, heard that they had put Jeremiah in the dungeon; the king then sitting in the gate of Benjamin; Ebedmelech went forth out of the king’s house, and spake to the king, saying, My lord the king, these men have done evil in all that they have done to Jeremiah the prophet, whom they have cast into the dungeon; and he is like to die for hunger in the place where he is: for there is no more bread in the city. Then the king commanded Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, saying, Take from hence thirty men with thee, and take up Jeremiah the prophet out of the dungeon, before he die. So Ebedmelech took the men with him, and went into the house of the king under the treasury, and took thence old cast clouts and old rotten rags, and let them down by cords into the dungeon to Jeremiah. And Ebedmelech the Ethiopian said unto Jeremiah, Put now these old cast clouts and rotten rags under thine armholes under the cords. And Jeremiah did so. So they drew up Jeremiah with cords, and took him up out of the dungeon: and Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison” (Jeremiah 38:7-13).
Ebedmelech had nothing to gain by pleading on Jeremiah’s behalf, but he had surely heard Jeremiah preach and believed that he was God’s prophet. He also trusted that Jeremiah’s message was true. Seeing the mistreatment of Jeremiah moved him to compassion. As a eunuch in the king’s service, he had the trust and the ear of the king, so he acted on behalf of Jeremiah and rescued him from the mirey pit.
Again, Zedekiah requested a word from the Lord by Jeremiah and the answer came back the same. The Chaldeans would conquer the city and all would die by the sword. However, if they surrendered, they would survive. Zedekiah rejected the message and imprisoned Jeremiah again, albeit not in as harsh of conditions. Zedekiah resisted the Babylonians for two years under siege, but the Babylonians finally prevailed. All that resisted died by the sword and those that surrendered were taken away captive in the second deportation. As for Zedekiah, “Then the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah in Riblah before his eyes: also the king of Babylon slew all the nobles of Judah. Moreover he put out Zedekiah’s eyes, and bound him with chains, to carry him to Babylon” (Jeremiah 39:6-7)
In all this time, God did not forget the good that Ebedmelech had done for Jeremiah.
“Now the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah, while he was shut up in the court of the prison, saying, Go and speak to Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring my words upon this city for evil, and not for good; and they shall be accomplished in that day before thee. But I will deliver thee in that day, saith the LORD: and thou shalt not be given into the hand of the men of whom thou art afraid. For I will surely deliver thee, and thou shalt not fall by the sword, but thy life shall be for a prey unto thee: because thou hast put thy trust in me, saith the LORD” (Jeremiah 39:15-18).
Our good deeds seldom get noticed or rewarded instantly. It is quite possible, that they many never be rewarded in our life here on earth. By the same token, neither do our evil deeds. We often see wicked people get away with murder and never get their just punishment, but God does not forget. Karma, as any false idea, is only partially true. Sometimes we do receive good for good and evil for evil, but not always. The Bible’s record shows that all deeds will eventually be justly rewarded. No one can get away with murder in the end.
Jesus is coming soon, and His reward is with Him. The signs for His appearing are increasing in intensity and frequency. Are you prepared to meet Him? If you do not know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”