December 19: The Rechabite Saga
Jeremiah 35:1–36:32; Romans 8:18–39; Proverbs 22:17–23:18
We’re often slow to learn and quick to speak. We think we know God’s ways, but He can easily prove us wrong. Many of us have made this mistake: We think we’re living righteously, and then God slams us for our actions. He quickly deconstructs our worldview, calling into question our ethics, our way of being, our lifestyles. Why? Because even if we don’t think we’re breaking any rules, we might be living by our own choices rather than Yahweh’s will—and that is disobedience. The story of the Rechabites demonstrates this point.
Yahweh had requested that the Rechabites shun alcohol and live in tents, so they did. They obeyed this request until Nebuchadnezzar invaded Judah, which they inhabited with the rest of God’s people. Then Yahweh sent them one final test: He asked His prophet, Jeremiah, to prompt them to drink wine. They resisted—and passed the test (Jer 35:1–11).
The Rechabites’ obedience stands as a model that shows the actions of the rest of God’s people reprehensible by comparison. Yahweh remarks to Jeremiah, “Go and say to the people of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, ‘Can you not learn a lesson to listen to my words?’ declares Yahweh. ‘The words of Jonadab, the son of Rechab, that he commanded his descendants to not drink, have been carried out, and they have not drunk until this day, for they have obeyed the command of their ancestor. But I have spoken to you over and over again, and you have not listened to me’ ” (Jer 35:13–14). God’s people had disobeyed Him by seeking other gods and committing other sins, but this line hints at the deeper problem: They had not carried out Yahweh’s basic commandment to listen to His will.
God’s people thought they were in the right. They believed they were behaving correctly. But in reality, they had disobeyed His basic commandments and then disobeyed His very will. Are you, like God’s people, living in disillusionment, failing to acknowledge that you’re living outside of God’s will?
Ask yourself: “Am I really on the right track? Is this really God’s will, or is it the manifestation of a false belief about my obedience that I’m creating?”
JOHN D. BARRY
- The word which came unto Jeremiah from the Lord, in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, saying, Go unto the house of the Rechabites, and speak unto them, and bring them into the house of the Lord into one of the chambers, and give them wine to drink. Then took I Jaazaniah, the son of Jeremiah the son of Habazziniah, and his brethren, and all his sons, and th ewhole house of the Rechabites. And I brought them into the house of the Lord into the chamber of the sons of Hanan the sonof Igdaliah a man of God, which was by the chamber of the princes, which was above the chamber of Messiah the son of Shallum, the keeper of the treasure. And I set before the sons of the house of hte Bechabites pots full of wine, and cups and said unto them, Drink wine. But they said, We shall drink no wine: for Jonadab the son of Rechab our father commanded us saying, Ye shall drink no wine, neither you nor your sons forever. Neither shall ye build house, nor sow seed, nor plant vineyard, nor have any, but all your days ye shall dwell in tents, that ye may live a long time in the land where ye be strangers. Thus have we obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab our father, in all that he hath charged us, and we drink no wine all our days, neither we, our wives, our sons, nor our daughters. Neither build we houses for us to dwell in, neither have we vineyard, nor field, nor seed. But we have remainaed in tents, and have obeyed and done according to all that Jonadab our father commanded us. But when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babel came up unto the land, we said, Come, and let us go to Jerusalem, from the host of the Chaldeans, and from the host of Aram: so we dwell at Jerusalem. Then came the word of the Lord unto Jeremiah, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Go, and tell the sons of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Will ye not receive doctrine to obey my words, saith the Lord? The commandment of Jonadab the son of Rechab that he commanded his sons, that they should drink no wine, is surely kept: for unto this day they drink none, but obey their father’s commandment: notwithstanding I have spoken unto you, rising early, and speaking, but ye would not obey me. I have sent also unto you all my servants the Prophets: rising up early, and sending them, saying, Return now every man from his evil way,and amend your works, and go not after other gods to serve them, and ye shall dwell in the land which I have given unto you, and to your fathers, but ye would not incline your ear, nor obey me. Surely the sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab, have kept the commandment of their father, which he gave them, but this people hath not obeyed me. Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Behold, I will bring upon Judah, and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, all this evil that I have pronounced against them, because I have spoken unto them, but they would not hear, and I have called unto them, but they would not answer. And Jeremiah said to the house of the Rechabites, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Because ye have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, and kept all his precepts, and done according unto all that he hath commanded you, Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not want a man, to stand before me forever. … Then took Jeremiah another roll, and gave it to Baruch the Scribe the son of Neriah, which wrote therein at the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim King of Judah had burnt in the fire, and there were added besides them many like words. (Jeremiah 35:1-36:32)
- For I count that the afflictions of this present time are not worthy of the glory, which shall be showed unto us. For the fervent desire of the creature waiteth when the sons of God shall be revealed, Because the creature is subject to vanity, not of its own will, but by reason of him, which hath subdued it under hope, Because the creature also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. For we know that every creature groaneth with us also, and travaileth in pain together unto this present. And not only the creature, but we also which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we do sigh in ourselves, waiting for the adoption, even the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen, is not hope: for how can a man hope for that which he seeth? But if we hope for that we see not, we do with patience abide for it. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what to pray as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh request for us with sighs which cannot be expressed. But he that searcheth the hearts, knoweth what is the meaning of the Spirit: for he maketh request for the Saints, according to the will of God. Also we know that all things work together for the best unto them that love God, even to them that are called of his purpose. For those which he knew before, he also predestinated to be made like to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom he predestinated, them also he called, and whom he called, them also he justified, and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be on our side, who can be against us? Who spared not his own Son, but gave him for us all to death, how shall he not with him give us all things also? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s chosen? it is God that justifieth. Who shall condemn? it is Christ which is dead: yea, or rather, which is risen again, who is also at the right hand of God, and maketh request also for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation or anguish, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake are we killed all day long: we are counted as sheep for the slaughter: Nevertheless, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor Angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come. Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:18-39)
- Incline thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine hart unto my knowledge. For it shall be pleasant, if thou keep them in thy belly, and if they be directed together in thy lips. That thy confidence may be in the Lord, I have showed thee this day: thou therefore take heed. Have not I written unto thee three times in counsels and knowledge, That I might show thee the assurance of the words of truth, to answer the words of truth to them that send to thee? Rob not the poor, because he is poor, neither oppress the afflicted in judgment. For the Lord will defend their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoil them. … For surely there is an end, and thy hope shall not be cut off. (Proverbs 22:17-23:18)