Jeremiah was sent to warn rebellious Judah of the need to repent and obey. The weeping prophet is told to: “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” (Jer. 35:1-2).
The Rechabites were the decedents of Rechab, the father of Jonadab. Evidently, before Jonadab died, he taught his children about morality. “Jonadab, the son of Rechab our father, commanded us, saying, Ye shall drink no wine, neither ye, nor your sons for ever.” (Jer. 35:6-7).
When Jeremiah instructed them to “drink wine,” these descendants refused Jeremiah’s offer for this reason: “Thus have we obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab our father in all that he hath charged us” (Jer. 35:8a). Through Jeremiah, God holds the Rechabites up as an example of obedience before Judah.
First, the Rechabites were obedient in spite of the circumstances. Surrounded by worldly Judah, these Rechabites could easily have given in to the temptation around them. After all, if “God’s people” could drink wine, commit adultery, worship false god’s, etc., then why shouldn’t the Rechabites? The Rechabites were an example of faithful obedience in the midst of sin.
Second, the Rechabites were obedient because they respected the command of their fathers. The command was plain. One of the reasons why men fail to obey the Lord today is because they take a command of God and treat it as a suggestion. Consider the simple command that we “repent and be baptized…in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). Most people acknowledge the need to repent, but few recognize the essentiality of baptism. They feel it’s done after sins are remitted, but the Bible makes it plain that immersion (baptism) is “for” (unto) the remission of sins. Those who believe baptism is nonessential to salvation have made a command of God a matter of choice.
Third, the Rechabites were obedient because they were committed. They were united in their devotion to God and realized the importance of teaching their families the same kind of commitment and dedication (v.8). 1) They obeyed all that their father commanded; 2) they obeyed the command their whole life; 3) they taught it to all their descendants.
Fourth, the Rechabites were obedient because they knew there were consequences to their actions. In her disobedience, Judah would face punishment; but the obedient Rechabites would live (Jer. 35:19). “…whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7-8). Therein lies the difference.
Dear Soul, why not obey your Lord today? Cultivate within yourself the heart of these Rechabites.
- R. W. McAlister preaches for the Anna church of Christ in Anna, IL.He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.annachurchofchrist.com/