The Rechabites: An Example to Israel and to Us

In Jeremiah 35, we are told of the Rechabites. This was a group of people that did not descend from Abraham, but joined the nation of Israel in their wilderness wandering prior to entering the land. Jonadab, the father of this people, had commanded them to drink no wine, build no house, sow no seed, plant or have no vineyard, but dwell in tents all their days. Even though everyone else in Israel did these things, the Rechabites kept the commandments of their father for roughly 300 years.

During the time of Jeremiah, when Israel was under siege from Babylon, the Rechabites were forced into the city of Jerusalem. While there, Jeremiah brought them into the temple and offered them wine to drink. Despite their thirst because of the siege, the Rechabites refused to drink the wine Jeremiah gave them in order to keep the command of their father.

So, God used the example of the Rechabites keeping the command of their father as a rebuke against Israel. The example was not what they were commanded to do but that they kept the command of their father. In Jeremiah 35:13-15, God said, “Will you not receive instruction and listen to my words? declares the Lord. The command that Jonadab the son of Rechab gave to his sons, to drink no wine, has been kept, and they drink none to this day, for they have obeyed their father’s command. I have spoken to you persistently, but you have not listened to me. I have sent to you all my servants the prophets, sending them persistently, saying, ‘Turn now every one of you from his evil way, and amend your deeds, and do not go after other gods to serve them, and then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to you and your fathers.’ But you did not incline your ear or listen to me.”

So, this group of people who joined Israel was willing to keep the command of their father for hundreds of years even in the midst of great hardship. But, Israel, whose father was God, the creator of heaven and earth, refused to hear the command of God and obey. They refused to listen to him even though he persistently told them how to have life, how to be blessed.

So, what is our problem? God sent us his son to perfectly reveal himself to us. He left us a record of how he has dealt with his people through history. He has written his law on our hearts and given us his Holy Spirit to teach it to us. I’d say he has persistently spoken to us. But, are we willing to listen to Him?

The problem is not with God, but us. Let us our lay down our thoughts, our desires, and our wills so that we can hear and obey God.

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