(Today's post by Josh Jones)
Growing up, obedience was a value that was enforced above all in my parent’s household. My mom used to tell me that if she said “Jump”, my response was to be “How high?”. I knew in that sense it was a joke, but obedience to my parents rules showed my respect, or lack thereof. Breaking curfew, not cleaning my room, dirty dishes, a sarcastic mouth, they were just few ways that showed my lack of obedience and lack of respect for my parent’s authority. However, if I ever wanted something, or ever wanted to just stay out of trouble for an extended period of time, I would do as my parents said and obey their rules. And guess what? Obedience made life so much easier on me. It was beneficial to me to be an obedient son, way more so than to be a rebel.
You would think that the nation of Israel would know this lesson. However, they kept breaking the laws of God. And that is much worse than breaking curfew on a school night!
In today’s passage, God uses his servant, Jeremiah to call out the disobedience of his people in a peculiar way: by showing the obedience of the Rechabites to an earthly man’s virtues. Almost 300 years earlier, Jonadab was a man well known for his piety and wisdom. He commanded his descendants to not drink wine. He also instructed them to live in tents and other movable dwellings, so as to not think of settling anywhere in this world. The Rechabites lived ascetic lives by his commands, not indulging in even the delights that were lawful, so they would not be tempted to the unlawful ones. The Rechabites obediently followed Jonadab’s rules to the letter.
God commands Jeremiah to go to their dwelling and offer them wine. As Jeremiah offered the Rechabites wine to drink, they told him that they would not drink any, as they were being obedient to the rules that Jonadab set forth over 300 years earlier! Talk about obedience!
God uses these people who were committed to obedience to speak to His people. The obedience of the Rechabites to a mere man made the disobedience of the Jews even more pronounced. Here, God speaks, “I have spoken to you persistently, but you have not listened to me… The sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab have kept the command that their father gave them, but this people has not obeyed me. Therefore, thus says the Lord, the God of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold I am bringing upon Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the disaster that I have pronounced against them, because I have spoken to them and they have not listened, I have called to them and they have not answered.” (vs 12-17). Here, because of the lack of obedience to his commands, God punishes his people. However, God honors the obedience of the Rechabites and grants them mercy.
God honors obedience. Just as I knew as a kid that obedience brought about an easier life, God knows that obedience to his ways are better than rebellion. My prayer today is that we would take God’s commands as serious as the Rechabites took one glass of wine, and that by doing that, God would be honored.