“Go to the house of the Rechabites and speak with them and bring them to the house of the LORD, into one of the chambers; then offer them wine to drink.” Jeremiah 35:2 ESV
This command of the LORD to Jeremiah is at the beginning of Jeremiah 35. While it may seem like an odd request, the LORD was setting up a test to show Jeremiah and the people of Judah what true obedience looks like. God knew the Rechabites founder had commanded them to not drink wine, build houses, or plant seeds. When brought before into the house of the LORD and given wine, the Rechabites refuse to drink it, citing their forefather’s commandments. The Rechabites had only been told once to obey, but they followed wholeheartedly and won’t turn aside from their precepts.
“Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Because you have obeyed the command of Jonadab your father and kept all his precepts and done all that he commanded you, therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Jonadab the son of Rechab shall never lack a man to stand before me.” Jeremiah 35:18b-19 ESV
The LORD celebrates the Rechabites convictions and their strict observance of their founder’s precepts. As a result of their dedication, He blesses them. The Rechabites obedience is contrasted with Judah’s repeated refusal to listen to God. While the Rechabites were told once and sincerely followed, the people of Judah would not listen to God’s instructions.
The command that Jonadab the son of Rechab gave to his sons, to drink no wine, has been kept, and they drink no wine to this day, for they have obeyed their father’s command. I have spoken to you [Judah] 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. Jeremiah 35:14,16 ESV
Judah’s refusal to obey the commands of God are put on display in Jeremiah 36. The LORD tells Jeremiah to write all the prophecies he had given against Judah on a scroll. The scroll made it’s way to the palace and to Judah’s king, Jehoiakim.
As Jehudi read three or four columns, the king would cut them off with a knife and throw them into the fire in the fire pot, until the entire scroll was consumed in the fire that was in the fire pot. Jeremiah 36:23 ESV
Jehoiakim’s reaction to a command is in stark contrast to the Rechabites. God brought the Rechabites to Jeremiah to show him what true and humble obedience looks like. While the Rechabites dutifully followed the commandments of their forefather, Jehoiakim shredded up the commandments and warnings he was given.
Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. James 3:13, 16-17 ESV
James points to our conduct as an indicator of where our heart is and who we serve. Who we follow and serve can be discovered if our actions are watched. Like the Rechabites, I should be sincere and obedient to God, or anyone God has put over me. Let your good conduct point others to Christ and His love.
Dear God, Thank You for the example of the Rechabites obedience. Thank You for James’ practical wisdom. Please help me be obedient to those over me as You have called me to be. Help me to serve You wholeheartedly and fully. In Your Holy Name, Amen.