HEAR, UNDERSTAND, AND OBEY

Opening Prayer

As I anticipate the events of this new day, Lord God, I ask for your help. Lead me in the conversations I have, the decisions I make, and in the work that I do.

Read JEREMIAH 35

The Rekabites

35 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord during the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah: “Go to the Rekabite family and invite them to come to one of the side rooms of the house of the Lord and give them wine to drink.”

So I went to get Jaazaniah son of Jeremiah, the son of Habazziniah, and his brothers and all his sons—the whole family of the Rekabites. I brought them into the house of the Lord, into the room of the sons of Hanan son of Igdaliah the man of God. It was next to the room of the officials, which was over that of Maaseiah son of Shallum the doorkeeper. Then I set bowls full of wine and some cups before the Rekabites and said to them, “Drink some wine.”

But they replied, “We do not drink wine, because our forefather Jehonadab[a] son of Rekab gave us this command: ‘Neither you nor your descendants must ever drink wine. Also you must never build houses, sow seed or plant vineyards; you must never have any of these things, but must always live in tents. Then you will live a long time in the land where you are nomads.’ We have obeyed everything our forefather Jehonadab son of Rekab commanded us. Neither we nor our wives nor our sons and daughters have ever drunk wine or built houses to live in or had vineyards, fields or crops. 10 We have lived in tents and have fully obeyed everything our forefather Jehonadab commanded us. 11 But when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon invaded this land, we said, ‘Come, we must go to Jerusalem to escape the Babylonian[b] and Aramean armies.’ So we have remained in Jerusalem.”

12 Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying: 13 “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Go and tell the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, ‘Will you not learn a lesson and obey my words?’ declares the Lord. 14 ‘Jehonadab son of Rekab ordered his descendants not to drink wine and this command has been kept. To this day they do not drink wine, because they obey their forefather’s command. But I have spoken to you again and again, yet you have not obeyed me. 15 Again and again I sent all my servants the prophets to you. They said, “Each of you must turn from your wicked ways and reform your actions; do not follow other gods to serve them. Then you will live in the land I have given to you and your ancestors.” But you have not paid attention or listened to me. 16 The descendants of Jehonadab son of Rekab have carried out the command their forefather gave them, but these people have not obeyed me.’

17 “Therefore this is what the Lord God Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘Listen! I am going to bring on Judah and on everyone living in Jerusalem every disaster I pronounced against them. I spoke to them, but they did not listen; I called to them, but they did not answer.’”

18 Then Jeremiah said to the family of the Rekabites, “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘You have obeyed the command of your forefather Jehonadab and have followed all his instructions and have done everything he ordered.’ 19 Therefore this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘Jehonadab son of Rekab will never fail to have a descendant to serve me.’”

Footnotes

  1. Jeremiah 35:6 Hebrew Jonadab, a variant of Jehonadab; here and often in this chapter
  2. Jeremiah 35:11 Or Chaldean

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Meditate

Pray to learn to be a good listener; to fully digest what you hear with understanding, letting God’s Word be firmly rooted in your heart.

Think Further

We do not know much about the Rekabites, except that they were nomadic Kenites, who drank no alcohol and had rejected a settled lifestyle complete with houses, agriculture, and urban dwelling. The group Jeremiah encountered descended from a certain Jehonadab, son of Rekab, who was once associated with Jehu’s purge of the household of Ahab.1 Jehonadab issued the commands which defined his descendants’ identity and to which they continued to adhere unwaveringly two centuries later.

Under instructions from the Lord (v 2), Jeremiah tests the resolve of the Rekabites. They were unmoving, proving their loyalty and obedience to their ancestor. This encounter provided Jeremiah with an object lesson for the nation of Israel and their king, who had abandoned the words of the Lord and indulged in Canaanite worship and culture. Their unfaithfulness stood in sharp contrast to the constancy of the Rekabites and attracted God’s severest censure.

In our modern cultures all over the world, we admire self-made men and women, people like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates. That is why Frank Sinatra’s song, (I did it…) “My Way,” is so popular at funerals, certainly in England. By contrast, Israel as a community was meant to be a people steeped in listening to what the Lord had said in the Torah and continued to say through his prophets. Disciples of Jesus are under the same obligation. The decisions and choices we make, the identities we create for ourselves, should conform to and grow out of our understanding of the ways of the Lord – and that demands deep listening.

Apply

Develop an unwavering devotion to the Word of God through daily hearing, reading, studying, meditating, and memorizing. ‘Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly.’2

Closing prayer

Loving Father, make my walk with you one of obedience, choosing what is right, repelling what is wrong—both in word and deed. I want my life to be a faithful testimony to who you are.

Last Updated on December 1, 2023 by kingstar

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