“The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the days of Jehoiakim, king of Judah: ‘Go to the house of the Rechabites and speak with them and bring them to the house of the Lord..; then offer them wine to drink.’ So I took Jaazaniah.., and his brothers and all his sons and the whole house of the Rechabites…
“I set before the Rechabites pitchers full of wine, and cups, and I said to them, ‘Drink wine.’ But they answered, ‘We will drink no wine, for… our father, commanded us, “You shall not drink wine, neither you nor your sons forever. You shall not build a house; you shall not sow seed; you shall not plant or have a vineyard; but you shall live in tents all your days, that you may live many days in the land where you sojourn.” We have obeyed [his] voice in all that he commanded us…
“Thus says the Lord… Will you not receive instruction and listen to my words? 14 The command that Jonadab 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. 15 I have sent to you all my servants the prophets,.. 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..,’ But you did not incline your ear or listen to me. 16 The sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab have kept the command [of] their father, but this people has not obeyed me.” Jeremiah 35:1-3,5-8,13-16
God is marvelous in the ways He sovereignly intersects individuals and situations to teach His children. The Rechabites were a simple people committed to obedience, and He appointed them as an illustration for Jeremiah to use to distinguish between obedience and rebellion: The Lord knows and blesses the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. (Psalm 1)
What we glean is not so much that we take no wine and live in tents, but that God calls us to follow Him for our good, His glory, and to be an example. As His own, we are to show a weak and waffling world that, though not necessarily easy or popular, obedience is possible, and is always attended by blessing. We mix and mingle with all, but stand out in obedience to show forth His loveliness in grace.
When life revolves around me, I make short-sighted decisions that do not take others into account. But we don’t live as islands. People are watching. If we fix our eyes on Christ, not on others’ approval, our devotion and desire to please Him grow, inform, and motivate our choices. Others will be drawn to the peace and joy we have in our communion with Christ and His word. (Matthew 5:16; Romans 14:7)
When will I stop living for myself and wholeheartedly cast my lot with Christ? He who calls is faithful to enable. In what areas need I take stock and reorder, so I’m following His way and living a clear example for others? (1 Thessalonians 5:24)
Lord, sharpen and deepen my allegiance to You, that Your grace and sufficiency in me draws others to You.