Imagine Jeremiah’s concern when he is instructed to prepare a mini-party for the Rechabites, a people of the Gentiles; and more alarming, throw the party at the Temple.
In the thirty-fifth chapter of his prophecy, Jeremiah is told to bring these people into a chamber of the house of the Lord, and set wine before them (2). And he does this.
But these people refuse Jeremiah’s offer of hospitality. Why? Because a couple of hundred years earlier, their forefathers made a vow. These people have been faithfully living by the command from prior centuries to abstain from wine, to own no permanent dwelling places, and to plant no crops.
Is God planning an abrupt lifestyle change for Israel. Well, yes… and no. God is not presenting the lifestyles of these people to Jeremiah and Judah to cause admiration for their choice of living arrangements. But He does want them to grasp the commitment level of the Rechabites. Because someone years ago had deemed this a profitable lifestyle, and had commanded his descendants to do likewise, they simply obeyed.
Not so with Judah. But their commands were not given by mere mortals. They came from God Himself. God commends the Rechabites’ faithfulness and condemns Judah’s faithlessness.
But how about today? How do we apply verses like these to this wonderful age of grace? Do we walk away from our homes, immitating the Rechabites, find a holy mountain and meditate on the sky until it opens? Probably not. But we do have commands to test our commitment by. And we are accountable for our faithfulness in keeping them. Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” John 14:15
And a great starting place may be this. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34, 35
(Lesson from the Men’s Sunday School Class of Lighthouse Baptist Church. Taught by Ken Johnson on 08 07 2011)