“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.’” Jeremiah 35:12
That might sound like a nice setup to some people. A prophet tells a family to go into the house of God and drink wine. Yet, this was a telling moment for the character of the Rekabites. We’ll pick up at verse 5 to see how the Rekabites respond to Jeremiah.
“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 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. We have lived in tents and have fully obeyed everything our forefather Jehonadab commanded us. 1But when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon invaded this land, we said, ‘Come, we must go to Jerusalem to escape the Babylonian and Aramean armies.’ So we have remained in Jerusalem.’” (Jeremiah 25:5-11NIV)
They continued to honor Jehonadab, their forefather. What happened to the Rekabite family then? It turns out that God was using this family as an example of what true obedience looks like. God wants that kind of obedience from His people.
“Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying: ‘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. ‘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. 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. The descendants of Jehonadab son of Rekab have carried out the command their forefather gave them, but these people have not obeyed me.’” (Jeremiah 25:12-16 NIV)
God wants us to obey Him because it is best. He knows and sees what we do not. He has our good in mind. He longed for the people of Judah and Jerusalem to listen to Him “Then you will live in the land I have given to you and your ancestors.”
Obedience requires trust.
True trust results in obedience. My complaining is evidence of my lack of trusting my heavenly Father.
In American Sign Language, the open hand with all five fingers is used to sign both father and mother. The thumb of the open hand is placed on the forehead for father, and on the chin for mother. Knowing this sign has helped me remember that the fifth commandment is “Honor your father and mother.”
The words that open Ephesians 6 are imperative.
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 ‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 ‘that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.’ 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:1-4ESV
It is right for children to obey their parents. I can’t help but to notice that there is no time limit to this statement. Paul did not say: “Obey your parents when you like what they say.” Nor does the word say: “Obey your parents if it sounds easy.” It does say, “in the Lord.” If my parents require that I do something that is outside of what God says, I do what God says.
There is no timeline on this statement. Even when my parents are elderly and I have been blessed with my own children or grandchildren, I am to still obey my parents. I am still to honor them.
“Reading through the passages in Ephesians, Colossians, and I Peter that deal with human relationships and societal roles, we find that the scales are not weighted in either direction The child obeys parents in the Lord, but parents are not to exasperate or embitter their children. Discipline is to be distinctively Christian.” (Richards, p.930)
Colossians 3:20-21 speaks of this child and parent relationship as well. Recently I spoke to a group of children and said that this command is in God’s Word and that to disobey Mom and Dad is sin. One boy’s eyes got very wide, “It says that.” This is probably the first commandment I broke in life. I was born a sinner. I have sinned in so many ways. This command is a reminder that I desperately need God’s grace.
Thank you for the way You obey the Father. Please help me to be more like You. Thank You for dying for my sins. I’m so glad you live and now I have new life in You! In Your Holy Name, Amen.
Questions to Ponder
How does hearing about the Rekabite family make you feel? Why?
Why is obedience to our parents ultimately obedience to God?
Richards, Lawrence O. (2004). The Bible Teacher's Commentary. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.