A Lesson

Feb 8, 2013
Akron, Ohio
Sunday, July 27, 2014, 3:00 a.m. – the Lord Jesus put the song in mind, “In Keeping Them.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Jeremiah 35 (NIV).

The Rekabites

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. We have lived in tents and have fully obeyed everything our forefather Jehonadab commanded us. But 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.”

The Rekabites came from the Kenites, who lived among the people of Israel for a very long time. They even accompanied the Israelites into the holy land, it would appear. They were nomads and Gentiles, but they worshiped the God of Abraham. Moses’ father-in-law was a Kenite. Over the years the Kenites showed many kindnesses to God’s chosen people.

God wanted to teach the Israelites a lesson, so he used the illustration of the Rekabites to make his point. He told Jeremiah to invite the Rekabites to one of the side rooms of the house of the Lord and to give them wine to drink. God, of course, knew what was going to happen next. The Rekabites kindly declined the wine, explaining that they did not drink wine because their forefather had commanded them not to. They went on to explain that their forefather had also commanded them not to build houses or to plant vineyards, but they were to live in tents, and so that is what they did. They fully obeyed everything their forefather commanded them to do. But when King Neb of the Babylonians invaded their land, they fled to Jerusalem to escape the Babylonian and Aramean armies.

Go and Tell

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.’
God commanded Jeremiah to go speak to the Israelites and to ask them this question: “Will you not learn a lesson and obey my words?” He set before them the example of the Rekabites and their faithful obedience to their forefather (a mere human). How is it that these Gentiles by birth could exercise such faithful obedience to their human father, and yet God’s chosen people would not obey him?

At that period of time, the Israelites, Jews by birth, were God’s chosen people. Yet, since Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins and was resurrected from the dead, and people have believed on Jesus Christ for their salvation, the Jews, if they do not believe in Jesus, are no longer God’s chosen people. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection he made Jew and Gentile one in Christ, i.e. he formed one new “man” out of the two. Physical Jerusalem is now of Hagar, the slave woman, and only followers of Jesus Christ are the children of promise. Those who are physical descendants of Abraham only are not the children of Abraham, and they are not Israel unless they believe in Jesus Christ. Israel is now the church. [See Ro. 9:6b-8; Ro. 11; Gal. 3:26-29; Gal. 4:22-31; Eph. 2:14-18; Matt. 12:30]

So, is there a lesson that the church today can learn from this? I believe God is posing this same question to his church today: “Will you not learn a lesson and obey my words?” God has spoken to his church again and again. He has given his Holy Word to us via his messengers of old, and the Holy Spirit within us to teach us all things. Are we listening?

As well, he has sent out his watchmen (and women) of today - his servants and messengers - to give his church warnings against lies, deceptions, and false gospels, and against spiritual adultery and idolatry. They have been calling the adulterous church of today to repentance and renewed faith in their Lord. They are calling out to the adulterous and idolatrous church of today to turn from their wicked ways and to reform their actions; to not follow after and serve the gods their hands have made, but to forsake their idols. They have been calling the church to obey their Lord and all his teachings and instructions, which he has given to us through Christ and through the apostles. And, they have been proclaiming to the church the blessings of repentance and obedience - all in the power and working of the Spirit in the life of the believer in Jesus Christ.

Yet the vast majority of today’s modern and worldly church is not obeying his words. They are not even paying attention to his commands. They are not listening to the Spirit speaking God’s words to their hearts, but they are running after the gods of this world full-speed ahead.

Consequences and Rewards

“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.’”

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.’ 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.’”
This reminds me a lot of the letters of Jesus to the seven churches in Asia, as recorded by John in the book of Revelation. Although these letters were written to seven specific congregations of that time, as was the book of Revelation, still these letters serve to encourage, instruct and warn the church of all ages, i.e. the book of Revelation was meant for the church of all time. Many of these letters have both words of affirmation and rebuke. Only one had no words of praise at all, and that was the letter to the church in Laodicea. Many people believe that is the church of the west today. Yet, there are aspects in all of these letters to which we can identify in one way or another in the church of today.

It is no mistake at all that the book of Revelation, prior to the announcement of all the judgments at the end of time, gives affirmation of faithful service to the Lord, spells out the specific sins of the churches, calls them to repentance and obedience, warns of judgment if they do not repent and obey, encourages them with the blessings of repentance and obedience, and inspires and urges faithfulness and perseverance in faith to the end.

Jesus Christ died for our sins, not just so we could escape the flames of hell and have the promise of heaven. He died so that we would no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave himself up for us (See 2 Co. 5:15). His grace is not a free license to continue in willful sin. His grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled and upright lives in this present age while we wait for our Lord’s return (See Tit. 2:11-14). He died so that we might die to the sins which once enslaved us, so we could be transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God away from sin and to God, and so we could walk daily in Christ’s righteousness and holiness, in the power and working of the Spirit within us (See Ac. 26:16-18; Ro. 6-8; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 4:17-24; & 1 Jn. 1-5).

God says he disciplines those he loves. He will judge his adulterous and idolatrous church of these last days. He will send a strong dose of divine discipline as his mercy come running to us. If we do not listen, and we close our ears to what is right, and we continue in willful rebellion against him, following the ways and gods of this world instead of following him as our “first love,” he will discipline us, but not to destroy us, but to save (deliver) us from ourselves and from those who have deceived us. So, be earnest and repent.

In Keeping Them / An Original Work / June 3, 2014
Based off Ps. 111:10; 19:7-11

Stand in awe of your Lord.
Harken to His teachings.
Follow where He leads you.
Live for Him today.

Through Him you gain wisdom;
Knowledge; understanding.
To my Lord belongs all
Worship and my praise.

Perfect is the Word,
Refreshing souls in His love.
His commands are faithful,
Guiding us each day.

Joy comes to the heart of
Those who love His teachings;
Follow His instructions.
He will light their way.

Abide in the Lord, and
Obey His commandments.
His Word is more precious
Than all of our gold.

By His Word He warns us,
Comforts, and implores us.
When we follow His Word,
There is great reward.