Learn A Lesson

Thursday, March 28, 2013, 7:29 a.m. – the Lord Jesus woke me with the song “Follow Him” playing in my mind. Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. I read Jeremiah 35 (NIV): http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Jeremiah%2035&version=NIV

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 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.”

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.’

“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.’”

The Rekabites

The Rekabites (or Rechabites) belonged to the Kenites who were with the children of Israel as they entered the Promised Land (source: Wikipedia). According to Encyclopedia Britannica, they were an Israelite sect. “They were fervent followers of Yahweh, the God of Israel.” According to International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, the Rechabites were a part of the tribe of Kenite who “joined the Israelites during their wilderness wanderings.” They became identified with the tribe of Judah. The father of the Rechabites was Jehonadab, who was a “zealous Yahweh-worshiper.” He was instrumental in the removal of Baal worship. He led his family into a simple nomadic lifestyle “in order to guard against the enervating tendencies of sensualism, and as a covenant of fidelity to Yahweh, to whom they wholly devoted themselves when they joined themselves with Israel” - http://bibleencyclopedia.com/rechabites.htm.

The Model

God used the Rekabites as a model for his people to follow, not necessarily that they should all abstain from wine and live like nomads, but as a model of fidelity and obedience, and of the honoring of their “father.” The Rekabites did not drink wine because their forefather Jehonadab commanded them not to drink wine. They lived in tents because their forefather commanded them to live in tents. Evidently this continued for about 300 years (source: Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary). The people evidently were faithful to God and to their ancestor(s).

The Lesson

God used the Rekabites as an example of the kind of fidelity and obedience that he demanded from his children, the Israelites, but which he did not receive from them. He demonstrated this to Jeremiah who was then to go and tell the people of Judah the message (lesson) God had for them. He used the example of the Rekabites, as a family, and of their forefather, as a picture of what he wanted his “family” to be like, and as an example of how he wanted to be honored, respected and obeyed as their Father.

“Learn a lesson” can also be translated “respond to correction.” God had not spoken to his children just once, but time and time again he sent his children messages, confronting them with their sins of idolatry, spiritual and physical adultery, complacency, rebellion and the dishonoring and disrespect of their Father and of his commands, as well as of their refusal, time and time again, to listen to God’s messages and to turn from their wicked ways. Yet, he still loved them, and he still longed for them to have the kind of relationship with him as was exemplified by this family of Rekabites with the honoring of their forefather. So, he set before them an example (a model) to follow – to encourage, instruct and perhaps also to shame them.

“Again and again” God sent his servants the prophets to them with this message: “Each of you must turn from your wicked ways and reform your actions; do not follow other gods to serve them…” But they paid no attention to God. They didn’t listen to him. The Rekabites listened to and obeyed their human ancestor in matters that had nothing to do with eternity, yet God’s people would not listen and would not obey in matters that had everything to do with their eternal destiny and with their relationship with God while they still lived on the face of this earth.

So, God had no choice but to send them a dose of divine discipline and correction. He had warned them, but they had not responded to correction, so now he would bring upon them every disaster he had pronounced against them. He spoke to them, but they did not listen. He called to them, but they did not answer. Wow! Yet, to the Rekabites God said they would never fail to have a descendant to serve him.

The Lesson II

So, what can we learn from this today? We, the church, i.e. followers of Jesus Christ, have been commanded to obey all of Christ’s commandments to his church and to teach others to do the same (see Mt. 28:18-20). We have also been called of God to turn from our wicked ways and to reform our actions and to not follow after other gods to serve them (see Luke 9:23-25; Eph. 4:17-24; Rom. 6; 1 Co. 10:14; 1 John, et al). Jesus said: “If you love me, keep my commands.” “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching”(Jn. 14:15, 23-24). So, the requirements God had of his people in the OT, as is described here for us in this passage in Jeremiah, are the same requirements Jesus demands of his followers even today.

We are blessed to have the words of God written for us in the Bible, and most people in America have easy access to the Bible (or several Bibles), as do some people in other countries. So, we can read for ourselves the commands of Christ and of the necessity of following our Lord Jesus in obedience and in surrender to his will for our lives. We can read for ourselves how he said that if we are to come after him we must deny (disallow) ourselves (our self-life), take up our cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him (see Luke 9:23-25). We can read that the way we come to know Christ is by dying to our old ways of living for self and sin, by being transformed in heart and mind, and by putting on our new lives in Christ Jesus, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (see Eph. 4:17-24). We can read that coming to Christ means that “I” (my flesh) dies and “I” (my flesh) no longer lives, but now Christ and his life live within me and out through me – a life lived by faith and in his power and strength within us, not in absolute perfection, but with a desire to truly please God with our lives in all we do and say.

Yet, not every “follower” of Christ reads the Bible through, or spends time really listening to God and to his words with the full intention of heeding his words and obeying what he says. Many are listening to false teachers who distort the words of Christ and who dilute the gospel of Jesus Christ, leaving out God’s requirements for obedience and repentance (to turn from their wicked ways, reform their actions, and to not follow after other “gods”). The church of today, for the most part, has become so much one with the world that it is barely distinguishable anymore between the church and the world. Many are following after the “gods” of men (including preachers), of wealth, of prosperity, of entertainment, of man-made religion, of complacency, idolatry, adultery and the like, and God has taken a back seat in many a “follower’s” life.

God is sending out messages today through his servants, giving the same or similar messages as the prophets of old, and of John the Baptist, Jesus and the apostles gave to the people – repent, obey, turn from your wicked ways, from your idolatry, adultery and the like; obey God, do what he says, listen to him, spend time at his feet, respond to his calls and stop following the teachings of mankind, but learn what the word of God teaches and follow it and follow Christ wherever he leads you. If you do not repent, and you refuse the words of Christ time and time again, God will send his doses of divine discipline and correction upon the church (see Rev 2-3), but it will be to bring the church back into a right relationship with God Almighty so that he can restore her, revive her, renew her, bless her and use her to reach this world for Jesus Christ.

Follow Him / An Original Work / February 21, 2013

Based off Luke 9:22-25

Jesus, Son of God,
Died for us on a cross.

Anyone who would come to Him
Must deny himself and follow.
He must take up his cross daily;
Die to sin and self each day.

Father, God above,
Loved us so: gave His Son.

If you want to save your old life;
Keep on sinning, follow your ways,
You will lose your life forever;
Hope of heaven gone away.

Spirit of our God
Gives us life in God’s Son.

Nonetheless, if you die to self;
Forsake your sin; follow Jesus,
You will live with God in heaven,
And forever praise His name!