December 19: The Rechabite Saga

Jeremiah 35:1–36:32; Romans 8:18–39; Proverbs 22:17–23:18

We’re often slow to learn and quick to speak. We think we know God’s ways, but He can easily prove us wrong. Many of us have made this mistake: We think we’re living righteously, and then God slams us for our actions. He quickly deconstructs our worldview, calling into question our ethics, our way of being, our lifestyles. Why? Because even if we don’t think we’re breaking any rules, we might be living by our own choices rather than Yahweh’s will—and that is disobedience. The story of the Rechabites demonstrates this point.

Yahweh had requested that the Rechabites shun alcohol and live in tents, so they did. They obeyed this request until Nebuchadnezzar invaded Judah, which they inhabited with the rest of God’s people. Then Yahweh sent them one final test: He asked His prophet, Jeremiah, to prompt them to drink wine. They resisted—and passed the test (Jer 35:1–11).

The Rechabites’ obedience stands as a model that shows the actions of the rest of God’s people reprehensible by comparison. Yahweh remarks to Jeremiah, “Go and say to the people of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, ‘Can you not learn a lesson to listen to my words?’ declares Yahweh. ‘The words of Jonadab, the son of Rechab, that he commanded his descendants to not drink, have been carried out, and they have not drunk until this day, for they have obeyed the command of their ancestor. But I have spoken to you over and over again, and you have not listened to me’ ” (Jer 35:13–14). God’s people had disobeyed Him by seeking other gods and committing other sins, but this line hints at the deeper problem: They had not carried out Yahweh’s basic commandment to listen to His will.

God’s people thought they were in the right. They believed they were behaving correctly. But in reality, they had disobeyed His basic commandments and then disobeyed His very will. Are you, like God’s people, living in disillusionment, failing to acknowledge that you’re living outside of God’s will?

Ask yourself: “Am I really on the right track? Is this really God’s will, or is it the manifestation of a false belief about my obedience that I’m creating?”

John D. Barry[1]


[1] Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

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