“Today is the first day of the rest of your life” is a phrase I don’t really understand as a noble statement or principle for living. Every day is a new day with great opportunity to be a difference and make a difference for God’s Kingdom. But we must seek God first. Where God guides, He provides. We pray, God works in and through us. So, what God decides, we follow. If we quickly obey God and follow through on what God says, then we will surely be different from the world. As believers, we look up to great examples of those who follow through in faith because their example of simple and joyful obedience encourages us that we are on the right track to pleasing God.
God sends Jeremiah to the Recabite community and tells him to invite them to the Temple to tell their story of faith. Their testimony is simple and beautiful. God holds them up as the examples of obedience along with their discipline of follow through to Israel. God sent examples to get the attention of His people. But all God got from His people were deaf ears, indifferent hearts, worldly minds and empty souls.
What has God done to get my attention? We must pause to pray and reflect.
Jeremiah 35, The Message
Meeting in God’s Temple
The Message that Jeremiah received from God ten years earlier, during the time of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Israel:
2 “Go visit the Recabite community. Invite them to meet with you in one of the rooms in God’s Temple. And serve them wine.”
3-4 So I went and got Jaazaniah son of Jeremiah, son of Habazziniah, along with all his brothers and sons—the whole community of the Recabites as it turned out—and brought them to God’s Temple and to the meeting room of Hanan son of Igdaliah, a man of God. It was next to the meeting room of the Temple officials and just over the apartment of Maaseiah son of Shallum, who was in charge of Temple affairs.
5 Then I set out chalices and pitchers of wine for the Recabites and said, “A toast! Drink up!”
6-7 But they wouldn’t do it. “We don’t drink wine,” they said. “Our ancestor Jonadab son of Recab commanded us, ‘You are not to drink wine, you or your children, ever. Neither shall you build houses or settle down, planting fields and gardens and vineyards. Don’t own property. Live in tents as nomads so that you will live well and prosper in a wandering life.’
8-10 “And we’ve done it, done everything Jonadab son of Recab commanded. We and our wives, our sons and daughters, drink no wine at all. We don’t build houses. We don’t have vineyards or fields or gardens. We live in tents as nomads. We’ve listened to our ancestor Jonadab and we’ve done everything he commanded us.
11 “But when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon invaded our land, we said, ‘Let’s go to Jerusalem and get out of the path of the Chaldean and Aramean armies, find ourselves a safe place.’ That’s why we’re living in Jerusalem right now.”
Why Won’t You Learn Your Lesson?
12-15 Then Jeremiah received this Message from God: “God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel, wants you to go tell the people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem that I say, ‘Why won’t you learn your lesson and do what I tell you?’ God’s Decree. ‘The commands of Jonadab son of Recab to his sons have been carried out to the letter. He told them not to drink wine, and they haven’t touched a drop to this very day. They honored and obeyed their ancestor’s command. But look at you! I have gone to a lot of trouble to get your attention, and you’ve ignored me. I sent prophet after prophet to you, all of them my servants, to tell you from early morning to late at night to change your life, make a clean break with your evil past and do what is right, to not take up with every Tom, Dick, and Harry of a god that comes down the pike, but settle down and be faithful in this country I gave your ancestors.
15-16 “‘And what do I get from you? Deaf ears. The descendants of Jonadab son of Recab carried out to the letter what their ancestor commanded them, but this people ignores me.’
17 “So here’s what is going to happen. God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel, says, ‘I will bring calamity down on the heads of the people of Judah and Jerusalem—the very calamity I warned you was coming—because you turned a deaf ear when I spoke, turned your backs when I called.’”
18-19 Then, turning to the Recabite community, Jeremiah said, “And this is what God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel, says to you: ‘Because you have done what Jonadab your ancestor told you, obeyed his commands and followed through on his instructions, receive this Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel: There will always be a descendant of Jonadab son of Recab at my service! Always!’”
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
Who are we known as? Who do we follow? Our behaviors will answer these questions.
We learn from Jeremiah to trust God and obey what He says. Jesus, the Perfect Example, promised His power will work through us when we do. God’s Holy Spirit lives in us to help us discern and decide what is right. We have no good reason not to obey the One who knows what is best for us. There is joy and peace when we trust and obey.
Look for examples in others and be the example of faith for others. “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near”, Paul reminds all believers. Jesus, the greatest example of all, IS coming back, you know.
Are we known as examples of obedience to Him?
On this first day of a new year, it is human to make promises to do better. But Lord, I want to be better and I can only do that by your power working in me with your teaching permeating every part of me. Your Word, your Holy Spirit, Your saving grace, Your merciful kindness all because of your unconditional love work together to make me all you created me to be. I’m yours, warts and all. Do what you must to remove all that is not you from me so I will be a difference in this world in obedience to you. I trust in you, dear Jesus, the greatest example of all!
In Jesus Name, Amen