If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: Judges 21, Acts 25, Jeremiah 35, Psalms 7–8. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can't do all the readings today, read Jeremiah 35.
The Rekabites were a clan if people who lived within Israel but who were not, themselves, Israelites; rather, they were descendants of Moses’ father-in-law Jethro. Although they were not Jewish, they did worship Israel’s God YHWH; they also maintained an identity separate from the Israelites.
Here in Jeremiah 35, God commanded Jeremiah to invite the Rekabites into the Temple and offer them wine to drink (vv. 1-2). Jeremiah did so (vv. 3-5), but they refused his offer (v. 6a). The reason they refused as that one of their patriarchs had created some rules for them to live by. One of those rules was that they would not drink alcohol (v. 6b). Additionally, they were to live a nomadic lifestyle by living in tents and refusing to work the land (v. 7). They took these commands seriously and obeyed them (vv. 8-10); the only exception was moving into Jerusalem temporarily to avoid the armies that were invading Israel (v. 11).
The purpose of these rules was, most likely, to preserve a separate identity from the Israelites. Instead of allowing their identity to be absorbed into Israel’s, these rules would keep them separate.
God used this clan as an object lesson for Israel here in Jeremiah 35. They so respected their founder that the Rekabites were willing to keep obeying his rules. His rules were not God-given commands and they were not morally-oriented. Maintaining a separate existence from Israel was not required or necessarily desirable and obeying these rules made life harder and possibly more unpleasant for his descendants. Yet they obeyed them carefully because they honored their forefather. God used their obedience to show Israel how insulting their disobedience was to him (vv. 12-16) and why the judgment they would experience was justified (v. 17). God, in fact, blessed the Rekabites because of their obedience to their ancestor (vv. 18-19).
I wonder what kind of manmade rules we follow carefully and which of God’s laws we discard casually? Manmade rules are not always bad and, when they are tied to an important purpose, can be helpful. But God’s word is far more important than any guideline, rule, or law created by humanity. Accordingly, we should prioritize knowledge of and obedience to his word above policies and procedures.
Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we'll talk scripture again tomorrow.