Today’s Bible Reading: Jeremiah 35-36:32; 1 Timothy 5:1-25; Psalm 89:14-37; Proverbs 25:25-27
God sends Jeremiah on a very interesting mission to the Recabites to whom he is told to offer wine (Jeremiah 35:2). They refuse, as their family had made a vow generations before not to drink wine (Jeremiah 35:6). There was no command against drinking wine in any of the Mosaic law. For whatever reason this family decided not to drink it. Here we see that God allows for freedom of decision making.
Even today some people (including myself) don’t drink alcohol. Likewise, some may choose to be vegetarians. Life as a child of God is not restrictive in the least. Yes, God does give us commands that coincide with the way we and the universe were designed. But aside from that we are free to make our own choices. God has created us to be unique individuals.
Its also interesting to note that the Recabites stood by their beliefs. Even though they were in the presence of a prophet who was sent to them by God, they did not back down. Likewise, we don’t need to be intimidated by those who harass us for being Christians. I can’t even count the number of hateful emails and twitter messages I’ve received in the 10 months I’ve been writing this blog. But I’m not going to compromise my beliefs because of some bullying. I know the truth and I’m going to stick to it.
By the way… in this passage God was not ordering the Recabites to drink wine. He knew they would refuse. He sent Jeremiah on this mission in order for him (Jeremiah) to see the contrast between the Recabites, who obeyed the commands of their ancestor and the Judaites who refused to obey the commands of their God.
One of the reasons people don’t give up their sins is because they don’t realize what the consequences are (Jeremiah 36:3). We live in a society were consequences are downplayed. If casual sex leads to an unwanted pregnancy just get an abortion. The government will pay for it. We’re told to “Just do it” and to have “No Fear”. The possibility that something bad could result from our actions is ignored.
But the consequences of un-paid-for sin are disastrous. Anyone whose sins are not paid for by Jesus through a born-again experience will not enter heaven (John 3:3). These people will be separated from God forever (aka “hell”). Perhaps if people knew and understood this they would seek God’s forgiveness. He’s willing. And He’s waiting.
One of the things that makes the Bible so authentic is its reference to contemporary people and places. Jeremiah 36:12 is a great example. Here Jeremiah mentions the names of specific people. If he had made this story up and tried to present it as fact it would have been rejected by the people of his day. The fact that it survived for even a few years substantiates its accuracy.
Isn’t it sad that King Jehoiakim was so insensitive to the message God had sent (Jeremiah 36:23-25)? His heart was dead set against God and there was nothing that could change it, not even a direct message from God Himself. God has a message for each of us today. He is trying to get that message through our hearts of stone. When all is said and done no one will be able to claim that God never spoke to them. They will only be able to say they weren’t listening.
Back in New Testament times there were no government assistance programs. People relied upon their families to support them when necessary. But widows without children were a particularly vulnerable group because they had no family to turn to. They were likely to be homeless beggars. That is why God commanded the church to take care of these women (1 Timothy 5:3).
Notice that the primary responsibility of adult children is to take care of their parents as a repayment for way the parents took care of them when they were children (1 Timothy 5:5). We don’t need Social Security or Medicare. We don’t need nursing homes. What we need are people that follow God’s plan for families. The family was designed by God to be the backbone of our society – the main source of financial and emotional support. But over the past 50 years people have become less concerned about their parents (and children) as they pursue their own pleasures. Paying someone back for the kindness they showed is not even an after-thought. As a result the government has stepped in to take over the responsibilities that God designed for the family. This clearly isn’t working. And it will never work.
Character matters to God. We can’t expect to live ungodly lives and then have people take care of us in our time of need. We reap what we sow (1 Timothy 5:10).
God’s entire reputation is built on righteousness (Psalm 89:14). We can always count on God doing what is good for us. Earlier in this psalm the author lamented that things weren’t going his way. Things don’t always go the way we’d like. But nevertheless, God walks with us through it (Psalm 89:15). If we concentrate not on our circumstances but on God’s faithful reputation we can make it through anything. Case in point: the author recalls the faithfulness God showed toward David (Psalm 89:19-37). Just like He stood by David when he was going through rough times, God will similarly stand by any of children.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.