Today’s Scripture Reading (April 29, 2017) Jeremiah 35
In 1839, Rev. Joseph Wolff, a Jewish Missionary, discovered a tribe of nomads in Yemen who believed that they were the descendants of Jehonadab, the son of Rekab (or Rechab) and the father of the Rekabites (or Rechabites.) The biblical Rekabites were a nomadic group who believed that they had been ordered by Jehonadab to abstain from living in houses and drinking of alcoholic beverages. The Rekabites were a portion of the Kenite tribe. The Kenites were not Jews, but they had developed a close relationship with Israel and had settled among the tribes of Israel when they came into Canaan. Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, was a Kenite.
Later in the 19th Century, another tribe who self-identified as Rekabites was found, this time around the Dead Sea. As well, some Muslims also claim to be descendants of Jehonadab, the son of Rechab. These descendants of Jehonadab, more than 2500 years after the order had initially been given, were still committed to a lifestyle that is nomadic and continues to abstain from any alcoholic beverage.
The two things in this passage that should jump out at us are why are the Rekabites, a nomadic tribe who do not live in houses, living inside the city walls of Jerusalem, and why would God order Jeremiah to give these teetotalers wine to drink? The reality is that the Rekabites were about to become a powerful example of obedience to the disobedient inhabitants of Jerusalem.
We find out that the Rekabite Tribe had been forced into Jerusalem to escape Nebuchadnezzar and his army. Now, with the city surrounded by the Babylonians, the Rekabites could not leave. But existence inside the city walls for a people who believed that they had been commanded by their ancestor to live nomadically, was not easy. When the Jeremiah offered the Rekabites wine, they politely refused. Even in times of extreme stress, the commands of their human ancestor were not to be ignored.
God’s message for Jeremiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem was to see the example set by this group of people. Two hundred and fifty years after the original command had been given by Jehonadab, his descendants still heard his voice and followed his instructions. Why was it that thy heard the voice of Jehonadab while the people of Judah ignored the commands of their God regularly delivered through his prophets? In the presence of the Rekabites of our time, we might ask ourselves the same question. Why is the Faith of the Father’s so easy for us to disobey? There is no easy answer.
Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 36