Jeremiah 35 has the prophet teaching an example to the people of Judah and Jerusalem. God asked Jeremiah to invite the Rechabites to the holy place to enjoy some celebration. He offered them wine and fine foods, but they refused because their father, Jonadab, had commanded them :”You shall not drink wine, neither you nor your sons forever. You shall not build a house; you shall not sow seed; you shall not plant or have a vineyard; but you shall live in tents all your days”. They were to live a simple and unencumbered life of service to God.
So even though the prophet Jeremiah invites them to celebrate with him, they refuse. They have remained true to the commandments that their father gave them. “We have obeyed….in all that he commanded us….all our days”. They never faltered or fell to temptation. They remained true to their charge, not only themselves, but their wives, sons, and daughters. This is what true obedience looks like. It wasn’t that they were never tempted. I’m sure they often wondered why they had to live this way when the rest of the world was living large. But they were faithful to obey.
God tells Jeremiah to use the Rechabites as an example of what God wants from His people. “Will you not receive instruction and listen to my words declares the Lord. The command that Jonadab the son of Rechab gave to his sons, to drink no wine, has been kept, and they drink none to this day, for they have obeyed their father’s command. I have spoken to you persistently, but you have not listened to me”. Here’s the problem. God has given His people commands to follow, but they have ignored him. That will never go well.
So Jeremiah has a strong word for them. “Turn now every one of you from his evil way, and amend your deeds, and do not go after other gods to serve them, and then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to you and your fathers”. God gave them the opportunity to change their ways, but “you did not incline your ear or listen to me”. He gives us a chance to confess and repent. But when the people refuse, bad things happen. “I am bringing upon Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the disaster that I have pronounced against them, because I have spoken to them and they have not listened, I have called to them and they have not answered”. We’ll never get away with sin. There is a price, and it is steep!