How to… Live Like a Recabite

1-7-12 Recabites

What in the world is a Recabite?

The Recabites are descendants of Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, through the Kenites (1 Chronicles 2:55, Judges 1:16; 4:11). Recab’s son assisted Jehu as he got rid of Ahab’s evil, Baal-worshipping family (2 Kings 10:15-17). The Recabites had a history of knowing evil and why it was important to get it out of their lives.

In Jeremiah 35, the Recabites are used as examples of obedience. God told Jeremiah to take the Recabites into the inner room of the temple and to offer them wine. When Jeremiah did this, the Recabites responded by saying,

“We don’t drink wine, because Jehonadab son of Recab, our ancestor, gave us this command, ‘You and your descendants must never drink wine. And do not build houses or plant crops or vineyards, but always live in tents. If you follow these commands, you will live long, good lives in the land.’ So we have obeyed him in all these things.” (Jeremiah 35:5-8)

What lessons can we learn from the Recabites?

God tested the Recabites not to set them up for potential failure but to use them as an example as compared to the Israelites who continually failed to be obedient to God. The Recabites held firm to their ancestor’s instructions to remain separate from their surrounding culture. The Israelites, on the other hand, failed to obey their living God by remaining separate. Instead, the Israelites took on the evil habits of the culture as their own.

The Recabites’ provide a terrific lesson in how to live an obedient life dedicated to God, which often means living counter-culturally.

  1. Know your why. The Recabites knew why they were not to drink wine and why they were living in tents. We too must know our why to be able to stand firm in our convictions when trials hit.
  2. Be ready to give an answer. As soon as temptation was presented, the Recabites knew exactly how to answer. They didn’t have to first think about what to say. (1 Peter 3:15-16)
  3. Develop strong family values. Strong family values allowed the Recabites to hold to their unique lifestyles for many generations. If you don’t have strong family values, be the one to begin a legacy of obedience.
  4. Be ready to live counter-culturally. Because the Recabites knew why they were living like they were and because they had strong family values, they were able to live counter-culturally. They impacted the culture instead of letting the culture change them.
  5. Realize the significance of obedience. The Recabites give us a lesson in obedience that was passed on from one generation to the next. The Israelites, on the other hand, struggled passing this crucial life principle on and to create a solid defense.

How can we apply the Recabite message? We don’t have to necessarily abstain from drinking wine or live in tents to apply the Recabite message today. We’re talking message over method here. In other words, we can apply the message that God was making when He had Jeremiah use the Recabites as an example without using their exact method (not drinking wine and living in tents).

Need another example to help grasp what this might mean? Check out Daniel’s story. The Recabites and Daniel show us that we can choose to obey God in all areas of our lives as well as choose to live counter-culturally if necessary.

Are you willing to live counter-culturally?

God praised, blessed and protected both the Recabites and Daniel for their obedience. He will do the same for us too. He wants us to live lives impacted by Scripture instead of culture. He wants us to make choices that honor Him even if they go against our culture. Ask yourself, “What would my life look like if I was less influenced by my culture? How should my life reflect the message of the Recabites?”

DISCUSSION: What does 2 Timothy 3:14-17 tell us about living lives obedient to God?

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18 thoughts on “How to… Live Like a Recabite

  1. I think for the most part when I mess up I am not surprised. Most of the time the stuff I mess up on are issues I know I can fail at. Knowing this my response should be your number two; I need to be ready to fight against that where I know I can fail at so easily. It is easy to accept our own weakness. We must fight to not so easily let ourselves not be prepared. I heard it said by Russel Wilson before last night's football game that his success was due in part to preparation. His saying was "separation by preparation". We need to separate ourselves from the world through our obedience to God's word. In order to do so we have to spend time in preparation with God's word.

    • Funny that you should mentioned Wilson's quote. I heard it too, and it has resonated in my mind ever since. I had read an article in USA Today Friday about him, and hearing him before the game yesterday just emphasized the character qualities that are really beginning to show through in him. Thank you for making that application here; I had not gotten there yet mentally. Separation by preparation absolutely fits within our spiritual walks as well as in every area of life. Definitely going to process that concept more in the coming weeks, personally for sure and perhaps publicly too. We'll see what happens. Thanks for the Tweet too, by the way. Always nice to be welcomed back.

    • I hadn't heard that quote (since I was living counter-culturally and not watching television ;-D) but I can appreciate Wilson's commitment. Folks in Wisconsin appreciate his decision to play here, and he's well spoken of by a former teammate who's from our town.

      • The proof is in is actions as far as Wilson is concerned. He shows consistency of behavior and attitude, and he's risen up as a leader even to veteran players. To me, that stands out more as character trait to emulate over someone who is simply a dynamic player.

  2. Right on Kari! Great message to kick off the New Year! When we are called to live separate from the world, the real meaning lies in living differently and knowing the how and why we are to live that way. Being different and living right before God separates us from the rest of the current world, which causes others to ask why we do what we do. If no one is asking you the why question, then maybe you have not chosen to separate yourself as God intended. Take an inventory of your life. What changes do we need to implement to be different and make a difference for God's name sake. God bless, Kari. Great points today.

    • Thanks, Mike. As a coach, I know you'll also connect with what Mark & I are discussion about Russell Wilson and his "separation by preparation" approach to life. Would love to hear your comments in that context as well, especially from a coach's perspective. People need to be asking why we do what we do, and our actions need to be speaking loudly about our convictions. That's why I love that Mark brought up Wilson in this discussion. He gives a terrific example of what we're talking about here, don't you think?

  3. From a coach and business and ministerial position, "preparation" is what provides the "separation" from all the others. As a Christian we are called to pursue excellence not for our glory but God's glory – if that does not inspire you enough nothing will. In the game of football the games are won on the practice field and the extra hours in pre-season training and studying game films about yourself and the competition. So yes I agree with Russell's point. But again, the inspiration for the preparation is the Holy Spirt and our desire to glorify God.

    • Not only preparation to excel, but I think also preparation to avoid the bad (negative, evil, whatever…) too. So many people struggle more than necessary because they fail to prepare for problems in life. I guess my point is to prepare for the problems even though we may not always know what they will be (and usually don't know). Isn't that kind of like preparing to play another team? You know some of what to prepare for, but they try to disguise things and to cup up with new stuff to throw you off too. And, your point about motivation is a key one. Knowing our "why" is so important, and it keeps coming up again and again in so many ways for me. Great input!

  4. I had the chance to preach on the weekend, and part of what I preached was the message of being counter-cultural. It's not that everything about our culture is horrible, it's just that we can't fully and blindly accept everything. We've got to filter everything through a godly worldview – and then we end up trashing most of the culture.

    • You've made a key point here… we have to deliberately chose how we interact with our culture. We've got to have our Holy Spirit filter going at all times, and we have to make sure the lines of communication are free and clear. Are you going to make what you preached on into a post? Would love to hear your points.

  5. I'm reading a book about former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden. A comment about his character was "There's only one John Wooden." This statement was about the public and private man. He was the same at home, during basketball practice, or leading a national championship team. He never wavered on his principles. Coach's character lines up well with your post. Well done, Kari.

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