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.
- 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.
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?