Saturday, July 11, 2009

Family Commandments -- Jer. 35: 18-19

"And Jeremiah said unto the house of the Rechabites, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Because ye have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, and kept all his precepts, and done according unto all that he hath commanded you:
Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not want a man to stand before me for ever."

I love Jeremiah 35. In this chapter, Jeremiah is sent by the Lord to offer wine to some specific men, who refuse it on the grounds that their ancestor Jonadab commanded members of his family not to drink wine, and that this special family commandment has been honored through the generations. The Lord praises their obedience and gives them promises as a result of their faithfulness.

As in the days of the Rechabites, it is our duty to make the precepts of the gospel our own, each in his and her own family. While commandments are given through the prophets for the whole people to keep, this does not preclude sacred family traditions and customs being instituted that protect and guide us beyond what the whole of the church determines to do.

These customs and family ties can help strengthen us when other ties exert less force. The Israelites, at the time of Jeremiah, were not terribly good at keeping the commandments of God their Father but the Rechabites were able to keep their ancestor Jonadab's more specific commandments (and hopefully, through the virtues developed in their adherence to them, more of God's precepts also).

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