Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying: ‘This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: go and tell the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, “Will you not learn a lesson and obey my words?” declares the Lord. “Jehonadab son of Rekab ordered his descendants not to drink wine and this command has been kept. To this day they do not drink wine, because they obey their forefather’s command. But I have spoken to you again and again, yet you have not obeyed me. Again and again I sent all my servants the prophets to you. They said, ‘Each of you must turn from your wicked ways and reform your actions; do not follow other gods to serve them. Then you shall live in the land I have given to you and your ancestors.’ But you have not paid attention or listened to me. The descendants of Jehonadab son of Rekab have carried out the command their forefather gave them, but these people have not obeyed me.”
Therefore this is what the Lord God Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Listen! I am going to bring on Judah and on everyone living in Jerusalem every disaster I pronounced against them. I spoke to them, but they did not listen; I called to them, but they did not answer.”
Jeremiah 35:12-17 (NIV)
It is easy to follow human rules. We all do it every day. We pay our taxes, drive on the correct side of the road, follow speed limits and much more.
The verses quoted above from Jeremiah 35 speak of the Rekabites not drinking wine, a vow that had been passed down to them by Jehonadab. His descendants followed this vow and although they kept it, they probably didn’t know why it had been made in the first place. Just in case you are curious, there is nothing in the Bible to indicate why Jehonadab originally took this vow. For the Rekabites the human rule took priority over the rationale for the vow being made in the first place.
The essence of what God is saying is ‘You are happy to follow human rules and regulations, but you won’t follow me’
There has been much comment in the news about multi-national companies not paying tax on their profits through the judicious use of tax laws. Who do we blame – the companies for exploiting tax laws, or politicians for enacting tax laws that can be exploited. I suppose it must be both. Politicians have a responsibility to put in place laws that are fair for all sections of society. Businesses have a responsibility to pay taxes at a reasonable level on their profits. In business this would mean for example not using creative accounting practices, exploiting tax loop holes, moving profits into off-shore holding companies. In other words, to behave ethically in all aspects of business life. The same must go for individuals. It is important for Christians to be an example to the world.
The bottom line is that God wants us to listen to him and to put into practice what he says about living as a Christian in a corrupt world.
‘I spoke to them, but they did not listen; I called to them, but they did not answer’.
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