Worship or Tradition?

Do you know what is really sad? Many people leave churches feeling empty every week. They come hungry for the Word of God, but when they aren’t fed, they go empty, hungry, and frustrated. Eventually, unless all they want out of church is the security of tradition (and lis … More



As background for this passage the “Rechabites” were a tribe of people who lived during the reign of Ahab, were staunch resisters to the worship of fertility gods and were somewhat related to Israel by marriage. They were descendants of the Kenites, the tribe of Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses. Some three hundred years before Jeremiah’s time, one of their number, Rechab, was an associate of Jehu, king of Israel, at the time of Elisha. Rechab’s son was Jonadab, and this account tells us that Jonadab grew tired of life in the city and longed for a simpler way of life (vv. 1-9). Jonadab evidently felt so strongly about it that he commanded his sons to drink no wine, to build no houses, and to have no vineyard or field or seed. They were to live in tents as nomads all their lives. When Nebuchadnezzar came up against Judah, the Rechabites took refuge in the city of Jerusalem, and Jeremiah now is sent to them by God (vv. 10-11).

The chapter opens with God’s command to Jeremiah to go to the Rechabites, bring them into the temple, and offer them wine to drink. I do not believe this has anything to do with the question of whether or not one should drink wine. These Rechabites were commended not necessarily because they did not drink wine, but because they were faithful to the command of their father. When Jeremiah offered them wine they refused to drink it, as God knew they would. God requires of a nation, or of a church, a continual review of the methods of the past in the flashing light of the revelation of God today. If we are not going back over and over, reviewing what has been done in the past, and asking ourselves, “Is this in line with what we understand now to be the truth?” we are certain to sink more and more into the ooze and mire of tradition, to be lost in its swamps.



I never want to be hung up on just following tradition but always open to the leading of the Holy Spirit in my life.

Jeremiah 35:1-11 (English Standard Version)

The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah: "Go to the house of the Rechabites and speak with them and bring them to the house of the LORD, into one of the chambers; then offer them wine to drink." So I took Jaazaniah the son of Jeremiah, son of Habazziniah and his brothers and all his sons and the whole house of the Rechabites. I brought them to the house of the LORD into the chamber of the sons of Hanan the son of Igdaliah, the man of God, which was near the chamber of the officials, above the chamber of Maaseiah the son of Shallum, keeper of the threshold. Then I set before the Rechabites pitchers full of wine, and cups, and I said to them, "Drink wine." But they answered, "We will drink no wine, for Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, commanded us, '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, that you may live many days in the land where you sojourn.' We have obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, in all that he commanded us, to drink no wine all our days, ourselves, our wives, our sons, or our daughters, and not to build houses to dwell in. We have no vineyard or field or seed, but we have lived in tents and have obeyed and done all that Jonadab our father commanded us. But when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against the land, we said, 'Come, and let us go to Jerusalem for fear of the army of the Chaldeans and the army of the Syrians.' So we are living in Jerusalem."

View this passage in NIV (Bible Gateway) »