April 21, 2003

LifeWay Family Bible Series for May 4

The Bible is the source of family standards
___bluebull Jeremiah 35:1-19
___By Tim Owens
___First Baptist Church, Bryan
___In Jeremiah 35:1-19, one encounters an Old Testament example of how a family can follow the Lord instead of conforming to cultural influences. The temptation is always present for families to blend into the culture around them. Many families choose worldly goals and follow worldly standards. Christian families can be different simply because they choose to obey God.
___Preaching to God's people of Judah in the late seventh and early sixth centuries B.C., Jeremiah warned the people of God's coming judgment because of their disobedience to him. As an object lesson, he used a strange group of people who had recently come to stay in Jerusalem.
___They were a group called the Recabite family (Jeremiah 35:2). The Recabites were tent-dwelling nomads, opposed to building houses, planting crops or vineyards and drinking wine. Normally they would not have been caught inside a city, but the Babylonian invasion had driven them there. The Recabites had gained notoriety in the days of Jehu, when Jonadab, the son of Recab, participated in that king's eradication of Baal worship in Israel (2 Kings 10:15-27).
___It seems Jonadab was a staunch believer in the "old time religion," which meant he held faithfully to the fai
th and practices of his ancestors. Therefore, Jonadab commanded his sons that they should follow the ways of the Recabites--living in tents and refusing to plant crops and drink wine. They had fully obeyed everything Jonadab had commanded them for 200 years.
___Jeremiah took the Recabites to a side room of the temple and urged them to drink some wine. Most interpreters view this act on Jeremiah's part not as a temptation, but as an opportunity for the Recabites to reveal their abiding commitment to the teachings of their ancestors. Jeremiah fully expected the Recabites to refuse his offer and thus to demonstrate to the Israelites what obedience looked like.
___The Recabites refused the wine because their ancestor had so instructed them, and they followed him without question. It was not for them to debate whether the instruction was right or wrong. If their forefathers taught it, that was sufficient reason for them to obey it.
___Jeremiah used the occasion to exhort the Israelites. The Recabites had obeyed Jonadab without question for all those years. Yet Israel had repeatedly disobeyed the instructions of the Lord, given carefully through his prophets. The Recabites expressed more faithfulness to the commandment of a man than God's people expressed to the commandments of God. Jeremiah was warning God's people that God would judge them for their neglect of God's word. However, the Recabites would be blessed for their faithfulness to their convictions.
___What does this story have to say to contemporary family life? The primary point is this: Families can commit themselves to live in obedience to God's word.
___In 2 Timothy 3:14-17, Paul urges Timothy: "But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."
___In this passage, one hears the same theme as in Jeremiah 35. God's people are not to be like reeds blown by the wind. Christian families are not to bow down before the materialism, covetousness, relativism and rejection of all absolute standards of truth and goodness that characterize contemporary culture. Instead, Christian families are to continue faithfully in the Old and New Testament Scriptures from one generation to the next. Why?
___First, Scripture reveals God's way of salvation through Jesus Christ. God's purpose in Scripture is to reveal the person of his son, Jesus Christ. Jesus is the center of biblical revelation. The reason the Christian family remains loyal to Scripture is because it instructs everyone about Christ.
___Second, Scripture is useful to Christian families for teaching truth, rebuking sin, correcting disobedient attitudes and acts, and training in Christlike living. Obedience to God's word will lead family members in Christian belief and behavior until they become men and women of God, fully prepared to do God's will.
___Thank God that he has not left Christian families to wander in the darkness. He has given them the light of his truth. His word is a rock on which they can stand. May more Christian families study it, believe it and obey it.
___Questions for discussion
___bluebull If Jeremiah were looking today for a family to serve as an example to others, who would he choose?
___bluebull In what ways have some Christian families taken on the mores of contemporary society rather than those espoused in the Bible?

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