“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” (Jeremiah 35:8-11).
Last fall, a concerned friend came to me, telling me to be careful. Apparently, the leader of a local place of prayer said that people are leaving their religion and it's “D’s fault.” How I wish there were more frequent reasons for their accusations!
My friend was afraid for us. I understand God’s protection and was not affected by my friend’s fear. However, sometimes I experience fear so strong that it drives me trembling to my knees.
The Rechabites had been faithful to the commands of their ancestor Rechab. However, this snippet of their story shows them hiding behind walls, even though they had been commanded to be nomads.
God instructed Jeremiah to go to the Rechabites and offer them wine to drink. Even though the prophet was a man of God, the men appealed to him because the offer required them to do something they had committed never to do. The Recabites had retreated behind the security of city walls because of their fear. Now living in fear behind walls, were they more susceptible to sin? Had they already fallen into sin? I’m not looking for a theological debate; rather, I’m examining how my own fears make me vulnerable to the same temptations that a life of obedience protects me from.
When Jesus sends out His twelve disciples as sheep among wolves, He tells them in Matthew 10:28, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Jesus goes on to say that He numbers the hairs on our heads and cares for the sparrows (Matthew 10:29-31). Yes, we need to avoid those who will destroy our faith. But if Jesus cares about sparrows, I wonder how many wolves He cares about as well.
At times, my physical/earthly fears drive me away from the wolves. Sometimes, my fears paralyze my ability to serve. But if I am honest, my greatest fear is me. I find myself hiding behind the walls of my dreams, my desires, my own wisdom, etc. Do I stand in the way of the Spirit drawing someone to Himself? Do I hinder what God wants to do through me? Will those who seek walk away without hearing the Good News because I am hiding behind my walls?
Rather than being willing to live in a vulnerable place that is susceptible to attack, I hide behind walls where I become even more susceptible to destruction through temptation.
In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
The Rechabites looked for safety in Jerusalem; soon afterwards, the city was destroyed. Likewise, I often take my fears to some destructible form of manmade fortification.
In the end of their story, the Rechabites remained faithful, despite their fear. God received glory, and they received God’s blessing.
Amid my fears, Jesus’ promise of rest remains. Behind this promise is the One who understands the danger He has called me to and yet beckons me to find refuge and rest for my soul.
Written by: D.T.