My dad’s dad’s name was Harold Eugene Scott. Grandpa stood about halfway between five and six feet tall. He wore bluejean overalls, had a missing index finger from working in the mines, and cracked jokes at the dinner table. I liked him. But I don’t really remember much else about him. I only saw him twice after my dad passed away in 1967. Unfortunately I have no idea what rules of life he lived by or what he expected of his children and grandchildren.
Can you imagine any modern family still living by strict commands laid down by a great-great-great grandfather three hundred years before? Obviously such a scenario is beyond my reckoning.
But it’s not beyond God’s.
Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.
TODAY’S READING (click here to view today’s reading online)
1 Timothy 5:1-25
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INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
1 Timothy 5:1-25: Paul was famous for his “household codes.” These are the lists of mandated or recommended behaviors Paul often includes in his letters. This chapter is a very good example. They are called “household codes” because the church in its beginnings focused on the home and family. This was long before the modern church reflected institutionalism through bylaws and constitutions. The church would be wise to move back to those family roots.
Not only are these household codes rich for showing us what God expects of us, but they show us that the early church was relational not institutional. All of these codes have to do with relationships. How the young should treat the old, fathers children, bosses workers, families widows, etc.
Yet we often preach, teach and study them as abstract behaviors. They are not. They are practical ways for us to fulfill Jesus’ command for us to love one another. This is why Paul tells Timothy that anyone who does not provide for his family is worse than an unbeliever. Believers in Christ love from the family out.
THE WORD MADE FRESH
Obeying God’s direction, Jeremiah invites the Recabites, the sons of Jonadab to a wine tasting. He has prepared a room in the temple building. Tables are set. Silver wine chalices stand ready. Servants fill bowls with fine wine.
“Drink some wine,” Jeremiah invites. Imagine his embarrassment when Jonadab’s great-great-great grandsons say, “Thanks, but no thanks.”
I wish we had a video of this botched gala. Would we see Jeremiah shoot God a questioning glance? Or was he used to God commanding him to do really strange things? After the party did Jeremiah drop to his knees and cry out, “Why me, Lord? Why tell me to invite a bunch of teetotalers to a wine tasting?”
Later God tells him that this whole party was a lark, a living illustration of what obedience and faithfulness looks like. Something Israel has failed in.
Little did Jeremiah know that some three hundred years before Jonadab had commanded his family to never drink wine, live only in tents, and not plant crops. How could Jeremiah know such a thing? And even if he did know, how could he imagine they would actually keep that command? Not many of us would. Obedience such as that is rare. Did each new generation question and argue?
“Because your great-grandfather Jonadab said so. He believed we should live as nomads, loose in this world because we belong to another.”
I wonder if God gave Jonadab the idea. Though not Hebrew, Jonadab (a decendent of Moses’ father-in-law Jethro) was a believer and these commands mirror the Jewish Nazarite vow (see Sampson) and God’s desire for his people to depend on him. Was this God’s plan for these amazing Recabites? As each generation of Jonadab’s decendent’s struggled to resist the pull of the culture around them and keep these commands, did God nurture this rare faithfulness just so after three hundred years he could invite them to a party to celebrate their steadfastness as a way to highlight Israel’s lack?
Only God knows. But it would be just like him. God never wastes a good opportunity to teach us, to show us how good life can be when we align ourselves with him and his will. Even if it takes hundreds of years.
In the end God rewards the Recabites. God decrees they would never “fail to have a man to serve” the Lord. Commentator Matthew Henry suggests the Recabites can still be found living separate in the desert to this day.
But wouldn’t having your life be a living picture of a right relationship with God be enough of a reward? Imagine that if one day, after years of obediently trudging God’s road, he invited you to a wine tasting party and at the end said, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Imagine that?
- What do these for passage have in common?
- What spoke to you?
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Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO and writes a blog eugenesgodsightings.blogspot.com