Alcohol and the Family

MEMORY VERSE: “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.”—Ephesians 5:18

JEREMIAH 35:1-10, 18, 19

THE scriptural background of this lesson pertains to a group associated with the Israelites known as the Rechabites. Their founder was Jonadab the son of Rechab, from which the group got its name. According to Smith’s Bible Dictionary the Rechabites were probably Arabs to whom the laws and customs of the Israelites appealed; and through circumcision they became qualified to be a part of the nation.

The history of the Rechabites is obscure, but it is certain from the commands given to them by their founder, Jonadab, not to build houses for themselves, nor to engage in farming, that they were not a settled group, and it is thought that they chiefly occupied themselves as coppersmiths, moving about the country as opportunity for plying their trade presented itself. They lived in tents. Jonadab, their founder, it might be added, associated himself with Jehu to do what they could to destroy the worship of Baal in Israel.

The scene of the lesson is in Jerusalem in the hectic days shortly before the destruction of the city and the beginning of the captivity of the Hebrews in Babylon. It is thought that the Rechabites had sought refuge in the city, not knowing, of course, that Jerusalem itself was soon to be destroyed. It was here that the Lord asked Jeremiah to put the Rechabites to the test to see how loyal they would be to the commands of Jonadab. Jeremiah was instructed by the Lord to take them into the temple and place wine before them, and ask them to drink. The prophet did this, and the Rechabites replied:

“We will drink no wine: for Jonadab the son of Rechab our father commanded us, saying, Ye shall drink no wine, neither ye, nor your sons forever: neither shall ye build houses, nor sow seed, nor plant vineyard, nor have any: but all your days ye shall dwell in tents; that ye may live many days in the land wherein ye be strangers.”—vss. 6,7

Jonadab, who gave this commandment to the tribe which he established, was not a law-giver in Israel. God had given the Israelites his Law through Moses, and he was pleased with the sincerity and definiteness with which the Rechabites refused to do that which their leader had commanded them not to do. Jeremiah said to them, “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Because ye have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, and kept all his precepts, and done according unto all that he hath commanded you: therefore, thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not want a man to stand before me forever.”—vss. 18,19

Our memory verse is very much to the point. The Revised Standard Version reads, “Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery.” How true! This, as it true of all Paul’s epistles, was written to consecrated Christians, and these have a much better source of joy and fervency, even as Paul reminds us; which is, being filled with the Spirit—the Holy Spirit of God, that is. In the two verses following the memory verse Paul suggests the manner in which we may become filled with the Spirit. We quote:

“Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”—Eph. 5:19,20

It would seem that Paul has in mind here a gathering of the Lord’s people—perhaps something akin to a prayer and testimony meeting—where the brethren join in giving thanks to the Lord for all their experiences, and where they join in “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” Certainly any dedicated Christian participating in such a gathering would come away feeling that he had indeed been close to the Lord.

But such experiences are not limited to gatherings of the Lord’s people. Paul speaks of singing and making melody “in your heart” to the Lord. This is possible in the privacy of one’s own room, as well as in a gathering of the Lord’s people. David meditated upon the Lord in the night watches, and certainly those today who are acquainted with the great plan of the ages as revealed through the Lord’s Word can enjoy seasons of joy alone with the Lord.


Who were the Rechabites?

Why was God pleased with their stand?

How can a Christian be filled with the Spirit?

Dawn Bible Students Association
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