The Word of God gives us many examples of what we should and should not do. There are two examples of this in today’s reading.
During the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem, King Zedekiah – perhaps in the fear of God based on what Jeremiah had prophesied – did a good thing in the eyes of the Lord. Jeremiah 34:8-9 tells us:
The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, after King Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people in Jerusalem to make a proclamation of liberty to them, that everyone should set free his Hebrew slaves, male and female, so that no one should enslave a Jew, his brother.
This was in accordance with the Shemitah, the law of the Sabbath, that every seven years God’s people should – among other things – set free any Jewish slaves that had come into their possession.
The following verse 10 says: And they obeyed…
However,, the slaveholders made a tragic mistake of disobedience as noted in Jeremiah 34:11:
But afterward they turned around and took back the male and female slaves they had set free, and brought them into subjection as slaves.
Their initial obedience turned into rebellion. It may be that the slaveholders had human remorse that they were losing their property, and because they didn’t have a strong relationship with Yahweh, they went back on their word and action. God was not pleased and said in Jeremiah 34:16:
… but then you turned around and profaned my name when each of you took back his male and female slaves…
The fact that they had obeyed God but turned against Him by reneging on their duty under His law, had profound negative consequences. For their failure to give liberty to the slaves, the Lord said that He was proclaiming to them liberty to the sword, to pestilence, and to famine (Jeremiah 34:17).
Presumably, because Zedekiah did not enforce the edict, he was as guilty as the rest of the officials in going back against the Word of God. For that, He would give them over to their enemies.
The other incident of note was God’s command to Jeremiah that he bring the Rechabites into the temple to offer them wine to drink. They refused to touch it as Jeremiah 35:6 shows:
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.’”
They obeyed what their grandfather Rechab had ordered them, not only for abstinence from drinking wine, but in other activities in their lives. This obedience to the word of their earthly fathers pleased Yahweh. He noted the contrast with the rest of His children in Judah, declaring in Jeremiah 35:16:
The sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab have kept the command that their father gave them, but this people has not obeyed me.
Disobedience has consequences, whereas obedience has benefits. For their not obeying the Word of their Father in heaven, God declared disaster upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 35:17).
Because the Rechabites had been faithful to what Rachab had told them, the Lord saw this as faithfulness to Him. For that He blessed these men. Jeremiah 35:19 gives us His Word about this:
“… therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Jonadab the son of Rechab shall never lack a man to stand before me.”
Throughout the ages, because of the faithfulness of this tribe, God would ensure that their descendants would always be blessed with them walking in His presence.
Of course, these two incidents are related. They depict an unfaithful response to God with blatant disobedience and a faithful response with overt obedience.
Who are the disobedient among God’s people today and who are those who obey Him? I think in one respect we can see this contrast in His prophetic Word.
Jesus said He would return for those who were faithful, alert, watching, and noting the signs of the times so as to be ready. It pleases Him that some of us are doing so.
There are, however, those numbered among believers in Christ’s church who either willfully disdain the message that Jesus is returning soon or are ignorant to that fact. Far too many pastors shy away from preaching or teaching about the pre-Tribulation Rapture. In effect, they join with the secular community in looking only at the world and not to what God’s Word has plainly proclaimed. Some shepherds continue leading their flocks as though the world has not changed, and it will continue as it always has. Others seem to lead with the idea that the church is destined to endure the wrath of God in the Tribulation. They keep their gaze focused on earthly concerns with no recognition that Jesus said that He would deliver His beloved Bride from the coming wrath.
If you listen to the vast number of these pastors and/or those in their churches, they never talk about the Rapture. Their words expose that they believe the church in its present form will continue to be here in the world for years to come. In that, there may be recognition about the Tribulation, or there may not be as they speak of things 20-30 or more years into the future.
Isn’t this disobedience to what God has said? What does it take in His Word for pastors or their people to see what God intends – both for those who believe and for those who don’t? Can’t they understand there is a clear distinction shown in prophetic Scripture? Apparently not.
I have no direct insight into God’s intent for believers who manifestly disregard what He has said about these end times. I can only look at the examples of the past and see that disregard for the Lord’s Word has consequences, whereas faithful obedience to it has rewards.
I prefer to number myself among those who do what God says we must. Just as noted earlier, we are to be watching and waiting for Jesus, but of course, occupying while we’re still able in the place that God has set us.
To remain rooted in this obedience, I think a good practice is to say and do what Moses’ faithful disciple declared in Joshua 24:15:
“… as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”