This week I read through Jeremiah until I reached Chapter 35, which sent me scurrying to research sources, as well as to Jewish scholars who are friends of mine. In this chapter, God tells Jeremiah to invite the Rechabites, a tribe living at that time in Jerusalem, to wine and dine with him. The Rechabites, who had come to avoid the armies of Chaldea and Aram (Syria), were a nomadic people, following the original practices of Israel and the dictates of Jonadab, son of Rechab, the father of their tribe:
3. We do not drink wine," they said to me: "Jonadab, Rechab's son, our father, forbade us in these words: 'Neither you nor your children shall ever drink wine. Build no house and sow no seed; neither plant nor own a vineyard. You shall dwell in tents all your life, so that you may live long on the earth where you are wayfarers.' Now we have heeded Jonadab, Rechab's son, our father, in all his prohibitions. All our lives we have not drunk wine, neither we, nor our wives, nor our sons, nor our daughters. We build no houses to live in; we own no vineyards or fields or crops, and we live in tents; we obediently do everything our father Jonadab commanded us.The reason God had asked Jeremiah to tempt the Rechabites in this way was to point out how well they obeyed in comparison to the rebellious Israelites who were about to be led into captivity for their unwillingness to do the same. As a reward for their faithfulness, God promised that there would "always be a Rechabite standing in service to Him."
Reading: Jeremiah 35.
Meditation: When we read this chapter recently in our Bible Studies group (my reading of Jeremiah has corresponded the past couple of months with our Bible Studies, which has been quite exciting and certainly mathemagenic), questions were raised as to whether God had kept His promise. After all, where do the Rechabites live today? No one calls themselves by that name.
The description of the lifestyle of the Rechabites, however, reminded me of the Bedouin tribe I had lived with in Jordan: they raised goats, planted no crops, drank no wine, lived in tents, and were devoted to Allah (God). I wondered whether they could be the descendants of the Rechabites and set out to do some research, as I mentioned above. What I learned did not surprise me: the Bedouin tribes in the area of the Dead Sea (near where I was living a few years ago and not all that far from where they were living in Jeremiah's time) trace their ancestry to Jonadab, son of Rechab. In addition, there are supposedly a few people living in Yemen, not far from where the tribe with whom Jeremiah spoke had come from, who consider themselves descendants of the Rechabites. So, yes, it would appear that God did keep His promise. (Could there have been any doubt?)
Contemplation: That is far as I can go with you this Monday morning. I now retire to private prayer to thank God for always keeping His promises, to repent for any time I have been rebellious, to ask for more opportunities to learn obedience, and to praise God for the ways in which He shows His faithfulness to us. Then I will move on to contemplation, my favorite part of the day, letting God take over the direction in which my relationship with Him moves.
I will leave you now to your prayer and contemplation. First, though, I would like to bring to your attention a Monday morning prayer post that you might enjoy:
Fr. Austin Fleming, priest of the Archdiocese of Boston and pastor in Concord, Massachusetts, posts a prayer each Monday morning that he calls "Monday Morning Offering." I enjoy his prayers very much. I think you also will find them inspirational. He has graciously given me permission to include a link to his blog on my Monday Morning Meditation posts. (During the week, he also posts great homilies and other thoughtful discussions. I enjoy reading those, too, as do readers of this blog who have taken the stroll over to his blog.)
For additional inspiration throughout the week, I would point out two sets of blogs: (1) the list of devotional blogs on my sidebar and (2) my blogroll, where I am following a number of inspirational priests and writers about spiritual matters. I learn so very much from all these people. I highly recommend them to you.