“And I set before the sons of the house of the Rechabites pots full of wine, and cups, and I said unto them, Drink ye wine.
“But they said, 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 for ever:
“Thus we have obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab our father in all that he hath charged us, to drink no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, nor our daughters.”
Jonadab was alive during King Jehu’s reign some 300 years earlier. The Rechabites were a people closely associated to the Kenites and Midianites. They were certainly not Jewish, but they were friendly during the wilderness wanderings of the Israelites, and asked to go with the Israelites. By the time of the Judges they had become of part of the Hebrew nation. In II Kings, they assisted in going after the idolatrous house of Ahab. For the whole time of their association together with the Jewish people they remained strangers (Jer.35:7). Jonadab made four decrees that were still being obeyed in Jeremiah’s day: 1. to drink no wine; 2. to not build houses to live in; 3. to not sow seed, nor plant vineyards; and 4. to dwell in tents. All this was in order for them to live in the land for many days. By not consuming alcohol, they contributed to preserving their health and prolonging their lives. By not engaging in Israel’s main occupations, they didn’t solicit any jealousies from them as competing with them, with the distinct possibility of kicking them out of the land. The only reason that they were in Jerusalem at this time was because of the invading armies of the Syrians and Chaldeans. They were a nomadic people.
We needed this background to get to an important point to assist us into our subject. I truly believe that the Rechabites were a picture of a time when the saved Gentiles would be grafted in with the saved Jews to make one body in the New Testament – the church, as manifested by the local church. With that said, it is clear to me that the Rechabites were an addicted people – but not according to today’s standards.
Addiction is a word with multiple associations today. I seriously want us to understand the secular and the Biblical definitions of the word and the ramifications afterward. Webster’s Dictionary defines addiction this way:
1 . to give or devote oneself persistently or habitually
2 . to cause to pursue or practice continuously.
The Word of God gives this definition: to determine, to arrange, to set Both agree to something that has been lost or ignored in dealing with many problems. Addiction is willful and a continual behavior toward some end. Not exactly the scenario painted by many voices today with their – ‘you can’t help yourselves,’ ‘you’ve got a disease,’ or ‘you’re hopelessly addicted,’ unless you submit to long treatments and dragged out counseling.
Look at Eph.5:18, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess: but be filled with the Spirit.” We who are born again have been given a double command: one is negative and one is positive. The standard explanation of the first is that this is forbidding the misuse of wine, in getting drunk, while it is allowing for social type consumption of alcohol. And the point is noted. But, the verse is a direct contrast of negative and positive. If the above explanation is true, then it is also true that a Christian can be content with being 85% filled with the Spirit, or 10%, or not at all! Obviously, that is not the proper explanation. What the verse is talking about is CONTROL. One kind of control is prohibited, while the other must be embraced. We who are saved are forbidden to be controlled in any degree by another spirit (in this case, alcohol), while commanded to be controlled in every degree by the indwelling Holy Spirit of God. By the giving of the command, all Christians have been given the divine power to obey both: to be addicted to both!
In I Cor.6, and Gal.5, we are given clear instruction as to those who will not inherit the kingdom of God. They are not saved people. Most all of us would have no problem understanding this when we relate it to the sodomite who claims to be saved. But when it comes to the control of alcohol, it seems to take on new meaning. Both are equated with not inheriting the kingdom of God – as well as others in those lists. They choose to do this and the record of their practice is not a slip up – it is habitual. They are devoted to these things in a continuous manner. They are addicted. Before salvation, we were all addicted to sin. I Cor.5, tells us that there are people who even claim to be saved who act in this manner. The genuine Christian is given a clear command: “But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.” The purpose is of course to have the person realize what he is doing is wrong. This is done by separating yourself from him. If saved, he would lose all fellowship, be left to himself outside of the local church – given to the destruction of the flesh, in order to bring him to the place of repentance and confession to the Lord, and restoration. If lost, he will find a home somewhere else with people of like mind, saving the church from possible havoc.
The Bible speaks of addiction in only one way, and in only one place. I Cor.16:15, “I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,).”The world has turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to their own definitions, in order to give man a way out of facing the consequences of their choices. Many churches, seminaries, colleges, denominations, and preachers have done the same thing, but worse, for they have done it with the perfect Word of God. Make sure, predetermine, now, that you will not be one of them.
All who are born again have the same opportunity to serve the Lord Jesus Christ, to determine to persistently, continuously and habitually, to be devoted to serving Him and His people. It is the least that we could do for our Lord and Savior who redeemed us in, and took us out, of the marketplace of sin upon salvation. Be addicted to the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ and His saints. It’s the clear choice for blessing and glorifying God.