The story sounds unbelievable, unthinkable, yet it is entirely true. A preacher trying, actually ordering people to drink alcohol, and not just anywhere, but in the house of God ...

And these were not just any boys he was tempting; these were very good young men, the cream of the crop, squeaky clean. None of them had ever even touched a drop of alcohol in his life. And this attempt to get them to do wrong was specifically timed so as to make sure that their parents, especially their dad, was not around to see it happening. He was not brought into all of this, and that was utterly intentional.

Most all children will likely be tempted to drink at some point. But to have that very first temptation to be initiated by a preacher, in the house of God, in defiance of a parent’s wishes, is utterly bewildering.

Is your blood boiling yet?

But, in the words of the great Paul Harvey, perhaps I should give you “the rest of the story.”

Jeremiah 35: “(1) The word which came unto Jeremiah from the LORD in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, saying, (2) Go unto the house of the Rechabites, and speak unto them, and bring them into the house of the LORD, into one of the chambers, and give them wine to drink.”

That preacher? His name was Jeremiah; he was the prophet of God. And he did what he did at the command of God. The boys he was setting wine in front of were from the family of the Rechabites, and their father’s name was Jonadab. God knew something about this family, something that could be used as a powerful illustration of truth.

Jeremiah 35: “(6) 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: (8) Thus have we 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.”

A father commanded, not suggested, actually commanded his family to never drink alcohol all their days. And even when they were later told to do so by the most respected voice in the nation, they continued to honor and obey the command of their father, and they refused to drink. And what was the point of all this? As God explained in verse 14, these boys honored and obeyed their father even years after his command had been given, and He expected Israel to honor and obey Him just as fully as these boys honored and obeyed their earthly father. They were a living illustration of how things ought to be.

And while I am adamantly opposed to alcohol as a beverage, there is a much bigger point to this column than just that.

I am still rejoicing in Father’s Day and all the wonderful testimonies given at our church about godly fathers and the impact they had on the lives of their children, many of whom now have children and grandchildren of their own. But I cannot help but see the contrast between that view and the “newer, fresher view” of fatherhood that our modern culture is promoting, to the detriment of rising generations.

Just consider Jonadab through the lens of our day. A father who “commands” his family? A father who says, “None of you are to drink alcohol, forever?” Who does he think he is? Jonadab was the hero of the story in Jeremiah’s day; he would likely be the villain of the story today. Jonadab likely would have been the hero of the story well up into the 1950s or ‘60s, in fact. But something happened along the way; a father laying down the law in matters of righteousness, a father whose word is final, that became a bad thing at some point.

And we are the worse off for it. Our society has stripped the mantel of authority from the father and reduced him to an undefined, non-essential role more befitting the butt of jokes than the admiration of children.

Fatherhood needs to be re-elevated to its rightful position of prominence. No, no man is perfect, and no, no man ought to ever be allowed to abuse that authority. But Scripture is very clear on the proper structure of a home, and that structure includes an authoritative father and obedient children. And if we expect to produce children who can govern their own desires, let alone handle the temptations the world throws at them, the “Rechabite model” will still work.

So fathers, step up and fulfill the role. Mothers, stand shoulder to shoulder with them as they do. Children, regard their word as law. And to every facet of society determined to prove that fathers are not needed, especially fathers like Jonadab, you simply could not be more wrong.

Bo Wagner is pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Mooresboro, N.C. He is a widely traveled evangelist and the author of several books. He can be reached by email at 2knowhim@cbc-web.org.

Tags