Today’s selected passage continues in the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah, and more specifically, is found in the thirty-fifth chapter. This particular chapter is rather unique within the context of the prophetic language contained within the book of Jeremiah. What’s more, is that this chapter describes an event and group of people within the land of Judah which had existed in the land for centuries, yet were highlighted during a time of crisis and calamity. It’s interesting and worth considering that this particular group which dwelt in the land of Judah was highlighted during a time when the adversary was outside the walls and at the gate. In fact, it was precisely because of the presence of the adversary within the land that caused this group of people to be thrust into the spotlight before the prophet Jeremiah. In fact, it was the Lord of hosts Himself who highlighted and turned the spotlight onto this group of people, while it was the enemy and adversary which thrust them from their place within the inheritance. As you read this passage of Scripture, you will discover that while it was the adversary which forced this group of people from their place within the land, it was the Lord of hosts who signaled them out and turned the spotlight upon them. This leads me to something which I believe to be utterly and completely unique when it comes to our spiritual lives—a truth that more often than not neglect and even ignore. That spiritual reality is simply that there are times when the adversary may force us from our place within our inheritance in the Lord, and it is from that new place the Lord turns the spotlight on to our lives. It’s interesting to note that the Lord of hosts didn’t turn the spotlight on this group of individuals while they were merely living in the land, but when they were thrust from their place within the inheritance. When you read this passage, you will notice that this group of men lived and dwelt outside the walls and gates of the city of Jerusalem, but because of the presence of the enemy in the land, they entered the city and sought refuge, shelter and security within it. How interesting it is to think that this group had dwelt securely outside the walls of the city in the land itself, yet because of the presence of the enemy within the land, they removed themselves from where they had dwelt and positioned themselves within the city. It was during the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah. King of Judah when the Lord turned the spotlight on to this group of men who up until this time had dwelt outside the walls of Jerusalem. Up until these days the Rechabites had had within themselves absolutely no desire to dwell within the walls of the city, for they were content living outside in the midst of the land. If you continue reading this passage of Scripture, you will find a specific set of instruction that was given to the Rechabites from their forefather, and you will find directly connected that instruction a way of life that they had abided by for centuries. “Thus have we obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechabites our father in all that he hath charged us, to drink no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, nor our daughters; nor to build houses for us to dwell in: neither have we vineyard, nor field, nor seed: BUT WE HAVE DWELT IN TENTS, AND HAVE OBEYED, AND DONE ACCORDING TO ALL THAT JONADAB OUR FATHER COMMANDED US” (Jeremiah 35:8-10> It’s within these three verses that we find the instruction of Jonadab the son of Rechab which he had passed down to his descendants. Jonadab had instructed the descendants of Rechab to drink no wine, nor to build houses to dwell in, neither have vineyard, nor field, nor seed. This was the instruction which was passed down from Jonadab to his descendants—instruction which was diligently and faithfully hearkened by the Rechabites ever since it was given. When you come to the eleventh verse, you will find something shift in the land—something which caused this nomadic group of individuals to move themselves from their place within the land to the city of Jerusalem itself. “But it came to pass, when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up into the land, that we said, Come, and let us go to Jerusalem for fear of the army of the Chaldeans, and for fear of the army of the Syrians: so we dwell at Jerusalem” (Jeremiah 35:11). In verses six and seven of this passage of Scripture you will find the instruction which was given by Jonadab to the Rechabites—instruction to not build house, nor sow seed, nor plant vineyard, nor have any. Within these verses we find instruction given to the Rechabites to dwell in tents in order that they might live many days in the land where ye be strangers. Pause for a moment and consider this reality for a moment—the reality that this group of people were instructed to live as strangers in the midst of a land that was given as an inheritance to the people of God.
The Rechabites were a people who although they lived in the land of Judah, they would live within that land as nomads and strangers. The Rechabites were instructed to build for themselves no house, nor sow seed, nor plant vineyard, nor have any. The Rechabites were instructed to dwell in tents in order that they might live many days in the land where they were strangers. LIVING AS STRANGERS WITHIN THE INHERITANCE! I can’t help but be absolutely and completely gripped by the Rechabites way of living within the land—a land which was given as an inheritance unto the people of God. There has been a lot of talk and teaching concerning the inheritance which the children of Israel entered into, and that the inheritance is a type, a shadow and a picture of the kingdom of heaven which we will enter into—either when we die and go the way of all men, or experience the rapture of the Church of Jesus Christ. The truth of the matter is that I do not believe for one minute that the inheritance represents the kingdom of heaven which will be experienced by all those who are righteous and pass from this life to the next. If that were the case, why would that land initially and originally be possessed by giants which would need to be dispossessed? Why would the inheritance of the people of God—if it were truly a picture and representation of the kingdom of God in heaven—be inhabited by nations more and mightier than the people of God with walled cities and giants therein? I do not believe that the inheritance which is spoken of in the New Testament is that which we are called to experience when we die and go the way of our fathers. I am convinced that what we read in this particular passage reveals that the inheritance which is spoken of in the New Testament is not some distant, foreign and far off reality. Why would a people choose to dwell in tents and choose not to live in houses within the inheritance if the inheritance was a type, a picture, and a shadow of the future kingdom of God in heaven? I find the concept of living as strangers within the inheritance to be something incredibly unique and powerful, for even while living in the midst of the inheritance, they were living for a reality that was beyond that which they were presently experiencing. The Rechabites were instructed by Jonadab to live as strangers and foreigners in the midst of the land of Israel, and to have nothing in the land that represented any type of ownership. Pause and consider that for a moment—the thought that they were to build no houses for themselves, nor sow any seed, nor plant any vineyard for themselves while living and dwelling within the land. If they were going to choose to live in the land, they were to live as strangers in the midst of the land with absolutely nothing that represented any claim or stake in the land.
The text contained within the thirty-fifth chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah is actually quite interesting, for it reveals a specific group of people who although they lived within the inheritance, adhered to a completely different lifestyle than all those who dwelt within it. As you study Scripture, you will notice in the thirty-fifth chapter a group of people known as the Rechabites, while there are two other distinct groups of individuals who although they lived and dwelt within the land of Israel, they lived a completely different lifestyle than the rest. Did you know that it was possible to live in the midst of the inheritance and yet adhere to a completely different standard of living, and a completely different lifestyle? Did you know that it was possible to dwell in the midst of the inheritance, and yet hold yourself to a completely different standard than those around you? There were three distinct and three specific groups of individuals within the land of Judah who lived their lives completely different than the rest who lived and dwelt in the land. In the sixth chapter of the Old Testament book of Numbers you will come across and encounter one of these groups of people—a people known as the Nazarites. “Seal unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the Lord: he shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried. All the days of his separation shall he eat nothing that is made of the vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk. All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no razor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled, in the which he separateth himself unto the Lord, he shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow” (Numbers 6:2-5). What is so interesting and unique about the Nazarites is that the Nazarites weren’t comprised and made up of individuals who were coerced, forced or manipulated into living their lives as a Nazarite. When studying the Nazarites, it’s necessary and imperative to understand that a Nazarite was not one who was coerced or manipulated into living as and becoming a Nazarite, for it was a deliberate, a willful, and a conscious choice which they chose to make. For one to chose to live as a Nazarite within the inheritance was a choice and decision which one would make within their own heart and mind. It is true that there were specific individuals who were commanded to live as Nazarites—men such as Sampson, John the Baptist, and even Jesus. There were certain individuals who were born into this world and were destined from birth to live as a Nazarite—separated and holy unto the Lord.
LIFESTYLES WITHIN THE INHERITANCE! If the inheritance of the Old Testament was a type, a shadow and picture of the kingdom of God in heaven, then why were there three distinct groups of individuals which lived, dwelt and existed within it? It is true that the Lord brought all the children of Israel into the land of Canaan to give unto them the land as their possession and inheritance, yet within and among the children of Israel there were those whose lives and lifestyles were completely and totally different than the rest. There were those who lived and dwelt within the inheritance according to a completely different standard than the rest. There were those who although they lived and dwelt within the inheritance were called to a completely different standard of living. The Nazarites is perhaps one of the most unique groups of individuals within the land, for those who lived as Nazarites within the land did so not by force or manipulation, but by choice. Think about that for a moment—the thought that it was possible to live within your inheritance as a child of God, and yet deliberately, willfully and intentionally live a completely different lifestyle than the rest. There were those who were living and dwelling in their inheritance as a son or daughter of God, yet the inheritance alone wasn’t enough. There were those who not only lived and dwelt in the inheritance, but felt compelled to live their lives according to a completely different standard than those around them. SEPARATED WITHIN THE INHERITANCE! HOLY UNTO THE LORD WITHIN THE INHERITANCE! Is it possible that one could have dwelt in the inheritance as represented in the land, and yet not be separated and holy unto the Lord? Is it possible that one could live within the inheritance. Is it possible that just because you lived and dwelt in the inheritance, you weren’t automatically holy unto the Lord? Is it possible that just because you lived and dwelt in the inheritance, you weren’t automatically separated unto the Lord your God? The Nazarite vow was a choice and option that was provided by the Lord of hosts Himself to those who although they lived and dwelt in the inheritance sought to live a completely different lifestyle. The Nazarite vow wasn’t even something that was initiated by man, nor did it originate with man, for it was the Lord of hosts who presented the option for one to make the deliberate and willful decision to live as a Nazarite. It was the Lord of hosts who presented unto the children of Israel—before they even entered into the inheritance—the choice and option to live their lives as a Nazarite. What’s more, is that the Lord not only presented them with the choice and option to live as a Nazarite, but also spoke of a definitive period of time for one to live as a Nazarite. In other words, when one made a vow to live as a Nazarite before the Lord, it was their own decision how long their vow before the Lord would last.
When seeking to understand the Nazarite vow, it’s imperative that we recognize that it was not forced, nor was it made mandatory by the Lord, but was presented as an option to those who wanted something different. DWELLING IN THE INHERITANCE, YET SEEKING! DWELLING IN THE INHERITANCE YET WANTING MORE! DWELLING IN THE INHERITANCE, YET WANTING SOMETHING DIFFERENT! Please not that this isn’t to say that the inheritance wasn’t enough, but that living in the inheritance served as grounds for a desire for something different, and something more than what was before them. The Nazarite vow was a vow one would take as their hearts and spirits were quickened within them to separate themselves unto the Lord. The Nazarite vow was a vow one would take living and dwelling in the midst of the inheritance , and yet longing for something more than just the inheritance itself. I so love the Nazarite vow, for it reveals and represents the reality that it was possible to dwell in the inheritance and yet feel like you are being called, and have been called to so much more. CALLED TO SO MUCH MORE THAN EXISTING WITHIN THE INHERITANCE! CALLED TO SO MUCH MORE THAN MERELY LIVING IN THE INHERITANCE! There is an incredibly large part of me that believes there are those who while they are living and dwelling within the inheritance, are doing nothing more than merely existing within the inheritance. There are those who have entered into the inheritance, have crossed the Jordan River, have watched the walls of Jericho fall, and have possessed the land, yet in spite of all that, are doing nothing more than existing within the inheritance. Did you know that it was possible to cross the Jordan River, enter into the inheritance, and yet still feel like there was so much more you were called to, or were even called to within your life? Did you know that there were those who entered into the inheritance promised them by the Lord, and yet feel like they were called to more than just dwelling within and existing within the inheritance? I believe the Nazarite vow was something that originated within the heart of God as something beyond what many within the land of Israel had experienced, been presented and been given. I do not believe for one minute that only Sampson, John the Baptist, and Jesus the Christ were the only ones who took the Nazarite vow. These three men were instructed prior to their birth to spend their days living as a Nazarite among the people, yet I believe that there were those outside these three who made the decision to live as Nazarites within the land.
I find it to be absolutely incredible that the Lord of hosts presented this option and reality of the Nazarite vow unto the children of Israel even before they entered into the land that was given them as an inheritance. I believe with everything inside me that while it is true the Lord sought to bring His people into the land which He swore to their fathers—Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—the Lord wanted so much more from those whom He brought into the land. There were specific times when the Lord called the children of Israel as a whole to separate and consecrate themselves unto Him in preparation for Him to do something truly marvelous and wonderful in their midst. I am reminded of when the Lord brought the children of Israel to the foot of the mountain in the wilderness, and His command and instruction to the entire congregation to consecrate and separate themselves unto Him. “And the Lord said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes. And be ready against the third day: for the third day the Lord will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai. And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death: there shall not an hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live: when the trumpet sound etc long, they shall come up to the mount. And Moses went down from the mount unto the people, and sanctified the people; and they washed their clothes. And he said unto the people, Be ready against the third day: come not at your wives. And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. And Moses brought forth the p Eppler out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount. And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice. And the Lord came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the Lord Allen Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up. And the Lord said unto Moses, Go down, charge the people, lest they break through unto the Lord to gaze, and many of them perish. And the let the priests also, which comes near to the Lord, sanctify themselves, lest the Lord break forth upon them” (Exodus 19:10-22). When you come to the third chapter of the Old Testament book, you will find Joshua giving specific instruction to the children of Israel in preparation for their crossing over the Jordan River—“And Joshua rose early in the morning; and they removed from Shittim, and came to Jordan, he and all the children of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over. And it came to pass after three days, that the officers went through the host; and they commanded the people, saying, When ye see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it. Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: come not near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go: for ye have not passed this way heretofore. And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves: for to morrow the Lord will do wonders among you” (Joshua 3:1-5).
In each of these examples, there was a separation and a consecration that was asked of the people in order that they might prepare themselves for that which the. Lord was about to do among them in their midst. Pause right here for a moment and allow me to declare that it is not enough to simply consecrate and separate yourself unto the Lord when you want Him to do something, or expect Him to do something. We cannot, we dare not, we must not separate and consecrate ourselves as holy unto the Lord only when we expect Him to do something wonderful in our midst. There are those among us who seem to only focus on consecration and separation when they are eagerly expecting or anticipating the Lord doing something within their lives and in their midst. I am convinced there are even churches and congregations and assemblies which do this very same thing, and some of them will even call such an event “revival.” There are churches, congregations and assemblies of men and women who will consecrate themselves unto the Lord only when they want or desire something from Him. There are churches and ministries that only seem to consecrate and separate themselves as holy unto the Lord when they are preparing for the Lord to do something in their midst. What I love about the Nazarite vow is that it was a deliberate, a willful and conscious choice and decision men [and perhaps even women] could make when they wanted to separate themselves as holy unto the Lord. The Nazarite vow was a vow that was implemented by the Lord for those who weren’t content consecrating themselves unto the Lord only when He was preparing to do something in their midst, or even when they may desire or want Him to do something. The Nazarite vow was a deliberate, willful and intentional decision individuals could make when they wanted to consecrate themselves as holy and separate unto the Lord as a lifestyle! Did you know that consecration was never intended to be an event, but a lifestyle? Did you know that separation was never intended to be an event, but a lifestyle? Did you know that holiness was never meant to be an event and occurrence, but a lifestyle? We have far too many men and women who treat separation and consecration before and unto the Lord as an event which takes place at specific times within their lives, and yet never treat it as a lifestyle which they actively pursue. The Lord never intended on setting a precedent that consecration and separation was only for preparation for Him doing and performing something in our midst.
It is true that consecration and separation are more often than not prerequisites for that which the Lord is about to do, but we should never and must never treat consecration and separation unto the Lord as an isolated event when we want to prepare for the Lord to do something in our midst. There are countless churches and ministries that may call congregations to such a reality just prior to “revival” or some large event that may take place among them in their midst. There are churches and ministries that treat “revival” as an isolated occurrence that takes place once—perhaps maybe twice a year—in which men and women consecrate and separate themselves as holy unto the Lord. I am going to be bold and brave right now and declare that if you who sit in the pews of a church need such an event or experience to consecrate yourself as holy unto the Lord, there is something drastically wrong. I believe with all my heart that the Spirit of the Lord is calling countless men and women into the place where consecration and separation is more than just an isolated occurrence and single event within their lives, but is actually something that becomes a lifestyle for them. Evangelist and minister Todd White leads a ministry which is called “Lifestyle Christianity,” and I absolutely love the idea of lifestyle Christianity—Christianity which is not something associated by name only, or even by a single isolated prayer we prayed one day at the altar of a church. With that being said, I would also take this a step further and speak not only of “lifestyle Christianity,” but “lifestyle separation” and “lifestyle consecration.” Mark these words and mark them well—holiness unto the Lord was never designed, nor was it intended on being an isolated event or occurrence within our lives, but was intended on being a lifestyle. The Nazarite vow was for those who deliberately, willfully and consciously wanted to pursue consecration and separation unto the Lord as a lifestyle, and not just something that was an isolated occurrence of event. We play a very dangerous game with the Lord of hosts when we pursue holiness, consecration and separation as an isolated event which takes place within our lives. The reason this is and the reason this becomes such a dangerous game is because we more often than not place ourselves and not God in the place where we decide when to pursue consecration and separation before and unto the Lord. The Nazarite vow was a way one who dwelt in the inheritance could take their position as a son or daughter of God to the next level, and present themselves unto the Lord in an even greater manner and fashion. We dare not overlook, nor neglect the concept of the Nazarite vow, for to do so would miss the tremendous reality that consecration and separation is more than just an isolated event and occurrence, but an actual lifestyle.
When you read Scripture, you will notice that there were two other distinct groups of individuals within the inheritance of the people of God—the Levites, and the Rechabites. The Levites you will recall were those who were separated by the Lord ONLY AFTER THEY WILLINGLY, DELIBERATELY AND VOLUNTARILY SEPARATED THEMSELVES UNTO HIM. “And when Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the Lord’s side? Let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him. And he said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour. And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men. For mOses had said, Consecrate yourselves to day to the Lord, even every man upon his son, and upon his brother; that he may bestow upon you a blessing this day” (Exodus 32:25-29). When you come to the third chapter of the Old Testament book of Numbers, you will find the result of their separating themselves unto the Lord that day at the foot of the mountain when Aaron had led the people into sin with the golden calf. “Bring the tribe of Levi near, and present them before Aaron the priest, that they may minister unto him. And they shall keep his charge, and the charge of the whole congregation enforce the tabernacle of the congregation, to do the service of the tabernacle. And they shall keep all the instruments of the tabernacle of the congregation, and the charge of the children of Israel, to do the service of the tabernacle. And thou shalt give the Levites unto Aaron and to his sons: they are wholly given unto him out of the children of Israel” (Numbers 3:6-9). The Levites are a perfect example of the reality that many are called (“who is on the Lord’s side?)” yet few are chosen “Bring the tribe of Levi near, and present them before Aaron the priest”). It was precisely because the Levites responded when they were called that they were eventually chosen by the Lord to stand before Him and serve as His faithful ministers. Oh that we would understand the powerful concept of responding when called by the Lord, for it’s in the response to the calling that the choosing can actually take place. There are indeed many who are called, yet there are few that are actually chosen by the Lord of hosts. IT IS THE RESPONSE TO THE CALLING THAT DETERMINES THE CHOOSING!
When we come to the thirty-fifth chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah we find a group of individuals who were instructed to live as strangers within the inheritance—those who were called to live a completely different lifestyle than those who dwelt in houses, those who owned vineyards, those who sowed seed, and those who were tied to the land. One of the things that is so interesting about the nomadic lifestyle of the Rechabites is that because they dwelt in tents rather than houses, it was very easy for them to pick up and move when it was necessary for them to do so. They were perfectly content living and dwelling in tents within the land of Judah, yet when the enemy entered into and invaded the land, they undoubtedly packed up their tents and brought everything they had into the city of Jerusalem. They lived as strangers within the inheritance, and it was precisely because they lived as such that they were able to reposition and transition themselves when the enemy and adversary entered into and invaded the land. Even while they were dwelling behind and within the walls of the city, they still dwelt in tents, for while it is true they were behind the walls of the city, they still adhered to the instruction given by Jonadab the son of Rechab. Through the prophet Jeremiah the Lord of hosts honored the Rechabites, for they listened to and obeyed the command and instruction of Jonadab without any wavering or faltering. The Lord of hosts turned the spotlight on to this group of people, for despite the fact that something undoubtedly desirable and pleasurable was placed before them, they refused it based on a command passed down from their ancestors. It was because of the command they had been given that they could and would not partake of the wine, and it was because of their fidelity to the command and instruction of Jonadab the Lord singled them out and praised their fidelity, their commitment and their obedience. THE NAZARITES: CONSECRATED AND SET APART UNTO THE LORD! THE LEVITES: STANDING BEFORE AND MINISTERING UNTO THE LORD! THE RECHABITES: LIVING AS STRANGERS EVEN WITHIN THE INHERITANCE AND PROMISE. What an absolutely powerful invitation is presented unto us in this generation, for the Lord is actively seeking after and searching for those who will stand, walk and minister before Him as Nazarites, Levites, and Rechabites. The Lord has great need for each of these within His body, and it is possible that men and women can commit themselves to all three within their lives. Do you possess the courage, the resolve and the fortitude to live your life as a Nazarite, as a Levite and as a Rechabites before the Lord? Do you possess the commitment and fidelity to refuse that which is desirable and pleasurable—simply because you have been commanded and instructed not to. STANDING AS MINISTERS, DWELLING AS STRANGERS AND LIVING AS ONE WHO IS SEPARATED!