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In 1964, Congress enacted legislation to guarantee African Americans the right to vote. It came after numerous tries over 100 years of struggling against difficult odds. Those repeated efforts to right this wrong were not unlike the challenge Jeremiah faced as he urged his people to act justly in their native land. In his efforts to persuade them to turn from their wicked ways and obey God, Jeremiah used the example of a little-known group of people called the Recabites. Recabites obeyed their human father in the simple matter of avoiding wine. For 300 years, they had followed their ancestor’s advice. They chose to live in the desert rather than disobey their father’s one-time instruction. By contrast, Jeremiah said God had spoken to His people repeatedly, patiently, and persistently, urging them to listen and obey him; to turn from wicked behavior and live righteous lives, but the people refused to take heed. In Jeremiah 35, the prophet quotes God as saying to His people “I have spoken to you again and again, and you refuse to obey me.” As a result, God decreed that the people would go into exile. But God promised to protect and bless the Recabites because they were wise enough to listen and obey. Even today, God is pleased when we honor Him and do what is just and right toward Him and toward others.

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