Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Rechabites

Jeremiah 35:1-19

“The word which came unto Jeremiah from the LORD in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, saying, 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.” (Jeremiah 35:1-2)

Josiah, the last of Judah’s good kings attacked the Egyptian forces who had fought the Assyrians and was killed.  His son Jehoahaz ascended the throne but was removed by the Egyptians and replaced with his brother Jehoiakim, who reigned for eleven years.  During the first part of his reign, Judah was a tributary of Egypt, but in his eighth became a tributary of Babylon instead.  It was during those first eight years that Jeremiah was sent to the Rechabite family and instructed to bring them into the Temple and offer them wind to drink. 

According to I Chronicles 2:55, the Rechabites were a branch of the Kennite family.  ”And the families of the scribes which dwelt at Jabez; the Tirathites, the Shimeathites, and Suchathites. These are the Kenites that came of Hemath, the father of the house of Rechab.”   Moses married the daughter of the priest of Midian, and when Israel moved into Canaan, some of her family came with them, settling in the southern part of Judah and maintaining their family identity, while becoming an important part of Jewish society.
“Then I took Jaazaniah the son of Jeremiah, the son of Habaziniah, and his brethren, and all his sons, and the whole house of the Rechabites; And I brought them into the house of the LORD, into the chamber of the sons of Hanan, the son of Igdaliah, a man of God, which was by the chamber of the princes, which was above the chamber of Maaseiah the son of Shallum, the keeper of the door: 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. “ (Jeremiah 35:3-5)

Following God’s orders, Jeremiah brought the men of the family into the rooms where the priests changed their garments in the temple and served them wine.  It was just a common courtesy, and  normally would not even be noticed. 

“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: Neither shall ye build house, nor sow seed, nor plant vineyard, nor have any: but all your days ye shall dwell in tents; that ye may live many days in the land where ye be strangers.
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; Jer 35:9 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.  But it came to pass, when Nebuchadrezzar 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 35:6-11)

The Rechabites politely refused to drink the wine,  explaining that one of their ancestors hae instructed them that none of their children should ever drink wine.  In addition, they were never to build permanent houses or develop farms or vineyards.  For generations they had lived in tents and done what their ancestor commanded.  They had moved to Jerusalem for protection from the Babylonian and Syrian forces that were invading the land. 

“Then came the word of the LORD unto Jeremiah, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Go and tell the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Will ye not receive instruction to hearken to my words? saith the LORD.  The words of Jonadab the son of Rechab, that he commanded his sons not to drink wine, are performed; for unto this day they drink none, but obey their father's commandment: notwithstanding I have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking; but ye hearkened not unto me.
I have sent also unto you all my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them, saying, Return ye now every man from his evil way, and amend your doings, and go not after other gods to serve them, and ye shall dwell in the land which I have given to you and to your fathers: but ye have not inclined your ear, nor hearkened unto me.” (Jeremiah 35:12-15)

Jeremiah was to use them as an example for Judah, explaining why they were being attacked by the Babylonians.   For hundreds of years, the Rechabites had followed the r ancestor’s instructions out of respect for him, even though he had been dead for centuries.  God had spoken to the Jews, written down his commandments, and sent prophets repeatedly to remind them of what he had said.  In spite of all his efforts, they had refused to obey his commands.  Clearly they less respect for god than the Rechabites did for Jonadab. 

“Because the sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab have performed the commandment of their father, which he commanded them; but this people hath not hearkened unto me: Therefore thus saith the LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring upon Judah and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the evil that I have pronounced against them: because I have spoken unto them, but they have not heard; and I have called unto them, but they have not answered.” (Jeremiah 35:16-17)

Because Judah had shown such a lack of respect to God, refusing to obey, God was going to bring all the judgments he had warned them about on them.  

“And Jeremiah said unto the house of the Rechabites, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Because ye have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, and kept all his precepts, and done according unto all that he hath commanded you: Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not want a man to stand before me for ever.” (Jeremiah 35:18-19)

Because the Rechabites had been faithful to keep Jonadab’s command, God promised their family would never be wiped out, but that there would always be some of them to serve the Lord.  These were not even commands God had given.  

1 comment:

  1. Praise God that He is faithful to those who love and obey Him, and that He is merciful even when judgment is warranted. Thank you as always for the brilliant exposition of Scripture.
    God bless,