JEREMIAH 35: It’s not their signature but God’s that makes us through. Respect God.
The challenge in the book of Jeremiah as we had earlier noted is the unchronological arrangement of his chapters but the message is really arranged. In these ends of the kingdom in times of Zedekiah, Jeremiah brings back the times of King Jehoiakim about 18 years back (609-597 BC) when the event described in the chapter happened. As observed by the writers of Wiersbe Bible commentary,
Jeremiah might have considered this event in these times simply because it was fit to compare the obedience of this clan to their father and the disobedience of Judah to God, a thing I recommended as good arrangement of the message.
So in those days, God had requested Jeremiah to go and get the Rechabites into the temple and demonstrate on them how faithful they had been to their father. According to 2 Kings 10:15-23, the Rechabites were a clan of nomadic people who were loyal to their ancestor Jonadab who instructed them never to own land, build houses, plant vineyards or even drink wine. They were relatives of Moses’ father-in-law (Judges 1:16; 4:11). They had stayed faithful for about 250 years and had come to Jerusalem to seek refuge due to Babylonian threats. So Jeremiah had brought in these guys, prepared wine for them and offered it to them and they didn’t take it since their fore-father had made them promise never to do that. This was done in presence of many witnesses since it was in the temple (Verses 1-11).
Jamieson, Fausset and Brown have a greater exposition of who Rechabites were: a nomadic tribe belonging to the Kenites of Hemath (1Ch 2:55), of the family of Jethro, or Hobab, Moses' father in-law (Ex 18:9, &c.; Nu 10:29-32; Jud 1:16). They came into Canaan with the Israelites, but, in order to preserve their independence, chose a life in tents without a fixed habitation (1Sa 15:6). Besides the branch of them associated with Judah and extending to Amalek, there was another section at Kadesh, in Naphtali (Jud 4:11, 17). They seem to have been proselytes of the gate, Jonadab, son of Rechab, whose charge not to drink wine they so strictly obeyed, was zealous for God (2Ki 10:15-23). The Nabatheans of Arabia observed the same rules
So Jeremiah offered the wine and said, “Drink” (verse 5). Mark that it is not, “drink, says the Lord”. If it had appeared as God’s command, they automatically would have drunk since they were very obedient. God didn’t use this clan as if tempting them, God doesn’t tempt us (James 1:13-15). Also, it is wise to note that the thing about this clan that is in consideration here is not their refusal to drink wine (it may not be a sin to drink wine though important to note that priests were to avoid wine when executing their duties); it is their faithfulness to their father. It is one thing to be faithful and it is another thing to be faithful in something. However, while these people had stayed in obedience to their father, the people of Judah had disobeyed God. At least, it would be a ‘small’ sin to disobey man but not God. I don’t know how to explain it here but there is a great meaning here. Usually, people look at what they do or achieve as what counts before God but it is only faith that justifies us. It is that heart of belief and obedience that God rewards but not your physical achievements in the church. But as there is no loving without giving, there can’t be faith without actions. So in the end we act well and achieve more but all begins with the belief (the faith).
So God went ahead lamenting how He had hoped that people obeyed Him and His commands just as the Rechabites had done to their father. God had sent many prophets and messages calling for repentance and complete turn from evil but men had played a deaf ear and this made Him cry (12-16). And oh before we think of these Jews as being insensitive, let’s not forget that the word is really for us. So many of us have fallen short of glory and instead devoted ourselves to obeying our fellow men and institutions’ laws. There are many in our churches whose God is the pastor or the church leaders and they would obey them even more than God. Hey, I am not saying that God was accusing the above clan of obeying their father but His comparison with how people had refused to obey Him brings out a message too. People are rather tied up by their own people’s rules than those of God.
Therefore, God was seriously ready to bring the calamities and punishment to Jerusalem as a fair punishment for their refusal to obey Him (verse 17). And while this event had happened earlier long, Jeremiah brings it up today as a reminder of why there was great surrounding of the city by an enemy.
Finally, God grants faithfulness with appropriate rewards. For the Rechabites had shown faith by keeping up with the promises they had with their father, God called them to service and be part of His great mission of service to mankind (Verses 18-19). Because they had been faithful in the little, they would be entrusted with many. So there would always be someone from Rechabites in front of God’s eyes. This simply means that their existence will always be there since to be in sight of God’s eyes is to exist (Psalms 89:36). From Fausset’s explanations above, some people of Arabia practice the same rituals as Rechabites, an indication of their existence up-to-date. The researches of WOLLF found this to be true and traces of Rechabites still exist.
Our today’s message is on verse 14: “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”. This message is clear. People were obeying their father but His own nation was disobeying Him. If people, the atheists, the traditionalists, the police and army, the witch and religionless can stick to their rituals and observe their culture, how comes that Christians can’t pay attention to God? If your priest, bishop, or pope or pastor is obeyed when he instructs, how come you don’t obey when God instructs? This comparison can break your heart if you give it a thought and Imagine How God feels. Remember, He wasn’t mad at the above clan, it had no problem obeying their father and there is no indication that they were not obedient to God. After all, they came when they were called by Jeremiah and accepted God’s offer in His service. Lastly, think about what God says before even thinking about your commander.
Oh God! We are sorry we have been this mean to you. Forgive us and make us better than we were yesterday.
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