Jer. 34:1–39:18 Jer. 35:1-2,5-8a,12-14,17a,18-19 Aug. 7 2011
A variety of methods is tried, and every stone turned, to awaken the Jews to a sense of their sin and to bring them to repentance and reformation. The scope and tendency of many of the prophet’s sermons was to frighten them out of their disobedience, by setting before them what would be the end thereof if they persisted in it. The scope of this sermon, in this chapter, is to shame them out of their disobedience if they had any sense of honour left in them for a discourse of this nature to fasten upon . He sets before them the obedience of the family of the Rechabites to the commands which were left them by Jonadab their ancestor, and how they persevered in that obedience and would not be tempted from it . With this he aggravates the disobedience of the Jews to God and their contempt of his precepts . He foretels the judgments of God upon the Jews for their impious disobedience to God . He assures the Rechabites of the blessing of God upon them for their pious obedience to their father .
The obedience of the Rechabites. (Jer. 35:1-11)
Jer 35:1The word that hath been unto Jeremiah from Jehovah, in the days of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, saying: 2‘Go unto the house of the Rechabites, and thou hast spoken with them, and brought them into the house of Jehovah, unto one of the chambers, and caused them to drink wine.’ 3And I take Jaazaniah son of Jeremiah, son of Habazziniah, and his brethren, and all his sons, and all the house of the Rechabites, 4 and bring them into the house of Jehovah, unto the chamber of the sons of Hanan son of Igdaliah, a man of God, that is near to the chamber of the princes, that is above the chamber of Maaseiah son of Shallum, keeper of the threshold; 5 and I put before the sons of the house of the Rechabites goblets full of wine, and cups, and I say unto them, Drink ye wine. 6 And they say, ‘We do not drink wine: for Jonadab son of Rechab, our father, charged us, saying, Ye do not drink wine, ye and your sons—unto the age; 7and a house ye do not build, and seed ye do not sow, and a vineyard ye do not plant, nor have ye any; for in tents do ye dwell all your days, that ye may live many days on the face of the ground whither ye are sojourning. 8‘And we hearken to the voice of Jonadab son of Rechab, our father, to all that he commanded us, not to drink wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, and our daughters; 9 nor to build houses for our dwelling; and vineyard, and field, and seed, we have none; 10 and we dwell in tents, and we hearken, and we do according to all that Jonadab our father commanded us; 11 and it cometh to pass, in the coming up of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon unto the land, that we say, Come, and we enter Jerusalem, because of the force of the Chaldeans, and because of the force of Aram—and we dwell in Jerusalem.’
Jonadab was famous for wisdom and piety. He lived nearly 300 years before, 2 Kings 10:15 . Jonadab charged his posterity not to drink wine. He also appointed them to dwell in tents, or movable dwelling: this would teach them not to think of settling any where in this world. To keep low, would be the way to continue long in the land where they were strangers. Humility and contentment are always the best policy, and men’s surest protection. Also, that they might not run into unlawful pleasures, they were to deny themselves even lawful delights. The consideration that we are strangers and pilgrims should oblige us to abstain from all fleshly lusts. Let them have little to lose, and then losing times would be the less dreadful: let them set loose to what they had, and then they might with less pain be stript of it. Those are in the best frame to meet sufferings who live a life of self-denial, and who despise the vanities of the world. Jonadab’s posterity observed these rules strictly, only using proper means for their safety in a time of general suffering.
The Jews’ disobedience to the Lord. (Jer.35:12-19)
Jer 35:12 And there is a word of Jehovah unto Jeremiah, saying: ‘Thus said Jehovah of Hosts, God of Israel: 13‘Go, and thou hast said to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem: Do ye not receive instruction?—to hearken unto My words—an affirmation of Jehovah. 14 Performed have been the words of Jonadab son of Rechab, when he commanded his sons not to drink wine, and they have not drunk unto this day, for they have obeyed the command of their father; and I—I have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking, and ye have not hearkened unto Me. 15 And I send unto you all My servants the prophets, rising early and sending, saying: Turn back, I pray you, each from his evil way, and amend your doings, yea, ye do not walk after other gods, to serve them, and dwell ye on the ground that I have given to you and to your fathers; and ye have not inclined your ear, nor hearkened unto Me. 16‘Because the sons of Jonadab son of Rechab have performed the command of their father, that he commanded them, and this people have not hearkened unto Me, 17 therefore thus said Jehovah, God of Hosts, God of Israel: Lo, I am bringing in unto Judah, and unto all inhabitants of Jerusalem, all the evil that I have spoken against them, because I have spoken unto them, and they have not hearkened, yea, I call to them, and they have not answered.’18 And to the house of the Rechabites said Jeremiah: ‘Thus said Jehovah of Hosts, God of Israel, Because that ye have hearkened unto the command of Jonadab your father, and ye observe all his commands, and do according to all that he commanded you; 19therefore, thus said Jehovah of Hosts, God of Israel, Of Jonadab son of Rechab one standing before me is not cut off all the days.’
The trial of the Rechabites’ constancy was for a sign; it made the disobedience of the Jews to God the more marked. The Rechabites were obedient to one who was but a man like themselves, and Jonadab never did for his seed what God has done for his people. Mercy is promised to the Rechabites. We are not told respecting the performance of this promise; but doubtless it was performed, and travellers say the Rechabites may be found a separate people to this day. Let us follow the counsels of our pious forefathers, and we shall find good in so doing.
As the nation is about to fall to the Babylonians, Jeremiah is given a message for Zedekiah, Judah’s last king. The king will be captured, but God promises he will die in peace, mourned by his people . This is a reward for Zedekiah’s initiative in winning his people’s agreement to free their Hebrew slaves, who according to Moses’ Law should be kept in servitude for only seven years. But the people soon go back on the solemn oath they swore before God and take back their slaves—dooming themselves to death at the hands of the Babylonians . To underline the wickedness of Judah, Jeremiah tempts members of the Recabite family with bowls of wine. They refuse to drink, because generations before the family patriarch had commanded his descendants to drink no wine . The family which showed such respect for its forefather was praised and rewarded—and Judah, which showed no respect for God but persistently disobeyed Him—was promised punishment .