Jer. 35:1 ¶ The word which came unto Jeremiah from the LORD in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, saying,
Jer. 35:2 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’s record is obviously not recorded chronologically. This message from the LORD jumps back in time to the reign of Jehoiakim. This message is unique in that the focus is on a particular family, the Rechabites, who research indicates were Kenites, the same heritage as Moses’ father-in-law. Jeremiah is instructed to take this family into one of the Temple chambers and give them some wine drink.
Jer. 35:3 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;
Jer. 35:4 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:
It would seem that Jaazaniah was recognized as the leader of the family as Jeremiah describes his gathering of the family. Jeremiah even identifies the specific chamber in which the gathering took place as belonging to the sons of Hanan, specifically to Igdaliah, a highly respected man of God. JFB made the point that this man’s chamber was chosen because his witness would give credible testimony to the truth of Jeremiah’s claims regarding the events that transpired there. This chamber is further identified as being adjacent to the chamber of the princes and above the chamber of Shallum, the Temple doorkeeper.
Jer. 35:5 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.
Jer. 35:6 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:
Jer. 35:7 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.
When everyone had gathered in the chamber, Jeremiah proceeds to set out the wine and cups and instructs the family to drink the wine. The family refused to drink the wine because they had been instructed by their forefather Jonadab (who lived approximately 300 years earlier) that the men of their family were never to drink wine; this instruction was understood to apply to succeeding generations for perpetuity. They were also instructed not to establish permanent housing or plant crops to support themselves. They were to live as nomads, dwelling in tents as strangers in the land, a reference to the fact that they were not Jewish.
We, as believers, are to live in obedience to God the Father as strangers in this world, the kingdom of Satan, until Jesus establishes His kingdom on earth and finally evicts the usurper. This is what is referenced by the writer of Hebrews.
Hebrews 11:9–10 & 13 “By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”
Jer. 35:8 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:
Jer. 35:10 But we have dwelt in tents, and have obeyed, and done according to all that Jonadab our father commanded us.
They declared that they (including wives, sons and daughters) had lived in obedience to the dictates of their forefathers. They had drunk no wine, planted no crops, and lived in tents in obedience to their father Jonadab.
Jer. 35:11 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.
It seems that they felt the need to explain why they were currently living in Jerusalem. They noted that when Nebuchadnezzar invaded Judah, they decided to flee to Jerusalem for safety from the Chaldeans and the Syrians, who were evidently in league with Neb.
Jer. 35:12 ¶ Then came the word of the LORD unto Jeremiah, saying,
Jer. 35:13 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.
Jer. 35:14 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.
Jer. 35:15 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.
The LORD now explains the purpose for Jeremiah’s actions. In His omniscience, God knew that the Rechabites would honor their father through their obedience.
He then draws the contrast between the honor this family showed their father to the lack of honor the people of Judah had shown Him as their LORD. He points out that they have no excuse for lack of instruction because He had sent one prophet after another to call them to repentance from their evil ways. They had been warned over and over again not to worship false gods. They had been warned that disobedience would result in losing the privilege of living in the Promised Land and enjoying His blessing and protection. To this point, they had refused to heed the warnings of the prophets as they declared God’s word; they had chosen to continue in their disobedience.
Jer. 35:16 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:
Jer. 35:17 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.
The LORD declares that as the God of Israel, His patience has reached its limit; He is going to judge the people according to the conditional covenant made with the people through Moses. This demonstration of the obedience of the Rechabites to their earthly father revealed to a greater degree the disobedience of the Israelites to the heavenly Father, the God of Israel. The NIV Commentary made the following pertinent observations:
1. The Recabites obeyed a fallible leader; Judah’s leader was the eternal God.
2. Jonadab gave his commands to the Recabites only once; God repeatedly sent his messages to his people.
3. The restrictions that bound the Recabites did not deal with eternal issues; God’s messages to his people had eternal as well as temporal implications.
Jer. 35:18 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:
Jer. 35:19 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.
The Rechabites, however, were going to be blessed for the honor and obedience given their father. Their family would never lack progeny “to stand before me” forever. I think this means more than just the promise of an unbroken line of direct descendants. I think this makes reference to words of deliverance and blessing such as promised by Jesus to His disciples and as recorded by the prophet Ezekiel in reference to the sons of Zadok.
Luke 21:36 “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.”
Ezekiel 44:15–16 “But the priests the Levites, the sons of Zadok, that kept the charge of my sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from me, they shall come near to me to minister unto me, and they shall stand before me to offer unto me the fat and the blood, saith the Lord GOD: They shall enter into my sanctuary, and they shall come near to my table, to minister unto me, and they shall keep my charge.”