A STUDY OF THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH
God is Looking for those Willing to Obey Him
Jeremiah 35 SCC 5/14/17
The theme of Judah's faithlessness carries over from chapter 34. The promise-breakers in 34:8-22 contrast with the promise-keepers in chapter 35.
GOD CAN TEST US TO DEMONSTRATE OUR RIGHTEOUS CONDUCT
Verse 1-5 This oracle came to Jeremiah during King Jehoiakim's reign (609-598 B.C.) after the Babylonians had begun to invade Judah (v. 11) v 1. It seems to be placed here to contrast the faithfulness of the Recabites with the unfaithfulness of Judah (chapter 34). Second Kings 24:1-2 reads, "In his [Jehoiakim's] days Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up and Jehoiakim became his servant for three years; then he turned and rebelled against him [in 602 B.C]. And the LORD sent against him bands of Chaldeans, bands of Syrians, bands of Moabites, and bands of Ammonites. So He sent them against Judah to destroy it . . ." This seems to be the setting for what follows.
Who are the Recabites? They are descended from Jonadab the son of Rechab (v. 6), who assisted Jehu in exterminating Baal worship from Israel (2 Kings 10:15-27). They were related to the Kenites
(1 Chronicles 2:54-55) who descended from Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro (Judges 1:16). Evidently Jonadab adopted the lifestyle of a Bedouin, which was continued by his clan. They traveled the wilderness of the Negev (Judges 1:16; 1 Samuel 15:6) but were forced to move to Jerusalem when Nebuchadnezzar threatened Judah in 598 B.C.
God told Jeremiah to bring them into the house of the Lord into one of the chambers the whole house of the Rechalites. There in the house of the Lord Jeremiah was to give them wine to drink v 2. The rooms into which Jeremiah brought them surrounded the Temple court and were used for meetings, storage, and as priests’ residences (1 Kings 6:5). They belonged to the sons of Hanan the son of Igdaliah, the man of God, which was near the chamber of the officials, which was above the chamber of Maaseiah the son of Shallum, the doorkeeper v 3-4. The room occupied a prominent position. Maaseiah was one of three “doorkeepers” for the Temple. It was evidently a high position because the Babylonians judged and killed them along with the chief priests (2 Kings 25:18-21; Jeremiah 52:24-27). Then Jeremiah said, Drink wine v 5! He did not just ask them if they would like some wine to drink, but He made it very easy for them to drink it. His position as a true prophet of GOD would have encouraged them all the more to drink. Faithful Nazirites also abstained from wine and grape products though the Rechabites do not seem to have been Nazirites. The Nazirite vow was normally for a brief time, but the Rechabites had abstained from wine for generations.
Verse 6-11 But they said, we will not drink wine. Why? Because Jonadab, the son of Rechab, our father, commanded us, saying, you shall not drink wine, you or your sons, forever v 6. Abstinence was not a requirement of the Mosaic Law; it was simply a requirement that Jonadab imposed on his family. Not only that, he had also forbidden them to build a house...sow seed...plant a vineyard...or own a vineyard; but in tents you shall dwell all your day’s v 7 (not, not, not, not—sounds like a Baptist). So the Rechabites have obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, in all he commanded us v 8-10. For over 200 years they had been faithful to this vow but it came about, when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against the land, that we said, Come and let us go to Jerusalem before the army of the Chaldeans...so we have dwelt in Jerusalem v 11. The only time they lived in a city was when Nebuchadnezzar's vassals invaded the Judean countryside. Then they moved into the city for protection out of necessity, for survival, not because they had abandoned their principles.
Application: The Judeans were living under the Mosaic Law which said they could make vows, but they were to fulfill their vows (Chp 34). Here God is testing the Rachabites about their vows. God tests believers, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:3-4). Temptation is when you are carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings for death (James 1:15-16). God’s motivation is to test you in order to make you mature by demonstrating your righteous conduct. Satan and your own sin natures purpose is to get you to lust, sin, stunt your spiritual growth. So God was saying ‘look at the Racabites keeping a personal vow. But you, Judah wont keep a vow you made with me which is way more significant.
WHAT GOD TESTS IS OUR DESIRE TO CONTINUE TO OBEY HIS WILL
Then God told Jeremiah to say to the men of Judah, will you not receive instruction by listening to My words? declares the Lord v 12-13 (stated 5 times). The Lord did not send him a message to censure the Rechabites for their eccentric lifestyle, legalism, and refusal to drink wine. The Rechabites' chosen lifestyle was no problem to God. For they [the Racabites] have obeyed their father’s command. But I have spoken to you again and again; yet you have not listened to Me v 14. The Rechabites had faithfully obeyed their ancestor, but the people of Judah and Jerusalem had not obeyed the Lord's instructions even though He had spoken to them repeatedly. Jeremiah was not expressing approval for the nomadic life and ascetic convictions of the Rechabites, but only their faithful obedience to their forefather. Also I have sent to you all My servants the prophets, sending them again and again, saying: turn now every man from his evil way...do not go after other gods to worship them...then you shall dwell in the land which I have given to you...but you have not inclined your ear or listened to Me v 15. The Lord had also sent His servants the prophets to His people again and again urging them to repent, to change their thoughts and actions, and to stop worshipping idols.
Indeed, the son of Jonadab the son of Rechab have observed the command of their father which he commanded them, but this people has not listened to Me v 16. The Rechabites had obeyed Jonadab's instructions, but the Judahites had not listened to God. The Lord used the Rechabites as a clinching argument in His "trial" against Judah. Therefore, I am bringing on Judah...all the disaster that I have pronounced against them; because I spoke them but they did not listen v 17. They had not listened to Him when He spoke to them, or answered Him when He called to them. Notice the contrasts between the Recabites and Judah. (1) The Recabites obeyed a fallible leader v 14; Judah's leader was the eternal God (cf Mal 1:6). (2) Jonadab commnded the Recabites only once; God repeatedly sent his messages to his people v 15. (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. (4) The Recabites obeyed the commands of Jonadab for about three hundred years; the Lord's people constantly disobeyed for 800 years v 16. (5) The loyalty of the Recabites would be rewarded; for their disloyalty God's people would be punished v 17.
Application: So the Racabites served as a visual reminder of Judah’s sin. Just as God warned Judah over and over through His prophets, He warns us over and over through His Word. God is looking for those who are willing to know His Word and obey it. Our problem is maintaining our willingness to continue to choose to obey God. Circumstances change and so can our commitments and desires. Obedience and faithfulness also plays into a believer’s eternal well being today by discipline or loss.
A SUCCESSFUL TEST ENCOURAGES RIGHTEOUS CONDUCT THAT GOD HONORS
God promised the Racabites, because you have obeyed the command of Jonadab your father, kept all his commands, and done according to all that he commanded you v 18. The Lord praised them for their tenacity in clinging to what they believed to be right. Therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Jonadab...shall not lack a man to stand before Me always v 19. Their descendants will survive to be able to worship the Lord. They will not be destroyed in the coming invasion, for example. God is always looking for individuals whose lives are characterized by faithfulness.
Application: God rewards obedience! We don’t obey just to obey. God will reward us some day for obeying Him (1 Corinthians 4:5). Jesus said, “Lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven...” (Matthew 6:20). Obedience is stockpiling treasure for yourself when you get to heaven. So obedience is not only honoring God (which would be a good enough reason!), it is also for your benefit in your eternal future.
1. Spiritual growth is commensurate with listening to Gods Word and then obeying it.
2. To encourage our spiritual growth God often tests us to determine its depth and breadth.
3. Testing is a gauge that reveals our level of willingness to continue to listen, obey, and grow.