Jeremiah 35:2- “Go to the house of the Rechabites, speak to them, and bring them into the house of the Lord, into one of the chambers, and give them wine to drink.” NKJV
We all have a favorite bible story or several favorites. I’m no different in that respect although I have many, and this one is at the top! To me, it paints a beautiful picture of the obedience God wants from His people, and His displeasure when it is not given.
Jeremiah was told by God to go to the house of the Rechabites. As Jeremiah converses with the descendants of the house of the Rechabites, we are given some insight into who they are and what they believe. Before this encounter, there isn’t much knowledge in the Bible about the Rechabites. One commentator suggests that the Rechabites are descendants of the Kenites, Moses’ in-laws.
When Jeremiah arrived at the house of the Rechabites, he was to invite them to the house of God and offer them wine to drink. Jeremiah did as God asked him to do. When the wine was offered to the Rechabites, they responded in this manner:
“We will drink no wine, for Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, commanded us, saying, ‘You shall drink no wine, you nor your sons, forever. You shall not build a house, sow seed, plant a vineyard, nor have any of these; but all your days you shall dwell in tents, that you may live many days in the land where you are sojourners.’Jeremiah 35:6-7 NKJV
They refuse to drink the wine. Not only do they refuse it, but they explain to Jeremiah why they are refusing it. It is here that we learn more about them.
They are descendants of Jonadab the son of Rechab. Their father commanded them that they were to never drink wine. This command was extended to their descendants forever. Jonadab also told them that they were to be nomads, not owning a home, planting a vineyard, or laboring as farmers, forever. And apparently, they had kept his words throughout the centuries.
Thus we have obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, in all that he charged us, to drink no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, or our daughters, nor to build ourselves houses to dwell in; nor do we have vineyard, field, or seed. But we have dwelt in tents, and have obeyed and done according to all that Jonadab our father commanded us.Jeremiah 35:8-10 NKJV
Isn’t it amazing how faithfully they fulfilled the words from their ancestor, Jonadab? Every son, daughter, and wife in this family followed this edict. To the letter. Not only did not drink wine, but they also lived as nomads, until Jerusalem came under siege. There is no mention of rebellious members who refused to follow the sayings of Jonadab. As a matter of fact, they stated that they had done all that Jonadab had commanded them. That’s some kind of obedience!
Did their reaction to the offer of wine surprise God? Of course not! God had Jeremiah invite them to the house of God because He knew how they would respond. He already knew that they were obedient to the word of their ancestor, and their faithfulness in carrying out that word had His attention! He also knew that he was getting ready to make a point, using this family that had gotten His attention with their obedience. It speaks well of them!
Obedience is not a word that society appreciates today. In the traditional wedding vows, women have asked to have the phrase “obey their husbands” removed from the vows. Parents don’t believe they should “force” their children to do anything they don’t want to do. This leads us to children who believe that they can negotiate with their parents, ignore them, or simply defy them. Therefore, you can pretty much forget them obeying in a classroom, or in society when they act like this at home!
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Go and tell the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, “Will you not receive instruction to obey My words?” says the Lord. “The words of Jonadab the son of Rechab, which he commanded his sons, not to drink wine, are performed; for to this day they drink none, and obey their father’s commandment. But although I have spoken to you, rising early and speaking, you did not obey Me.Jeremiah 35:13-14 NKJV
Listen to God’s heart! A man spoke a simple message to his sons and told them not to drink wine and they obeyed him. Yet He, the God who delivered them from the hand of Pharaoh, gave them the Promised Land, and defeated their enemies before them, asks for obedience, and they refuse to give it! Can you imagine the picture that God is painting here? What did Jonadab do that caused his descendant to have such loyalty to him and his words in their actions? Did He split the Red Sea that they might crossover on dry land? I think not! Did he give them houses they did not build and wells they did not dig? We know he didn’t! And yet they obeyed him! God was not happy!
Jesus equated obedience to Him as a visible witness of our love to Him:
“If you love Me, keep My commandments.John 14:15 NKJV
Although we live in the dispensation of grace and forgiveness, obedience is still held by the Father as important. Jesus recognizes how much we love Him by our keeping of His commandments, or obedience! He elaborates on this point by stating:
He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”John 14:21 NKJV
Not only does obedience demonstrate how much we love God; but Jesus said that obedience gets the attention of the Father and the Son. Those who obey Him cause Him to manifest Himself to them. That’s powerful! I can imagine Jesus revealing Himself to those who obey Him in ways others just dream about.
Let’s see how God blessed the Rechabites:
And Jeremiah said to the house of the Rechabites, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Because you have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, and kept all his precepts and done according to all that he commanded you, therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not lack a man to stand before Me forever.” ’Jeremiah 35:18-19 NKJV
Forever is a long time, and yet God promised that the Rechabites will always have a man to stand before Him. Even today, there is a descendant of the Rechabites who stands before Almighty God as a living testament to their obedience to their earthly father.
But to the disobedient Israelites, things did not go well!
‘Behold, I will bring on Judah and on all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the doom that I have pronounced against them; because I have spoken to them but they have not heard, and I have called to them but they have not answered.’ ”Jeremiah 35:17 NKJV
I can see how their disobedience angered the Father. After all, it was Adam’s disobedience that caused God to drive him from Eden! Yet it was Jesus’ obedience that led us to righteousness:
For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.Romans 5:19 NKJV
We should never take lightly times when we disobey the Father. As a matter of fact, when we realize that we have disobeyed Him, we need to repent, and then obey Him quickly. It’s not the person who says they love God who truly loves Him, but the person who simply obeys Him. That’s what Jesus said! But we can easily be noted as lovers of God when we are noted as being obedient to Him. That’s my goal, to love Him and to obey Him. Wonderful Jesus!