The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Jeremiah 35

Jer 35:1

Jer 35: "The Rechabites were a faithful community when the ecclesia in Jerusalem at the time of Jeremiah were unfaithful. They were not true Israelites according to the flesh, but descendants of Heber the Kenite father in law to Moses. Their record is one of service to Yahweh (Jdg 4:11; 5:24; 2Ki 10:15; 1Ch 2:55; Num 10:28-32; Exo 2:16-22; 18:1-27). Though of Gentile extraction, they honoured their father; when Israel did not honour its heavenly Father. Jeremiah records the testimony of this diligent remnant in Jer 35: [1] The Rechabites tried: vv 1-5; [2] The Rechabites remain true to their charge: vv 6-11. [3] Israel contrasted with the Rechabites: vv 12-15; and [4] Israel condemned, and the Rechabites commended: vv 16-19. There are true Rechabites today in those Gentiles who seek the things of Yahweh in spirit and in truth" (GEM).

Jer 35:2

RECABITES: Rechab may have been from one of the Kenite families that came into Palestine with the Israelites (1Ch 2:55). The Kenites were a southern tribe (Gen 15:19); a portion lived among the Jews -- including Heber (Jdg 4:11), Jethro or Hobab (Num 20:29-32; Exo 2:16-22; 18:1-27). In the days of the divided kingdom, Rechab determined that it was the Palestinian culture that was the cause of the apostasy and immorality of the people, and commanded his sons to return to the old nomadic way of life in all its simplicity. Jonadab, the leader of the Rechabites in the days of Jehu, assisted that king in his destruction of Baal worship (2Ki 10:15,23). In the days of Jeremiah, the prophet used the Rechabites as an object lesson. He brought them to the house of the Lord and offered them wine. They refused because of their loyalty to their ancestor Rechab and his command. Jeremiah used their faithfulness as a rebuke to the unfaithfulness of Israel to Yahweh.

Jer 35:6

WE DO NOT DRINK WINE: Example of Noah (Gen 9:20-25), Lot (Gen 19:30-38), Nadab and Abihu (Lev 10:8-10).

Jer 35:7

"For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God... All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth" (Heb 11:10,13).

Jer 35:11

They were only in the city at all because of fear of Nebuchadnezzar.

Jer 35:14

THEY OBEY THEIR FOREFATHER'S COMMAND: Although he had been dead over 200 years, the Recabites still obey the command of their father. And they will be rewarded (v 19)... even though he was an imperfect father!

BUT YOU HAVE NOT PAID ATTENTION OR LISTENED TO ME: But Israel, with a perfect Father, disobey... and will be punished (v 17).

"The words of a man are obeyed; the words of God are disregarded. This is the central argument of the incident. This is God's complaint to the house of Israel by Jeremiah. And is it not a reasonable complaint? Whose words ought to be obeyed, if not the words of 'the High and Lofty One, inhabiting Eternity'? Is it not a complaint that might with peculiar force be addressed to this age of the world? The commandments and ordinances of men are submitted to in all the ways of life, but the commandments of God have ceased even to be an intelligible idea, let alone a practical power, in the habitations of men. Yea, it may be said that the spirit of obedience in any direction is more and more on the wane. If man's commands are obeyed, it is not from the spirit of obedience, but in the spirit of fear of consequences. Human law would soon be a dead letter, if it were not for the handcuffs of the police and the powder and shot of the military. Yet the spirit of obedience is the noblest spirit under the sun. It was the departure from it in the beginning that led to the world's woes; it is the return to it that will be the salvation of men. 'By one man's disobedience many were made sinners; so be the obedience of one [man] shall many be made righteous (or obedient)' [Rom 5:19]" (FSC 209,210).

Jer 35:15

Jonadab had died, and thus cannot be grieved by their disobedience. but Yahweh IS grieved. Jonadab could send no messengers, but Yahweh continues to send Israel more messengers.

Jer 35:19

JONADAB SON OF RECAB WILL NEVER FAIL TO HAVE A MAN: Rabbi Judah is said to have recorded that Rechabite daughters married Levites and thus the promise was fulfilled. Hegesippus said that "Rechabite priests" interceded for James, the brother of Christ, but failed to save his life (Eus 2:23). Or, alternatively, in Kingdom, immortal Recabites receiving their inheritance along with David (Jer 33:17,18).

TO SERVE ME: "To stand before me" (AV). The term implies attendance upon royalty as a follower -- which requires the presence of the Prince when, at last, the fulfilment of the parable will be completed. Cp Gen 18:22; 19:17; Psa 122:2; Deu 4:10; 5:5; Jer 15:1. God promises to heal Israel: Jer 30:17,18; Hos 14:4,5; Jer 3:22.

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