Three words: “Obeyed, kept, done.” These three words accurately describe a tribe of people that are mentioned in Jeremiah 35. In Jeremiah 35, the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah directing Jeremiah to go to the house of the Rechabites (35:2a). Now the instruction that the Lord gives Jeremiah is for him to “speak to the Rechabites, bring them into the house of the Lord, into one of the chambers and give them wine to drink.” That is exactly what Jeremiah does. In verse 5 we find that Jeremiah set before the sons of the house of the Rechabites bowls full of wine and cups and said to them, “Drink wine.” According to verse 6, they refuse it. They don’t just say “we will drink no wine,” but they further go on to explain to Jeremiah the reason they will not partake of it.
The Rechabites said to Jeremiah that “for Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, commanded, saying ‘you shall drink no wine, you nor your sons forever” and they continued speaking on the other commands given by Jonadab in verse 7 saying, “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.”
I think it is quite obvious to us that the Lord had rhyme and reason to why He directed Jeremiah to go and get the Rechabites and offer them wine. But that’s always the question: Why is the Lord wanting him to do this; what is the point? Before we get to that, we need to first notice that the Rechabites were founded by the son of Rechab identified as Jonadab. To give some perspective here, Jonadab lived during the time of King Jehu as noted in 2 Kings 10. That means that was a long, long time ago! So, what is approximately 200 years or more later, this tribe called the Rechabites are still following the commands given by Jonadab, who has been dead for 200+ years.
I thought about reasons why Jonadab, who had seen corruption during the time of King Ahab and observed the grotesque immorality and idolatry, as to why he commanded his descendants to live a life that is distinctly different from those that surrounded them.
Now let me also point out here that the reason the Rechabites are in Jerusalem is because of something that the Lord through Jeremiah was trying to warn the people of Judah. And that is the Babylonians who were on their way! The Rechabites were in Jerusalem because the Babylonians came upon their area where they were sojourning, so they fled to Jerusalem that was still a safe haven for the time being.
What we find here in the first few verses is that of a great family example of obedience. Jonadab is dead and has been dead for a long time, and yet these people say, “NOPE, we will NOT drink the wine” offered by the prophet Jeremiah. They held to what Jonadab their father commanded as seen in verse 10.
So, what’s the point? As I mentioned, we knew that there was rhyme and reason for Jeremiah being sent by the Lord to speak to the Rechabites. Similar to what we found in Jeremiah 18 with the illustration of the potter and clay, here in Jeremiah 35 the word of the Lord comes to Jeremiah instructing him to go and tell the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, “will you not receive instruction to obey My words? Says the Lord.” (12,13)
The Rechabites have been obeying the voice of their ancestor Jonadab, again, who has been dead for a long time! I can’t help but think of all the things he commanded, instructed his descendants and the nomadic lifestyle. It could be speculated that Jonadab desired for his family to understand that through such a sojourning life and staying distant from things of the world would help remind them that just as we sing, “this world is not our home.”
What I find amazing is that his family still obeyed and held true to his words long after he was gone. Today, there are those who as soon as their grandparents, or parents die, they no longer heed the words that was imparted to them. In verses 14-16, the point that the Lord through Jeremiah is driving home through the illustration of the Rechabites is that just as the Rechabites were adhering to the commands of their ancestor Jonadab, who was certainly a good man and desired what was good for his family, the Lord desired for the people of Judah to follow His word, to be faithful to Him, their Father, who is and will ever be! The Rechabites were certainly following the promise that they made to Jonadab through generation after generation, and the Lord wants the people of Judah to obey His word.
In the last two verses of Jeremiah 35, the prophet Jeremiah gave a “thus said the Lord” to the house of the Rechabites, pronouncing a blessing on this faithful household (18,19). Three words that sums it up very nicely of the Rechabites, “Obeyed, Kept, Done”. Such obedience and faithfulness would be rewarded as the Lord states that the Rechabites “shall not lack a man to stand before Me forever.”
This article is quite simple in its illustration and to the point. I thought about what the Lord through Moses had told the Israelites in Deuteronomy 6:1-9. It is quite apparent that the Israelites would not follow those words and would fall away from the Lord. They could have certainly learned from the example of the Rechabites, who demonstrated exactly what commitment was, what faithfulness was, what obedience was.
I wondered that in 200+ years, what will my descendants be doing? Will they be following the words commanded, keeping those words diligently in their heart, living and sharing it with their descendants so it may be well with them?
I look at the immense immorality and idolatry that exists in our land, the corruption and I thought about what Jonadab saw in his time and the reason he wanted his family to steer clear of such. I know we consider the Rechabites to be a strange tribe with their nomadic lifestyle. Do people look at us and say, “they are peculiar?”(cf. 1 Peter 2:9-12). May we desire for our descendants to know what Jonadab desired for his.
I also thought about Jesus and Paul who both embodied the three words: “obeyed, kept, done.” Jesus was obedient to the death of the cross, becoming the author of eternal salvation to all those who believe on Him (Heb. 5:8,9). Jesus said from the cross, “it is finished.” Paul said, “I have fought the fight, kept the faith, finished the course, crown of righteousness being laid up for me.” The question I pose is this: Will we be able to say the same? Obeyed, kept, done!
Something to think about. Have a great week! – DJ 😊