Bible Study, Commentary

Jeremiah 35 – Solitary Man

Photos courtesy Depositphotos

Jeremiah 35

Febuary 11, 2024 1:58 PM
Solitary Man


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,

Once again we are taken back in time. Jehoiakim reigned from 608 to 597 BC. The first deportation to Babylon occurred in 605 BC.

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.

The house of Rechab belonged to the Kenites (1 Chr 2:55, Judg 1:16). The Kenites had joined Israel in their exodus from Egypt. They were a nomadic tribe who had settled within Israel’s territory. They retained many traditional customs throughout their generations, as this chapter will illustrate.

Once again another chapter begins with a strange command from God. Why would God want to bring this non Israeli tribe into the temple annex and make them drink wine? They probably weren’t even a proselyte tribe, just a Gentile people who had chosen to live in Israel’s land, and be subject to their laws and perhaps adopt their God. Their founder was Jonadab, or Jehonadab, who was an ally of Jehu when overthrew the house of Ahab (2 Ki 10:15).

Two points come to mind. The first is that God seems to like to test us with strange commands. If all he asked us is things that our natural reasoning would readily agree with, then that would not be much of a test. If on the other hand he asks us something we’d never of thought of in the first place, that can be a sign it’s not from our own imagination. As long as it doesn’t contradict the word, or serve to draw attention to ourselves without any spiritual benefit to anyone, then it probably is the Lord.

The second point is the continual Christian controversy over alcohol. No one can intelligently argue that either old or new testament believers did not drink wine. It was simply a part of daily life. Whether or not it was because it was safer than oft polluted water is beside the point. People in the west have made a big deal out of it because of the Puritanism that so influenced western Christian thought. There is always a tendency to go to extremes when we see some abuse. I am sure drunkenness amongst catholic priests was very prevalent when that was the only church in the land. As Protestantism took hold, more and more stricter sects emerged, each claiming to be more pure than the last. Seeing the evils of drunkenness, doctrines were created that prohibited all alcohol. While there is nothing wrong with that idea in and of itself, it certainly was not biblically based.

In my own life, I indulged in excessive drinking until I got saved at age 20. i believed that I was an alcoholic. Whether or not I have been delivered completely of alcoholism or not, or if the weakness remains forever, is a debate for another day. In either case, I simply made the choice not to drink any more liquor, as I don’t need to tempt the Lord given my past history. This is no way means that I have any problem with anyone else who is under no such conviction. Let each man be fully convinced in their own mind. I believe this issue should be a non-issue. If you feel no check in your heart about taking the occasional drink, that is between you and the Lord. Since there are so many sects that frown upon all alcohol, for the sake of unity this personal conviction should never be flaunted.

Because so many believers grew up with it being absolutely taboo, the desire to partake when older probably led many to abuse it. What is forbidden always seems more desirable in our sinful hearts. I have heard of studies where Jewish children have some of the lowest rates of alcoholism of any group, because they grew up around the moderate consumption of it all their lives, and it was never a big deal.

I have seen, though, certain Christians vigorously defend the concept of a glass of wine with meals. Inevitably, it becomes a bit of an issue in some cases. If you find yourself having to defend some practice over and over, chances are that God has put others in your path that are serving as a sign that maybe you need to reexamine your practice and see if the Lord really wants you to continue to engage in it. This applies to much more than alcohol. Perhaps it’s the shows you watch. The events you attend. The amount of attention given to social media. The extreme devotion to your children. Fill in the blank.

These are the kinds of issues that cause such great rifts in the body. Let us walk, no run, away from fights over these side issues. But let us also be ruthlessly honest with ourselves. We will all be confronted by the Holy Spirit sooner of later over some practice that while not specifically forbidden in the word, has become a stumbling block either to yourself or to others, and you need to have the grace and humility to willingly let it go, in order to please the Lord.

Jer 35:3 Then I took Jaazaniah (Jehovah hears) the son of Jeremiah (Jah will rise), the son of Habaziniah (uncertain – it may mean Jehovah gathers), and his brethren, and all his sons, and the whole house of the Rechabites;

It would seem that this clan shared the faith of the Hebrews, incorporating the name of Yahweh into their children’s names. They may of been full fledged proselytes, or simply feared the god of the Hebrews, living in his domain or territory. Of course, the Jeremiah mentioned here is a different one from the prophet.

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 (magnified of Yah), a man of God (elohim), which was by the chamber of the princes, which was above the chamber of Maaseiah (work of Jah) the son of Shallum, the keeper of the door:

Solomon’s temple had apartments for conspicuous personages. Hanan had such an apartment, and may of been an admirer or even a disciple of Jeremiah. It seems clear that Jeremiah had no such chamber of his own. All this detail was to stress that this was a real event, most probably in the presence of several witnesses of the priestly and prophetic line.

Some think Hanan was Hanani the seer in the days of Asa (2 Chr 16:7). Thus the sons of Hanan would not be his direct son, but the name of his ancestor’s house, which is often the way people’s lineages are described. Thus this household would of had a long and prestigious prophetic history.

Shallum was the husband of Huldah the prophetess 92 Ki 22:14) in the reign of Josiah and was described as the keeper of the wardrobe, which probably meant the vestments of the priests. Since Jeremiah chose to bring this family into this particular person’s apartment, we may be getting a hint as to whom may of influenced the prophet’s upbringing. Shallum and Huldah would of been influential in the era of Josiah’s reforms. Their son would of been immersed in that work. The fact that Jeremiah came here could of been a sign that he was trained and influenced by this prophetic family.

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.

How many of us would immediately go out to the liquor store and buy a bottle of alcohol if God said to do so? Especially if you never drank yourself? The point is that God asked Jeremiah to do something very unusual. Why would God ask him to go and make this entire family drink wine? This may not of been as strange as asking a tee totalling Baptist to do so, yet it was something he’d never think to do on his own. Did Jeremiah even know who these people were? Maybe the strangest part in Jeremiah’s mind wasn’t what he was asked to do, but who he was asked to do it with? Maybe this whole clan were complete strangers to him?

Nobody ever said that God will never ask you to do uncomfortable things! Think about the times he nudges you to go and witness to a complete stranger. How sometimes we obeyed, and sometimes we did not. This is life’s great adventure for the spirit filled believer. Not only hearing, but obeying the voice of the Lord, no matter how uncomfortable it may make us.

You have to remember that Jeremiah most likely had no idea why God was asking him to do what he was supposed to do. God would only reveal the reason after Jeremiah obeyed.

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:

Now we begin to understand what this is all about. Note that Jeremiah commanded them to drink wine, he did not say, ‘God commands you to drink wine’. Thus the Rechabites were free to obey or disobey.

We find out that their founder from way back in time had made a vow. None of his descendants were to ever drink wine. Sort of like embracing the Nazirite vow perpetually.

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.

Jonadab also imposed a nomadic way of life on his household. He wanted his seed to be free from the contamination of living within the cities, where the temptations were to be found. They were to be free of acquired property. Stuff ties people down, and they must devote time and attention in protecting it. He did not want his clan to become subject and dependant on any one or any thing. He wanted to always keep them separate. He would not of been a fan of the 15 minute cities.

Isn’t this what God wants for each and every one of us spiritually? That the desires of our hearts are to be kept separate from the desires of the hearts of the earth dwellers all around us? Should we not always seek to separate our values completely from the values of the beast system that we find ourselves in?

Seems as if this man heard some sort of promise from God, that if he and his sons lived a separated life, that God would bless them with long lives. God may have a unique blessing in store for you, but it may involve obeying some unique conditions.

Jer 35:8 Thus have we obeyed (shama – to hear intelligently, with the implication of obedience) 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 (shama), and done according to all that Jonadab our father commanded us.

This is absolutely stunning. Jonadab lived almost 300 years ago, yet here his descendants are still obeying every command given them. No compromises. No picking and choosing what to obey, what to throw away.

This is a perfect example of what it means to truly shama. To hear and obey. Not partially obey. Not obey some of the time. Not obey for a season, then quit. For almost 300 years, this family obeyed some long lost ancestor.

Now one may argue about being held hostage by the wishes of one’s parents or family traditions. This story is not here to discuss the bondage some parents place on their children with their own expectations. Forget about that aspect of this story. It’s not the right lesson for this passage. God will reveal to us the spiritual truth we are supposed to take away from it.

This is where a lot of people get tripped up when reading the word. They see a story that contains some distasteful aspect. Say it’s a story about slavery. Because we find slavery personally repugnant, we shut our minds and hearts off and perhaps miss the eternal truths that God is attempting to teach us. So here in this chapter you may of had overbearing parents that forced you into some career that you hated. You see the same pattern in this story and immediately become offended. You then miss out on what the Holy Spirit wants to say to you. Perhaps some children chafed at this tradition. Perhaps some ran away. That’s not important. What is important is that those who were there, were there because they had learned the true meaning of shama. Hear and obey.

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.

Here is the explanation of why we find these Bedouins inside the city. This is a temporary measure. They had no choice. If they chose to legalistically keep the letter of the law, they would of been killed by the invading army. It is fine to obey. You may of prided yourself in never having told a lie. But if it meant disclosing a fellow human being to an enemy who would kill them, would you still self righteously tell the murderer where the person hiding was located, in order to keep the letter of the law?

As the Rechabites discovered, there are times when we need to set one law aside for an even higher law. They were not breaking their oath to their revered ancestor by temporarily seeking shelter within the confines of the city walls. They were not planning to dwell there. Circumstances forced them to make a temporary adjustment. We need to be flexible in making temporary adjustments in our lives. We live in an imperfect world, and sometimes we are forced to make less than ideal choices. This is the stress and challenge of day to day living, especially having to navigate in these evil days.

Jer 35:12 Then came the word of the LORD unto Jeremiah, saying,

Now God is going to reveal what this is all about.

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 (moo-sawr – chastisement, reproof, warning) to hearken (shama) 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 (shama) their father’s commandment (mits-vaw – law, ordinance, precept): notwithstanding I have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking; but ye hearkened (shama) not unto me.

Here is the great spiritual lesson of the chapter. God is saying tell all the men of this city and this land what I am about to say.

Some guy makes a vow 300 years ago, and his offspring still obey it to this day. They perfectly shama, yet all you people refuse to shama me. Why will you shama some dead man but not shama your living God? This is all about the fundamental requirement to shama the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.

The point of the story is not how God is so impressed that they drink no alcohol. The particular family law that they have obeyed is not the point. The point is that here is a family that serves as a shining example of what it means to truly shama. This is what I expect of all my people in regards to shama’ing me.

Another aspect is that this family so fully consecrated themselves to the deh-rek – the course or road of life of their original father. They were willing to put away the permissible things of this life in order to keep the torah of their ancestor. So we need to have the exact same attitude when it comes to our father in heaven.

Why are we so quick to obey man and not God? God praises these son’s willingness to perfectly shama their father. God longs for sons that will shama him so completely and comprehensively, generation after generation, like the Rechabites have exhibited.

Jer 35:15 I have sent also unto you all my servants (bondmen) the prophets, rising up early and sending them, saying, Return (shoob) ye now every man from his evil (rah) way (deh-rek), and amend (yaw-tab – make well) your doings (acts), 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 (shama) unto me.

The message sounds depressingly familiar, does it not? Time and time again, God speaks of shama, rah, deh-rek and shoob. By now we’ve become quite the Hebrew scholars! These same words are used over and over. Why is that? Because wicked men still don’t get it. We don’t need some deep revelation. We’re not waiting for some dark secret that will give us the keys to victory.

For the upteenth time, God commands us to shoob (turn away) from our rah (evil), shoob (turn around) toward him, embark upon the correct deh-rek (road, course of life), by shama’ing (hearing and immediately obeying) all his word. If you can absorb and live this one sentence, you have captured the essence of the entire book of Jeremiah.

What is it about the allure of these other gods? Up until recently, we may not of even had a clue that these filthy, abominable hell spawned creatures would ever tempt sensible men. Yet look at our societies now. The sorts of sexual filth and incredible obscenity being shown to our kinds in schools are beyond comprehension. Many kids are coming come, seriously traumatized by what they were exposed to. Yet many more begin to willingly embrace the worst sorts of sexual depravity. How is it that these demonized teachers have absolutely no shame when they talk about these things? No animal ever sinks so low as to engage in some of these horrific sex acts that they speak of. Yet this is what happens when you worship the other gods out there. The way that these fallen ones think is beyond normal men to grasp. I find I have to be more and more careful about what details I allow myself to hear when investigating some of these things. Some things are not meant to be looked upon. The spiritual scarring of some things can be pervasive. Some things you cannot unsee.

We are about the lose the lands our forefathers so valiantly fought for. All because we refuse to shoob and shama the way God is imploring us to do, again and again.

Jer 35:16 Because the sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab have performed the commandment (mits-vah) of their father, which he commanded them; but this people hath not hearkened (shama) unto me:

God is about to explain the different outcomes of those that shama their father, and those who don’t.

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 (rah) that I have pronounced against them: because I have spoken unto them, but they have not heard (shama); and I have called unto them, but they have not answered (aw-naw – responded, paid any attention).

First, the judgment of the Jews. God simply confirms all the horrible judgments that he has promised in several previous prophecies. Remember this word was given during the time of Jehoiakim, so there was still a short space to repent, and some of the sentence could of been mitigated. That window was closing very fast, just like it is for us in 2024.

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 (mits-vah) of Jonadab your father, and kept all his precepts (mits-vah), and done according unto all that he hath commanded (tsaw-vaw – appointed for you) you:
Jer 35:19 Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not want (kaw-rath – to cut a covenant) a man to stand before me (before my face) for ever.

Obedience always has its rewards. This man’s bloodline shall never be extinguished. Someone will stand literally in God’s face at all times. This seems to indicate that someone will always know him in his bloodline. I wonder if that means that their descendants have already discovered the savior? It would not surprise me in the least.

Here is another place where a Hebrew word has a different application. Kaw-rath, to cut a covenant, is the typical meaning. Here it’s more like to cut off. God promises Jonadab that his lineage shall never be cut off. What a wonderful promise that we all wish for all our children!

God has shown us that it is possible to walk in the same ordinances and commandments generation after generation. I am sure the descendants of Jonadab must of complained that their family needed to get with the times. Don’t you know everyone now has cell phones? Why are we the only family without internet access? Don’t you know everyone listens to this music? Don’t you know everyone else’s church teach these things? Why do we still believe the same way our great, great, great, great grandfather used to believe? Don’t you know the mockery and scorn I face in school every day? We got to get a place in the city. That’s the only way I’ll get the education I need to survive out there. You must understand that Jonadab’s commands are not meant to be taken literally. It’s a living document, and we need to interpret it according to the demands of modern culture and circumstance.

Be more like Jonadab, and your bloodline may just be preserved in the final day. Be more like Judah, and you can guarantee that it will not.

Solitary Man

Photos courtesy Depositphotos


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