The Word Made Fresh
1During the reign of King Jehoiakim son of Josiah of Judah, this word came from the LORD to Jeremiah:
2Go to the Rechabite home and invite them to come to the LORD’s house.
Meet with them in one of the rooms and provide wine for them to drink. 3So, I brought Jaazaniah son of Jeremiah son of Habazziniah, along with his brothers and sons and the entire family 4to the Lord’s house and gathered them in the room of the children of Hanan son of Igdaliah, who is a man of God. This room was near the room of the temple officers and above the chamber of Maaseiah son of Shallum, who was responsible for tending the entrance. 5I brought pitchers of wine and cups for the Rechabites and invited them to drink. 6but they refused. “We don’t drink wine,” they said. “Our ancestor Jonadab son of Rechab told us to never drink wine nor give it to our children. 7Not only that, but we also are forbidden to build houses or sow crops or plant or even own vineyards. We must live in tents all our lives so that we will have many days in this land. 8We have kept the instructions Jonadab gave us. We and our wives and children drink no wine, 9nor have we built houses to live in. We have no vineyards and have not planted crops. 10We have lived in tents and have obeyed everything our ancestor Jonadab told us. 11When King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon attacked, we decided to come to Jerusalem in fear of the Babylonian army. That’s why we are now living here.”
12Then the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel said to Jeremiah, “Go tell the people of Judah and the people in Jerusalem, ‘Can you learn a lesson and obey my instructions? 14The order has been obeyed that Jonadab son of Rechab gave his children to drink no wine, and they have not had wine to this day. They obeyed their ancestor’s orders. But I have spoken to you over and over and you have not obeyed me. 15I have sent my servants, the prophets, to all of you, over and over, telling you to turn from your wicked ways and change your behavior. Don’t chase after other gods to serve them, and you may live in the land I gave your ancestors. But you have ignored me.’ 16The children of Jonadab son of Rechab have kept the instructions their ancestor gave them. But these people have not obeyed me. 17So,” says the LORD God Almighty, “I am going to visit upon Judah and on the people who live in Jerusalem every punishment I have pronounced against them. I have spoken to them, and they have not listened. I have called to them, and they have not responded.”
18But to the family of the Rechabites Jeremiah said, “The LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says that since you have obeyed the orders of your ancestor Jonadab and kept all his instructions and done everything he told you to do, 19 Jonadab son of Rechab will always have a member of his family who serves me.”
1-11: The Rechabites are unknown elsewhere, but there is a little information about their ancestor Rechab and his son Jonadab (also called Jehonadab) at 2 Kings 10:15-23. Jonadab was an ally of Jehu who assassinated King Jehoram son of Ahab of Israel. The point of the story here is, of course, the remarkable obedience of this nomadic family to the instructions of their ancestor Jonadab son of Rechab in stark contrast to the easy disobedience of the citizens of Jerusalem.
12-17: That contrast now forms the basis of the pronouncement God tells Jeremiah to make against the citizenry.
18-19: The citizens of Jerusalem will be wiped out because of their disobedience.
The Rechabites, at least some of them, will survive because of their demonstration of strict obedience. Let that be a lesson to us all.