Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 35

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-11



Jehoiakim, the son of Josiah, was still king in Jerusalem when the episode recorded in this chapter took place. The Rechabites, concerning which Jeremiah writes in this chapter, were descendants from the Kenites (Judges 1:16; 1 Chronicles 2:55) - the tribe to which Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, belonged. They had cast their lot with the Israelites at the time of Exodus. Jonadab, the founder of this religious clan, had been a militant accomplice of Jehu in the savage purge of the house of Ahab and the massacre of the devotees of Baal, (about 840 B.C.; 2 Kings 10:15-31).

1. Here the Lord instructs Jeremiah to go to the Rechabites, bring them to one of the chambers of the temple, and there to offer them wine to drink. (vs. 1-2).

2. Thus, the prophet went to Jaazaniah the son of Jeremiah (no relation to the prophet), who appears to have been the leader of the clan, - bringing him, his brothers and their sons (the whole house of the Rechabites) as the Lord had instructed him, (vs.3).

3. This being another of his SYMBOLIC ACTS, Jeremiah escorted them into the public room of "the sons of Hanan", the son of lgdaliah, who is called "the man of God", (vs. 4; comp. 1 Samuel 9:6; 2 Kings 1:9; 2 Kings 4:9).

a. This room was located beside that of the princes of Judah.

b. It was above the chamber of Maaseiah, who was keeper the threshold (comp. Jeremiah 52:24; 2 Kings 25:18) - an ancient priestly office ­having charge of the money allocated for temple repairs, (2 Kings 12:10), and highly placed in the cults, (Jeremiah 52:24).

c. This Maaseiah may have been the father of Zepaniah, the priest, (Jeremiah 21:1; Jeremiah 29:25).

4. Then Jeremiah set wine before them and invited them to drink, (vs. 5; comp. Deuteronomy 8:1-3; 2 Corinthians 2:9).

5. But, the Rechabites declined to accept of his hospitality in this matter - choosing, rather, to obey the voice of their ancestor, Jonadab, who had forbidden them to drink wine - along with a number of other things, (vs. 6-7).

a. They were to build no permanent dwellings, sow no seeds, and plant no vineyards; rather, they were instructed to be nomadic tent­ dwellers.

b. Evidently despising the kind of life that he saw developing in the cities (with their corrupting tendencies, commercial exploitation and wine), Jonadab believed that his posterity would live fuller, richer and longer lives by following the simplicity of the plan he outlined before them.

c. Living as "strangers and pilgrims" in the land, though native Israelites, they were to be prepared to move at God’s command, (Hebrews 11:13; Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 2:11).

6. The Rechabites have explicitly obeyed the command of Jonadab their father, for almost 300 years - without compromise or change, (vs. 8-10; Proverbs 1:8-9; Proverbs 4:1-2; Proverbs 4:10; Proverbs 6:20; Ephesians 6:1; Colossians 3:20).

7. Only because of their fear of the armies of the Chaldeans, and of "Aram" (Syria, Genesis 25:20; Judges 10:6; 2 Kings 24:2) were they then living in Jerusalem at the time of this incident, (vs. 11; 2 Kings 24:1-2; Daniel 1:1-2).

8. This incident is not recorded to approve OR condemn the wisdom of Jonadab’s orders, but to illustrate the strict adherence of the Rechabites to their father’s will!

Verses 12-19


1. Having tested and proved the fidelity of the Rechabites, God now directs Jeremiah to use their refusal to compromise their ideals as an object lesson for Judah, (vs. 12-13): "Will YOU not receive instruction to hearken to MY WORDS?" saith the Lord.

2. The Rechabites have faithfully obeyed the commandment of an EARTHLY father!

3. Judah’s HEAVENLY FATHER, her Lord and Maker, has also commanded her how to live! (vs. 14b-15).

a. Eagerly rising early, He has called her to walk in His ways; but Judah has not listened!

b. He has repeatedly sent faithful prophets to them:

1) Pleading with them to amend their ways and turn from their evil practices.

2) Warning them against the self-destructive folly of chasing after false deities, that they might bow themselves before NOTHING!

3) Reminding them of the promised blessing, of safe dwelling in their own land, if they would but OBEY GOD’S VOICE!

4. But Judah has stopped her ears and refused to listen! The words which, at Mt Sinai, they pledged themselves to obey, have long since been discarded and rejected, by them as an acceptable way of life, (vs. 16; comp. Deuteronomy 1:31; Isaiah 1:2; Jeremiah 3:4; Malachi 1:6).

5. Because of their disregard for His word, God is bringing upon Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the judgments of which He has persistently warned them through the prophets, (vs. 17; Jeremiah 7:13-15; Jeremiah 7:24-27; Jeremiah 19:3; Jeremiah 19:15; Jeremiah 21:4-10; Proverbs 1:24-25; Isaiah 65:12; Isaiah 66:4; Luke 13:34-35; Romans 10:21).

6. Because the Rechabites have been faithful to the commands of their father, Jonadab, the Lord promises perpetual blessing upon them, (vs. 18-19; Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:1-3; comp. Luke 21:34-36).

a. Their family will be divinely preserved - assuring that they will always have a posterity to serve Jehovah.

b. That there were survivors through the destruction of Jerusalem is evident from the later mention of a descendant in Nehemiah 3:14.

A Lesson for Today

If one reads this lesson with seeing eyes, hearing ears and a heart open to instruction, he will surely recognize the folly of bowing to the tyranny of tradition - of being held in the iron grip of a dead past, when it is possible to hear, from the lips of the Most High, ever-fresh whispers of His will, direction and guidance toward triumphant living in the present. This tendency of men to yield themselves more readily to some command, or idea of the past, while refusing to hear and obey the ever-present and Living God is a persistent one. Such folly overlooks the fact that God, Who alone knows man (Psalms 139) and his varied circumstances, is ALWAYS AT HAND - immediately available if we but seek His will with a willing heart, (John 7:17).

Recognizing how deeply His beloved people were bowed in bondage to a dead past, Jesus deliberately, and consistently, set Himself to violate, repudiate and eradicate those traditions from their national life. While God was eagerly rising early - ready to whisper to His people the secret of the day, and to give direction for the mysteries of a life that they could not fully comprehend - they submitted the complexity, mystery, and majesty of life to the tradition of yesterday and would not listen to the voice of their Maker, Father, Lord and King! Yet, how desperately did they need to hear His voice, and to walk in fellowship with Him! (John 17:3).

It is feared that many Christians today respond far more quickly and obediently to the voice of tradition than to the voice of God -to human rules and regulations (made in a dead past), rather than to the living principles of God’s Word. Principles never change, but fresh applications of those principles are required by the changes of circumstances, time and place. Human rules, designed to regulate the. lives of posterity - even when found within the very body of Christ -are just as potentially destructive as were the traditions of ancient Israel!

Such a triumphantly great and fulfilling life as will challenge the ages is the life that is lived in constant fellowship with God - a life that is gloriously liberated from the tyranny of tradition and the fear of public opinion - because it walks in the light of its Giver, Sustainer, Lover, Helper and Friend!

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Jeremiah 35". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. 1985.