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We have here a subject introduced in the midst of Israel's history, of the history of a family obedient to their father. The Prophet makes a suitable improvement from it, to set forth the shamefulness of the disobedience of the family of Israel towards God their Father.
This family of the Rechabites was an ancient family, for we find the founder of it in the days of Jesse, 2 Kings 10:15-16 . But some have supposed that it began much earlier, even tracing it to Hobab, Moses' father-in-law. I refer the Reader, if he be desirous to examine this point for himself, to Numbers 10:29-30 ; Judges 1:16 . The prohibition of wine should seem to imply, that the original founder was of the order of the Nazarites. But whether so or not, the house of the Rechabites became a living reproach to all the drunkards of Ephraim. Oh! for more of the house of the Rechabites in this our day!
Reader! after paying due attention to the filial reverence and charity of this house of the Rechabites, pause over the history, to gather another profitable instruction from it of a spiritual nature; and consider the blessedness of minds, like the Rechabites, who live detached and unconnected, and have only moveable tents to dwell in here below. The sorrows and exercises of the world are made tenfold grievous, from the large circle in which they take in those, who are ingulphed in the world and encumbered with many cares. If we are weaned from the earth, and the things of the earth, when called upon to depart from it, we shall be soon ready, for there are then few cords to tie the soul down. The believer may say with Jonadab's posterity, let me go up to the Jerusalem which is above, where Jesus is, the Chaldeans and the Syrians are nothing to me. Oh! the blessedness of such a frame!
Here we have the application of the history, as the Lord intended it, to Judah and Jerusalem: and a close heart-felt application it is. Reader! do not fail to observe the graciousness of the Lord to his people under all their unworthiness. Was there ever a nation or people so blessed! Was there ever a nation or people so rebellious! How the Chapter closeth, and what blessings to faithfulness are read to us in it! The Lord make it profitable. For if the Lord was well pleased with affection and obedience to one another among men, what blessedness must there be in our faithfulness unto God.
LET us not dismiss this Chapter without taking with it the instructions the Holy Ghost seems to have intended the Church to gather from it; for they are very many, and very interesting also. Surely the Lord hath not handed down to us this famous history of a single family, but with an express design that it might be profitable withal. There seems to be all along intended from it, a great heightening of men's folly in respect to their inattention to divine things, when in mere human things so much respect was shown. The father of the house of the Rechabites, had for many ages and generations this veneration manifested towards him, when he himself was mouldered to dust, and his ashes mingled with his original earth. But the inattention God's people manifested to the Lord, was to One who inhabiteth eternity: and who is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever! The house of the Rechabites knew Jonadab only by name: but the Lord of hosts was known to his people by power and mighty acts, in grace, mercy, and continual favor. The authority of Jonadab certainly ceased with his life. But Israel's God was their God forever and ever. And had the house of the Rechabites disobeyed Jonadab their father, the offence would have been against a man like themselves: but in Israel's disobedience, their rebellion was against the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, for this was his name forever, and this was his memorial to all generations. Pause, Reader! and in the view, think of the forbearance, and long-suffering, and goodness of the Lord: that notwithstanding Israel's perpetual and unceasing rebellion, the Lord still cast not away his people whom he foreknew. Still the Lord carried them on, and still he loved them; until at length Jesus came to bless them, in turning away everyone of them from their iniquities! Blessed be God for Jesus Christ!
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Jeremiah 35". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany