Jeremiah 35:16
Because the sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab have performed the commandment of their father, which he commanded them; but this people hath not hearkened unto me:
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Jeremiah 35:16

The Rechabites had lived a nomad life, dwelling in tents, not practising agriculture, abstaining from intoxicants. They were therein obeying the command of their ancestor, Jonadab. They had been driven by the Babylonian invasion to take refuge in Jerusalem, and, no doubt, were a nine days’ wonder there, with their strange ways. Jeremiah seized on their loyalty to their dead ancestor’s command as an object-lesson, by which he put a still sharper edge on his rebukes. The Rechabites gave their ancestral law an obedience which shamed Judah’s disobedience to Jehovah. God asks from us only what we are willing to give to one another, and God is often refused what men have but to ask and it is given. The virtues which we exercise to each other rebuke us, because we so often refuse to exercise them towards God.

I. Men’s love to men condemns their lovelessness towards God.

These Rechabites witnessed to the power of loyal love to their ancestor. Think of the wealth of love which we have all poured out on husbands, wives, parents, children, and of the few drops that we have diverted to flow towards God. What a full flood fills the one channel; what a shrunken stream the other!

Think of the infinitely stronger reasons for loving God than for loving our dearest.

II. Men’s faith in men condemns their distrust of God.

However you define faith, you find it abundantly exercised by us on the low plane of earthly relations. Is it belief in testimony? You men of business regulate your course by reports of markets on the other side of the world, and in a hundred ways extend your credence to common report, with but little, and often with no examination of the evidence. ‘If we believe the witness of men, the witness of God is greater.’ And how do we treat it? We are ready to accept and to act on men’s testimony; we are slow to believe God’s, and still slower to act on it, and to let it mould our lives.

Is faith the realising of the unseen? We exercise it in reference to the earthly unseen; we are slow to do so in reference to the heavenly things which are invisible.

Is faith the act of trust? Life is impossible without it. Not only is commerce a great system of credit, but no relations of life could last for a day without mutual confidence. We depend on one another, like a row of slightly built houses that help to hold each other up. These earthly exercises of trust should make it easier for us to rise to trusting God as much as we do each other. They ought to reveal to us the heavenly things. For indeed our human trust in one another should be a sample and shadow of our wise trust in the adequate Object of trust.

III. Men’s obedience to human authority condemns their rebellion against God.

Jonadab’s commandment evoked implicit obedience from his descendants for generations. Side by side in man’s strange nature, with his self-will and love of independence, lies an equally strong tendency to obey and follow any masterful voice that speaks loudly and with an assumption of authority. The opinions of a clique, the dogmas of a sect, the habits of a set, the sayings of a favourite author, the fashions of our class-all these rule men with a sway far more absolute than is exercised on them by the known will of God. The same man is a slave to usurped authority and a rebel against rightful and divine dominion.

Whether we consider the law of God in its claims or its contents, or its ultimate object, it is worthy of entire obedience. And what does it receive?

God asks from us only what we willingly give to men. Even the qualities and acts, such as love, trust, obedience, which as exercised towards men give dignity and beauty and strength, rise up in judgment to condemn us. There is a sense in which Augustine’s often-denounced saying that they are ‘splendid vices’ is true, for they are turned in the wrong direction, and very often their being directed so completely towards men and women is the reason why they are not directed towards God, who alone deserves and alone can satisfy and reward them. Then they become sins and condemn us.

35:12-19 The trial of the Rechabites' constancy was for a sign; it made the disobedience of the Jews to God the more marked. The Rechabites were obedient to one who was but a man like themselves, and Jonadab never did for his seed what God has done for his people. Mercy is promised to the Rechabites. We are not told respecting the performance of this promise; but doubtless it was performed, and travellers say the Rechabites may be found a separate people to this day. Let us follow the counsels of our pious forefathers, and we shall find good in so doing.All ... the prophets - The Rechabites had had but one lawgiver: the Jews had had a succession of messengers from God. 15. In Jer 35:15 and in 2Ch 36:15, a distinct mode of address is alluded to, namely, God sending His servants. (Jer 18:11; 25:5, 6). I enjoined nothing unreasonable, but simply to serve Me, and I attached to the command a gracious promise, but in vain. If Jonadab's commands, which were arbitrary and not moral obligations in themselves, were obeyed, much more ought Mine, which are in themselves right. No text from Poole on this verse.

Because the son of Jonadab the son of Rechab,.... Here we have the contrast between the Rechabites and the Israelites; the obedience of the one, and the disobedience of the other; the design of which is to aggravate and expose the sin of the Jews, since the former

have performed the commandment of their father, which he commanded them; that particular commandment of not drinking wine, which they had never once violated in such a course of time; nor could they now be prevailed upon, even by the prophet himself, to do it:

but this people hath not hearkened unto me; the Lord their God, their father that bought them, made them, and established them. Gross ingratitude! Deuteronomy 32:6.

Because the sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab have performed the commandment of their father, which he commanded them; but this people hath not hearkened unto me:
Verse 16. - Because, etc. This rendering is against Hebrew usage, and any reader will see that the obedience of the Rechabites stands in no inner connection with the sentence pronounced upon Judah. Ver. 16 is rather an emphatic recapitulation of what has preceded. It runs literally, (I say) that the sons of Jonadab have performed, etc., but (that) this people hath not hearkened unto me; or, in more English phraseology, "Yea, the sons of Jonadab," etc. Jeremiah 35:16The example of the Rechabites is one for Judah. - Jeremiah is to proclaim the word of the Lord to the people of Judah, as follows: Jeremiah 35:13. "Thus saith Jahveh of hosts, the God of Israel: Go and say to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Will ye not receive instruction by listening to my words? saith Jahveh. Jeremiah 35:14. The words of Jonadab the son of Rechab, who commanded this sons not to drink wine, are performed, and they have drunk no wine to this day, but have obeyed the command of their father. But I have spoken unto you, rising up early and speaking, yet ye have not listened unto me. Jeremiah 35:15. And I sent unto you all my servants the prophets, rising early and sending them, saying, Turn ye, now, every one from his evil way, and do good deeds, and do not go after other gods, to serve them; then shall ye dwell in the land which I have given to you and to your fathers. But ye did not incline your ear, nor hearken unto me. Jeremiah 35:16. Yea, the children of Jonadab the son of Rechab have observed the commandment of their father which he commanded them, while this people have not hearkened unto me. Jeremiah 35:17. Therefore, thus saith Jahveh, the God of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will bring upon Judah and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the evil which I have uttered regarding them, because I spake unto them and they did not hear, and I called unto them, but they did not answer. Jeremiah 35:18. And to the house of the Rechabites Jeremiah said: Thus saith Jahveh of hosts, the God of Israel, Because ye have listened to the command of Jonadab your father, and have kept all his commandments, and have done according to all that he commanded you, Jeremiah 35:19. Therefore, thus saith Jahveh of hosts, the God of Israel, Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not want a man to stand before me for ever."

The command, "Go and speak to the men of Judah," etc., shows that it was not in the chamber of the temple, in presence of the Rechabites, but probably in one of the temple fore-courts, that Jeremiah addressed the following word of the Lord to the people assembled there. In order to shame the Jews thoroughly, he shows them the faithfulness with which the Rechabites observe the ordinances of their ancestor Jonadab. The character of the address, as one intended to rouse feelings of shame, is indicated even at the beginning of Jeremiah 35:13 : "Will ye not receive instruction by hearkening to the words of the Lord?" The Hoph. הוּקם is construed as a passive with the accus.; in the older writers we frequently find this construction, in which the passive is used impersonally, hence the sing. is here employed: cf. Ges. 143, 1, Ew. 295, b. "To this day" - now for nearly 300 years without interruption; for Jonadab was already held in high esteem when Jehu ascended the throne, 883 b.c. (2 Kings 10:15). Judah, on the contrary, does not listen to the commandments which his God unceasingly inculcates on him, but rather wanders after other gods, to serve them. On Jeremiah 35:15 cf. Jeremiah 25:4-5. אל־האדמה stands for על־האדמה , Jeremiah 25:5. - In Jeremiah 35:16, where the introductory כּי, imo, indicates a culmination, the idea is once more briefly expressed. Ngelsbach incorrectly renders כּי "because," and makes Jeremiah 35:16 the protasis to Jeremiah 35:17. "Such a protasis with because (quia), without any connection with what precedes, is contrary to the use of language" (Hitzig). On the threat of punishment in Jeremiah 35:17, see Jeremiah 11:11.

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