Then came the word of the LORD to Jeremiah, saying,…
I. HOW FAR THE MEN OF JUDAH WERE REALLY CONDEMNED; i.e. How far were the cases really parallel? The first question to be asked is - Were the men of Judah as able to obey the commandments of Jehovah as the Rechabites were to obey the precept of Jonadab? and, of course, the answer is that for many reasons they were not. But passing this over for the present, let us notice the one respect in which Israelites were lamentably different from Rechabites. The Rechabites gloried in their attachment to the precept of their ancestor; it was a sort of point of honour with them; whereas the Israelites were in no way grieved, humiliated, or ashamed because of their disobedience. If only it had been a continual and sore trouble of heart that there was not in them strength to obey God, why, this very trouble would have been a measure of obedience. But they both disobeyed and disobeyed in the most heedless and audacious way. Instead of receiving prophets with contrition and as messengers of God, they laughed them to scorn, abused them, and even put them to death. And similarly the Rechabites reprove us. In the midst of all our natural inability to give a true obedience to Divine requirements, we should be incessantly troubled by this; then would the way be made open for revealing to us how obedience becomes possible.
II. HOW FAR THE RECHABITES WERE REALLY PRAISED. After all, Rechabite and Israelite were really the same sort of beings. If they had exchanged places, they would have exchanged conduct. The Israelite was quite capable of sticking, with utmost tenacity, to some external rule. And the Rechabite, we may be quite sure, was equally incapable, with the Israelite, of obeying the commandments of God. But the Rechabite was to be praised in this that he recognized an authority outside of his own wishes. The law under which he lived might not go very far; but it operated with certainty so far as it did go. The Rechabite would have died rather than violate the ancestral prohibition. God ever recognizes conformity to law as a good thing. We must, therefore, not go seeking in these Rechabites more than God has appointed us to find. The one good thing in them was singled out to point a most humiliating lesson and vindicate the need of a severe chastisement. Compared with the benefits of Jehovah toward Israel, what had Jonadab done for the Rechabites? - Y.
Parallel VersesKJV: Then came the word of the LORD unto Jeremiah, saying,