For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2003 James Melough

35:1.  “The word which came unto Jeremiah from the Lord in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, saying,”


See the notes at the end of the introduction, relative to the reason for the placing of this prophesy out of chronological order.


35:2.  “Go into the house of the Rechabites, and speak unto them, and bring them into the house of the Lord, into one of the chambers, and give them wine to drink.”


The Rechabites were nomads related to the Kenites from whom Jethro, Moses father-in-law was descended.  They had helped Jehu in the elimination of the worship of Baal, see 2 Ki 10:15-28. In 598 BC, however, Nebuchadnezzar’s incursion against Judah forced them to settle in Jerusalem.


The “chambers” mentioned here were rooms around the Temple court, used as priests’ dwellings, as meeting places, and for storage, see 1 Ki 6:5; 1 Chr 28:12; 2 Chr 31:11-12, and Neh 13:7-9.


35:3.  “Then I took Jaazaniah the son of Jeremiah, the son of Habaziniah, and his brethren, and all his sons, and the whole house of the Rechabites;”


Nothing is known of Jaazaniah or Habaziniah.


35:4.  “And I brought them into the house of the Lord, into the chamber of the sons of Hanan, the son of Igdaliah, a man of God, which was by the chamber of the princes, which was above the chamber of Maasiah the son of Shallum, the keeper of the door:”


Nothing is known of Hanan, Igdaliah, Maasiah, or Shallum.


35:5.  “And I set before the sons of the house of the Rechabites pots full of wine, and cups, and I said unto them, Drink ye wine.”


35:6.  “But they said, We will drink no wine: for Jonadab the son of Rechab our father commanded us, saying, ye shall drink no wine, neither ye, nor your sons for ever:”


35:7.  “Neither shall ye build house, nor sow seed, nor plant vineyard, nor have any: but all your days ye shall dwell in tents; that ye may live many days in the land where ye be strangers.”


A careful study of this chapter indicates that Jonadab, the obedient father of the equally obedient Rechabites, is a type of the Lord Jesus Christ.


Rechab and Rechabite mean charioteer: rider, meanings which at first glance afford no clue as to the spiritual significance of these people.  There can, however, be little doubt that they are prototypes of believers who are to pass through this world as pilgrims and strangers whose confession is that, “... here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come,” He 13:14; and whose condition is to be marked by obedience to Peter’s plea, “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul,” 1 Pe 2:11.  Since, then, they do represent obedient believers, the meanings charioteer: rider have something else to teach us, for the chariot is the vehicle of the successful overcomer; while the horse is a biblical symbol of strength, his rider controlling that strength.


But the emphasis here is on the fact that the Rechabites, obedient to the command of their father Jonadab, meaning Jehovah is willing giver, would not drink wine, which is the biblical symbol of joy, either the true joy given by God, or the empty fleeting shallow joy offered by earthly pleasures, the present context making it clear that the latter meaning is the one which applies here. 


Wine, however, was not the only thing proscribed: they were not to build houses, engage in farming, plant or own vineyards, the practical lesson for believers being that we are not to become involved in the world’s business to any greater extent than is necessary to supply our needs.


The objective in all of this was that they might “live many days in the land where ye be strangers.” The “many days” speak of the abundant life available to the obedient believer, no matter whether his days on earth be many or few.  And we should note again that the land in which they lived, was one in which they were “strangers.”  So is this world for believers.  We are simply passing through it on our way home to heaven.


Christendom has been guilty of great departure from the Divine standard; but sadly, so have all too many genuine believers.


35:8.  “Thus have we obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab our father in all that he hath charged us, to drink no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, nor our daughters;”


35:9.  “Nor to build houses for us to dwell in: neither have we vineyard, nor field, nor seed.”


Their obedience wasn’t confined to themselves as individuals.  They saw to it that those under their control were also obedient; and certainly the application is first to our own families; but we would be missing the point if we failed to recognize that that responsibility goes beyond our literal families; it applies also to what is spiritual.  The wife in Scripture represents the expression of the believer’s spiritual life, i.e., the life which others observe: our daily conduct.  There should be no contradiction between what we profess, and how we think, speak, and act.


Sons and daughters represent respectively the activity and passivity of our will, so that the Rechabites’ control of their sons and daughters teaches the lesson that what we do, and refrain from doing, are to be in accord with God’s will.


Their having neither built houses, planted vineyards, tilled fields, nor sown any seed, all translate into the spiritual truth that as spiritual Rechabites we are to be occupied with the things of this world no more than is necessary to supply our needs.


35:10.  “But we have dwelt in tents, and have obeyed, and done according to all that Jonadab our father commanded us.”


Abraham, the great man of faith, lived in the same fashion.  We read often of his pitching his tent, but never of his having built a house, or of his having lived in one; and of him it is written, “For he looked for a (correctly the) city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God,” He 11:10.


35:11.  “But it came to pass, when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up into the land, that we said, Come, and let us go to Jerusalem for fear of the army of the Chaldeans, and for fear of the army of the Syrians: so we dwell at Jerusalem.”


The literal history continues to be simply the vehicle by which God conveys spiritual instruction, for Babylon, meaning confusing (by mixing), represents that great evil religious system, back to which every false religious organization can be traced, the  apostate travesty centered today in Rome, and ruling virtually all of apostate Christendom, being its “Christianized” representative.  Never was a name more appropriate, for it is by mixing its lies with the truth of Scripture, that Roman Catholicism has duped countless multitudes into accepting its deadly doctrine as the very word of God.


And it is instructive to note that Nebuchadnezzar, the best known of Babylon’s kings, and a type of Satan, means confusing the lord of treasure: prophesy, the earthen vessel is preserved.  Through the false teaching of his earthly minions, Roman Catholic priests and Protestantism’s false teachers, Satan has succeeded all too well in confusing those whom God desires to be “lords of treasure,” i.e., those who, were they willing to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, would thereby, through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit Who indwells every believer, become possessed of eternal treasure: the ability to understand the wealth available to them in the Scriptures.


By continuing to view these details symbolically, we see in Babylon’s invasion of the land, Satan’s early attack on Christianity, and as that invasion impelled the Rechabites to seek refuge in Jerusalem, synonymous with the presence of God, and meaning dual peace shall be taught: lay (set) ye double peace, so did Satan’s earliest attacks on Christianity drive true Christians nearer to God and to a firmer grasp of His peace “which passeth all understanding,”


The name Chaldea (another name for Babylon) means as clod-breakers, i.e., those lacking skill to do anything other than to dig in the earth; and the name is particularly appropriate to those entangled in the evil religious system represented by Babylon.  Lack of spiritual enlightenment leaves them incapable of anything other than the ability to read only the literal language of Scripture, while remaining ignorant of its true spiritual content.  They are mere spiritual clod-breakers.


But joined with the Babylonians were the Syrians, meaning exalted, and speaking of pride; and again, the spiritual lesson is crystal clear.  The pompous pride of the Roman Catholic system is glaringly apparent to all but the dupes of the system.  Consider, for example, the earthly splendor of the Papal palace; the vast wealth represented by the Vatican’s art treasures; the incalculable billions of literal wealth, (earth’s most closely guarded secret); the titles and vestments of the Roman Catholic hierarchy, to name but a few.


“... so we dwell at Jerusalem,” and so does every believer who walks in the enjoyment of the peace which is synonymous with the name Jerusalem, and which comes from knowing that God is in control, every circumstance of life, from the least to the greatest, being ordered or permitted by Him, and being used for His glory, and the ultimate blessing of those who are His.


35:12.  “Then came the word of the Lord unto Jeremiah, saying,”


35:13.  “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Go and tell the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Will ye not receive instruction to hearken to my words? saith the Lord.


The obedience of the Rechabites to the command of their father, emphasizes the rebellion of Judah relative to God’s commands.


35:14.  “The words of Jonadab the son of Rechab, that he commanded his sons not to drink wine, are performed; for unto this day they drink none, but obey their father’s command: notwithstanding I have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking; but ye hearkened not unto me.”


Jonadab’s command, given only once, was faithfully obeyed, but even though God had spoken to Israel and Judah persistently and untiringly, His word was flagrantly disobeyed.  Nor has it been given any better reception by apostate Christendom, whose sin is aggravated by the fact that she has had the fate of Israel and Judah to warn her of the folly of disobedience, that warning having been given, not only in the Assyrian and Babylonian captivity of Israel and Judah respectively, but in the destruction of both by the Romans in AD 70.


35:15.  “I have sent also unto you all my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them, saying, Return ye now every man from his evil way, and amend your doings, and go not after other gods to serve them, and ye shall dwell in the land which I have given to you and to your fathers; but ye have not inclined your ear, nor hearkened unto me.”


Jonadab had spoken only once and was obeyed, but God at many times, and by many servants, had warned Israel and Judah that if they wished to remain on the land and enjoy His blessing, they must cease their idolatry; but they demonstrated their contempt in two ways: they refused to listen to His servants; and when compelled to hear, they disobeyed.


Apostate Christendom has been guilty of the same twofold rebellion.  They refuse to read God’s Word, and when by chance they do hear it preached by some faithful servant, they reject it; but as the foretold Assyrian and Babylonian captivities ultimately destroyed Israel and Judah, so will the long foretold Tribulation judgments destroy apostate Christendom and the rest of this present equally evil and rebellious world.


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:”


35:17.  “Therefore thus saith the Lord God of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring upon Judah and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the evil that I have pronounced against them: because I have spoken unto them, but they have not heard; and I have called unto them, but they have not answered.”


Having finally exhausted God’s great, but not limitless patience, rebel Judah was about to be destroyed, her guilt being the greater as a result of her having had the fate of her evil sister Israel as a warning against the folly of trifling with God.


Apostate Christendom, and the rest of today’s evil world have had more warnings: not only the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities of Israel and Judah respectively, but the destruction of both by Rome in AD 70.  Her turning a deaf ear and blind eye to these warnings will not, however, prevent her now imminent destruction.


35:18.  “And Jeremiah said unto the house of the Rechabites, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Because ye have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, and kept all his precepts, and done according unto all that he hath commanded you;”


35:19.  “Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not want a man to stand before me forever.”


It seems to be implied here that Jonadab himself had been commanded by God to instruct his sons relative to wine, so that there had been obedience on the part of the father as well as the children, reminding us surely of the perfect obedience of the true Jonadab, the Lord Jesus Christ Who speaks of believers as His children, “Behold I and the children whom God hath given me,” He 2:13.


The assurance given Jonadab therefore of the continuity of his line, is the symbolic assurance of the fact that Christ, and all who belong to Him, will stand forever in the presence of God as a result of His perfect obedience, even unto death, God’s incomprehensible love, mercy, and grace imputing that perfect obedience to every believer.

[Jeremiah 36]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough