Explore the Bible Sunday School Lesson for July 30

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By Jay T. Robertson, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Systematic Theology, University of Mobile


Jeremiah 35:5–19

Jeremiah’s encounter with the Rechabites was a symbolic act performed by the prophet. It revealed the remarkable loyalty of a nomadic family to keep a command given by one of its ancestors 250 years earlier.

Jeremiah used the encounter to contrast their faithfulness to the commands of a dead ancestor with the faithlessness of the people of Judah to the commands of God.

Tested (5–11)

While Jehoiakim was king of Judah, the Lord instructed Jeremiah to go to the Rechabites and invite them to one of the side rooms of the temple and give them wine to drink.

The Rechabites were descendants of the Kenites. One of their most famous sons was Jonadab (also called Jehonadab), who joined Jehu in the blood purge of the family of Ahab (2 Kings 10:15–27).

Jeremiah escorted them into the room of the sons of Hanan, set wine before them and told them to drink it.

They refused to drink the wine, however, because their ancestor Jonadab had forbidden them to use it. He had also commanded them to live nomadic lives in tents, never settling in one place long enough to build houses or plant seeds or vineyards.

Jonadab’s motives are not known, but perhaps he saw the corruption and immorality in the cities and thought it was better for his family to live simple lives.

Whatever Jonadab’s motives were, his descendants 250 years later were still faithfully obeying his commands.

They had only come to Jerusalem temporarily for protection from King Nebuchadnezzar’s armies that had come to punish King Jehoiakim for his rebellion.

Jeremiah was not instructing the people of Judah to do all the things the Rechabites were doing, but he contrasted their faithfulness to obey the commands of a mere man with Judah’s faithlessness to obey God’s commands.

Their faithfulness to their forefather was an indictment of the people of Judah.

Contrasted (12–17)

The descendants of the Israelites, who had made a covenant with God at Mount Sinai, refused to obey the terms of that covenant time and time again and had turned to their own wicked ways.

God’s prophets had faithfully proclaimed God’s warnings that the people must turn from their wicked ways and correct their actions and not worship other gods.

If they would obey Him, He promised that they would remain in the land He had given them. But their history proved that they had not paid attention to the Lord. The contrast between the Rechabites’ obedience and Judah’s disobedience was painfully apparent.

Because of their continued disobedience, the Lord announced that He was going to bring on them all the disaster He had already pronounced against them.

The Lord had given them numerous opportunities to repent, but they refused to obey.

Commended (18–19)

Jeremiah then spoke to the Rechabites and commended them for their obedience to their ancestor’s command.

Because of their faithfulness, the Lord pronounced a blessing on them through Jeremiah. He promised they would “never fail to have a man to stand before Me always.”

This expression is found more than 100 times in the Old Testament. It means that the Rechabites would not become extinct but would always have someone to serve the Lord.

The family did survive the destruction of Jerusalem, and one of its descendants is mentioned in Nehemiah 3:14. God honors people who faithfully serve Him.