Jeremiah 35 Devotional
by Pastor Mark Hudson
Thankfully, this chapter is relatively easy to understand. Jeremiah offers wine to a group of people who will not drink wine . Of course they refuse. Their reason is because hundreds of years ago their ancestors, Jonadab son of Rechab refused to drink wine, lived only in tents, did not plant food, committing themselves to being nomadic which even at that time that was radically living off the grid. These Rechabites were viewed as unusual even during Jeremiah’s time.
It may be not be so easy to know where the Rechabites originally come from and why they made this commitment. I think this adds to the point. The point seems to be this: “Will you not receive instruction and listen to my words? declares the LORD. 14 The command that Jonadab the son of Rechab gave to his sons, to drink no wine, has been kept, and they drink none to this day, for they have obeyed their father’s command. I have spoken to you persistently, but you have not listened to me.”
This group of people is still obeying ancestors they do not know and may not be able to verify why Jonadab made that commitment. And yet they keep this unusual oath. Keeping the oath made life difficult for the Rechabites. They were outsiders, off the grid, and probably poor. Yet, the kept this command.
God is baffled (so to speak) by the refusal of His own people to keep His words when this group of people keep the words of their ancestors. Those commands are not from God and yet the Rechabites keep them. God is not saying He approves of the commands themselves. What God does approve of is their obedience.
Their faithfulness puts the faithlessness of Israel in sharp contrast. While it is not wise to compare and contrast yourself with others, we all compare ourselves at times and in some ways to others. And at times, comparisons are helpful. This is one such time. Here is one way to think about this comparison:
Command from God Command from Jonadab
Obedience to commands = blessings obedience to Jonadab’s command – exclusion from normal life, poverty, no drinking the most common drink there is,
Living in tents all their lives
God’s Word is eternal Jonadab’s words are just his
All should obey God Just the descendants obey
His commands are not burdensome These are not easy to follow
And I’m sure you can find more comparisons. God values obedience. If there is a key to the chapter, it is verse 13, “Will you not receive instruction and listen to my words? declares the LORD.” We can all follow this command. Clearly God values obedience to His Word. This is something everyone can do. You don’t have to pass a theological test, speak publicly, or offer long prayers. Just obey God. And remember, he loves obedience. To obey is better than sacrifice we learn from
I Samuel 15:22ff.
Those of you who are younger (if you read these devotionals), you don’t have to be somebody (whatever that means) to please God. But He will honor you if you place your faith in Christ and strive to obey Him. God gives us His Spirit to help us obey.
If you wonder about God’s will it could be serving Him fulltime, or going overseas, or becoming a pastor, elder, or deacon. That may be. But I can tell you what God’s will is: obey His commands. When God speaks, He expects us to listen and obey. This is not complicated.
As you grow spiritually, you will find your obedience to God growing. If not, you are not growing spiritually. Don’t despair of how much you need to grow. Just work on the grace God gives to obey from now on. We need to encourage one another not for some big thing that attracts attention but obedience every day and in the small ways. Our leader in this is Christ who always obeyed His Father. No matter the opposition, Christ obeyed.