The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, saying,…
I. THEIR PRINCIPLES ARE TRIED. Three features mark this trial.
1. They were offered wine. After s family record of three hundred years' abstinence, the evil thing is set before them, free of cost. As they fortunately had no experience of its power by reason of former habits of intemperance, they could look upon the enemy without fear or danger.
2. Wine was offered them by a good man. Jeremiah was the generous host. Surely God's prophet would not offer them an evil thing, or tempt them to do wrong! A great many well-meaning people place the tempting cup before their guests, and their guests are not the sturdy sons of Jonadab, and much evil is wrought.
3. Wine was offered in the Lord's house. They were in the chamber of good men, on "holy ground," and in strict privacy. Under such circumstances, might they not suspend their stringent rules of life? They had broken one vow in coming into Jerusalem, might they not yield another point, and adopt one of the ways of city people? Life is full of opportunities for testing principles and character.
II. THEIR PRINCIPLES ARE TRIUMPHANT.
1. It was prompt and definite. They reasoned not "with flesh and blood," nor did they offer any compromise.
2. It was complete. Their pledge was a comprehensive one, involving dwelling in tents, and living a very unworldly life (vers. 6-10). Total abstinence, was. not enough. Their father's commandment, was broad. Sobriety is not salvation.
3. It was general. "We, our wives, our sons, our daughters" (ver. 8). The domestic peace had not been broken by faithlessness and sin. A blessed unity in principle and in practice.
4. It was constant. Three hundred years had passed since they received these injunctions, and they still regarded them as binding and sacred.
III. THEIR ACTUATING MOTIVE.
1. It was filial love. "For Jonadab our father commanded us" (ver. 6) was the only defence they cared to offer for their singular conduct. A pious ancestry is an invaluable blessing; but the filial spirit must turn that boon to practical account.
2. Men live after death. "He being dead, yet speaketh." Time cannot impair the power of a good life.
IV. THE EXEMPLARY MEANING OF THEIR CONDUCT. They were not tried for their own sake, but for the good of others.
1. Conduct makes personal influence. "No man liveth unto himself." The end of our trials may concern others more than ourselves. The Jews were to be instructed by the behaviour of the Rechabites.
2. The sobriety of one condemns the drunkenness of the other. If one life can be good, other lives can too.
3. It was a contrast of privilege. In obedience to an earthly father, who had been dead three centuries, the sons of Jonadab had kept their pledges. The Jews had received Divine commands, all the prophets had spoken to them, and yet they disobeyed (vers. 14, 16).
4. It justified Divine judgment. "Therefore... I will bring upon Judah," &c. (ver. 17). The abstinence of Rechab condemns inebriate Judah.
5. National intemperance is a swift destroyer.
6. Personal drunkenness makes up the national sin. The units make the million.
V. THE RECHABITES REWARD.
1. Divine approval Jeremiah assured them of God's benediction.
2. Divine preservation. Jonadab promised his sons long life, "many days in the land where ye be strangers" (ver. 7), and that promise God ratified. Medical and statistical science have come to Jonadab's view.
3. Divine honour. "Jonadab, the son of Rechab, shall not want a man to stand before Me for ever" (ver. 19). Standing before God has reference to a priestly relationship and service.
(R. W. Keighley.)
Parallel VersesKJV: The word which came unto Jeremiah from the LORD in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, saying,