Published on
November 8, 2023

Jeremiah 35

"This is what the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, says: ‘Go, say to the men of Judah and the residents of Jerusalem: “Will you not accept discipline by listening to My words?” – this is the Lord’s declaration.'"

Author Photo
Steve Wiggins
Author Photo
Steve Wiggins
Read Time
4 minutes
Jeremiah 35
“This is what the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, says: ‘Go, say to the men of Judah and the residents of Jerusalem: “Will you not accept discipline by listening to My words?” – this is the Lord’s declaration. “The words of Jonadab, son of Rechab, have been carried out. He commanded his sons not to drink wine, and they have not drunk to this day because they have obeyed their ancestor’s command. But I have spoken to you time and time again, and you have not obeyed Me! Time and time again I have sent you all My servants the prophets, proclaiming: ‘Turn, each one from his evil way of life, and correct your actions. Stop following other gods to serve them. Live in the land that I gave you and your ancestors. But you would not pay attention or obey Me.’” Jeremiah 35:13-15 (HCSB)

Who are the Rechabites? They are the descendants of Rechab through Jonadab (aka Jehonadab). They belonged to a group of people called the Kenites, who accompanied the children of Israel into the land of Canaan and dwelt among them. They were Gentiles.  God has always shown His grace towards anyone who chooses to follow Him.  

Many people believe that Israel was the only group of people the Lord allowed to enter the Promised Land, along with Joshua. Not so. The Kenites were right there with them.  Why? Well, for starters, Moses married a Kenite wife (Judges 1:16). In the days of Deborah and Barak, because of Barak’s cowardice, it was a Kenite woman who defeated evil king Sisera (Judges 4:17).

Now, the main body of the Kenites dwelt in cities and adopted the habits (and pitfalls) of “settled” life, but Johnadab forbade his descendants to drink wine or live in cities. They were also commanded always to lead a nomadic life. This particular strain of the Kenites adhered to the law laid down by their patriarch, and today, we read of their fidelity to the old-established custom of their family, even up till the days of Jeremiah.

So, what was God’s reason for singling out this small sect of Gentiles in His exhortation against Judah? In full view of soon-to-be-deported Judah, God chose to bless a group of righteous Gentiles, all because of their faithfulness. God was saying, in essence, “These Gentiles will follow the command of their long-dead ancestor, but you will not follow the Word of the Living God! Even after I sent you countless prophets.”

It would not be the last time in the TANAKH (aka Old Testament) that the Lord would bless faithful Gentiles as a means to evoke jealousy among His unfaithful people. It was that approach, in particular, that Jesus took in His hometown synagogue and made the people want to kill Him:

“He also said, ‘I assure you: No prophet is accepted in his hometown. But I say to you, there were certainly many widows in Israel in Elijah’s day, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months while a great famine came over all the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them – but to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. And in the prophet Elisha’s time, many in Israel died of serious skin diseases, yet not one of them was healed – only Namaan the Syrian.’ When they heard this, everyone in the synagogue was enraged.” Luke 4:24-28 (HSCB) (See also: Romans10:19; 11:11)

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