The word which came to Jeremiah from Yahweh in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, saying, “Go to the house of the Rechabites, and speak to them, and bring them into Yahweh’s house, into one of the rooms, and give them wine to drink.”
Then I took Jaazaniah the son of Jeremiah, the son of Habazziniah, with his brothers, all his sons, and the whole house of the Rechabites; and I brought them into Yahweh’s house, into the room of the sons of Hanan the son of Igdaliah, the man of God, which was by the room of the princes, which was above the room of Maaseiah the son of Shallum, the keeper of the threshold. I set before the sons of the house of the Rechabites bowls full of wine, and cups; and I said to them, “Drink wine!”
But they said, “We will drink no wine; for Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, commanded us, saying, ‘You shall drink no wine, neither you nor your children, forever. You shall not build a house, sow seed, plant a vineyard, or have any; but all your days you shall dwell in tents, that you may live many days in the land in which you live as nomads.’ We have obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, in all that he commanded us, to drink no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, or our daughters; and not to build houses for ourselves to dwell in. We have no vineyard, field, or seed; but we have lived in tents, and have obeyed, and done according to all that Jonadab our father commanded us. But when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up into the land, we said, ‘Come! Let’s go to Jerusalem for fear of the army of the Chaldeans, and for fear of the army of the Syrians; so we will dwell at Jerusalem.’ ”
Then Yahweh’s word came to Jeremiah, saying, “Yahweh of Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘Go and tell the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, “Will you not receive instruction to listen to my words?” says Yahweh. “The words of Jonadab the son of Rechab that he commanded his sons, not to drink wine, are performed; and to this day they drink none, for they obey their father’s commandment; but I have spoken to you, rising up early and speaking, and you have not listened to me. I have sent also to you all my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them, saying, ‘Every one of you must return now from his evil way, amend your doings, and don’t go after other gods to serve them. Then you will dwell in the land which I have given to you and to your fathers;’ but you have not inclined your ear, nor listened to me. The sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab have performed the commandment of their father which he commanded them, but this people has not listened to me.” ’
“Therefore Yahweh, the God of Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘Behold, I will bring on Judah and on all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the evil that I have pronounced against them, because I have spoken to them, but they have not heard; and I have called to them, but they have not answered.’ ”
Jeremiah said to the house of the Rechabites, “Yahweh of Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘Because you have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, and kept all his precepts, and done according to all that he commanded you,’ therefore Yahweh of Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘Jonadab the son of Rechab will not lack a man to stand before me forever.’ ”
Once again, God used Jeremiah to create a physical illustration. This time God used a special Israeli family called the Rechabites. God told Jeremiah to go to this family of nomads and bring them right into a room of the temple in front of everyone and offer them wine to drink. God knew that they would not do it because they had been under strict obedience to their father’s wishes that they not drink wine or even grow grapes. Because of their father they even subjected themselves to a nomadic life. It would appear that they believed that this was God’s will for their family. We see here that it was.
God then had Jeremiah announce that this family was willing to obey their father, but Israel has been repeatedly unwilling to obey God. Then God blesses the Rechabites in front of everyone right in the temple, saying that they will always have a man to stand before Him forever. Israelis today believe that this means that the family of Rechab must always have a job to do before God in the temple. To those Rechabites, it would be obvious that King Nebuchadnezzar would not be allowed to destroy their family.
It’s important for us to see how serious God takes obedience to parents. When a parent is following God, God will use that parent to distribute His will. It’s also important to see that God separated this obedient family out from the rest of Israel. God appears to always do this during times of judgment. We usually call these people God’s remnant. I’m not sure if these nomads were allowed to stay in the land of Israel during Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if God allowed that too. When we are obedient to God, we can expect special treatment, even during times of wrath.