Study of Jeremiah, Chapters 35-36, Commitment

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commitment

Making a commitment and keeping that commitment are two different things.  Committing to something is usually done with words of agreement.  Keeping that commitment involves action on our part, and usually spans over a long period of time.  Over time, situations change, our views may change, and we may find it become more and more difficult to keep our word.

In chapter 35, we see Jeremiah going back approximately 10 years to the time of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah.

Jeremiah 35:1-11Jeremiah 35:1-11
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

35 1 The word which came unto Jeremiah from the LORD in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, saying, 2 Go unto the house of the Rechabites, and speak unto them, and bring them into the house of the LORD, into one of the chambers, and give them wine to drink. 3 Then I took Jaazaniah the son of Jeremiah, the son of Habaziniah, and his brethren, and all his sons, and the whole house of the Rechabites; 4 And I brought them into the house of the LORD, into the chamber of the sons of Hanan, the son of Igdaliah, a man of God, which was by the chamber of the princes, which was above the chamber of Maaseiah the son of Shallum, the keeper of the door: door: Heb. threshold, or, vessel 5 And I set before the sons of the house of the Rechabites pots full of wine, and cups, and I said unto them, Drink ye wine. 6 But they said, We will drink no wine: for Jonadab the son of Rechab our father commanded us, saying, Ye shall drink no wine, neither ye, nor your sons for ever: 7 Neither shall ye build house, nor sow seed, nor plant vineyard, nor have any: but all your days ye shall dwell in tents; that ye may live many days in the land where ye be strangers. 8 Thus have we obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab our father in all that he hath charged us, to drink no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, nor our daughters; 9 Nor to build houses for us to dwell in: neither have we vineyard, nor field, nor seed: 10 But we have dwelt in tents, and have obeyed, and done according to all that Jonadab our father commanded us. 11 But it came to pass, when Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon came up into the land, that we said, Come, and let us go to Jerusalem for fear of the army of the Chaldeans, and for fear of the army of the Syrians: so we dwell at Jerusalem.  

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1 This is the message the LORD gave Jeremiah when Jehoiakim son of Josiah was king of Judah:  2 “Go to the settlement where the families of the Recabites live, and invite them to the LORD’S Temple.  Take them into one of the inner rooms, and offer them some wine.”
3 So I went to see Jaazaniah son of Jeremiah and grandson of Habazziniah and all his brothers and sons – representing all the Recabite families.  4 I took them to the Temple, and we went into the room assigned to the sons of Hanan son of Igdaliah, a man of God.  This room was located next to the one used by the Temple officials, directly above the room of Maaseiah son of Shallum, the Temple gatekeeper.
5 I set cups and jugs of wine before them and invited them to have a drink, 6 but they refused.  “No,” they said, “we don’t drink wine, because our ancestor Jehonadab son of Recab gave us this command:  ‘You and your descendants must never drink wine.  7 And do not build houses or plant crops or vineyards, but always live in tents.  If you follow these commands, you will live long, good lives in the land.’  8 So we have obeyed him in all these things.  We have never had a drink of wine to this day, nor have our wives, our sons, or our daughters.  9 We haven’t built houses or owned vineyards or farms or planted crops.  10 We have lived in tents and have fully obeyed all the commands of Jehonadab, our ancestor.  11 But when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon attacked this country, we were afraid of the Babylonian and Syrian armies.  So we decided to move to Jerusalem. That is why we are here.”

The Recabites were similar to the Nazarites in that they took a special vow of dedication to God.  The obeyed their ancestors for 200 years without fail, while the rest of the nation was breaking their covenant with God.  The founder of the Recabites, Hehonadab, lived under King Jehu of the northern kingdom.  Apparently, Jehonadab supported the king’s radical reform which included the destruction of the Baal cult and other parts of the Canaanite culture [2 Kings 10:15-232 Kings 10:15-23
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

15 And when he was departed thence, he lighted on Jehonadab the son of Rechab coming to meet him: and he saluted him, and said to him, Is thine heart right, as my heart is with thy heart? And Jehonadab answered, It is. If it be, give me thine hand. And he gave him his hand; and he took him up to him into the chariot. lighted on: Heb. found saluted: Heb. blessed 16 And he said, Come with me, and see my zeal for the LORD. So they made him ride in his chariot. 17 And when he came to Samaria, he slew all that remained unto Ahab in Samaria, till he had destroyed him, according to the saying of the LORD, which he spake to Elijah. 18 And Jehu gathered all the people together, and said unto them, Ahab served Baal a little; but Jehu shall serve him much. 19 Now therefore call unto me all the prophets of Baal, all his servants, and all his priests; let none be wanting: for I have a great sacrifice to do to Baal; whosoever shall be wanting, he shall not live. But Jehu did it in subtilty, to the intent that he might destroy the worshippers of Baal. 20 And Jehu said, Proclaim a solemn assembly for Baal. And they proclaimed it. Proclaim: Heb. Sanctify 21 And Jehu sent through all Israel: and all the worshippers of Baal came, so that there was not a man left that came not. And they came into the house of Baal; and the house of Baal was full from one end to another. full...: or, so full that they stood mouth to mouth 22 And he said unto him that was over the vestry, Bring forth vestments for all the worshippers of Baal. And he brought them forth vestments. 23 And Jehu went, and Jehonadab the son of Rechab, into the house of Baal, and said unto the worshippers of Baal, Search, and look that there be here with you none of the servants of the LORD, but the worshippers of Baal only.  

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].  The Recabites not only denied wine in their life, but promised to live in tents, which allowed them the mobility to move around and worship God.

obedience

The Temple of the LORD was a very holy and public place.  Jeremiah has the entire family brought there and offered wine.  They adamantly refuse the wine, making reference to what they were told by their ancestors.  They proclaim their obedience to their ancestors, following all of their commands.  This occurrence was exactly what Jeremiah needed to teach a lesson in obedience.

Jeremiah 35:12-17Jeremiah 35:12-17
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

12 Then came the word of the LORD unto Jeremiah, saying, 13 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Go and tell the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Will ye not receive instruction to hearken to my words? saith the LORD. 14 The words of Jonadab the son of Rechab, that he commanded his sons not to drink wine, are performed; for unto this day they drink none, but obey their father's commandment: notwithstanding I have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking; but ye hearkened not unto me. 15 I have sent also unto you all my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them, saying, Return ye now every man from his evil way, and amend your doings, and go not after other gods to serve them, and ye shall dwell in the land which I have given to you and to your fathers: but ye have not inclined your ear, nor hearkened unto me. 16 Because the sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab have performed the commandment of their father, which he commanded them; but this people hath not hearkened unto me: 17 Therefore thus saith the LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring upon Judah and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the evil that I have pronounced against them: because I have spoken unto them, but they have not heard; and I have called unto them, but they have not answered.  

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12 Then the LORD gave this message to Jeremiah:  13 “This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says:  Go and say to the people in Judah and Jerusalem, ‘Come and learn a lesson about how to obey me.  14 The Recabites do not drink wine to this day because their ancestor Jehonadab told them not to.  But I have spoken to you again and again, and you refuse to obey me.  15 Time after time I sent you prophets, who told you, “Turn from your wicked ways, and start doing things right.  Stop worshiping other gods so that you might live in peace here in the land I have given to you and your ancestors.”   But you would not listen to me or obey me. 16 The descendants of Jehonadab son of Recab have obeyed their ancestor completely, but you have refused to listen to me.’
17 “Therefore, this is what the LORD God of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says:   ‘Because you refuse to listen or answer when I call, I will send upon Judah and Jerusalem all the disasters I have threatened.'”

Here was a group of people who had obeyed what their ancestors had told them so long ago standing in the Temple of the people who continued to refuse to listen to God when He was speaking to them directly through Jeremiah.  God re-affirms his threats of disaster upon His people.

Jeremiah 35:18-19Jeremiah 35:18-19
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

18 And Jeremiah said unto the house of the Rechabites, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Because ye have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, and kept all his precepts, and done according unto all that he hath commanded you: 19 Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not want a man to stand before me for ever. Jonadab...: Heb. There shall not a man be cut off from Jonadab the son of Rechab to stand, etc  

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18 Then Jeremiah turned to the Recabites and said, “This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says:  ‘You have obeyed your ancestor Jehonadab in every respect, following all his instructions.’  19 Therefore, this is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says:  ‘Jehonadab son of Recab will always have descendants who serve me.'”

God blesses those who are obedient to Him.  God promises to bless all the descendants of the Recabites.

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action/reaction

For every action, there is a reaction.  Everything that we do in life, every decision that we make, will have an effect on someone or something.  This effect may be positive, but sometimes it is a negative effect.  And then there are our actions that we never see the results of.  We must be careful of what we say or do, and take into consideration what the end results will be.

Chapter 36 travels back in time to the summer of 605 B.C., and records events that occurred prior to the happenings in chapter 34 and 35.

Jeremiah 36:1-7Jeremiah 36:1-7
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

36 1 And it came to pass in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that this word came unto Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, 2 Take thee a roll of a book, and write therein all the words that I have spoken unto thee against Israel, and against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spake unto thee, from the days of Josiah, even unto this day. 3 It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the evil which I purpose to do unto them; that they may return every man from his evil way; that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin. 4 Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah: and Baruch wrote from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the LORD, which he had spoken unto him, upon a roll of a book. 5 And Jeremiah commanded Baruch, saying, I am shut up; I cannot go into the house of the LORD: 6 Therefore go thou, and read in the roll, which thou hast written from my mouth, the words of the LORD in the ears of the people in the LORD'S house upon the fasting day: and also thou shalt read them in the ears of all Judah that come out of their cities. 7 It may be they will present their supplication before the LORD, and will return every one from his evil way: for great is the anger and the fury that the LORD hath pronounced against this people. they...: Heb. their supplication shall fail  

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1 During the fourth year that Jehoiakim son of Josiah was king in Judah, the LORD gave this message to Jeremiah:  2″Get a scroll, and write down all my messages against Israel, Judah, and the other nations.  Begin with the first message back in the days of Josiah, and write down every message, right up to the present time.  3 Perhaps the people of Judah will repent when they hear again all the terrible things I have planned for them.  Then I will be able to forgive their sins and wrongdoings.”
4 So Jeremiah sent for Baruch son of Neriah, and as Jeremiah dictated all the prophecies that the LORD had given him, Baruch wrote them on a scroll.  5 Then Jeremiah said to Baruch, “I am a prisoner here and unable to go to the Temple.  6 So you go to the Temple on the next day of fasting, and read the messages from the LORD that I have had you write on this scroll.  Read them so the people who are there from all over Judah will hear them. 7 Perhaps even yet they will turn from their evil ways and ask the LORD’S forgiveness before it is too late.  For the LORD has threatened them with this terrible anger.”

Few people during this time could read or write.  For those who could, they were looked up to and respected, and were referred to as ‘scribes‘ or ‘teachers‘.

scroll
God told Jeremiah to write down all of His messages from the time of Josiah to the present (627 to 605 BC), so Jeremiah sent for his scribe, Baruch.  Writings were on vellum or papyrus sheets, and then glued or sewed together making a long roll which was called a scroll.  These writings would have covered chapters 1-25 of Jeremiah.
God wanted the people to believe the destruction they were headed for and repent.  Maybe, if the people were to hear it compiled into one reading, they would listen and hear what God was telling them.  Without repentance for their sinful nature, God’s threat of judgment would stand.

Jeremiah 36:8-10Jeremiah 36:8-10
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

8 And Baruch the son of Neriah did according to all that Jeremiah the prophet commanded him, reading in the book the words of the LORD in the LORD'S house. 9 And it came to pass in the fifth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, in the ninth month, that they proclaimed a fast before the LORD to all the people in Jerusalem, and to all the people that came from the cities of Judah unto Jerusalem. 10 Then read Baruch in the book the words of Jeremiah in the house of the LORD, in the chamber of Gemariah the son of Shaphan the scribe, in the higher court, at the entry of the new gate of the LORD'S house, in the ears of all the people. entry: or, door  

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8 Baruch did as Jeremiah told him and read these messages from the LORD to the people at the Temple.  9 He did this on a day of sacred fasting held in late autumn, during the fifth year of the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah.  People from all over Judah had come to Jerusalem to attend the services at the Temple on that day.  10 Baruch read Jeremiah’s words on the scroll to all the people.  He stood in front of the Temple room of Gemariah, son of Shaphan the secretary.  This room was just off the upper courtyard of the Temple, near the New Gate entrance.

Fasting (abstaining from eating food to reflect humility and repentance) was often done during times of national emergency.  The Babylonians had already began to invade and many cities had been destroyed by this time.  Many people were present as Baruch read the scroll, telling them how to avoid the coming destruction, but they still refused to listen.

Jeremiah 36:11-26Jeremiah 36:11-26
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

11 When Michaiah the son of Gemariah, the son of Shaphan, had heard out of the book all the words of the LORD, 12 Then he went down into the king's house, into the scribe's chamber: and, lo, all the princes sat there, even Elishama the scribe, and Delaiah the son of Shemaiah, and Elnathan the son of Achbor, and Gemariah the son of Shaphan, and Zedekiah the son of Hananiah, and all the princes. 13 Then Michaiah declared unto them all the words that he had heard, when Baruch read the book in the ears of the people. 14 Therefore all the princes sent Jehudi the son of Nethaniah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Cushi, unto Baruch, saying, Take in thine hand the roll wherein thou hast read in the ears of the people, and come. So Baruch the son of Neriah took the roll in his hand, and came unto them. 15 And they said unto him, Sit down now, and read it in our ears. So Baruch read it in their ears. 16 Now it came to pass, when they had heard all the words, they were afraid both one and other, and said unto Baruch, We will surely tell the king of all these words. 17 And they asked Baruch, saying, Tell us now, How didst thou write all these words at his mouth? 18 Then Baruch answered them, He pronounced all these words unto me with his mouth, and I wrote them with ink in the book. 19 Then said the princes unto Baruch, Go, hide thee, thou and Jeremiah; and let no man know where ye be. 20 And they went in to the king into the court, but they laid up the roll in the chamber of Elishama the scribe, and told all the words in the ears of the king. 21 So the king sent Jehudi to fetch the roll: and he took it out of Elishama the scribe's chamber. And Jehudi read it in the ears of the king, and in the ears of all the princes which stood beside the king. 22 Now the king sat in the winterhouse in the ninth month: and there was a fire on the hearth burning before him. 23 And it came to pass, that when Jehudi had read three or four leaves, he cut it with the penknife, and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the roll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth. 24 Yet they were not afraid, nor rent their garments, neither the king, nor any of his servants that heard all these words. 25 Nevertheless Elnathan and Delaiah and Gemariah had made intercession to the king that he would not burn the roll: but he would not hear them. 26 But the king commanded Jerahmeel the son of Hammelech, and Seraiah the son of Azriel, and Shelemiah the son of Abdeel, to take Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet: but the LORD hid them. of Hammelech: or, of the king  

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11 When Micaiah son of Gemariah and grandson of Shaphan heard the messages from the LORD, 12 he went down to the seretary’s room in the palace where the administrative officials were meeting.  Elishama the secretary was there, along with Delaiah son of Shemaiah, Elnathan son of Acbor, Gemariah son of Shaphan, Zedekiah son of Hananiah, and all the other officials.  13 When Micaiah told them about the messages Baruch was reading to the people, 14 the officials sent Jehudi son of Nethaniah, grandson of Shelemiah and great grandson of Cushi, to ask Baruch to come and read the messages to them, too.  So Baruch took the scroll and went to them.  15 “Sit down and read the scroll to us,” the officials said, and Baruch did as they requested.
16 When they heard all the messages, they looked at one another in alarm.  “We must tell the king what we have heard,” they said to Baruch.  17 “But first, tell us how you got these messages.  Did they come directly from Jeremiah?”
18 So Baruch explained, “Jeremiah dictated them, and I wrote them down in ink, word for word, on this scroll.”
19 “You and Jeremiah should both hide,” the officials told Baruch.  “Don’t tell anyone where you are!”  20 Then the officials left the scroll for safekeeping in the room of Elishama the secretary and went to tell the king what had happened.
21 The king sent Jehudi to get the scroll.  Jehudi brought it from Elishama’s room and read it to the king as all his officials stood by.  22 It was late autumn, and the king was in a winterized part of the palace, sitting in front of a fire to keep warm.  23 Each time Jehudi finished reading three or four columns, the king took a knife and cut off that section of the scroll.  He then threw it into the fire, section by section, until the whole scroll was burned up.  24 Neither the king nor his attendants showed any signs of fear or repentance at what they heard.  25 Even when Elnathan, Delaiah, and Gemariah begged the king not to burn the scroll, he wouldn’t listen.
26 Then the king commanded his son Jerahmeel, Seraiah son of Ariel, and Shelemiah son of Abdell to arrest Baruch and Jeremiah.  But the LORD had hidden them.

Baruch had read the scroll to the people and officials in the Temple, and once the king was aware of the scroll readings, he sent Juhudi to get the scroll.  Jehudi read it to the king, as he sat in comfort in front of a fire on a cool, fall day, and although he listened to the words that were written, he didn’t hear.  He destroyed the scroll, piece by piece.  Many begged the king not to destroy the scroll, but neither he nor his officials showed any sign of repentance.  The king wanted to arrest Baruch and Jeremiah, but God had already hidden them from the officials.

Jeremiah 36:27-32Jeremiah 36:27-32
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

27 Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, after that the king had burned the roll, and the words which Baruch wrote at the mouth of Jeremiah, saying, 28 Take thee again another roll, and write in it all the former words that were in the first roll, which Jehoiakim the king of Judah hath burned. 29 And thou shalt say to Jehoiakim king of Judah, Thus saith the LORD; Thou hast burned this roll, saying, Why hast thou written therein, saying, The king of Babylon shall certainly come and destroy this land, and shall cause to cease from thence man and beast? 30 Therefore thus saith the LORD of Jehoiakim king of Judah; He shall have none to sit upon the throne of David: and his dead body shall be cast out in the day to the heat, and in the night to the frost. 31 And I will punish him and his seed and his servants for their iniquity; and I will bring upon them, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and upon the men of Judah, all the evil that I have pronounced against them; but they hearkened not. punish: Heb. visit upon 32 Then took Jeremiah another roll, and gave it to Baruch the scribe, the son of Neriah; who wrote therein from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire: and there were added besides unto them many like words. like: Heb. as they  

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27 After the king had burned the scroll on which Baruch had written Jeremiah’s words, the LORD gave Jeremiah another message.  He said, 28 “Get another scroll, and write everything again just as you did on the scroll King Jehoiakim burned.  29 Then say to the king, ‘This is what the LORD says:  You burned the scroll because it said the king of Babylon would destroy this land and empty it of people and animals.  30 Now this is what the LORD says about King Jehoiakim of Judah:  He will have no heirs to sit on the throne of David.  His dead body will be thrown out to lie unburied – exposed to the heat of the day and the frost of the night.  31 I will punish him and his family and his attendants for their sins.  I will pour out on them and on all the people of Jerusalem and Judah all the disasters I promised, for they would not listen to my warnings.'”
32 So Jeremiah took another scroll and dictated again to his secretary, Baruch.  He wrote everything that had been on the scroll King Jehoiakim had burned in the fire.  On this time he added much more!

King Jehoiakim had no interest in hearing about how the king of Babylon would destroy Judah and Jerusalem, but destroying the scroll had not changed anything but add to his bleak fate.  God instructed Jeremiah to write another scroll, and this time he was to add into it the fate of King Jehoiakim.

Written by Mary Hudak-Collins

Mary Hudak-Collins

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