But they said, “We will drink no wine, for Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, commanded us, saying, ‘You shall drink no wine, you nor your sons, forever. You shall not build a house, sow seed, plant a vineyard, nor have any of these; but all your days you shall dwell in tents, that you may live many days in the land where you are sojourners.’ Thus we have obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, in all that he charged us, to drink no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, or our daughters, nor to build ourselves houses to dwell in; nor do we have vineyard, field, or seed. But we have dwelt in tents, and have obeyed and done according to all that Jonadab our father commanded us.” (Jeremiah 35:6-10)
What Our Father Commanded Us
Jeremiah was tasked by the Lord to perform an unusual act. He was commanded by God to take the family of the Rechabites into the house of the Lord, set wine before them and command them to drink. The prophet complied with the will of the Lord and set bowls full of wine and cups before the Rechabites. They refused to drink. Their reasoning was clear and a powerful message: Jonadab, their father, had commanded them not to drink wine all the days of their lives and they would abide by his command. Not only had their father forbid wine but he also did not want them to build houses, sow seed, or plant a vineyard. They refused to disobey their father. The issue was not the wine, houses, seed or vineyard. What God found in this family was a complete devotion to the will of their father unlike the devotion of Israel to their Father.
Gaining the kind of respect as the sons of Jonadab does not come easy. Their loyalty to the word of their father was unchallenged. God used this family to show all Israel how they should have been acting towards him and leaves an example of leadership for every man to see. There was nothing morally wrong with they were asked to do. All that mattered to them was the respect and honor for the word of their father. There were many arguments that could have been made about the advantages of living in a house, sowing seed or harvesting a vineyard. Other families lived in houses so why could not they? Many people sowed the land and grew large vineyards but why were they prohibited? It seems to matter little what other people said or did because this family decided to follow the word of the father in complete obedience. Their father’s word was unquestioned. They were completely devoted to the will of their father.
Two lessons come to mind from this story. There is a serious need for families to have the kind of respectful devotion these children had for their father. There is a tenor of fatherhood that has been destroyed in the minds of the world. It is ridiculed, laughed at and treated as if the man in charge of the home is nothing but incompetent and out of touch. Godly homes will allow the heavenly Father to guide and mold the home teaching respect for the earthly father. Men who will stand in the strength of leadership to guide the home with the teaching of God’s word will gain the respect of their family. They will be men of courage, knowledge, faith and resiliency to overcome the trials of life. Their children will respect them honoring their word as a sacred trust from God. The Rechabites were an incredible family to say the least. To have that kind of devotion is rare but not impossible. Fathers must take the charge given to them by God and be men of strength. Children must learn to honor their father because his word is guided by the Lord.
The second lesson to this story is what God intended for the children of Israel. When children do not respect their early fathers they will not learn to honor their heavenly Father. God had provided everything for the people of Israel but they refused to give their devotion to Him. The Rechabites were a pattern of obedience needed among the people of God. If these children could honor their father with such devotion, why could not God’s people honor Him? This lesson resonates today. What is needed in the church of the Lord are families that have respect for their earthly fathers so they can learn how to respect the heavenly Father. Unquestioned love is what the Father desires of His children. The Christian that will grow in the respect of the word of God will show their devotion to what He says regardless of whether they understand it or not. All the ways of the Lord are right. He knows everything we need and why we need it if we would but trust in Him. The family of Jonadab obeyed their father in all that he charged them. Can we do any less with our heavenly Father?