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Commentary On Jeremiah And Lamentations Volume 4 by Jean Calvin

Jeremiah 35:18-19

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:

18. Domui autem Rechabitarum dixit Jeremias, sic dicit Jehova exercituum, Deus Israel, Propterea quod audistis (vel, obedivistis) mandato Jonadab patris vestri, et servastis omnia ejus mandata, et fecistis secundum omnia quae praeceperat vobis,

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.

19. Propterea sic dick Jehova exercituum, Deus Israel, Non excidetur vir ex Jonadab filio Rechab, quin stet coram facie mea cunctis diebus.

Here the Prophet, that he might affect the Jews more deeply, promises a reward to the sons of Jonadab, because they obeyed their father; and he promises them a blessing from God. Nor is it to be wondered at, for this commandment, as Paul says, is the first to which a promise is annexed. (Ephesians 6:2) God promises generally a reward to all who keep the Law, for every command has in general connected with it the hope of reward; but this is in a special manner added to the Fifth Commandment: |Honor thy father and thy mother, that thou mayest prolong thy life,| etc. It is, then, nothing strange that God promised a reward to the Rechabites, because they followed the command of their father, for he had promised that in the Law.

But what the Papists allege, that the obedience rendered to the Church is on the same account pleasing to God, may, as we have said, be easily confuted; for if the Rechabites had followed the command of their father in a thing unlawfill, they would have been worthy of punishment; but as this precept, as we have shewn, was not inconsistent with God's Law, God approved of their obedience. But the laws which are made for the purpose of setting up fictitious modes of worship are altogether impious, for they introduce idolatry. God has prescribed how he would have us to worship him; whatever, therefore, men bring in of themselves is wholly impious, for it adulterates the pure worship of God; and further, when necessity is laid on consciences, it is, as we have said, a tyrannical bondage. Such was not the object of Jonadab; for what he commanded his posterity was useful, and referred only to things of this life; and it did not bind their consciences; for when it was necessary they moved to Jerusalem and dwelt as others in houses; for they did not erect tents at Jerusalem, but lived in hired dwellings; and yet they obeyed their father's command, for his purpose in ordering them to dwell in tents, was, that they might remain unincumbered, so that they might be always ready to move. We hence see how foolishly the Papists pervert this passage in order to support their tyrannical laws.

And thus this truth may stand, that the obedience of the Rechabites pleased God, because nature itself requires that children should obey their parents; and we also know that God often rewards the shadows of virtues in order to shew that virtues themselves are pleasing to him. But there is no doubt but that this promise, as I have before said, was designedly given, in order to stimulate the Jews, according to what is said in the Song of Moses,

|I will provoke them by a foolish nation, because they have provoked me by those who are no gods; and I will take vengeance on them, for I will bring forth nations which were not before.| (Deuteronomy 32:21)

So then God now, in order to excite and rouse the Jews, promises to bless the Rechabites, because they had been obedient to their father, There shall not be cut off a man from Jonadab, that is, from the offspring of Jonadab, standing (literally) before my face; but as the conciseness of the verse renders it obscure and ambiguous, I have introduced an addition, -- but that he may stand before my face And he says that they would stand before his face, not that they were to be priests or Levites, as some of the Rabbins have said, who have applied this passage to the priesthood, because it is often said in Scripture both of the Levites and the priests, that they stood before the face of God. They, therefore, think that the same thing is meant here when spoken of the Rechabites. But this is a strained meaning. God simply intimates, that some of Jonadab's offspring would be always living, and that through his special favor, that their obedience might not appear to be without its just reward. This is the meaning. Now follows, --

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