Jeremiah 34-35

Thursday Evening Bible Study

April 7, 2005

Introduction

Patrick walks into a Dublin pub and orders three pints of Guinness. He sips out of each in turn, and when he finishes, he orders three more. The bartender says to him, “A pint starts to go flat as soon as I draw it. Wouldn’t it taste better if you bought one at a time?” “Well, you see, I have two brothers,” Pat replies. “One lives in America, the other in Australia. When we split up, we promised we’d drink three at a time to remember the days when the three of us drank together.” The bartender thinks this is a nice custom, and soon Pat becomes a regular, always ordering three pints at a time. Then one day, he comes in and orders only two pints, and downs them. As he buys the second round, the barkeep speaks up, “I want to offer my condolences on your loss,” he says. Patrick looks confused, then laughs, “Oh, no.” he says, “my brothers are fine. It’s just that I’ve joined AA.”

Tonight we’re going to talk about quite a few things including the promises we make, alcohol, and how serious we are about handling sin.

Jeremiah 34

:1-7 Zedekiah will die peacefully

:1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army, all the kingdoms of the earth under his dominion, and all the people, fought against Jerusalem and all its cities, saying,

Nebuchadnezzar’s final siege of Jerusalem started in 589 BC after King Zedekiah rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar and tried to go out on his own away from the Babylonians.

:2 "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: 'Go and speak to Zedekiah king of Judah and tell him, "Thus says the LORD: 'Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.

:3 'And you shall not escape from his hand, but shall surely be taken and delivered into his hand; your eyes shall see the eyes of the king of Babylon, he shall speak with you face to face, and you shall go to Babylon.'" '

:4 "Yet hear the word of the LORD, O Zedekiah king of Judah! Thus says the LORD concerning you: 'You shall not die by the sword.

:5 'You shall die in peace; as in the ceremonies of your fathers, the former kings who were before you, so they shall burn incense for you and lament for you, saying, "Alas, lord!" For I have pronounced the word, says the LORD.'"

Zedekiah wouldn’t be killed when Jerusalem was leveled. He would die in peace. But this doesn’t mean that he wouldn’t have trouble.

At the end of the siege of Jerusalem, Zedekiah tried to sneak out of the city with some of his soldiers. He was captured and taken to Nebuchadnezzar’s headquarters. Then his sons would be slain in front of him, his eyes were put out, and the last thing he would remember seeing was his boys being killed. Then he was taken captive to Babylon where he would live out the rest of his life.

:6 Then Jeremiah the prophet spoke all these words to Zedekiah king of Judah in Jerusalem,

:7 when the king of Babylon's army fought against Jerusalem and all the cities of Judah that were left, against Lachish and Azekah; for only these fortified cities remained of the cities of Judah.

Lachish – 30 miles southwest of Jerusalem.

Azekah – 15 miles southwest of Jerusalem.

:8-22 Broken promises

:8 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, after King Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people who were at Jerusalem to proclaim liberty to them:

:9 that every man should set free his male and female slave; a Hebrew man or woman; that no one should keep a Jewish brother in bondage.

:10 Now when all the princes and all the people, who had entered into the covenant, heard that everyone should set free his male and female slaves, that no one should keep them in bondage anymore, they obeyed and let them go.

The Law of Moses had commanded the people to release their Hebrew slaves after six years (Ex. 21:2)

Zedekiah hoped that if he could convince the people to release their slaves like they were supposed to, that God would have mercy on them and stop the Babylonian siege.

:11 But afterward they changed their minds and made the male and female slaves return, whom they had set free, and brought them into subjection as male and female slaves.

The Egyptian army made an advance against the Babylonians and for a brief period of time the Babylonian army backed off of Jerusalem (Jer. 37:5)

When the people saw that the Babylonians had backed off, they went and forced their slaves back into slavery.

:12 Therefore the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,

:13 "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: 'I made a covenant with your fathers in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, saying,

At one point the entire nation had been slaves. They should have known better.

:14 "At the end of seven years let every man set free his Hebrew brother, who has been sold to him; and when he has served you six years, you shall let him go free from you." But your fathers did not obey Me nor incline their ear.

:15 'Then you recently turned and did what was right in My sight; every man proclaiming liberty to his neighbor; and you made a covenant before Me in the house which is called by My name.

:16 'Then you turned around and profaned My name, and every one of you brought back his male and female slaves, whom he had set at liberty, at their pleasure, and brought them back into subjection, to be your male and female slaves.'

:17 "Therefore thus says the LORD: 'You have not obeyed Me in proclaiming liberty, every one to his brother and every one to his neighbor. Behold, I proclaim liberty to you,' says the LORD; 'to the sword, to pestilence, and to famine! And I will deliver you to trouble among all the kingdoms of the earth.

God will let the people experience a new kind of freedom themselves. He will give them freedom to experience the war and death.

Lesson

Freedom?

Some folks feel that they shouldn’t have to have anyone telling them what to do. Some Christians say that now that Jesus has paid for our sins, and because we are no longer “under the Law”, we can do anything we want.
But Paul wrote,
(1 Cor 6:12 KJV) All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
What some people call “freedom” is really bondage. It’s bondage to sin.
(Rom 6:16 NKJV) Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?
Be careful with what kind of things you want to be “free” from. We don’t want to become “free” from obeying God or else we will become “free” to be enslaved to sin.

:18 'And I will give the men who have transgressed My covenant, who have not performed the words of the covenant which they made before Me, when they cut the calf in two and passed between the parts of it;

One of the ancient ways of ratifying a contract or a “covenant” was to sacrifice an animal by splitting it down the middle, and then the two people involved in the contract would walk between the two halves of the animal.

This is what God did with Abraham when God made a contract with Abraham, promising to give him the land of Canaan. God had Abraham prepare a sacrifice, split the animal, and then God walked between the parts. The covenant didn’t even depend on Abraham, but solely on God (Gen. 15:7-18) since God was the only one to walk between the two rows of animal parts.

Zedekiah had apparently made one of these types of “covenants” with the people, making them promise to set their slaves free (vs. 8)

It was a serious agreement.

:19 'the princes of Judah, the princes of Jerusalem, the eunuchs, the priests, and all the people of the land who passed between the parts of the calf;

:20 'I will give them into the hand of their enemies and into the hand of those who seek their life. Their dead bodies shall be for meat for the birds of the heaven and the beasts of the earth.

:21 'And I will give Zedekiah king of Judah and his princes into the hand of their enemies, into the hand of those who seek their life, and into the hand of the king of Babylon's army which has gone back from you.

:22 'Behold, I will command,' says the LORD, 'and cause them to return to this city. They will fight against it and take it and burn it with fire; and I will make the cities of Judah a desolation without inhabitant.'"

The Babylonians would be back …

Lesson

Keep your promises

God was tired of these people continually breaking their promises.
In Jesus’ day, people swore an oath to show they were really serious. It would be like saying, “May I be struck with lightning if what I say isn’t true”. Except the people would use a little more religious stuff to sware by:
(Mat 5:33-37 NKJV) "Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.' {34} "But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God's throne; {35} "nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. {36} "Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. {37} "But let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No.' For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.
Jesus wants you to keep your word. Why?
Because God keeps His Word.
(Deu 31:6 KJV) Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
Illustration
A Father's Promise
In 1989 an 8.2 earthquake almost flattened Armenia, killing over 30,000 people in less than four minutes. In the midst of utter devastation and chaos, a father left his wife securely at home and rushed to the school where his son was supposed to be, only to discover that the building was as flat as a pancake. After the traumatic initial shock, he remembered the promise he had made to his son: “No matter what, I’ll always be there for you!” And tears began to fill his eyes. As he looked at the pile of debris that once was the school, it looked hopeless, but he kept remembering his commitment to his son. He began to concentrate on where he walked his son to class at school each morning. Remembering his son’s classroom would be in the back right corner of the building, he rushed there and started digging through the rubble. As he was digging, other forlorn parents arrived, clutching their hearts, saying: “My son!” “My daughter!” Other well meaning parents tried to pull him off of what was left of the school saying: “It’s too late!” “They’re dead!” “You can’t help!” “Go home!” “Come on, face reality, there’s nothing you can do!” “You’re just going to make things worse!” To each parent he responded with one line: “Are you going to help me now?” And then he proceeded to dig for his son, stone by stone. The fire chief showed up and tried to pull him off of the school’s debris saying, “Fires are breaking out, explosions are happening everywhere. You’re in danger. We’ll take care of it. Go home.” To which this loving, caring Armenian father asked, “Are you going to help me now?” The police came and said, “You’re angry, distraught and it’s over. You’re endangering others. Go home. We’ll handle it!” To which he replied, “Are you going to help me now?” No one helped. Courageously he proceeded alone because he needed to know for himself: “Is my boy alive or is he dead?” He dug for eight hours . . . 12 hours . . . 24 hours .. . . 36 hours . . . then, in the 38th hour, he pulled back a boulder and heard his son’s voice. He screamed his son’s name, “ARMAND!” He heard back, “Dad!?! It’s me, Dad! I told the other kids not to worry. I told ‘em that if you were alive, you’d save me and when you saved me, they’d be saved. You promised, ‘No matter what, I’ll always be there for you!’ You did it, Dad! . . . “ “What’s going on in there? How is it?” the father asked. There are 14 of us left out of 33, Dad. We’re scared, hungry, thirsty and thankful you’re here. When the building collapsed, it made a wedge, like a triangle, and it saved us.” “Come on out, boy!” “No, Dad! Let the other kids out first, ‘cause I know you’ll get me! No matter what, I know you’ll be there for me!”

Jeremiah 35

:1-11 Rechabites obey their father

:1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, saying,

This next prophecy is an older one. We now skip backwards in time.

Jehoiakim was the third of four sons of Josiah to rule (609-598 BC). He was a bad king. He ruled for eleven years.

:2 "Go to the house of the Rechabites, speak to them, and bring them into the house of the LORD, into one of the chambers, and give them wine to drink."

The Rechabites were a group of nomads who were related to the Kenites, descendants of Moses’ father-in-law Jethro. They considered a fellow named Jonadab to be their founder, dating back to 842 BC (250 years prior to Jeremiah). One of their unique characteristics was that they did not drink wine or alcohol. Jeremiah is asked to take them into the Temple and try giving them a drink.

:3 Then I took Jaazaniah the son of Jeremiah, the son of Habazziniah, his brothers 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, above the chamber of Maaseiah the son of Shallum, the keeper of the door.

:5 Then I set before the sons of the house of the Rechabites bowls full of wine, and cups; and I said to them, "Drink wine."

:6 But they said, "We will drink no wine, for Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father …

Who was Jonadab? His name was also pronounced “Jehonadab”

Jonadab lived in the days of Jehu. The northern kingdom had been ruled by a wicked dynasty led by King Ahab and his wife Queen Jezebel. Together they led the nation of Israel into horrible idolatry, leading the people into worshipping Baal and Ashtoreth. God had warned that He would destroy this wicked dynasty. When Ahab died, his son Ahaziah became king briefly, but when he died, Ahab’s other son Jehoram became king of Israel. When Jehoram was wounded in battle, the time came for judgment. Elisha the prophet sent word to Jehu, an army commander, that God was anointing Jehu to be king over Israel. Jehu set out to destroy the dynasty of Ahab.

(2 Ki 10:15-17 NKJV) Now when he departed from there, he met Jehonadab the son of Rechab, coming to meet him; and he greeted him and said to him, "Is your heart right, as my heart is toward your heart?" And Jehonadab answered, "It is." Jehu said, "If it is, give me your hand." So he gave him his hand, and he took him up to him into the chariot. {16} Then he said, "Come with me, and see my zeal for the LORD." So they had him ride in his chariot. {17} And when he came to Samaria, he killed all who remained to Ahab in Samaria, till he had destroyed them, according to the word of the LORD which He spoke to Elijah.

Jehonadab[email protected] – “Jehovah is willing”
RechabRekab – “rider”.
Jehonadab was a loyal friend
(NLT) "Are you as loyal to me as I am to you?" "Yes, I am,"

Lesson

Good friends

Throughout Scripture we see the tremendous value of having good friends. As we look at this, ask yourself, “Who are my friends and how do I treat them?”
Good friends support each other. Even if it’s a little risky.
Good friends encourage each other
Good friends serve God together.
Though you may struggle a bit with this, what Jehonadab and Jehu did in killing all the offspring of King Ahab was also serving God. Sometimes serving God isn’t so neat and tidy.
Two are better than one.
(Eccl 4:9-12 KJV) Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. {10} For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.

We need friends who will help us when we fall. We need friends who will pick us up when we stumble.

{11} Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? {12} And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

I like to think of Jesus being that “third cord”. The best friend is the one that makes sure that Jesus is in the middle of your relationship.

:6 commanded us, saying, 'You shall drink no wine, you nor your sons, forever.

Lesson

Alcohol

Four statements about alcohol.
1. Though Jonadab told his family that they should not drink wine, the Bible does not outright prohibit the drinking of wine for everyone.
Paul encouraged Timothy to drink some wine as a form of medicine:

(1 Tim 5:23 NKJV) No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach's sake and your frequent infirmities.

In proverbs, King Lemuel talks about how wine can help those who are suffering:

(Prov 31:6 NKJV) Give strong drink to him who is perishing, And wine to those who are bitter of heart.

At a wedding feast in Cana, Jesus turned water into wine (John 2) as His first public miracle.
2. The Bible does prohibit being drunk.
(Eph 5:18 NKJV) And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,
3. The Bible also recommends or requires that certain types of people not drink wine:
a. Priests were not to drink before coming into the Tabernacle.

(Lev 10:8-11 NKJV) Then the LORD spoke to Aaron, saying: {9} "Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, {10} "that you may distinguish between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean, {11} "and that you may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the LORD has spoken to them by the hand of Moses."

The command came after two or Aaron’s sons had rushed into the Tabernacle with “strange fire” and were incinerated by the fire of God. It has been suggested that Nadab and Abihu may have been drinking a little too much when they did this.

God wanted His priests to have a clear head so they could distinguish what was right from what was wrong. He wanted them to have a clear mind when they were teaching God’s ways to the people.

b. Kings were not to drink strong drink.

(Prov 31:4-5 NKJV) It is not for kings, O Lemuel, It is not for kings to drink wine, Nor for princes intoxicating drink; {5} Lest they drink and forget the law, And pervert the justice of all the afflicted.

Again, the idea is that alcohol impairs your judgment. God wants kings to have a clear mind.

The idea is that if you are serving the Lord or are in a leadership position, alcohol probably isn’t a great idea for you.
4. Be careful about not causing someone else to stumble.
(Rom 14:21 NKJV) It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.
If you have a friend who is an alcoholic, should you drink alcohol in front of them just because you can?

(Rom 14:15 NKJV) Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died.

If I love that other person, I will not do something that would cause them to stumble.

:7 '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.'

Lesson

Strangers

The Rechabites were nomads. They were like the old hippies, avoiding materialism.
There is nothing wrong with having possessions. There is nothing wrong with owning your own home.
But there is a sense in which we too ought to be like those nomads.
Abraham lived like a nomad:
(Heb 11:8-10 NLT) It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. {9} And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith--for he was like a foreigner, living in a tent. And so did Isaac and Jacob, to whom God gave the same promise. {10} Abraham did this because he was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.
This world is not our home. We shouldn’t be too comfortable in this world. We ought to always be a little homesick for heaven.
(1 Pet 2:11-12 ICB) Dear friends, you are like visitors and strangers in this world. So I beg you to stay away from the evil things your bodies want to do. These things fight against your soul. {12} People who do not believe are living all around you. They might say that you are doing wrong. So live good lives. Then they will see the good things you do, and they will give glory to God on the day when Christ comes again.
When we live as strangers in this world, we give people a glimpse of what heaven it really like.
It’s like living with people who have just immigrated from some foreign country – their food, their clothes, their house all smell and remind you of the land they came from.
Illustration
Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse writes, Some years ago, a friend of mine moved into a new home. The house had been unoccupied for a long time; the garden was untended and high with weeds. The first morning my friend looked from an upstairs window into the garden, and among the weeds he saw a beautiful red rose. He went to pick it, but the weeds were so high he could not find it. Returning to his upstairs window he located the rose, noted landmarks near it, and on his second trip to the garden, succeeded in finding it. As he pulled it from the weeds, he discovered that the stem ran nine feet to its root in his neighbor’s well-cultivated garden! That is the Christian life. Rooted in Heaven, it blooms among the weeds of earth.
Illustration
Spurgeon writes about an incident between a pagan, godless man and a Christian. Lord Peterborough spoke of the celebrated Fenelon in this way: "He is a delicious creature. I was forced to get away from him as fast as I possibly could, else he would have made me pious."

I wish that all of us had such an influence over godless men!

:8 "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,

:9 "nor to build ourselves houses to dwell in; nor do we have vineyard, field, or 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 Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up into the land, that we said, 'Come, 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."

This is why they are not living out in the fields in their tents. They’ve had to temporarily settle down in Jerusalem because of the Babylonians.

:12-19 Judah should obey it’s Father

:12 Then came the word of the LORD to Jeremiah, saying,

:13 "Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: 'Go and tell the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, "Will you not receive instruction to obey My words?" says the LORD.

:14 "The words of Jonadab the son of Rechab, which he commanded his sons, not to drink wine, are performed; for to this day they drink none, and obey their father's commandment. But although I have spoken to you, rising early and speaking, you did not obey Me.

:15 "I have also sent to you all My servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them, saying, 'Turn now everyone from his evil way, amend your doings, and do not go after other gods to serve them; then you will dwell in the land which I have given you and your fathers.' But you have not inclined your ear, nor obeyed Me.

:16 "Surely the sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab have performed the commandment of their father, which he commanded them, but this people has not obeyed Me."'

God was amazed at how honorable these Rechabites were towards their father’s commandments, yet the nation of Judah has not honored God in obeying His commandments.

:17 "Therefore thus says the LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel: 'Behold, I will bring on Judah and on all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the doom 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.'"

:18 And Jeremiah said to the house of the Rechabites, "Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: 'Because you have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, and kept all his precepts and done according to all that he commanded you,

:19 'therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: "Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not lack a man to stand before Me forever."' "

Lesson

Set the standard for your family

(Eph 6:4 KJV) And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Jehonadab was a man who set an example that his family followed for generations to come. He taught them what to do, and then lived it.
Setting an example is supposed to be a daily thing, a way of life thing:
(Deu 6:4-9 KJV) Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: {5} And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. {6} And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: {7} And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. {8} And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. {9} And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
Parents – set the standard for your children. Give them an example that they can follow.
Illustration

IN MY FOOTSTEPS?

There was a lady physician who told a story about her four-year-old daughter. On the way to preschool, the doctor had left her stethoscope on the car seat, and her little girl picked it up and began playing with it. “Be still, my heart”, thought the doctor, “my daughter wants to follow in my footsteps!” Then the child spoke into the instrument. “Welcome to McDonald’s. May I take your order?”

Illustration
In His Mother's Steps
One gal (Davida Dalton) writes: It was a busy day in our Costa Mesa, California home. But then, with 10 children and one on the way, every day was a bit hectic. On this particular day, however, I was having trouble doing even routine chores-all because of one little boy. Len, who was three at the time, was on my heels no matter where I went. Whenever I stopped to do something and turned back around, I would trip over him. Several times, I patiently suggested fun activities to keep him occupied. “Wouldn’t you like to play on the swing set?” I asked again. But he simply smiled an innocent smile and said, “Oh, that’s all right, Mommy. I’d rather be in here with you.” Then he continued to bounce happily along behind me. After stepping on his toes for the fifth time, I began to lose my patience and insisted that he go outside and play with the other children. When I asked him why he was acting this way, he looked up at me with sweet green eyes and said, “Well, Mommy, in preschool my teacher told me to walk in Jesus’ footsteps. But I can’t see him, so I’m walking in yours.”

Lesson

God honors those who keep their promises

God promised that because of their obedience to their father, there would always be Rechabites before God.
When the people would come back from Babylon and rebuild Jerusalem, the Rechabites were there. Nehemiah records who helped in the rebuilding of the wall:
(Neh 3:14 NKJV) Malchijah the son of Rechab, leader of the district of Beth Haccerem, repaired the Refuse Gate; he built it and hung its doors with its bolts and bars.
They built the place where you took out the trash.
Kind of ironic considering how Jonadab was known in Scripture as the guy who helped Jehu take out the trash (Ahab’s offspring) from the northern kingdom of Israel.