35 This word from the Eternal came to Jeremiah when Jehoiakim (son of Josiah) was king of Judah.
The next two chapters are a flashback to earlier times and circumstances. Jehoiakim is in the last years of his reign as king of Judah. Babylon, along with Aram, is raiding Judean villages. These raids cause many to seek refuge in Jerusalem, which is not yet under attack. Among those who run to the capital city is a nomadic clan known as the Rechabites. Their customs are simple and austere; their lifestyles are not suited to city living. However, they now find themselves in Jerusalem. Their faithfulness to those strict customs is held up as an example for the rest of Judah.
Eternal One: 2 Go to where the Rechabites are now staying and invite them to My temple. Take them to one of the side rooms there and offer them wine to drink.
3 So I took the leader of this clan, Jaazaniah (son of Jeremiah and grandson of Habazziniah) along with his brothers and sons who represented all of the Rechabites 4 to the temple of the Eternal. I led them into a side room that was used by the sons of Hanan (son of Igdaliah), a man of God. This room was right next to the room used by temple officials and right over the room of Maaseiah (son of Shallum), the doorkeeper. 5 Once we were in the room, I set before these Rechabite men pitchers full of wine with some cups.
Jeremiah (to the Rechabites): Have some wine.
Rechabites: 6 We do not drink wine because our ancestor, Jonadab (son of Rechab), gave us very clear commands: “You and your children must never drink wine. 7 You must not build houses or plant crops or have vineyards. You are not to do anything that resembles settling down in this land. Instead, live in tents and roam the land as nomads. Do this, and you will live for a long time in this land.” 8 So we have done just that—we have obeyed our ancestor Jonadab (son of Rechab) throughout these many years. We have never drunk wine, nor have our wives or children. 9 We have never built houses to live in or owned a vineyard or a field or even planted seed. 10 We have faithfully lived as nomads in tents and have obeyed what our ancestor, Jonadab, commanded all those years ago. 11 But when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon invaded this land, we knew we could no longer wander the countryside. So we said, “Come on, let’s go to Jerusalem so we don’t fall victim to the Babylonian and Aramean armies.” That is why we are here in Jerusalem.
12 After this encounter with the Rechabites, the word of the Eternal came to instruct Jeremiah.
Eternal One: 13 I, the Eternal One, the God of Israel, Commander of heavenly armies, want you to go and deliver this message to the people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem: “Why won’t you hear My words and learn from Me? 14 Jonadab (son of Rechab) told his children, among other things, not to drink wine, and they obeyed him! To this day they still obey their ancestor for this is his command. But I speak to you again and again, and you have never obeyed Me. 15 I have sent My servants, the prophets, to you again and again. They warned you with My words: ‘Turn back from your wicked ways and change what you are doing. Stop worshiping other gods so that you may continue to live in this land that I gave to you and your ancestors.’ But you did not bother to listen to Me. 16 The descendants of Jonadab (son of Rechab) have obeyed the orders of their ancestor and leader, but these people have not obeyed Me.
17 “Listen! This is why I, the Eternal One, the God of Israel, Commander of heavenly armies, will send all the disaster I promised against Judah and all the citizens of Jerusalem. For I spoke to them, but they never listened. I called out to them, but they never answered back.”
Jeremiah (to the Rechabites): 18-19 The Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies and God of Israel, has this message for you and your families: “Because you obeyed your ancestor Jonadab and faithfully followed his instructions for all these years, I promise that Jonadab (son of Rechab) will always have descendants who serve Me.”