Jonadab was sick of it all. For a while it seemed there was meaning and purpose in all the killing. Unjust regimes and rulers were being cast down and a righteous king was taking over. At least that was how it should have been. But that was not how it was going.
Jehu had done his bit in cleaning things up, but not enough to turn the hearts of people back to God. Neither did Jehu himself seek to follow God with his whole heart.
What was the point of it all? All this jockeying for power and lands, did it make life better for the weak and the exploited?
Jonadab thought of Ben-Hadad challenging Ahab in a moment of drunken bravado. Then the ignominious defeat which followed.
Ahab, now that was another guy who was not content with what he had. Cedar-inlaid-with-ivory palaces were not enough for him, nor all the flourishing vineyards he owned. No, he had to murder Naboth to get his vineyard. Well… Jezebel arranged it to coax Ahab out of his sulks and pouts.
Jezebel. All that scheming, plotting, manipulating – where did that leave her? Or rather what was left of her? Not much, after the dogs were done.
He thought over Jehu’s offer to be part of his trusted team of advisors, now that Jehu was king. No doubt Jehu would compensate him handsomely if he said yes. But was it worth it? For how long would it last? Till the next drunken invader, till the next revolution?
Cedar-walls-inlaid-with-ivory palaces? Soul leeches!
Back at home in his tent, surrounded by his loving family, he distilled all the learning he had garnered into two simple instructions.
‘Don’t ever drink wine or alcohol. Keep your wits about you. Don’t desire to build houses and plant vineyards. It’s like a drug. It takes over your soul. You build a shelter, then you want to beautify it, so you look to get more out of your vineyards, then you realise it’s too small or not rightly placed and then you try to get the right one by any means possible… there is no end to it. So my sons, promise me, that you will live a life of contentment and prudence with what God has blessed us with. Promise me that you will teach your children like-wise and bring them up in like manner.’
His sons were faithful to their promise, and generation after generation abstained from drinking, and they all continued to live simple lives in the tents. Right up to the time of King Jehoiakim son of Josiah.
During Jehoiakim’s reign Nebuchadnezzer began his invasion of Israel and Judah, and gradually swallowed up the countryside.
At that time Jonadab’s descendants – the Rechabites – entered into Jerusalem seeking shelter and safety from King Neb’s armies. For nearly a century and a half, the Rechabites had remained faithful to the promise they had made to Jonadab.
All this had not escaped God’s eyes. He directs Jeremiah’s attention to them.
“Go to the members of the Rechabite clan and talk to them. Then bring them into one of the rooms in the Temple and offer them some wine.” Jer 35:2
Jeremiah is amazed to learn from the Rechabites of their promise and their faithfulness in keeping it.
In the whole grand scheme of things, seemingly insignificant people, and yet God noticed them. He noticed Jonadab turning away from worldly honours and office and being content with what God had blessed him with. God noticed the Rechabites and the way they honoured their word.
There are times when I wonder whether is any point in doing the things I do. Do they make a difference to anyone? Won’t the world continue to spin on its axis even if I give up doing the things I do? It will.
But that doesn’t take away from the fact that God sees. El Roi the God who sees.
In Sunday School we used to sing this song ‘Oh be careful… what you see/say/do… for the Father up above is looking down in love…’ And it left me with an almost indelible impression of a God who watches merely to find fault.
Oh yes, He watches over us with love and He does see where we are going off track, but it so that He can speak the right word in the right season to keep us from getting hurt. That is what the whole of Jeremiah is all about. God looking in love, speaking the right word of warning, well in advance so that His people might get off the road leading to destruction.
But His are Holy eyes of love. Here we see the God who sees and records the little acts of faithfulness.
Do you, like me, get discouraged and fed up with doing the ‘right thing’?
Well, let us take heart and courage from this little story of the Rechabites, pull ourselves up to our full heights and keep going. God watches over us. He sees. He notices. He does not forget.
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Gal 6:9 ESV
For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love…
*** Two very small incidents. The first part of my post is purely conjecture on my part. All we know from the Bible is the Jonadab (or Jehonadab) in 2Kings 10:15,23 is that he helped Jehu in his war against the sons of Ahab and the prophets/priests of Baal. The next we hear of him is in Jer 35:6 where the Rechabites explain their vow and the reason for their lifestyle.