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Honouring Your Father

Posted May 15, 2013 by Frank Klin in Commandments of God
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Honouring Your Father
A Lesson from the Rechabites, Children of the East

One of my favourite verses in Scripture is 1st John 1:3, “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.”

Jesus has been our example in all things concerning His Father and of the four gospels, the apostle John’s is a poignant revelation of their relationship. 

“Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” - (John 4:34 KJV)

“For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” - (John 6:38 KJV)

“And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” - (John 6:40 KJV)

“I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” - (John 5:30 KJV)

“For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.” - (John 5:22-23 KJV)

“Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.” - (John 8:28-29 KJV)

“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.” - (John 15:10 KJV)

“If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.” - (John 12:26 KJV)

I believe that the Spirit of the Son of God who sought not His own will, but the will of His Father was exhibited in many Old Testament examples. I was excited and blessed to discover one such example, and as I began to search the Word as for hidden treasure I was in awe of where it took me.

In 2011 I was blessed to hear a presentation by brother Stephen Dickie on “Islam, God’s Forgotten Blessing.” He had me listening attentively as he shared experiences in ministering to the Children of the East, as he called them. He then opened a new door for me by sharing that our church, up until 1950, had connected Islam to prophecy illustrating their significance through the 1843 and 1850 prophecy charts.

Brother Dickie explained how Islam’s belief in the One God, abstinence from alcohol and pork, and their role in prophecy created an opportunity for ministry. He shared how he thanks Muslims for their role during the Reformation and tells them it is because of their personal sacrifice that he can be a Seventh-Day Adventist today. When I realized that many of these people were massacred protecting the people of the book against the Papal power I was on the verge of tears. I walked away from that presentation in awe.

During the same camp meeting I was doubly blessed to meet brother Jason Hovey, a gentleman who has also been focusing on ministry to Islam. Our Father worked through him to help me catch of vision of ministering to the other side of the family, the children of the east.

Elder Dickie encouraged us that when we had an opportunity to minister to someone of the Muslim faith to tell the stories in Scripture where the children of the east have a part to play. He took us through some of those stories; Abraham, Sara, Hagar, Ishmael, Joseph, Moses & Jethro, the wise men from the east, and others. I had no clue that Scripture had such a rich history of these dear children, and how their stories are interwoven into the fabric of the channel of blessing. A Divine appointment around the dinner table during a feast of Unleavened Bread had me elated to find one of those stories in Scripture. It is a joy to weave this story into the tapestry that is the Children of the East and relate it to the topic of Honouring Your Father. 

Please turn in your Bibles to Jeremiah Chapter 35.  We read beginning in verse 1. I would like to use some of the Hebrew names and give their definitions because it reveals just how colorful the threads are.

“The word which came unto Yirmeyah (whom Yahovah has appointed) from the LORD in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, saying, Go unto the house of the Rechabites, and speak unto them, and bring them into the house of the LORD, into one of the chambers, and give them wine to drink. Then I took Ya’azanyah (whom Yahovah hears) the son of Yirmeyah (another whom Yahovah has appointed) the son of Khavatstsanyah (light of Yahovah), and his brethren, and all his sons, and the whole house of the Rechabites; and I brought them into the house of the LORD, into the chamber of the sons of Hanan…and I set before the sons of the house of the Rechabites pots full of wine, and cups, and I said unto them, Drink ye wine.” - (Jeremiah 35:1-5 KJV)

Now notice their reply to the prophet Jeremiah, continuing in verse 6,

“But they said, We will drink no wine: for Yawnadav (Yahovah is willing) the son of Rechab our father commanded us, saying, Ye shall drink no wine, neither ye, nor your sons for ever: - neither shall ye build house, nor sow seed, nor plant vineyard, nor have any: but all your days ye shall dwell in tents; that ye may live many days in the land where ye be strangers. Thus have we obeyed the voice of Yawnadav the son of Rechab our father in all that he hath charged us, to drink no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, nor our daughters; nor to build houses for us to dwell in: neither have we vineyard, nor field, nor seed: but we have dwelt in tents, and have obeyed, and done according to all that Yawnadav our father commanded us.” - (Jeremiah 35:6-10 KJV)

Who were these Rechabites, or riders, as the word means in Hebrew? There have been various conjectures concerning their origin. I believe we can trace their lineage in Scripture to Heber the Kenite.  His wife Yael features prominently in Judges chapter 4. Because of her heroics we read in chapter 5 verse 24, “Blessed above women shall Yael the wife of Heber the Kenite be, blessed shall she be above women in the tent.”

Who were the Kenites? They were a sect of Midianites who descended from Jethro, or Yithrow in Hebrew meaning His abundance. He was the father-in-law of Moses and a priest of Midian. Midian was a son of Abraham through his wife Ketura. The Midianites are included in the who’s who of the children of the east because they and the Ishmaelites intermarried and became one sect. By the time we read the story of Joseph in Genesis the terms Midianites and Ishmaelites are used interchangeably.

The Kenites came more specifically through Khovav, meaning cherished, the Son of Jethro and brother-in-law of Moses. They agreed to separate themselves from the Midianites and joined the Israelites on their exodus journey at the invitation of Moses.

“And Moses said unto Khovav, the son of Raguel the Midianite, Moses' father in law, We are journeying unto the place of which the LORD said, I will give it you: come thou with us, and we will do thee good: for the LORD hath spoken good concerning Israel. And he said unto him, I will not go; but I will depart to mine own land, and to my kindred. And he said, Leave us not, I pray thee; forasmuch as thou knowest how we are to encamp in the wilderness, and thou mayest be to us instead of eyes. And it shall be, if thou go with us, yea, it shall be, that what goodness the LORD shall do unto us, the same will we do unto thee.” - (Numbers 10:29-32 KJV)

In the promised land they settled with the children of Judah: 

“And the children of the Kenite, Moses' father in law, went up out of the city of palm trees with the children of Judah into the wilderness of Judah, which lieth in the south of Arad; and they went and dwelt among the people.” - (Judges 1:16 KJV)

We discover Hemath, the father of the house of Rechab, in 1st Chronicles 2:55 where it is stated that he is of the families of the scribes that dwell at Yabez in Judah, "the Kenites that came of Kham-ath.”

Does Scripture tell us anything more about Yonadav, the son of Rechab named in the book of Jeremiah? Yes it does. He enters the Scriptures in a dramatic way.

After the death of Ahab the prophet Elijah anoints Yayhu (Yahovah is He) king of Israel and then commissions him to rid the country of Jezebel and her influence. After having Jezebel pushed out of a window where she falls to her death he sets his sights on annihilating the sons of Ahab. We pick up the narrative in 2nd Kings10:15: 

“And when he [Yayhu] was departed thence, he lighted on Yehonadav (Yahovah is willing) the son of Rechab coming to meet him: and he saluted him, and said to him, Is thine heart right, as my heart is with thy heart? And Yehonadav answered, It is. If it be, give me thine hand. And he gave him his hand; and he took him up to him into the chariot. And he said, Come with me, and see my zeal for the LORD. So they made him ride in his chariot. And when he came to Samaria, he slew all that remained unto Ahab in Samaria, till he had destroyed him, according to the saying of the LORD, which he spake to Elijah.” - (2 Kings 10:15-17 KJV)

The exploit continues as Yayhu targets the priests, prophets and worshippers of Baal.  He gathers the people together and boasts that he is going to serve Baal more devoutly than Ahab by offering a great sacrifice.

“Now therefore call unto me all the prophets of Baal, all his servants, and all his priests; let none be wanting: for I have a great sacrifice to do to Baal; whosoever shall be wanting, he shall not live. But Yayhu did it in subtilty, to the intent that he might destroy the worshippers of Baal. - (2 Kings 10:19 KJV)

Then Yahhu told the priests to proclaim a solemn assembly for Baal and they broadcast it through all Israel.  And guess what? All the worshippers of Baal came to the assembly and the house of Baal was packed full.

Normally only the priests of Baal and their assistants were arrayed in ceremonial vestments for worship. To prove that his worship service was going to be more grandiose then anything Ahab had done the king commanded that the vestry be opened so all the worshippers could to be attired with the regalia devoted to Baal.

Yayhu and Yehonadav the son of Rechab, enter into the house. The king became concerned that worshippers of the true God had inadvertently come into the assembly. He conceives of a plan to preserve their lives. He said unto the people gathered in the house, “Search, and look that there be here with you none of the servants of the LORD, but the worshippers of Baal only.” - (2 Kings 10:23)

Yayhu then appointed eighty men to stand guard outside the house and told them upon pain of death that they were not to let anyone escape.

Now picture the faithful arrayed in sartorial eloquence from the vestry waiting in anticipation for the ceremony to begin. They are elated because their filthy garments have been covered with robes they had never been allowed to wear before, all for Baal’s unrighteous devotion. The worship leader raises his hands and singers commence uttering a hypnotic melody. The worshippers soon lift their hands and begin to sway as syncopated music joins the choir’s chorus. During the aria the king makes a solemn and grand processional to the altar with an ostentatious display of theatrics to make good his boast of pious devotion to Baal exceeding that of Ahab. The priests follow. The assembly has never witnessed such spectacle and pompous ceremonial devotion from any king. The vocal induction stops abruptly as Yayhu arrives at the altar. I can hear the priests, prophets and people begin to chant as the king dramatically raises the knife for the sacrifice to the rain god.

“And it came to pass, as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, that Yayhu said to the guard and to the captains, Go in, and slay them; let none come forth. And they smote them with the edge of the sword; and the guard and the captains cast them out, and went to the city of the house of Baal. And they brought forth the images out of the house of Baal, and burned them. And they brake down the image of Baal, and brake down the house of Baal, and made it a draught house (sewer, cesspool) unto this day.” - (2 Kings 10:25-27 KJV)

Thus Yayhu with the help of Yehonadav the Rechabite, one of the children of the east, destroyed Baal out of Israel.

I believe this was a fore shadow of how our heavenly Father would use Islam in prophecy. It also would make an interesting study to look at the types and parallels in this story and unfold their connection to the Elijah message and Jezebel in Revelation.

Returning to the story in Jeremiah we have no record of why Yonadav instructed his children neither to drink wine, nor build houses, plant vineyards, or possess lands, and to dwell in tents all their lives. According to William Fleming, writing in the Scripture Gazetteer, published in 1838, “They continued to observe these injunctions for more than three hundred years, but in the last year of King Jehoiakim, when Nebuchadnezzar advanced against Jerusalem to besiege it, the Rechabites were compelled to take refuge in the city, though they still kept up their peculiarity of lodging in tents, which they pitched in the streets and other convenient places.”

It was during this siege that Yermeyah received the Divine command to invite the Rechabites into the Temple and offer them wine to drink.

Our topic of Honouring Your Father unfolds as Sister White nurtures the Biblical account in the 4th volume of the Testimonies on pages 174/175.  You can follow along as she quotes Scripture from Jeremiah 35 beginning in verse 6:

God commanded Jeremiah to gather the Rechabites into the house of the Lord, into one of the chambers, and set wine before them and invite them to drink. Jeremiah did as the Lord commanded him. "But they said, We will drink no wine: for Jonadab the son of Rechab our father commanded us, saying, Ye shall drink no wine, neither ye, nor your sons forever."  {4T 174.2}

Verse 12:

Then came the word of the Lord unto Jeremiah, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Go and tell the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Will ye not receive instruction to hearken to My words? saith the Lord. The words of Jonadab the son of Rechab, that he commanded his sons not to drink wine, are performed, for unto this day they drink none, but obey their father's commandment."  {4T 174.3} 

Here God contrasts the obedience of the Rechabites with the disobedience and rebellion of His people, who will not receive His words of reproof and warning. The Rechabites obeyed the commandment of their father and refused to be enticed into transgression of his requirements. But Israel refused to hearken unto the Lord. He says: (end of verse 14) "I have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking, but ye hearkened not unto Me. I have sent also unto you all My servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them, saying, Return ye now every man from his evil way, and amend your doings, and go not after other gods to serve them, and ye shall dwell in the land which I have given to you and to your fathers: but ye have not inclined your ear, nor hearkened unto Me. Because the sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab have performed the commandment of their father, which he commanded them; but this people hath not hearkened unto Me; therefore thus saith the Lord God of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring upon Judah and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the evil that I have pronounced against them: because I have spoken unto them, but they have not heard; and I have called unto them, but they have not answered.  {4T 174.4} 

Verse 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: 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 forever."  {4T 175.1} 

The Rechabites were commended for their ready and willing obedience, while God's people refused to be reproved by their prophets. Because He had spoken unto them but they had not heard, because He had called unto them but they had not answered, therefore God pronounced judgment against them. Jeremiah repeated the words of commendation from the Lord to the faithful Rechabites and pronounced blessings upon them in His name. Thus God taught His people that faithfulness, and obedience to His requirements, would be reflected back upon them in blessings, as the Rechabites were blessed for their obedience to their father's command.  {4T 175.2} End Quote

It stands out to me that our Father in heaven found faithful servants among the children of the east and used them as an example of ready and willing obedience in contrast to disobedient Israel. 

One of the greatest blessings I have received in the past few years is being introduced to the Divine Pattern and its Channel of Blessing by my friend and brother in the faith Adrian Ebens. The Divine Pattern is all about hounoring the Father through His Son Jesus. It also shows Their and our relationship to the principles of headship and submission.

In my research I came across a protestant pastor named Glenn Conjurske who published a newsletter from 1992 until his death in 2001 entitled, Olde Paths and Ancient Landmarks. In 1998 he wrote an article on the Rechabites. Allow me to share some of his thoughts as they embody the message of submission to authority, which is what Honouring Your Father is all about.

“This passage [in Jeremiah 35] is singularly rich and full... It establishes some matters of very great importance concerning the nature of authority. Yet I fear that the modern church is generally unable to understand its content, for it reads the passage with a veil over its eyes….

The…veil which blinds men to the content of this passage consists of the prevailing principles of independence and democracy, which have almost entirely blotted out the scriptural doctrine of authority from the modern church… Let us therefore establish this point at the outset, that the theme of this chapter is submission to authority. [In the Rechabites] [t]he commandment of Jonadab was obeyed. [In Israel] [t]he commandment of God was not. All this relates to authority…

Observe, Jonadab did not advise them to do such and such things, but commanded them, as the chapter affirms again and again. Neither is it said that he persuaded or convinced them to do these things. He commanded them. This is an act of authority. Their performance of them was an act of obedience, as the chapter also affirms again and again.

But this necessarily raises the question, Has a father the right to command his children for many generations to come? In this instance it has the evident sanction of God. So it has in another instance also. God says of Abraham, “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.” (Gen. 18:19). Again, this is authority. He will command them. He will command his children after him, evidently for generations to come.

The effectual use of authority depends largely, if not entirely, upon the moral weight and worth of the man who holds it. An unworthy man in a place of authority----an immoral, unrighteous, or self-serving man----weakens not only his own authority, but contributes to weaken men's regard for authority as such. On the other hand, a worthy man wins respect not only for himself, but for his office. Every man in any place of authority ought to be able to command the respect of those who are under him, but we suppose it must be a man of a peculiar greatness who can command the obedience of future generations. He must be revered and trusted, and that to such an extent that that reverence and confidence will be passed down from generation to generation…

Jonadab, then, was evidently a great man. He was a man who could command his children for generations to come, and secure their obedience. He was not only revered, but trusted. His children, and grandchildren, and great grandchildren for many generations, deferred to his judgement. They trusted him to command what was good and right, and obeyed because he had commanded.

And this is a fact the more remarkable when we consider the nature of his commandments. In the first place we may remark that these commandments were not easy. They required a life of self-denial, as “pilgrims and strangers on the earth.” In all this the Rechabites are a picture of the church of God…

A child of God may not be able to understand the reasons of the elders in the church,…[but he is…obliged, as Paul says, to “obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves.” This is authority, and authority does not merely advise or persuade. It commands, and those who are under that authority are obliged to obey…

When that is done, it is not the business of subordinates to divine the reason of the authorities, but rather to submit to them, and obey their commandments. It was no concern of the Rechabites to know certainly why their father Jonadab had forbidden them houses and fields and seed and wine… They could obey whether they understood or not. Jonadab assigned a reason, namely, “that ye may live many days in the land where ye be strangers,” but what the connection was between the commandments given and the end to be secured may not have been clear. For that they must trust the superior wisdom of their father. This may be done easily enough, when the man in the place of authority is fit to be there. His moral worth commands the respect and confidence of those over whom he has the rule, and therefore secures their ungrudging obedience. It is questionable whether an angel from heaven could generally command that confidence in this day of liberty and democracy and independence and pride and self-will, but such at any rate is the proper pattern of the working of God-ordained authority.” End Quote

We are obliged to obey the commands of those in authority over us so long as they do not contradict the commands of our heavenly Father. This is what it means to Honour Your Father and the story of the Rechabites is a powerful example of that truth.

What else can we find about the Rechabites after their encounter with Jeremiah?

Ernest M Bowden writes in an 1891 issue of Theological Monthly:

“From the curious mention of the "sons of Jonadab, and the first of those that were taken captive," in the heading to Psalm 70 in the Septuagint, it seems not unlikely that the Rechabites shared the captivity of Judah.”

Some of the Rechabites returned afterwards to Palestine as Nehemiah mentions a son of Rechab helping to repair one of the gates in Jerusalem after the exile.

Does the story of the Rechabites end there?

The Jewish Encyclopedia tells us, “According to Benjamin of Tudela (in the 12th Century), he found Rechabites in his travels: "Twenty-one days' journey from Babylon, through the desert of Sheba, or Al-Yemen, from which Mesopotamia lies in a northerly direction, are the abodes of the Jews who are called the Rechabites." He describes them as "an independent tribe…They have large and fortified cities,…The Rechabites make marauding expeditions in distant lands with their allies, the Arabs, who live in the wilderness in tents.”

The Rechabites were also found by the English missionary Dr. Joseph Wolff, in 1828, near Mecca in Arabia.

Quoting C. Mervyn Maxwell:

“Wolff was born a Jew in Germany (in 1795) and died in Britain (in 1862) as a priest of the Church of England… [H]e had found enormous joy in discovering the true Messiah, and he longed to share his joy with Jews everywhere…

The Jews lived in scattered places. Moslems, who made up the bulk of the population in many areas, were not automatically hostile to a Christian Jew. Wolff, who rarely stayed long in one place, spoke privately and publicly with both Jews and Moslems as well as peoples of other religions, distributing copies of the Scriptures in local languages.”

His appeals to the Jews were based on prophecy, including Isaiah 53, Micah 5:2, other “Messianic” texts eventually narrowing in on Daniel 9 and the 2300 days.

Because of his focus on prophecy and belief in the eminent return of Jesus in the 1840’s Sister White devoted five pages (357-362) to him in her “Great Religious Awakening” chapter of The Great Controversy. Quoting:

“Dr. Wolff traveled in the most barbarous countries, without the protection of any European authority, enduring many hardships, and surrounded with countless perils…[H]e persevered in his labors until the message of the Judgment had been carried to a large part of the habitable globe. Among Jews, Turks, Parsees, Hindoos, and many other nationalities and races, he distributed the Word of God in these various tongues, and everywhere heralded the approaching reign of the Messiah.”  {GC88 361.3}

In his travels in Bokhara he found the doctrine of the Lord's soon coming held by a remote and isolated people. The Arabs of Yemen, he says, “are in possession of a book called ‘Seera,’ which gives notice of the coming of Christ and his reign in glory, and they expect great events to take place in the year 1840.” “In Yemen I spent six days with the Rechabites. They drink no wine, plant no vineyards, sow no seed, live in tents, and remember the words of Jonadab, the son of Rechab. With them were the children of Israel of the tribe of Dan, . . . who expect, in common with the children of Rechab, the speedy arrival of the Messiah in the clouds of heaven.”  {GC88 361.4}

Uriah Smith also quoted Dr. Wolff in his book Daniel and the Revelation.

Ernest M. Bowden continues our history, “About the middle of the present century (19th), Joseph Schwarz, a Jewish Rabbi, who had long resided in Palestine, described in his work on that country the still-existing traces of the Rechabites... The Rabbinical writings, he argued, contained evidence that the sons of Jonadab settled in Yemen; and…were still to be met with on the Arabian shore of the Red Sea. Some were to be found labouring at smith's work, which is, perhaps, slightly significant, if the ancient Kenites were a guild of wandering ironsmiths. The[y] were also known by the name of "Arab Sebth," or Arabs who keep the Sabbath; but though Arab in some respects, and regarded as descendants of Heber the Kenite, they were, nevertheless, essentially Jews.” 

Returning to Jeremiah 35, are there any more lessons we can learn from this story? Yes!! Let’s reread verses 18 and 19:

"And Jeremiah said unto the house of the Rechabites, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Because ye have obeyed the commandments of Yonadav your father, and kept all his precepts, and done according unto all that he hath commanded you: therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Yonadav the Son of Rechab shall not want a man to stand before me forever."

After quoting those verses, Sister White gives this admonition found in the Paulson Collection:

“As a people we need to study this portion of sacred history: for these experiences are being brought into the lives of the people of God in these last days. A people who have had great light and every evidence of truth are turning away from the light, and following their own impulses. The instruction God has given in the record of His people in early days is not regarded. The mistakes and sins of His early people are being repeated in His people today: warnings and admonitions given in that day are not being heeded in this. Notwithstanding all the warnings that have been given, they see not their danger, but join the ranks of the enemy, and fight on his side. They choose to entertain their own ideas and to follow the suggestions of their own minds. The Lord is greatly dishonored by their course, and he is removing His Spirit from them. "Shall I not judge them for these things," saith the Lord, "unless they repent?"” 1906 {PC 78.6}

Can you hear the call from Your Father Yehovah? “Is thine heart right, as my heart is with thy heart? If it be, give me thine hand.”

Oh that each one of us would hounour our Father and be like Yehonadav and stretch forth our hand to be His light and move in the spirit and power of Elijah in these last days.

“The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.” - (John 3:35 KJV)

“And Jesus says I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me;” - (Luke 22:29 KJV)

“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” - (Luke 12:32 KJV)