When Jeremiah called on Jaazaniah, he couldn’t knock on his door. Jaazaniah didn’t have one. (Jer 35) His tent had a doorway but nothing that he could lock, or that could be knocked on. (In some cultures we have to translate “Listen, I stand at the door and cough.” “…or call out.”)
I wonder what thoughts were going through Jaazaniah’s mind as he went to greet Jeremiah, that flamboyant, eccentric, off the wall, religious fanatic, from about town. Jeremiah had a reputation of not only wearing a yoke around his neck but of giving yokes away as gifts. (Jer 27) He hosted City Leaders to hold their council meetings at the city dump. One time he even traipsed off to the Euphrates to bury his underwear under a rock, and then journeyed back again to retrieve it … as if anyone would be interested in it! (Jer 13) Now this wild, waco, unpredictable prophet was standing in Jaazaniah’s doorway.
Jaazaniah was not a Hebrew, even though he lived in Israel. He was a descendent of Moses’ father in law, Jethro. He was leader of a clan of Gentiles who lived with Israel but were never assimilated. They lived in tents as resident aliens worshiping Jehovah, even though they were not allowed into the Temple. Now Jeremiah was summoning him, and every other Rechabite man, to accompany him to the Temple to meet with the Jewish Council. He gave no explanation, leaving all the women and children in a tizzy wondering what kind of trouble they were in. In the Temple, Jeremiah turned sociable, poured a welcoming glass of wine and gave instructions to: “Enjoy.” That put Jaaz in a quandary. His tribe was a guest in Israel, under the protection of the Israeli military, in submission to the Hebrew government as well as the Jewish religious leaders. But he also adhered to the instructions of his forefather Jonadab, who said they were to: live in tents, own no land and not drink wine. He had to make an ‘on the spot’ decision that was going to be in conflict with either his people … or these Jewish elders. I don’t know how easy his answer came, or how long it took him, but he declined Jeremiah’s hospitality.
That was exactly what Jeremiah wanted. He whirled to face the priests, and with shaking fists and angry voice he blasted those preachers right off their throne. “Look at these foreigners,” he raged, “they obey instructions from their grandfather, who is dead and gone, BUT YOU don’t even obey your God who is alive and present.” Then he whirled back to the Rechabite men and, probably in a calmer tone, predicted that because they showed that level of respect to their grandfather they would always have a descendant following God. (There are still God seeking Bedouins living in tents near the Dead Sea and also in Y’men.)
This invasion of the Temple was not a temptation to do evil, but a test of principle. It was an illustration for identifying and holding to specific values and beliefs that produce a behavioural life style of diligence. You cannot do what Jehoiakim did (Jer 36), when he used his penknife to cut out portions of scripture that he did not wish to obey. The knife serves the self-will of man, but not the spirit of anyone who longs to honour God.
In one of my training courses we look at the wheel (right) to identify life style behaviours. Doing so helps to determine personal values in eight life dimensions. That’s a heady exercise that most folks have never been taught to identify. It takes time to identify what you do, and then why you do it. (eg: eating with a knife; wearing shoes in the house; going to church; writing a journal etc etc) I’ve written out 39 things I do. They helped me discover specific values which then put my focus on why I believe they are important. I used this formula:
My behaviour is this:
because I value:
which is based on this foundational belief:
May you be blessed with a godly, generational, anointing of purpose in your life-style and behaviour. … john
(original post Aug 25 2014)