Summary: Jonadab provides an example of a father who left a spiritual legacy that lasted generations, even though he lived in times of political and spiritual decline.
It happened somewhere between my 40th birthday and the birth of our first grandchild. I started thinking about our family’s legacy.
What can we do to ensure that the next generation continues in the faith?
What can we do to build a strong legacy of Christian commitment?
We have been studying FIVE WORDS for a GODLY HOME. These key words are
LOVE, which is the central heart attitude given to husbands.
RESPECT, which is the central heart attitude given to wives.
HONOR which is the central heart attitude given to children.
FORGIVENESS which applies to all family members, and
LEGACY which is the result when a family honors the Lord.
Even though we are living during a time of spiritual and moral decline, we must ask:
Can I build a Spiritual Legacy in my family during a time of Spiritual decline?
A second important question follows the first,
Is there an example of someone in Scripture who built a Spiritual legacy in a time of spiritual decline?
Thankfully, the answer to both questions is an resounding YES. I would like to propose an obscure Old testament saint named Jonadab as our example today.
In his book, “The Promise of Jonadab,” author Ray Moor writes, “Jonadab may be the greatest dad in the Bible.” That is a strong statement, made largely because Jonadab succeeded in securing multiple generations of faithful children during a time of moral and spiritual decline.
We find Jonadab’s Legacy recorded in Jeremiah 35:18-19
“Then Jeremiah said to the family of the Recabites, “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘You have obeyed the command of your forefather Jonadab and have followed all his instructions and have done everything he ordered.’ Therefore, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘Jonadab son of Recab will never fail to have a man to serve me.’ ”” (Jeremiah 35:18–19, NIV84)
Through Jeremiah, the Lord instructs this descendent of Jonadab that his family line would continue throughout future generations in Israel. That is a statement made only of the Patriarchs in the Old Testament.
Not only was Jonadab successful in producing future generations of faithful children, he also did it in an ungodly place during a time of great opposition toward God and God’s people.
Jonadab was a common man living in the land of the ten Northern Tribes of Israel during the reign of wicked King Ahab and his notorious wife, Jezebel. The prophet Elijah encountered both, and battled the wicked prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. Israel was in the deepest part of its spiritual wickedness. God, his prophets and his people were under felonious assault as their spiritual heritage was being sold off and given away to the Baal worshippers.
The TIMELINE of events is helpful to understand the extend of Jonadab’s spiritual legacy
1,000 BC is the general time of the united Kingdom of Saul, David and Solomon
At the very beginning of the Divided Kingdom, after the northern Kingdom’s first king Jerobam, the prophet Ahijah gave a prophesy in 900 BC that the Northern kingdom would be punished, driven from the land, and never heard from again.
“the Lord will strike Israel as a reed is shaken in the water, and root up Israel out of this good land that he gave to their fathers and scatter them beyond the Euphrates, because they have made their Asherim, provoking the Lord to anger.” (1 Kings 14:15, ESV)
It would be in some time later, in 841 BC that Jonadab comes on the scene. This is the time of Elijah the prophet. Jehu is King of Israel (the northern ten tribes).
Jehu would not be the last king in Israel. Eventually, in 722 BC the Assyrian invasion removed the people from the land.
The southern tribes of Judah and Banjamin escaped the Assyrian invasion, but eventually in 605 BC, the Babylonians would conquer the southern kingdom.
NOTICE that there is the GAP of 120 years between the time of Jonadab and the Assyrian captivity. Jonadab instructed his family that judgement was coming, and that to be prepared for the coming judgment, they must live in tents as nomads. But it would be generations before the judgment came! His children followed in faith and obedience, most likely with great opposition from their neighbors who probably accused them of being crazy.
So, from the time of JONADAB to the time of Jeremiah, where Jonadab’s clan are still faithful to their father’s legacy, there is a span of 240 years..... 6 generations!
Here is how we find the Sons of Jonadab:
“This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord during the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah: “Go to the Recabite family and invite them to come to one of the side rooms of the house of the Lord and give them wine to drink.” So I went to get Jaazaniah son of Jeremiah, the son of Habazziniah, and his brothers and all his sons—the whole family of the Recabites. I brought them into the house of the Lord, into the room of the sons of Hanan son of Igdaliah the man of God. It was next to the room of the officials, which was over that of Maaseiah son of Shallum the doorkeeper. Then I set bowls full of wine and some cups before the men of the Recabite family and said to them, “Drink some wine.” But they replied, “We do not drink wine, because our forefather Jonadab son of Recab gave us this command: ‘Neither you nor your descendants must ever drink wine. Also you must never build houses, sow seed or plant vineyards; you must never have any of these things, but must always live in tents. Then you will live a long time in the land where you are nomads.’ We have obeyed everything our forefather Jonadab son of Recab commanded us. Neither we nor our wives nor our sons and daughters have ever drunk wine or built houses to live in or had vineyards, fields or crops. We have lived in tents and have fully obeyed everything our forefather Jonadab commanded us. But when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon invaded this land, we said, ‘Come, we must go to Jerusalem to escape the Babylonian and Aramean armies.’ So we have remained in Jerusalem.”” (Jeremiah 35:1–11, NIV84)