church · Doctrinal · End Times · Eschatology · Kingdom of God

Nation or Church – Jeremiah 31:35-37


Why are you such a heretic?heretic

A brother recently asked me what I thought of Jeremiah 31:35-37. You see, I am considered somewhat of a heretic among my fellow believers.

Well, lets consider the passage below.

I have included the full paragraph in order to follow Jeremiahs train of thought. (choo chooooo)

Jer 31:31 – 37

“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—

not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord.

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

Thus says the Lord,
Who gives the sun for a light by day,
The ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night,
Who disturbs the sea,
And its waves roar
(The Lord of hosts is His name):

“If those ordinances depart
From before Me, says the Lord,
Then the seed of Israel shall also cease
From being a nation before Me forever.”

Thus says the Lord:
“If heaven above can be measured,
And the foundations of the earth searched out beneath,
I will also cast off all the seed of Israel
For all that they have done, says the Lord.

heresyTo give all y’all some background on this, I am presently attending a great Sunday School Class where the majority of attendees subscribe to a dispensational framework of understanding future events. I have let all know that I have left that teaching, and they have been gracious to allow me to remain in the class.

Occasionally, a question or passage comes up that makes my thinking seem so unbiblical, and this passage definitely argues for a future existence of the physical nation of Israel!

So, how can you think so wrongly Carl, when the passage above is so clear!


One item of importance to note is that Hebrews 8:8-13 gives us commentary that is pertinent to the subject of Jeremiahs prophecy. I will use the ESV to show the portion in Hebrews that is being quoted from Jeremiah 31:31-34

Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— 

not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord.

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.

For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”

I don’t know of any New Testament passage that supplies such a long quote of an Old Testament passage as in Hebrews 8. It is truly remarkable. The author of Hebrews must have some great message to tell his Hebrew Christian audience to take up so much room in his short letter.

Let’s read the next verse!

In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away

WHAT? Vanish away can’t mean what I think it means!!

Greek AlphabetThe Strongs concordance states “vanish away” = ἀφανισμός aphanismós, af-an-is-mos’; from G853; disappearance, i.e. (figuratively) abrogation:—vanish away.

I do admit that the verse speaks of the covenant vanishing away, and not the nation per se, but on what was the nation of Israel established upon but the old covenant? If the old covenant has vanished away (and it has), upon what is any future nation based upon?


Lets get back to the original set of verses in Jeremiah. Jeremiah said the physical nation of Israel would continue until the sun and moon ceased to exist. If the author of Hebrews is correct, what is going on?

The prophet was careful in his word choice. Lets consider Jeremiah 31:36 one more time.

“If those ordinances depart from before Me, says the Lord, then the seed of Israel shall also cease from being a nation before Me forever.”

We have a problem here if “the seed of Israel” is synonymous for the physical lineage of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, which became the nation of Israel. The ordinances (sun and moon) are still sticking around and the nation of Israel ceased to exist in 70 AD. We got problems!

Lets consider another passage that may shed light on this issue. In John 8, Jesus tried to correct a misunderstanding in His day when he spoke of Abraham’s seed.

John 8:37-42

“I know that you are Abraham’s descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you.

I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father.”

They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.”

Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham.

But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this.

You do the deeds of your father.”

Then they said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father—God.”

Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. 

Jesus was trying to correct a misunderstanding about the true lineage of faith, and that it does NOT depend on physical seed, but on spiritual seed. (Abraham’s children do the works of Abraham.)

As a matter of fact, a little later in the New Testament, Paul labors to show us that the true seed of Abraham is Christ in Galations 3:16

Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ. 

So when Jeremiah brings up “the seed of Israel” we do not have the freedom to assume he is referring to a physical lineage. The “seed of Israel” has not ceased to exist as a nation, since true Israelite’s, such as Peter, John, Paul (and thousands more) trusted in the promised seed, the Savior.

The physical nation ceased to exist in AD 70, but I think it was on old wine sack that just couldn’t carry new wine – It just refused to accept the new wine.

But God did not let the nation cease to exist. The physical nation of Israel “vanished away”, but God’s promise did not cease to be fulfilled. Peter uses an Old Testament passage (Exodus 19:5-6) describing the newly born nation of Israel and applies it to the church.

 Exodus 19:5-6

Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine.

And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.”

1 Peter 2:9

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

So in answer to my brother, I believe Jeremiahs prophecy is holding true, and that the seed of Israel has not ceased to exist as a nation. The true nation of Israel, in God’s eyes, consists of faithful believers before and after the cross, trusting in His promises.

Consider Lightning from a Candle

Doctrinal · Holy Nation · Kingdom of God

Christianity & America

Is America “A Shining City Upon A Hill”?

Sunday school was informative this morning.

We spent close to an hour listening to quotations of the founding fathers, and the moral foundation required for the republic of America to succeed upon.
Multiple quotations of the founding fathers (and there were a lot of ‘em) referred to the importance of America having citizens with moral character.

May I submit, that the higher the moral character of citizens of any nation adds to the potential for that nation to “succeed”.

As western civilization spread from Jerusalem and Athens, nations have been impacted by the ethic of the Bible and their societies have been influenced by the Judeo-Christian ethic.

As an example, moral teachings such as “thou shalt not steal” produced the social acceptance of property rights.

Thankfully, many nations have claimed this foundation.

But one thing bugs me. During the Sunday school class, a number of times, America was referred to as a Shining City upon a Hill.

His Intentions

When the Master spoke to His disciples of “a city set on a hill”, did He intend for them to understand it as a description of a “nation” as we understand it today?

Matthew 5:14

¶“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.

It appears the Master was speaking to

  • His followers.

  • the disciples that were listening to Him.

  • the individuals that sought to follow Him.

  • the folks who wanted to know more.

To imply that America is that “city set on a hill” described in Matthew, in my opinion, is either innocently misunderstanding the passage, or assuming a description that it has no right to.

Of course, this depends on my understanding of the Masters intended message found in the Sermon on the Mount. If the Master was intending the message to be understood by His followers, and not a collection of people brought together by geographical limits or political systems, then possibly the Body of Christ is the Master’s intended audience.

Let me explain

Lets consider the Church, comprised of all believers, as the intended recipients of this exhortation. Numerous times through the New Testament, the Body of Christ, the Church is referred to as a Kingdom. This can be understood by considering some of the references to “Kingdom” in the New Testament.

An Eternal Kingdom

A kingdom that cannot be shaken. The Hebrews author is comparing the excellencies of the new covenantal church with the first (old) covenantal condition.

Heb 12:28

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,

A Non political Kingdom

Sometimes, when I see the word “kingdom”, pictures of a political, physical nation erupt in my mind. Not to sure this passage justifies this understanding. (Note that this passage has bearing on future thoughts.)

 Matthew 21:43

Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits.

A Non Geographical Kingdom

The kingdom of God is not restricted by geographical boundaries.

Luke 13:29

And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God.

A Non Visible Kingdom

The kingdom of God is, in a sense, invisible in its arrival. Get the picture with this next passage. The Pharisees were looking at the King, and asked when the kingdom of God would come. (Somewhat similar to when Pilate was staring at Jesus and asked “What is truth?)

Luke 17:20-21

Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”

The Kingdom of God in Acts

The first clear instance of the Kingdom describing the New Testament church can be found in Acts 8:12. Earlier passages certainly speak of the kingdom being the Church, but I fear that understanding depends on my eschatology, as opposed to simply the content of the those passages. (Hey – trying to stay away from that dang eisegesis!)

Act 8:12

But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

Paul preached of Christ and Him crucified. Numerous times, Luke described Paul’s “preaching” activities as

  • reasoning about the Kingdom of God

  • persuading of the Kingdom of God

  • testifying to the Kingdom of God, and

  • proclaiming of the Kingdom of God.

Act 19:8

And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God.

Act 28:23

When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.

Act 28:31

proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.

Kingdom of God in the Epistles

Paul and the rest of the authors of the New Testament didn’t seem to be reluctant to use “Kingdom” as a synonym for the Church.

 Romans 14:17

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

 1 Corinthians 4:20

For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.

 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

  1 Corinthians 15:24

Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.

  1 Corinthians 15:50

I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

 Galations 5:21

envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

 Ephesians 5:5

For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

Colossians 1:13

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,

 Colossians 4:11

and Jesus who is called Justus. These are the only men of the circumcision among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me.

1 Thessalonians 2:12

we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.

 2 Thessalonians 1:5

This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering—

 2 Timothy 4:1

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:

 2 Timothy 4:18

The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

 Hebrews 1:8

But of the Son he says,
“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,
the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.

 Hebrews 12:28

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,

 James 2:5

Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?

 2 Peter 1:11

For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.


My point is that the Church, the Kingdom of God, is comprised of believers who are “the City on a Hill”.

Peter is so bold that he describes the Church, the Kingdom of God as a holy nation. Surely he is not referring to a physical nation.

Let’s think back to Exodus 19. As the tribes of Israel entered into covenant with God at Sinai, Moses defined the family of Jacob, the tribes of Israel, as “a holy nation”.

But centuries later, the Jewish nation, (in the persons of the Jewish leadership) refused their rightful King. The Kingdom of God was then taken from them and given to another people. (Sound familiar? Consider Matthew 21:43 from above!)

As an aside, don’t get lost in the idea that a first century Jew was condemned because of this loss of nationhood. The entire world was condemned. Saving faith for the entire world was to be found in the Messiah.

Peter defines his audience, the believers he is writing to, as a holy nation.

1 Peter 2:9

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

To claim a status describing the Church as belonging to any physical nation seems to blur the distinctions that the New Testament defines for the church, the Kingdom of God.

With all that said, when any nation has an abundance of believers, blessings from God, (through believers), may be experienced. A nation that has a high percentage of believers does not become the City on the Hill. It simply enjoys the benefits of the assembly of believers within her society.

Of course, as any nation experiences a shrinking of the Kingdom of God residing within her borders, that nation will loose the blessing of God through those believers.

Try to remember the Kingdom we belong to. It may help when that other kingdom we associate with disappoints us.



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