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!

NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY

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?

SUN AND MOON CEASING

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