Could you please help me understand Jeremiah 31:36, which says, “If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the Lord, [then] the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever.” I know we do not believe that the nation of Israel will play a part in the last days, but what does this mean?
Jeremiah 31 is a communication from God to the children of Israel designed to create hope and confidence that nothing is going to interfere with His plan for complete restoration from the ravages of sin.
Verse 36 is an assurance from God that nothing will stop the promise of fulfillment from taking place. But we must remember that all promises of God are based on conditions. Exodus 19:5–6 tells us, “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth [is] mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These [are] the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.” Deuteronomy 11:26–28 comes to bear on this subject also.
God makes it very clear to Israel, from the very beginning of their existence, that His promises to them are based upon the condition of obedience. Having said all this, when we come to a passage which says that they will continue being a nation as long as the sun shines during the day and the moon and stars shine at night [Jeremiah 31:35], we see that this was said to let them know that nothing would stop God from keeping them from any mischief that the devil and all his host could bring against them—if they were living up to their end of the bargain. It was their part to be obedient to the commandments. If they failed in that, then they would become cursed and no longer be able to claim God’s protective care.
The interesting thing is that this whole passage is in the setting of the New Covenant. If only Israel would have understood that along with the promise of God to call them His people, He would make it possible for them to keep His commandments! Jeremiah 31:33 says: “But this [shall be] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” Here God is promising that He would put things together in such a way that it would be entirely possible to keep His law. He would write it upon the tables of their hearts. That is, He would give them such a love for Him, that obedience would be second nature to them. Love would be the motivating factor.
But the children of Israel rejected the plan of God and did their own thing, rather than working with God and His plan. As a sure result, when He came, they crucified Him. While the sands of their probation were trickling through the glass of time, they stoned Stephen, and probation closed upon them as a nation, forever closing the door to their being a nation again.
The promise found in Jeremiah 31:36 now passes on to the church. What we do with it will determine our future with God also.
Pastor Mike Baugher is Associate Speaker for Steps to Life Ministry. If you have a question you would like Pastor Mike to answer, e-mail it to: email@example.com, or mail it to: LandMarks, P. O. Box 782828, Wichita, KS 67278.