If those ordinances - As sure as the sun shall give light to the day, and the moon to the night, so surely shall the Jews continue to be a distinct people. The same thing is expressed in other words in the next verse. Hitherto this prophecy has been literally fulfilled; the Jews are still a distinct people from all the dwellers upon earth. Every attempt that has been made in any country to naturalize and unite them with the people of that country, has proved abortive. The well-circumstanced attempt made this year (1830) in England, when the strongest interest was excited in their behalf, has also utterly failed. And why? Because of God's purpose expressed in Jeremiah 31:35-37; of the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah.
If those - If these. From the uniformity of God‘s operations in the material world, the prophet deduces the certainty of a similar uniformity in God‘s dealings with man in things spiritual.
A nation - A people. Israel has long ceased to be a nation, but it still exists as a numerous, influential, and distinct people. In Matthew 28:19-20 Jeremiah‘s prophecy receives its Christian application, and Israel becomes the Church, with the promise of perpetual existence. It has no national existence, but its members ought to be a strongly marked people, refusing to be merged in the world, while everywhere they pervade and influence it.
The Jews had misinterpreted God's promise of eternal favor to Israel: “Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The Lord of hosts is His name: If those ordinances depart from before Me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before Me forever. Thus saith 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, saith the Lord.” Jeremiah 31:35-37. The Jews regarded their natural descent from Abraham as giving them a claim to this promise. But they overlooked the conditions which God had specified. Before giving the promise, He had said, “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.... For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” Jeremiah 31:33, 34. DA 106.1
To a people in whose hearts His law is written, the favor of God is assured. They are one with Him. But the Jews had separated themselves from God. Because of their sins they were suffering under His judgments. This was the cause of their bondage to a heathen nation. Their minds were darkened by transgression, and because in times past the Lord had shown them so great favor, they excused their sins. They flattered themselves that they were better than other men, and entitled to His blessings. DA 106.2
These things “are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” 1 Corinthians 10:11. How often we misinterpret God's blessings, and flatter ourselves that we are favored on account of some goodness in us! God cannot do for us that which He longs to do. His gifts are used to increase our self-satisfaction, and to harden our hearts in unbelief and sin. DA 106.3
John declared to the teachers of Israel that their pride, selfishness, and cruelty showed them to be a generation of vipers, a deadly curse to the people, rather than the children of just and obedient Abraham. In view of the light they had received from God, they were even worse than the heathen, to whom they felt so much superior. They had forgotten the rock whence they were hewn, and the hole of the pit from which they had been digged. God was not dependent upon them for the fulfilling of His purpose. As He had called Abraham out from a heathen people, so He could call others to His service. Their hearts might now appear as lifeless as the stones of the desert, but His Spirit could quicken them to do His will, and receive the fulfillment of His promise. DA 106.4Read in context »