Chapter 2

Laodicean Failure

From the book Jeremiah and the Greatest Vision in the Bible

Unless God’s Church delivers Jeremiah’s message in the end time, Jeremiah virtually lived in vain! The message he wrote in a book is for us to deliver today.

Jeremiah only went to Judah anciently. But in this prophecy, God is mainly addressing Jacob and Israel. Jacob was Israel’s name before he was converted. Upon conversion, God changed his name to Israel. So God is obviously addressing both physical and spiritual Israel. The context makes that very clear. However, the emphasis is on spiritual Israel—people who knew God but then went “far from” Him. “Hear ye the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel: Thus saith the Lord, What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain?” (Jeremiah 2:4-5). They went after vanity and became vain, or worthless, to God.

Where Is God?

The Laodiceans became evil because of one major, disastrous failure. “Neither said they, Where is the Lord that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, that led us through the wilderness, through a land of deserts and of pits, through a land of drought, and of the shadow of death, through a land that no man passed through, and where no man dwelt?” (verse 6). The end-time Laodicean priests, or ministers, failed to ask the one and only important question: “Where is God?”

The living God led us out of Egypt, or the world in this end time. He also led us “through the wilderness” of many trials. It takes great miracles to free us from Satan’s world—his bondage—and then lead us in God’s way for many years. God did that for His Church. Now most of those who were in that Church are not seeking this omnipotent, all-powerful God. They don’t even know where this majestic God is!

These people have a magnificent history with God, but have turned away to a life of vanity and worthlessness.

God doesn’t have five or six different works. He has one work that anybody can find—if they know the true God!

One evangelist said he joined a certain Laodicean church because he liked the leading speaker’s sincerity and good television results. That could be said of many false religious leaders. But “where is God?” That evangelist is lost spiritually and doesn’t even know it! Where is the God of revelation? Where is the one Church that God governs? Where is the one and only Work God is doing?

“Where is God?” This is the only question that will lead us to God! If we don’t know where God is, the God whose countenance shines like the sun in its full strength (Revelation 1:16), then we are dangerously deceived.

“Where is God?” This one big question, if honestly answered, will always keep us anchored in the truth. Answer this question correctly and there should never be a serious problem answering other questions.

God is always revealing “present truth” based on what He has already revealed in the past (2 Peter 1:12). That means there is always a powerful work, if His people are submissive. God provides an “open door” (Revelation 3:7-8), through which we can deliver His revealed truth.

If we are going to build for God, we must start on this foundation: “Where is God?”

“And I brought you into a plentiful country, to eat the fruit thereof and the goodness thereof; but when ye entered, ye defiled my land, and made mine heritage an abomination. The priests said not, Where is the Lord? and they that handle the law knew me not: the pastors also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit” (Jeremiah 2:7-8). God brought physical Israel—America and the British peoples—into an abundant land. These people have been far more blessed physically than any other nations on this Earth in the end time.

God also brought His end-time Church into abundant spiritual truth through the late Herbert W. Armstrong. The nations of Israel defiled God’s land and the Church polluted God’s truth. Only God’s Church has God’s law. Those ministers who handle God’s law have become so Laodicean, they no longer even know God. God’s own ministers are causing His people to stumble at the law (Malachi 2:7-8).

How can we tell? Because if these ministers knew God they would be where He is! Where His revelation is. Where His law of love is. Where His Work is.

These Laodiceans constantly talk about love, but they don’t have God’s law of love (1 John 5:3).

Talk is meaningless if we don’t prove where God is.

“Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit” (Jeremiah 2:11). These people “changed their glory” for vanity. They had God and His glory and then changed to gods that do not profit. This could only apply specifically to God’s Church. (It applies to the nations of Israel in a general way.)

There are several different Laodicean groups in this end time. They all had God’s truth and became lukewarm. Now they often say, “Let’s all get together.” But that is not the right goal. They are erroneously assuming that God is leading them. “Where is God?” We must get together with God.

There is no glory in getting together with people if God is not there! That is what Aaron and the Israelites did when Moses climbed Mt. Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments. They ended up worshiping the golden calf. They all got together—but God wasn’t with them.

Two Evils

In terms of numbers, this is probably the greatest Church crisis ever! “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (verse 13). God’s own Church has committed two evils. First, it has forsaken God, the fountain of living waters. Water is a type of God’s Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit-begotten people have forsaken Him. Only God’s people could commit such an evil. You can’t forsake God if you never knew Him. They no longer receive God’s spiritual revelation.

Secondly, they have created their own religious work—“broken cisterns that can hold no water.” They have rejected God’s government. God no longer directs their building program or work. They are losing more and more of God’s revealed truth. They are also losing God’s Holy Spirit. They still act religious. But they are perishing—dying spiritually (2 Thessalonians 2:10).

The Laodiceans are blind spiritually. They cannot discern a “broken cistern” from God’s great Work! They are no longer proving all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

They can’t discern the spiritual difference between God’s “fountain of living waters”—a powerful flow of God’s Spirit—and a broken cistern. Their wrong choice condemns their religion.

Jeremiah had a fountain of new, revealed prophecy and truth pouring into his mind. So does the Philadelphia Church of God today—just as Herbert W. Armstrong did in the past.

Do we know a spiritual fountain when we see one? We do if we are not blind.

Fear Is Not in Them

The Laodicean leaders have established churches of deceit. The people are headed for the Great Tribulation and the lake of fire! “Is Israel a servant? is he a homeborn slave? why is he spoiled? The young lions roared upon him, and yelled, and they made his land waste: his cities are burned without inhabitant” (Jeremiah 2:14-15). Only nuclear war could produce cities without inhabitant! We love the Laodiceans and nations of Israel enough to tell them what is about to happen.

Do we have the courage to face this terrifying truth about nuclear war that will strike very soon? “Cities without inhabitant”?! This is the mind-chilling message the pcg must proclaim to the nations of Israel. We must expose the dangerous lies that are leading the Laodicean Church and the nations of Israel to their imminent destruction.

Next, we clearly see the most colossal disaster in this end time. “Hast thou not procured this unto thyself, in that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, when he led thee by the way?” (verse 17). How did God’s Church bring this evil upon themselves? The Church “forsook God when He led you.” God Himself ruled, governed and led His people. Then they rejected God’s government.

This is a catastrophe of indescribable destruction. God can no longer lead them.

They now lack the faith to do God’s Work. “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name” (Revelation 3:7-8). The Philadelphians follow God through His open doors. They do not deny His name. The Greek word for “name” literally means authority. Thayer’s Lexicon defines “name” this way: “1) To do a thing, i.e. by one’s command or authority; 2) By the command and authority of Christ.”

Then God explains the problem with the Laodicean era in verses 14-19. The Laodiceans have no “open door” because they have rejected God’s government. God can no longer lead them through the most exciting doors ever opened to His Church! This is how the Laodiceans have brought the evil upon themselves.

The Laodiceans have a history that condemns their present work—“when He [God] led you.” The word “led” is past tense. Their history with God is past. Now they are rebelling. They rejected God’s government taught through Herbert W. Armstrong, and now they will be scourged by God. They could commit no greater sin!

“Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord God of hosts” (Jeremiah 2:19). God’s fear is not in them (see Malachi 2:5-8). It was in them but now they have “forsaken the Lord.” Their own “backslidings” are going to correct them. God can’t rule anyone who doesn’t fear Him.

A Noble Vine

“Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?” (Jeremiah 2:21). What a majestically inspiring verse! Godplanted you a noble vine.” Only God the Father begets His sons (John 6:44). Even Jesus Christ can’t do that. What a noble vine!

The firstfruits are the most noble vine God will ever plant throughout eternity! There will never be firstfruits again after Christ returns.

This is the most critical moment in the history of the universe for the firstfruits today!

That is the good news. The extremely bad news is that most of them have become a “degenerate plant.” The only solution is for them to go back to the time God planted them—“a wholly right seed.” A time when they were not degenerate. They have a glorious history to compare with the present. They are without excuse.

God is pleading with them to go back to their spiritual beginning—back to that noble planting. There will never be a more noble beginning throughout eternity! We warn them out of love. They must see what they are losing.

“For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord God” (Jeremiah 2:22). No amount of extreme washing will make the Laodiceans righteous while God is not ruling them. They say they are not polluted or Satan-inspired. But God says they are. They talk back to God, because they have a government problem. God demands that they know what they have done! (verse 23). They must understand the towering sin they have committed!

Rejecting God’s Bridle

“A wild ass used to the wilderness, that snuffeth up the wind at her pleasure; in her occasion who can turn her away? all they that seek her will not weary themselves; in her month they shall find her” (verse 24). Spiritually, they are acting like “a wild ass.” That means they have rejected God’s bridle—His government. This is what they must understand and change. God must punish them until they repent. There is no other way into His Kingdom.

When God evaluates His own Church as “a wild ass,” it is no small problem! It is clearly and obviously a government problem which will destroy these people forever unless they repent!

God has called us to rule the world. We qualify for that job by learning to be ruled by God now.

The nations of Israel and the lukewarm saints will see how helpless their false gods are when the devastating nuclear holocaust comes (verses 27-28). Then they will call upon their gods to save them, but only the true God can. At that time, many of them will repent.

Can you trust God to save you now? Can you trust God to heal you? (That’s a type of spiritual salvation.) We must be trusting God now to build a saving faith. That is what the Laodiceans lack.

“O generation, see ye [or heed] the word of the Lord. Have I been a wilderness unto Israel? a land of darkness? wherefore say my people, We are lords; we will come no more unto thee?” (verse 31). God is pleading with His people to heed His Word. The Philadelphia Church is delivering that plea. These are Laodicean people whom God once ruled. Now they say spiritually, “We are lords,” or we will rule ourselves! That is why they “will come no more” to God. They once came to God, but now they are rebelling against His rule.

Gesenius Lexicon defines “lords” this way: “specifically used of beasts which have broken the yoke and wander freely” or “a people, who, having as it were, broken Gods yoke, go on unbridled.”

This means that God’s Laodicean Church has rejected His government. That is why they are Laodicean. As a result, God has commissioned His Philadelphia remnant to warn the Laodiceans that they have one specific, major problem with Gods government that leads to all of their other problems.

We must tell God’s own people that they have broken the yoke they once wore happily. They are “unbridled.” That is why they will not be saved from the Great Tribulation. So this is a prophecy of God’s Philadelphian and Laodicean churches.

“Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number” (verse 32). God is addressing His Bride. Can a bride forget her attire—her righteousness that God gave her? (Revelation 19:7-8). Is it likely that a bride would come to the wedding naked? That is precisely what the Laodiceans are doing spiritually! They are coming naked to Christ’s wedding supper.

If we can’t discern the difference between a clothed Philadelphian and a “blind and naked” Laodicean, then we are in a deadly spiritual condition.

This Laodicean bride has “forgotten” her husband.

Jesus Christ, our Husband, is going to rule His wife. Is that negative? To become Christs Bride is the most awesome opportunity that will ever be given to any human being for all eternity! There is only one Bride of Christ forever! That is the most supreme rank any human being will ever have throughout all eternity. Today is the greatest moment ever for Christs Bride! Ours is the highest calling God gives. We get to share David’s throne with our Husband forever!

We are called now to get ready for the one and only Christ-firstfruits wedding! God will never give one Laodicean rebel such an indescribable and glorious reward. Understanding this vision will get us through any test or trial.

Marriage today is a type of that glorious wedding with Christ. What a difference it would make in our marriages if we could grasp that they are God-plane relationships. Sadly, even most of God’s own people have lost that supreme vision. The Laodicean bride refuses to let her Husband be the Head. She doesn’t want to be His “help meet.” Likewise, women today rebel against the husband as the leader in marriage.

“Why trimmest thou thy way to seek love? therefore hast thou also taught the wicked ones thy ways” (Jeremiah 2:33). God’s love joins God and man as one. But the evil Laodicean leaders are trimming, or changing, that love and teaching their views of love. They are moving away from God’s marriage laws. God’s people are being led into a bloody slaughter (verse 34).

Two Baskets of Figs

We can see the heavy emphasis God places on His Laodicean Church. Now let’s move ahead in the book of Jeremiah and see the outcome of this Laodicean rebellion.

“The Lord showed me, and, behold, two baskets of figs were set before the temple of the Lord, after that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had carried away captive Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, and the princes of Judah, with the carpenters and smiths, from Jerusalem, and had brought them to Babylon” (Jeremiah 24:1). The temple is God’s Church today (Ephesians 2:19-22). This prophecy is for God’s people now! The Jewish Soncino Commentary inserts a semicolon so there is no confusion on the time sequence: “… two baskets of figs set before the temple of the Lord; after that” Babylon struck. First, God sets two baskets of figs before the temple. Then “after that,” Babylon attacks.

We are now in the period of God setting two baskets of figs before His Church—just prior to modern Babylon, a united Europe, attacking the U.S. and British peoples.

The pcg’s job is to set the two baskets of figs before God’s Church. We have mailed Malachi’s Message and other literature to most of the Laodiceans. Also, most of them can receive our television program in their homes.

This stunning prophecy is being fulfilled even as you read this booklet! Warning the Laodiceans has always been a major part of our commission.

“One basket had very good figs, even like the figs that are first ripe: and the other basket had very naughty figs, which could not be eaten, they were so bad” (Jeremiah 24:2). Those first ripe figs are the firstfruits. So God is addressing His firstfruits—those members called before Christ’s Second Coming. That is the good news. The bad news is that one of the baskets of figs didn’t ripen.

These scriptures mean nothing to the world. They should mean everything to God’s Church!

Today we are told to eat Christ spiritually (John 6). Likewise, the world is to eat Christ through the firstfruits. We are now being ripened spiritually to feed the world. That is why the firstfruits are called before Christ returns. If they don’t grow and ripen, they are unfit to feed the world. They are unqualified to teach with Christ (Hebrews 5:11-12).

It is very similar to the way God developed Jeremiah and other prophets and apostles to feed us through the Bible today.

God keeps revealing more and more truth (as He did to Herbert W. Armstrong). We teach it to the Laodiceans and the world today. In the World Tomorrow, we shall continue teaching these same truths to the entire world.

“Then said the Lord unto me, What seest thou, Jeremiah? And I said, Figs; the good figs, very good; and the evil, very evil, that cannot be eaten, they are so evil” (Jeremiah 24:3). The evil figs couldn’t be eaten. The Companion Bible says the word “evil” means “worth nothing.” They are fit for nothing to God.

“Again the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel; Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge them that are carried away captive of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans for their good” (verses 4-5). The good figs were sent into captivity for their good. These are the five wise virgins who repent in the Great Tribulation. The other five virgins lose their eternal lives (Matthew 25). This trial is necessary to get 50 percent of the Laodiceans to repent. Those who deliver this message are taken to a place of safety during the Tribulation (Revelation 12:14).

“For I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land: and I will build them, and not pull them down; and I will plant them, and not pluck them up. And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the Lord: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart” (Jeremiah 24:6-7). These are the Laodiceans who left God and then return unto Him with their whole heart. They are no longer lukewarm. They are whole-hearted for God.

Those who go to a place of safety must give their whole heart to God today. We are called today to give our whole heart to God’s Work. Those who fail are going into the worst time of suffering ever. That shouldn’t be hard to imagine today, considering that nuclear bombs and other devices of mass destruction are being proliferated all over the world!

We have the opportunity to share David’s throne with Christ. That means we must become “a man after God’s own heart” the way David was.

God is not mocked. The Laodiceans act like their whole heart is with God. But they compromise God’s Word and are not childlike. God cannot teach and guide them.

“And as the evil figs, which cannot be eaten, they are so evil; surely thus saith the Lord, So will I give Zedekiah the king of Judah, and his princes, and the residue of Jerusalem, that remain in this land, and them that dwell in the land of Egypt: And I will deliver them to be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth for their hurt, to be a reproach and a proverb, a taunt and a curse, in all places whither I shall drive them. And I will send the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, among them, till they be consumed from off the land that I gave unto them and to their fathers” (verses 8-10). The word “consumed” means “totally extirpated” or completely destroyed.

Malachi 1 discusses the Jacob and Esau Laodiceans (request our free booklet Obadiah for more information). The Laodiceans are all very carnal, like Jacob before he was converted, but 50 percent of them (represented by Jacob) will repent in the Tribulation.

However, Esau lost his birthright. He represents 50 percent of the Laodiceans who lose their eternal lives—their spiritual birthright.

God is giving abundant revelation so we can see in precise detail what happens to His Bride in this end time. That is obviously God’s top priority!

Continue Reading: Chapter 3: Christ’s Bride