Do you fear God? Enough to do what He asks of you? Very few could honestly answer yes. In fact, a failure to properly fear God is fundamentally the greatest evil of our peoples today! They talk “religious” and act “religious,” but they do their own selfish will!
“And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce [legal separation]; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also” (Jeremiah 3:8). God legally separated from Israel because she rejected Him, committing adultery and multiple harlotry.
But notice verses 12-14: “Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the Lord; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the Lord, and I will not keep anger for ever. Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the Lord thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the Lord. Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion.” God is still addressing Israel—not Judah. He says, “Iam married to you.” The only Israel God is married to today is spiritual Israel, the Church (see Revelation 19:7). The time setting here is just before and during the Great Tribulation. Zion is God’s Church. We will see that clearly as we continue through the book of Jeremiah.
God is addressing two of His churches in the end time. One is backsliding and the other is led by God. At this very moment, God is turning some of His people away from a backsliding church. He takes one from a city and two from a family—and brings them to righteous Zion! These verses apply to us this very moment! The pcg is receiving “one of a city, and two of a family” now to prepare for the rule of Christ. During the Tribulation, God’s Laodiceans must prove themselves by dying for God. So these verses could not apply to that time. In the Millennium everyone will be called, so it could not apply to that time either.
“And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding” (Jeremiah 3:15). As people come out of the Laodicean Church and into the pcg, God feeds them with the truth from His loyal pastors. This is happening right now! Of course, in principle this applies to the nations of Israel. The process will continue on into the Millennium.
Here is the tragic picture just before the Great Tribulation. Most of God’s own people are backsliding. God works with a small remnant. The very elect resist the backsliding flow of God’s people. At the same time, this remnant fights Satan and his world.
God uses “one of a city, and two of a family” to do His end-time Work. These saints can stand alone as they serve God. They are God’s most noble end-time warriors. This small remnant is God’s voice crying out in a wilderness of religious confusion. So we should not expect a large number of people doing God’s Work today. Most of the members in God’s own Church are too weak to serve Him.
This greatest of all tragedies reveals how difficult it is to do God’s Work. But never forget, the reward for doing so is glorious beyond words. God will use them as king-priests in His world headquarters! (Revelation 3:12; 5:10).
“And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the Lord, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the Lord: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more. At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart. In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given for an inheritance unto your fathers” (Jeremiah 3:16-18). This all leads into the wonderful World Tomorrow when Christ will rule this Earth. What a glorious ending!
“Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings” (Jeremiah 4:4). Here God warns Judah and other nations of Israel. (Jerusalem is a type of all Israel.) “Declare ye in Judah, and publish in Jerusalem; and say, Blow ye the trumpet in the land: cry, gather together, and say, Assemble yourselves, and let us go into the defenced cities” (verse 5). God commands His people to “declare” and “publish” His warning message! This is God’s Work. We must do it urgently. We must blow the trumpet because nuclear war is coming on the nations of Israel unless they repent!
“Set up the standard toward Zion: retire, stay not: for I will bring evil from the north, and a great destruction” (verse 6). If you want to escape the terrible trouble ahead, find the Zion, the Church that is led by God. Only then will you have a place of safety from the terrifying evil which is to come on Israel! This is not a message to be taken lightly.
“The lion is come up from his thicket, and the destroyer of the Gentiles is on his way; he is gone forth from his place to make thy land desolate; and thy cities shall be laid waste, without an inhabitant” (verse 7). Once again, Israel is warned that its cities will be without inhabitant. That never happened to ancient Israel! But it will happen to modern Israel! The subject here is nuclear warfare!
“Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as a whirlwind: his horses are swifter than eagles. Woe unto us! for we are spoiled. O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved. How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?” (verses 13-14). God wants repentance. Planes and bombs will come like a whirlwind and as the eagle flies. This is prophecy for today!
“My bowels, my bowels! I am pained at my very heart; my heart maketh a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war” (verse 19). Our monthly magazine is called the Trumpet—because we are commissioned by God to deliver Jeremiah’s warning message today! What is coming upon Israel was acutely painful to Jeremiah; and it’s even more painful for God’s true Church today, to think of their own people being enslaved and killed unless they wake up!
“Destruction upon destruction is cried; for the whole land is spoiled: suddenly are my tents spoiled, and my curtains in a moment. How long shall I see the standard, and hear the sound of the trumpet?” (verses 20-21). The trumpet must sound because destruction upon destruction is coming! “I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled” (verse 25). It must be very bad if even the birds flee our cities when the destruction comes! Use your imagination and you can see Israel’s future—and your own, if you fail to repent!
Verse 29 says, “The whole city shall flee for the noise of the horsemen and bowmen; they shall go into thickets, and climb up upon the rocks: every city shall be forsaken, and not a man dwell therein.” Every city forsaken! And not a man left dwelling there—not one man! Surely we can see God is talking about nuclear warfare.
Breaking the Yoke
We must remember that these prophecies are primarily for the end time. That means they are specifically for God’s Church and generally for the nations of Israel, which have an ancient history of briefly following, then rejecting, God.
The only nation God ever called to serve Him was Israel. The people of Israel failed God anciently and are still rebelling today. Because of Israel’s history with God, it is held more accountable to God than other nations. Just think, Israel is the only nation on this Earth that has ever been married to God! It was actually God’s wife. But with that marvelous history comes a sobering responsibility.
As we have stated, the prophecies for physical Israel in this end time refer mainly to the American and British peoples. These people have “refused to return” (Jeremiah 5:3). This applies specifically to God’s Church and generally to the nations of Israel. Only God’s Church has left and can return to God in this end time.
Herbert W. Armstrong preached God’s message from 1927 to 1986. The pcg has proclaimed the same message since 1989. So the nations of Israel have had a powerful warning message.
“I will get me unto the great men, and will speak unto them; for they have known the way of the Lord, and the judgment of their God: but these have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds” (Jeremiah 5:5). Only God’s people have known the way of God today. Only God’s Church could have committed this greatest of all sins in this end time. But how could God’s people commit such a dastardly evil? They have “altogether broken the yoke and burst the bonds.” That means the majority of God’s own people have, with one accord—“altogether”—rejected God’s yoke, or His government! This is the same massive rebellion described in the second chapter of 2 Thessalonians.
They have committed the greatest sin of all—rejecting God’s rule. God no longer leads them or works through them. The Anchor Bible explains their rebellion this way: “The people are like oxen who have escaped their master’s yoke—and his protection!”
Let’s not overlook that Jeremiah’s message is directed to “the great men”—God’s leading ministers! They “have known the way of the Lord” even better than the lay members. And God will hold them even more accountable!
These ministers have rejected God’s government taught by Herbert W. Armstrong. Now they are leading most of God’s people away from God’s rule.
Repeatedly, God condemns them most of all for their government problem! Why? Because this is the worst spiritual sin there is—it’s their biggest problem! It breaks the first and most important of God’s Ten Commandments. God corrects more severely for this sin.
If you think not, look at the next verse. Here we see, as the Anchor Bible states, that they “escaped their masters yoke—and his protection.” “Wherefore a lion out of the forest shall slay them, and a wolf of the evenings shall spoil them, a leopard shall watch over their cities: every one that goeth out thence shall be torn in pieces: because their transgressions are many, and their backslidings are increased” (verse 6). What is it like to be “torn in pieces” by fierce lions, wolves and leopards? This is only symbolic of how God will chasten the Laodicean Christians physically and spiritually! God’s Laodicean Church is as helpless before Satan as a small deer before a hungry, roaring lion!
Even now, spiritually, God’s Church is being “torn in pieces” by Satan and his demons. And if Church members don’t heed our message, they also will be “torn in pieces” physically!
Do God’s own people really comprehend what He is saying? They are no longer protected from Satan’s devouring wrath! Do we know what that means?
Do the Laodiceans comprehend that we are in the worst spiritual war ever fought? (Ephesians 6:11-18; 2 Timothy 2). Do they know that eternal life is at stake for God’s Church? And that 50 percent of them are prophesied to lose their eternal lives?
“How shall I pardon thee for this? thy children have forsaken me, and sworn by them that are no gods: when I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery, and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots’ houses” (Jeremiah 5:7). The word “children” should read “sons.” These sons have forsaken their spiritual Father.
God’s Church was “fed to the full” through Herbert W. Armstrong. Never in the history of God’s Church did the members receive so much revealed truth! This end-time Elijah (Mr. Armstrong) “restored all things” (Matthew 17:10-11). That is why God’s Laodicean Church has such towering guilt. God is holding them accountable for every word (Matthew 12:36). This is a high mountain of responsibility. Failure to fulfill it means terrifying punishment.
After they were “fed to the full,” they committed adultery. Only Christ’s wife, the Church, can commit adultery today against her Husband, Jesus Christ!
So we have Father and sons. We also have Husband and wife. God is a Family!
That means God’s own Family has turned to “them that are no gods.” This is a very revealing expression. It means they knew the all-powerful, living God—the only true God—and then turned to false gods or no gods!
This is like a dog returning to its vomit. Spiritually, they have left the loving God and have gone to “harlots’ houses.” What an indescribable, shameful disgrace! They have lost the GodFamily vision. They don’t honor their Father (Malachi 1:6). Christ’s own wife turns to Satan rather than submitting to God’s government! This can only have a dreadful outcome.
“Wherefore thus saith the Lord God of hosts, Because ye speak this word, behold, I will make my words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them” (Jeremiah 5:14). We speak words of fire to them! Their false doctrines wither before God’s truth, like dry wood in a raging fire. Our words burn them until they repent. If they do not repent, they burn in a lake of fire. Words of fire, indeed.
“Lo, I will bring a nation upon you from far, O house of Israel, saith the Lord: it is a mighty nation, it is an ancient nation, a nation whose language thou knowest not, neither understandest what they say. Their quiver is as an open sepulchre, they are all mighty men” (verses 15-16). This is referring to the ancient and famous warring nation now called Germany. It has risen again to become Europe’s most powerful nation, and it is asserting that power even now.
Notice, God says He “will bring” this nation upon you—not “did bring.” This is prophecy for the time we are living in now! We must see this and accept God’s truth or else pay a mind-splitting penalty!
Only God’s Church can understand most of these verses. “But this people hath a revolting and a rebellious heart; they are revolted and gone. Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the Lord our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in his season: he reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest” (verses 23-24). The appointed weeks is referring to Pentecost.
Pentecost pictures the firstfruits’ marriage to Christ. Who really understands this, except God’s Spirit-begotten Church members?
These Laodiceans are neglecting to say, “Let us now fear the Lord our God.” This is their major problem. God condemns their failure to fear Him (Malachi 2:1-5). Christ’s wife must fear her Husband and submit to His lead. This fear is her greatest treasure.
Pentecost is about marrying Christ and ruling the Earth and the universe with Him. What kind of a catastrophe is it to forsake such a Husband?! There will be no greater disaster throughout eternity!
If this were real to God’s people, they surely wouldn’t rebel against such an unparalleled honor.
“Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withholden good things from you” (Jeremiah 5:25). Many wonderful, inspiring blessings are being withheld even now from most of God’s own people. “The former rain,” God’s Holy Spirit, is not flowing as it should.
“For among my people are found wicked men: they lay wait, as he that setteth snares; they set a trap, they catch men” (verse 26). The word “men” is in italics and was added by the translators. The word “wicked” is defined this way by the Companion Bible: “From the root which indicates its nature as breaking up all that is good or desirable.” God’s people are losing all that is good and aren’t even aware of it!
These lukewarm ministers set snares and traps for God’s people. This means some of their leaders are not honest. They are treacherously setting snares and traps, and they know exactly what they are doing. They are destroying the noble marriage between Christ and His Bride! They are destroying “all that is good or desirable”! What an obscene and satanic evil. God will deal with them accordingly.
“The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?” (verse 31). The prophets, or leading Laodicean ministers, prophesy and teach falsely. The lower-ranking ministers follow along.
The Hebrew for the word “bear” means “to take into their own hands.” This means they establish their own government, not God’s rule.
Sadly, the people “love to have it so.” Nobody will stop the evil. First, the leading ministers rebel. The lower-ranking ministers should stop it, but fail to do so. The only people left to stop it are the lay members. But they also love to rebel against God’s government.
So heart-stopping disaster awaits them all!
God has a major question for all of them. “What will they do in the end thereof?” What will they do when the nations collapse? They may love to rebel, but they won’t love the greatest catastrophe ever to strike planet Earth! What will you do in the end?