The message God revealed to Jeremiah addresses a specific condition peculiar to our time. “How do ye say, We are wise, and the law of the Lord is with us? Lo, certainly in vain made he it; the pen of the scribes is in vain. The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken: lo, they have rejected the word of the Lord; and what wisdom is in them?” (Jeremiah 8:8-9). Who is wise in the law? Only God’s people are wise concerning the law today. But many of these “wise” men have rejected God’s law!
This could only apply to God’s Laodiceans in this end time. Only they have had God’s law in the past and are now rejecting it!
What is their real problem? Jeremiah 9:6 answers that question: “Thine habitation is in the midst of deceit; through deceit they refuse to know me, saith the Lord.” Through deceit theyrefuseto know God! It’s so easy to twist what God has taught us and still act so righteous. But God calls rebels what they are. They can use all the scholarly deceit they want, but it’s still rebellion!
Rejecting God’s Law
Notice what Joseph Tkach Sr., former pastor general of the Worldwide Church of God, said about God’s law: “It is a common mistake to assume, ‘If everybody would just keep the Ten Commandments, what a nice world we would have.’ Christians should consider that the Ten Commandments do not require kindness, mercy, compassion, generosity, sacrifice for others, impartiality, patience or love. Nor do the Ten Commandments specifically forbid conceit, envy, hatred, rage or selfish ambition” (co-worker letter, May 27, 1992).
That is close to being a blasphemous statement. Read what the Bible says: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone” (Matthew 23:23). Here the “law” is mentioned in God’s word. And it says one of the weightier matters of the law is mercy! Just the opposite of what Mr. Tkach said! He also said the Ten Commandments “do not require sacrifice … or love.” Let’s read 1 John 5:3: “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” God says that keeping the law is love! In other words, if you don’t keep the Ten Commandments, you don’t have love!
“Who is the wise man, that may understand this? and who is he to whom the mouth of the Lord hath spoken, that he may declare it, for what the land perisheth and is burned up like a wilderness, that none passeth through?” (Jeremiah 9:12). God’s own mouth spoke these words to us—His own mouth! Will we listen to words from God’s own mouth?
If we believe these words are from God, then God says we must declare them! We have no choice—God commands that we declare His words. But what must we declare? What is God’s message? That our land will be “burned like a wilderness”! That means nuclear war!
God wants us to repent. Notice verse 13: “And the Lord saith, Because they have forsaken my law which I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice, neither walked therein ….” Some people have forsaken God’s law, which He set before them in the end time. You can’t forsake God’s law unless you once had it and kept it. God’s own people, who had God’s law set before them in this end time by Herbert Armstrong, have rejected that law. In fact, Mr. Armstrong preached that law to the whole world for many years, but most would not obey God’s voice. The biggest tragedy is that God set His law before His own Church, and it is now forsaking that law. God will punish the U.S. and Britain as no nations have ever been punished! Surely this ought to prod us to fervently seek God’s truth.
“For a voice of wailing is heard out of Zion, How are we spoiled! we are greatly confounded, because we have forsaken the land, because our dwellings have cast us out” (verse 19). A voice of wailing will be heard out of Zion, God’s Church. Why will God’s own people be wailing in agony? Because they forsook God’s law and failed to prophesy God’s end-time warning message!
God has perfect vision. He has already seen the wailing pain of His own Church in captivity. It hasn’t happened yet, but you can be sure that it will happen just as God says.
“But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord” (verse 24). The only true glory you will ever have is to understand and know the great God of love. We’ll find glory no place else.
“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will punish all them which are circumcised with the uncircumcised” (verse 25). Who are the circumcised and the uncircumcised? God will punish His Laodicean Church along with the nations of Israel. Only God’s people can truly understand this.
“O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. O Lord, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing” (Jeremiah 10:23-24). Do you and I know deeply that we can’t direct our own steps? God says if you really know this, you will continually ask God to correct you. Do you frequently ask God for correction because you know that no man can direct his own steps?
You can’t even direct one of your steps. Jeremiah learned this lesson deeply. That is the reason God could use him so effectively. We must humbly seek God’s correction if we are to be used. This prayerful attitude is so rare today. This is the only attitude God can use. Because religions of this world lack this attitude, they are in a wilderness of religious confusion.
Shepherds of God’s Pasture
Let’s now skip down to chapter 23. Jeremiah 23 is a counterpart of Ezekiel 34. It deals with the same problem. “The anger of the Lord shall not return, until he have executed, and till he have performed the thoughts of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly” (Jeremiah 23:20). As I said before, the expression “consider it perfectly” is better translated “understand it thoroughly.” So in this end time, God’s people know that Jeremiah (and especially Jeremiah 23) applies to us. It will be to our own shame if we fail to understand. Only in the end time can we fully put the biblical “puzzle” together. God is revealing the pieces of the puzzle needed to complete the picture. This is also what God told Daniel (Daniel 12:4, 9).
“For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:11). This is happening “in my house,” God’s temple. The Anchor Bible translates that expression “in my very own house.” We know that the temple is God’s Church in New Testament times and in end-time prophecy. Wickedness is found in God’s very own Church today! What is it? Request a free copy of Malachi’s Message and God’s Family Government, and you will see. God is concerned about evil in all Israel, but especially in spiritual Israel, His Church. That is the worst crime of all.
“Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the Lord. Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord” (verses 1-2). We must remember that Jeremiah personally went only to Judah. But here he addresses Israel, which had already been in captivity over 100 years. So this has to be addressed to end-time Israel. However, end-time national Israel was never God’s flock. It was never unified as God’s people today.
In this chapter God is addressing spiritual Israel, which was unified by Mr. Armstrong and then “scattered” and “driven” away by the Laodicean leaders today. This can only apply to God’s people now.
If God’s people are “scattered” and “driven” away today, then it is very obvious that someone had to unify them so they could be scattered! God’s Laodicean flock today is being driven away from God by a wholesale departure from doctrinal truth since Mr. Armstrong died. National Israel could not be scattered by false prophets anyhow. The people of Israel haven’t been spiritually unified with God for thousands of years. This is a spiritual scattering by false prophets. How will God correct them? He will “visit upon you the evil of your doings.”
“And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase” (verse 3). This spiritual scattering of God’s people is all happening just before the Great Tribulation and the resurrection of David (verse 5). The “remnant” means the “remaining part” or “survivors.” This is the “great multitude” that repents in the Tribulation (Revelation 7). They will become God’s flock.
That means there will be a great demand for loyal shepherds shortly. “And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:4). God is now preparing the firstfruits, and especially the Philadelphians, to be shepherds over this vast multitude of repentant people. These people will be eager to be taught God’s way of life. Now is our time to prepare for this enormous and wonderful job!
God will set up shepherds over them who will feed them His truth. They will teach them what God taught Mr. Armstrong and the Philadelphia Church. God is talking about us as His future shepherds. Are we ready to feed God’s people the truth? We are not ready if we reject what Mr. Armstrong taught us through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth” (verse 5). These verses are very similar to those in Ezekiel 34. “In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, the Lord our righteousness” (Jeremiah 23:6). This is our glorious future.
“Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that they shall no more say, The Lord liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, The Lord liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land” (verses 7-8). This is the end-time captivity of Israel. It hasn’t happened yet, but it will in the very near future.
“Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the Lord, and because of the words of his holiness” (verse 9). Why did Jeremiah express such horror? Because God’s own prophets are not warning Israel of this terrible destruction and captivity! All of Jeremiah’s bones shook because of the false prophets. He understood that they would refuse to warn God’s own people in this end time. When Jeremiah read God’s holy prophecies, it made him feel like a drunken man.
God’s people and Israel desperately need to be warned today, but their leaders won’t do it! It is the worst time of suffering ever to come upon this Earth, and God’s own ministers say “prophesy not” (Amos 2:11-12).
Nuclear proliferation is a mind-numbing reality, and God’s own ministers won’t prophesy what God says about it! Write for our free booklet The Lion Has Roared. It will explain exactly what the future holds for Israel. It will make your bones shake as Jeremiah’s did!
‘The Year of Their Doom’
“For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the Lord. Wherefore their way shall be unto them as slippery ways in the darkness: they shall be driven on, and fall therein: for I will bring evil upon them, even the year of their visitation, saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:11-12). God has found wickedness in His own house, His Church. These false prophets are fast approaching “the year of their visitation,” or, as the Anchor Bible says, “the year of their doom.” This is where the Laodicean leaders are headed. Time is running out fast.
“And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria; they prophesied in Baal, and caused my people Israel to err” (verse 13). This is referring to the worldly prophets of Samaria, or the 10 tribes of Israel. But there is a far more serious crime.
“I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah” (verse 14). Jerusalem is a type of all Israel. But this is referring to spiritual Israel. These false prophets are committing adultery. Ancient Israel committed adultery and separated from God. This can only apply to spiritual Israel, the Church of God! Only Christ’s Bride can commit adultery today (Revelation 19:7). Only God’s Church is married to Christ in the end time.
It’s interesting that this verse discusses “the prophets of Jerusalem.” The temple (a type of God’s Church) was in Jerusalem. Perhaps that is the reason God inspired the word Jerusalem, instead of the word Israel.
This verse refers to the Laodicean Church in “the latter days.” The Laodiceans “walk in lies.” The Laodicean leaders are telling and teaching lies. They “strengthen also the hands of the evildoers.” This is all happening in God’s own Church. God says they are like Sodom and Gomorrah. The blind Laodiceans (Revelation 3:17) fail to see what is happening until it’s too late to escape the Tribulation.
“Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts concerning the prophets; Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall: for from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone forth into all the land. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord. They say still unto them that despise me, The Lord hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you” (Jeremiah 23:15-17).
God has prophesied that the Middle East will be a caldron of violence and have no peace until Christ returns! The Laodicean leaders tell their people that the Tribulation is far into the future and that “no evil shall come upon you.” But God says the Laodiceans today will be plunged into a nuclear holocaust—the worst time of suffering ever known to man! This is what awaits all of God’s Laodicean people if they don’t wake up! There is no peace ahead for Israel—only unparalleled disaster. Still, the Laodicean leaders say “prophesy not” (Amos 2:11-12).
“For who hath stood in the counsel of the Lord, and hath perceived and heard his word? who hath marked his word, and heard it?” (Jeremiah 23:18). Who has “stood in the counsel of the Lord” in the “latter days”? Here is one definition of the word “counsel” in the Gesenius‘ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon: “a secret … to reveal a secret … Amos 3:7.” This is much more than just reading and studying the Bible. These are the only people who have had God’s revelation given to them! God revealed His secrets to them and they “marked his word.”
After writing Mystery of the Ages, Mr. Armstrong said, “I feel I myself did not write it.” It was revelation from God. The wcg discontinued that book and tried to keep the pcg from printing it. Those leaders have a dangerous disagreement with Jesus Christ! They too “stood in the counsel of the Lord” and then violently rebelled against it! Mystery of the Ages is only one of many revelations from God that the wcg rejected! The wcg leaders had God’s precious revelation and counsel based on God’s Word. Then they rejected it. God says this is the most heinous sin of all!
God is asking a specific question about “who” has stood in His counsel. This means God’s own people today can name some high-ranking ministers who did. God is demanding that we have some definite, specific names! Who has read and understood The United States and Britain in Prophecy? Who was taught the 18 restored truths by Herbert W. Armstrong? And who deeply learned the first point on that list—God’s government—taught by Mr. Armstrong? We must get specific.
Now note this carefully, please. If you have stood in God’s counsel in “the latter days,” here is what you will thoroughly understand: “Behold, a whirlwind of the Lord is gone forth in fury, even a grievous whirlwind: it shall fall grievously upon the head of the wicked. The anger of the Lord shall not return, until he have executed, and till he have performed the thoughts of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly” (verses 19-20). If you have stood in God’s counsel and heard the prophecies preached by Mr. Armstrong, then you know a grievous whirlwind is about to fall on evil Israel! The Tribulation and the Day of the Lord are almost here. Mr. Armstrong preached for over 50 years precisely what is happening in Israel and Europe today. Those who stood in God’s counsel and truly heard it know “the year of their doom” is fast approaching!
And remember, a sign that these very events are exploding on the world scene is that they happen at the same time there is great wickedness in God’s own house, or Church! (verse 11). A great part of that wickedness is rejection of revealed prophecy.
Jeremiah is saying that the people who accept God’s prophecies and revelations know a nuclear epidemic is about to be ignited on the world scene! This moment in history is not one of peace. It is a time of God’s judgment on a sinning world. Those who pray for peace are praying contrary to the prophecies of their own Bible! It’s no use praying for peace if you are rebelling against God.
“I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings” (verses 21-22). True ministers should have “caused” physical and spiritual Israel to hear God’s Word. But these ministers didn’t, and they failed to turn God’s people from their evil way.
The word “stood” would be better translated as “remained, stood firm in battle.” If these ministers had remained in what God taught them through Mr. Armstrong, they would have turned many to righteousness. Instead, they usually did just the reverse.
“Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off?” (verse 23). The Laodiceans put these prophecies far into the future. They act like these prophecies will never be fulfilled because God is far from them. They lack the faith to believe God’s Word and His prophecies. These ministers are in a faith crisis.
“Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord. I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed. How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart; Which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbour, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal” (verses 24-27). Can you forget God’s name if you never really knew it? These are people who knew God and all that His name meant. But these rebellious ministers actually “cause” God’s people to forget God’s name!
God is not addressing pagan ministers. He is talking about ministers who knew Him spiritually and then caused God’s people to forget God. What an abominable sin!
These ministers failed to remember what they were taught (Malachi 3:16). Then they caused God’s people to forget what God taught through Mr. Armstrong.
“The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:28). The prophet that has God’s Word is commanded to speak it faithfully. God is talking to ministers who had His precious truth and failed to teach it. Only the Laodicean era of God’s Church had the truth in this end time and turned away from it.
“Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” (verse 29). The truth we have is like a fire that burns their spiritual chaff, their worthless spiritual food, or like a hammer which breaks their false religious ideas to pieces! This is why many Laodiceans fear our message.
“Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that steal my words every one from his neighbour. Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that use their tongues, and say, He saith. Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the Lord, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the Lord” (verses 30-32). God will work against these false ministers.
The Burden of the Lord
“And when this people, or the prophet, or a priest, shall ask thee, saying, What is the burden of the Lord? thou shalt then say unto them, What burden? I will even forsake you, saith the Lord. And as for the prophet, and the priest, and the people, that shall say, The burden of the Lord, I will even punish that man and his house” (verses 33-34). This is not very clear in the King James Version. God is stating that the Laodicean Church thinks His Word is a burden. That is why it is changing many major doctrines.
Then God says the real burden for His people is that He is going to forsake them! God has done this to the Laodicean Church today! He forsook them because they forsook Him. That means God reveals no more prophecies to them. During the Tribulation, the Laodiceans will become victims of the very prophecies they once taught! This is what it means for God to forsake them!
“Thus shall ye say every one to his neighbour, and every one to his brother, What hath the Lord answered? and, What hath the Lord spoken? And the burden of the Lord shall ye mention no more: for every man’s word shall be his burden; for ye have perverted the words of the living God, of the Lord of hosts our God. Thus shalt thou say to the prophet, What hath the Lord answered thee? and, What hath the Lord spoken? But since ye say, The burden of the Lord; therefore thus saith the Lord; Because ye say this word, The burden of the Lord, and I have sent unto you, saying, Ye shall not say, The burden of the Lord; Therefore, behold, I, even I, will utterly forget you, and I will forsake you, and the city that I gave you and your fathers, and cast you out of my presence: And I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten” (verses 35-40). These Laodiceans are, by their actions, calling God’s prophecies a burden! They are acting as if prophecy is just one calamity after another. That is why they say “prophesy not.”
These verses reveal the psychology behind their “prophesy not” attitude portrayed in Amos 2:11-12—also an end-time prophecy. These Laodiceans ministers have a faithless view of prophecy. They don’t see the positive side of prophecy—only the negative side. Prophecy is a great burden to them.
So God answers to warn them of His justice. He says, Since you think prophecy only means calamity and disaster, I will bring these prophetic calamities and disasters down on your head! They will see the prophecies they fear most come crashing down upon them. Worldly religions have never truly understood God’s prophecies. This is talking to God’s people who did understand prophecy in “the latter days.”
“And I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten” (Jeremiah 23:40). Even the Laodiceans who repent in the Tribulation will have a certain eternal shame because they lost such a large share of their magnificent reward. Everybody will always know why they are not in God’s headquarters temple forever (Revelation 3:12).
“But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die” (Deuteronomy 18:20). False prophets were killed in Old Testament times. That was their fate, regardless of how “nice” they were. Some of these ministers today will die eternally. As Ezekiel said, it is no “small thing” when ministers turn or “drive” people away from God! These are very dire prophecies about the end-time Laodicean ministers. They have a bleak future unless they do some deep repenting.