Everywhere we look there are problems man has not been able to solve. We are living cursed lives and usually do not even know it. Jeremiah 17 gets at the very heart of why we refuse to face and conquer our problems. This chapter gets to the core of the whole Bible message.
Again we see God addressing His Church—spiritual Israel—and the nations of Israel. “The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond: it is graven upon the table of their heart, and upon the horns of your altars” (Jeremiah 17:1). This is a dreadful warning. Sin becomes deeply etched in our minds, as if it were written there with “a pen of iron” and “the point of a diamond.” It becomes engraved upon our hearts.
It’s like being hooked on heroin. The key is to never let it begin. Once we are hooked, it is almost impossible to repent without mind-paralyzing trials. That is how hard a sinning mind becomes. Sin penetrates our very being and becomes a real part of our lives. This should cause men to acutely fear sinning. But it rarely works that way. Jeremiah shows that even when some people know where sin leads, they still continue sinning.
“Whilst their children remember their altars and their groves by the green trees upon the high hills. O my mountain in the field, I will give thy substance and all thy treasures to the spoil, and thy high places for sin, throughout all thy borders. And thou, even thyself, shalt discontinue from thine heritage that I gave thee; and I will cause thee to serve thine enemies in the land which thou knowest not: for ye have kindled a fire in mine anger, which shall burn for ever” (verses 2-4). Their altars, or religious practices, are corrupt. But here is the serious part. They were prophesied to “discontinue from thine heritage.” This has happened, just as prophesied. They were given God’s truth and then they discontinued it. You can’t discontinue what you never had. This could only refer to God’s Church in this end time.
These verses refer to the nations of Israel in a general way. They had a history with God anciently. They rebelled and never returned to God. However, God focuses on a far more serious problem—His Church today. Many of His saints will die eternally. Their sins have kindled God’s anger, which will burn until their sin is blotted out forever.
Trusting in Man
“Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord” (verse 5). Why do we see such a mountainous disaster in God’s Church? Their heart “departs from the Lord.” That means they knew the great God intimately and then rebelled. But why? How? They are under a curse because they no longer trust God—they “trust in man.” It is a curse that leads to eternal death, unless they repent. That “man” they trust may be a leader, or it may even be their own human nature—people can follow their own minds.
This is a fundamental lesson that man has not learned for 6,000 years. We are cursed if we follow a man. And yet God always works through one man to lead His Church and do His Work—like Jeremiah did.
The Laodicean ministers today talk about avoiding “the evils of one-man government.” So they rebel against God leading them with one man.
That is a deadly, satanic deception. God plainly says that we are cursed if we follow a man. But we are also cursed if we fail to follow the one man God is using—like Jeremiah! Or the man God is using today to deliver the full message of Jeremiah!
We must get this straight in our minds. Most of God’s people have rebelled against God in this end time because they trust a man! At the same time, they refuse to trust God and follow His man, His leader. We must learn this gigantic lesson or be cursed. We are cursed if we follow a man—and cursed if we fail to follow God’s man!
How will we be cursed? “For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited” (verse 6). If you trust in men, you won’t “see when good comes.” The Laodiceans are blind (Revelation 3:17-18). They fail to see the good, or revelation, that God has given to the Philadelphia Church of God. Only the pcg understands the prophecies about God’s Laodicean era in the book of Jeremiah and all the other prophetic books! This is a large portion of the “good” that they fail to see because they trust in a man. Therefore, God can’t use them to do His Work.
This is a lake-of-fire mistake, unless they repent! This is the most grotesque sin of all. They knew the omnipotent God and then put their trust in a pathetic man! They knew the God described in the first chapters of Revelation and Ezekiel and then turned to sickly man! How could their sin be more grotesque?
If we want to be blessed, here is what we must do. “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit” (Jeremiah 17:7-8). We are blessed if we trust in God. Those who trust in God bear fruit. They are like a tree planted by the waters, with deep, strong roots which can survive drought and still bear fruit.
Find the church that trusts God and you will find fruit. It will have God’s secret—His revealed prophecy. It will be doing a powerful work, delivering that newly revealed prophecy.
This spiritual tree can easily be seen by anybody—except the blind. And remember, Jeremiah only discusses one tree with green leaves and fruit in the midst of spiritual drought. It is easy to see for those who have spiritual eyesight. The fruitful tree stands out in a spectacular way. It stands alone in the midst of a scorching drought. Those who cannot see that tree are focused on a man! That condemns them spiritually.
Is your life like this beautiful fruit-producing tree—“in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit”? Are you always producing fruit in a world filled with spiritual drought?
The Deceitful Human Heart
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (verse 9). Notice carefully: The human mind is deceitful above all things. The expression “desperately wicked” should read “dangerously sick,” “incurably sick” or “sick unto death.”
First of all, God is speaking to His own people. Their incurably sick minds have led them into unparalleled deceit. They are dying spiritually (2 Thessalonians 2:10). That is how depraved and dangerous their minds are.
Trusting in such minds destroys God’s own Church and nations! And yet that mind is the foundation of this world’s education. Trusting sick human minds is why we live in such a sick, sick, sick world! The frightening evidence is all around us. Avoiding human annihilation is our number one problem! (Matthew 24:21-22). That one problem should reveal how sick the human mind is.
Our educational system looks upon man as being basically good and trustworthy. That philosophy destroys institutions and nations! We must see the evil in human nature, or we can never solve our problems. That is where man’s false hope lies—in an incredibly deceitful mind that is terminally ill! Here is where men generally place their trust. What deadly deceit!
Jeremiah 17 teaches the fundamental lesson about our human minds. If we truly understand, we won’t let a day pass without intense Bible study and repentant prayer to our God. Only He can save us from our own incurably sick minds. We are deathly ill and need a physician.
“And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick” (Matthew 9:10-12). Christ inspired this lesson to be taught by three of the Gospel writers. So it must be very important. The Pharisees failed to see their own sick minds and need for a physician—Christ. But this is not just the Pharisees’ problem. This is the numberone problem of humanity today! People don’t see their own terminal sickness. They don’t yet see a need for a physician—the real Jesus Christ, not a false Christ. But soon people will be in a nuclear holocaust, created by sick human minds. Then God can begin to teach them, because they will no longer be able to deny the fruits of their human reasoning.
Understanding this profound verse is more important than any education in this world. When we understand it, radical action is necessary. The greatest need is to understand God—to let Him reveal our own sickness and heal it. Until we learn this lesson, we are living under a curse (Jeremiah 17:5).
This chapter in Jeremiah discusses hope. This is where mankind must begin if we are ever to have hope. There is no hope in man. There is endless hope in God. God ends verse 9 of Jeremiah 17 with the question, “Who can know it?” Only God knows the human mind. “I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings” (verse 10). Man is being cursed “according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” Man is about to totally destroy himself because of “his ways”—his way of life. The nuclear holocaust the world faces is simply “the fruit of his doing.” Man’s sinful way of life is causing all of the world’s problems.
We must learn that true education is founded on cause and effect. That is what God is forcing mankind, and even His own Church, to face. Only God can explain the mind and emotions of man. Only God can lead us to trust Him instead of our very sick minds.
Forsaking the Fountain of Living Waters
“A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary” (verse 12). God has given His firstfruits a place in His holy of holies—where He dwells. We are to sit on and rule from a “glorious high throne” with God. There is no higher glory than our reward! We have been called to be Christ’s Bride. Only those called and faithful before His Second Coming are given that high and unique honor forever. The Laodiceans have lost that vision by focusing on a man.
“O Lord, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living waters” (verse 13). These are saints who forsake and depart from God. This is Christ’s Bride who has become blinded. As mentioned in Chapter 2, the Laodiceans had everything, but have “forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living waters.” They have forsaken “the hope of Israel.” People often scoff at their only hope!
Those who forsake God will be “written in the earth.” They will become no more than a mark in the sand! They have descended to an earthly vision, and that will return them to the earth. What a waste!
Are you drinking from a “fountain of living waters”? That means God is always revealing more new truth—more new prophecy. It should be coming like a fountain of water. And it is coming that way into the pcg. You are drinking from that fountain now! God’s Holy Spirit should be flowing into our lives. We should be inspired by God’s power and using it to grow spiritually.
How can we forsake such a great calling? This is the greatest calling ever given to any saints. This is our greatest moment. Why have most of God’s people let it slip away? Because they follow a man! What a hopeless curse!
Are God’s lukewarm people lost forever? “Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise” (verse 14). The Laodiceans can be healed! They can be saved, if they repent.
“Behold, they say unto me, Where is the word of the Lord? let it come now” (verse 15). The Laodiceans need to find God’s “fountain of living waters.” They are drinking from stagnant pools of polluted truth. Their fountain has stopped flowing. Their hope is dying. God no longer leads and inspires them.
“Be not a terror unto me: thou art my hope in the day of evil” (verse 17). Again God inspired the word “hope.” In the worst day of evil there is still great hope. The vision can be recaptured now! If not, the Great Tribulation horror is their last chance to repent. If they wait until then to repent, they will lose a good portion of their reward.
“Let them be confounded that persecute me, but let not me be confounded: let them be dismayed, but let not me be dismayed: bring upon them the day of evil, and destroy them with double destruction” (verse 18). God’s people must see how serious the problem is. They are facing “double destruction.” What does that mean? It can only mean that they lose their physical life two times—first in this life, and later they are resurrected and thrown into the lake of fire. That is what happens to 50 percent of the Laodiceans (Matthew 25:1-10).
Why can’t the Laodiceans see the magnitude of the curse they are under? A curse that leads to eternal death! They refuse to see the fountain of living waters. They listen to men—not God! They have lost God’s most glorious vision of hope.
The Sabbath-Day Vision
How can God’s lukewarm people begin to turn their lives back to God? “Thus said the Lord unto me; Go and stand in the gate of the children of the people, whereby the kings of Judah come in, and by the which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem; And say unto them, Hear ye the word of the Lord, ye kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, that enter in by these gates: Thus saith the Lord; Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; Neither carry forth a burden out of your houses on the sabbath day, neither do ye any work, but hallow ye the sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers. But they obeyed not, neither inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, nor receive instruction. And it shall come to pass, if ye diligently hearken unto me, saith the Lord, to bring in no burden through the gates of this city on the sabbath day, but hallow the sabbath day, to do no work therein; Then shall there enter into the gates of this city kings and princes sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they, and their princes, the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: and this city shall remain for ever” (Jeremiah 17:19-25).
We must look at this spiritually today. Who will share David’s throne with Christ forever? That is the reward of God’s firstfruits (Revelation 3:21; Luke 1:23-33; Isaiah 9:6-7).
God says we are already kings and priests (Revelation 1:5-6). We are now getting ready to marry our Husband, Jesus Christ (Revelation 19:7). What a glorious vision of hope! Do we get it? This vision has become vague to most of God’s people today. That is the curse of following a man.
The Laodiceans can stop the curse. They must start with properly keeping God’s Sabbath day. The Sabbath is a sign that we are God’s royal Family. “Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you. Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed” (Exodus 31:13-17).
Today we must look at these verses spiritually. It is far more serious now than it was anciently. We get to know the true God through proper Sabbath-keeping. Only the firstfruits are called to that honor today. If they turn away, they won’t just die physically as ancient Israel did. These saints entered into a covenant with God. Now their eternal lives are at stake!
The Sabbath day focuses our mind back to God the Creator. He “rested, and was refreshed” on the Sabbath day. God doesn’t need physical rest. So how was He refreshed? The Sabbath is a type of the Millennium—a time when God will be ruling this Earth and building His Family. Then that Family will rule the universe forever. So the Sabbath also causes us to look ahead.
God is a Creator. He is creating His Family. It only started with the creation of Adam and Eve (Genesis 1:26). The animals were created after the animal kind. Man was created in the image and likeness of God. We look like God in our features. However, the spiritual creation is far more important. God is doing that job within His Church today. We must build the character of God (Matthew 5:48).
The great God was inspired and “refreshed” by the Sabbath-day vision. It will also greatly inspire you and me, if we keep the Sabbath holy.
Only that glorious vision will bring the Laodiceans back. Only that vision will keep us growing spiritually. If we truly comprehend that breathtaking future, we will never forsake God—the hope of Israel!
The Creator of the Sabbath set an example for His creation on how to keep it and to become holy in the process. Think of the power in God’s personal example! Our only purpose for being createdis to follow that example.
The Sabbath has become a “burden” to God’s lukewarm Church. It is no longer a “delight” to the Laodiceans (Isaiah 58:13).
God is present in a special and powerful way on His Sabbath day. The Sabbath, instead of being a burden, should leave us on a spiritual high. This is where Christ and the firstfruits will begin to change the whole world! This is where God started working with His end-time Elijah, Herbert W. Armstrong. This is where it all starts! We must learn this lesson if we are to rule the world with Christ.
I can give you this godly guarantee. If you start keeping the Sabbath properly, it will begin to make dramatic changes immediately in your life! Put God to the test! If we properly keep the Sabbath, we would never look to hopeless men.
“And they shall come from the cities of Judah, and from the places about Jerusalem, and from the land of Benjamin, and from the plain, and from the mountains, and from the south, bringing burnt offerings, and sacrifices, and meat offerings, and incense, and bringing sacrifices of praise, unto the house of the Lord” (Jeremiah 17:26). This is prophecy about God’s house, His Church, today. All we have to do is look at these verses spiritually. Then we can see a strong warning from God. “But if ye will not hearken unto me to hallow the sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day; then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched” (verse 27). If we don’t heed this message about keeping the Sabbath holy, then God will kindle a fire!
Repeatedly God warns us in these verses. “Hear ye the word of the Lord …” (verse 20). “Take heed to yourselves …” (verse 21). “If you will not hearken unto me …” (verse 27). God will personally kindle a fire—starting with the Great Tribulation. But this fire will not be quenched—it will destroy lives forever, unless we repent.
Will you heed God’s strong warning?
‘There Is No Hope’
God makes it very clear that this evil won’t come upon us if we repent (Jeremiah 18:8). “Now therefore go to, speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you: return ye now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good” (Jeremiah 18:11). God commands His very elect to warn His Church and the nations of Israel. God is personally framing evil—total destruction—against the nations of Israel.
God pleads with His own people to return—to come back to where they once were spiritually.
Many of the Laodicean leaders are not honest. “And they said, There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart” (verse 12). Some leaders of God’s Church and the nations of Israel see that there is no hope. But they still walk after their evil ways. They are so enslaved to their sinful lives that they won’t repent, even when they know disaster awaits them!
However, these leaders don’t often tell their followers the brutal truth. This is the kind of mind that is “deceitful above all things” (Jeremiah 17:9). It is catastrophic to ever trust such a mind! The motives are often evil.
We sometimes get persecuted for showing how hopeless man’s way of life is. But we tell you the truth. Other leaders often lie. We must trust God—the potter (Jeremiah 18:1-7). God will shape and mold our lives if we allow it. Before He can do that, we must all see that there is no hope in man!
“Therefore thus saith the Lord; Ask ye now among the heathen, who hath heard such things: the virgin of Israel hath done a very horrible thing” (verse 13). God is talking to the virgin Israel. Only Christ’s blood can cover our sins and make us virgins spiritually. This is directed to God’s Church—the virgin which God will marry. She has no intercourse with the world.
But this virgin has done a very horrible thing. “Will a man leave the snow of Lebanon which cometh from the rock of the field? or shall the cold flowing waters that come from another place be forsaken? Because my people hath forgotten me, they have burned incense to vanity, and they have caused them to stumble in their ways from the ancient paths, to walk in paths, in a way not cast up” (verses 14-15). This virgin has “forgotten” her Husband. She is spiritually fornicating with the world. “They have burned incense to vanity” in their temple service, which refers to the Church today. The leaders have caused the people to stumble from the ancient paths (Malachi 2:8). They have left the “cold flowing waters” from the snows of Lebanon for vanity. They have rejected much of what they were taught in the past by God’s Holy Spirit.
The virgin forsook her Husband. No small sin. “To make their land desolate, and a perpetual hissing; every one that passeth thereby shall be astonished, and wag his head” (Jeremiah 18:16). Physical and spiritual Israel are becoming desolate. “I will scatter them as with an east wind before the enemy; I will show them the back, and not the face, in the day of their calamity. Then said they, Come, and let us devise devices against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, and let us smite him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words” (verses 17-18). They devised evil plans against Jeremiah anciently. They do the same to those who deliver Jeremiah’s message today. And what a horrendous price they pay for doing so!