People label Jeremiah a prophet of doom. He did teach people why they brought short-term doom upon themselves. But he committed one of the strangest acts in the Bible to prove that none of God’s prophets ever came with a greater message of hope!
People came to Jeremiah and asked for God’s words and direction about whether they should stay in their own land or flee to Egypt to escape the armies of Babylon (Jeremiah 42). Jeremiah was the only man from whom they could get God’s answer. He was the only one God was using. Jeremiah told them he would pray and seek God’s will. God didn’t answer immediately. He often builds our faith and patience by allowing us to wait on Him. God is in charge. Jeremiah had the faith and patience to wait on God. The people he was dealing with did not. We must learn from Jeremiah’s good example and the people’s rebellious example.
Ten days went by before Jeremiah returned with God’s answer. But the people didn’t like the answer. “And it came to pass, that when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking unto all the people all the words of the Lord their God, for which the Lord their God had sent him to them, even all these words, Then spake Azariah the son of Hoshaiah, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the proud men, saying unto Jeremiah, Thou speakest falsely: the Lord our God hath not sent thee to say, Go not into Egypt to sojourn there: But Baruch the son of Neriah setteth thee on against us, for to deliver us into the hand of the Chaldeans, that they might put us to death, and carry us away captives into Babylon” (Jeremiah 43:1-3). The prophet told them exactly what God commanded him to say. But they accused him of falling under the influence of his scribe Baruch.
Here is a critical flaw of human nature. They believed what they wanted to believe. They deceived themselves into believing they were following God. Such behavior is a major reason why this world is in such a crisis. Men and women ask for God’s direction and then reject it because of their pride.
Mankind’s big problem is not an inability to prove God’s existence and understand Him. The problem is mankind’s refusal to understand God’s will!
This is foundational understanding that we must have before we can ever grow spiritually. Without any evidence, these people accused Jeremiah of being misled by his scribe Baruch. I hear such accusations at times. Proud people sometimes say I have fallen under the influence of one of our leading ministers. Their pride has deceived them into rejecting God’s authority.
This message is for today. It was inspired to help us see why men reject God. We must not let our pride lead us astray.
Most of God’s own people in this end time have rejected God’s revelation given to Herbert W. Armstrong. They also reject what God has revealed to the Philadelphia Church of God. They do it because they are too proud to receive God’s revelation (Matthew 11:25).
God reveals only to people who are humble. Before we can totally follow God, we must understand our own human nature and conquer it. We must “become as little children” (Matthew 18:1-3). If we fail to heed God’s commanded message, then terrifying punishment awaits us!
The Potter and the Clay
“So they came into the land of Egypt: for they obeyed not the voice of the Lord: thus came they even to Tahpanhes” (Jeremiah 43:7). The people refused to stay in Judah and trust God to protect them. Instead they went into Egypt and forced Jeremiah to go with them. Taking Jeremiah only added to their sin.
God immediately informed them of the consequences of their actions. “Then came the word of the Lord unto Jeremiah in Tahpanhes, saying, Take great stones in thine hand, and hide them in the clay in the brickkiln, which is at the entry of Pharaoh’s house in Tahpanhes, in the sight of the men of Judah; And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will send and take Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will set his throne upon these stones that I have hid; and he shall spread his royal pavilion over them. And when he cometh, he shall smite the land of Egypt, and deliver such as are for death to death; and such as are for captivity to captivity; and such as are for the sword to the sword” (verses 8-11). Jeremiah warned them about being “clay in the brickkiln”—the furnace of the potter. We are the clay and God is the potter.
Since they refused to hear God’s words and be protected, God told them about His next plan. They would face captivity and death in Egypt—exactly what they feared and were trying to escape!
We must keep the big picture. God is the potter; He continues to shape and mold us—even in concentration camps and facing death!
The bad news is good news in the long run, if we finally respond to God. But be warned. God will take us into a raging furnace if that is what it takes to remove our pride! God has done that repeatedly throughout history!
Webster’s Dictionary defines “kiln” this way: “An oven, furnace or heated enclosure for processing a substance by burning, firing or drying.” This is “the refiner’s fire.” We are the clay.
This is still very good news. God won’t give up on us until we give up on Him. That means there is a splendid hope in this great suffering! God is only giving us the punishment that is required to make us moldable clay in His hands! God is the potter.
This is Jeremiah’s message of hope for the end time. First, God delivers the warning message, hoping we will heed. If we don’t, then God heats up the fiery furnace of captivity and death in an effort to refine us.
God only gives us the correction that our hardness requires. He takes His very elect to a place of safety (Revelation 12:14). His own Laodicean Church is plunged into a nuclear holocaust with the nations of Israel (verse 17).
This is the message we must declare to God’s lukewarm people and Israel. God is now preparing the fiery nuclear furnace.
“And I will kindle a fire in the houses of the gods of Egypt; and he shall burn them, and carry them away captives: and he shall array himself with the land of Egypt, as a shepherd putteth on his garment; and he shall go forth from thence in peace” (Jeremiah 43:12). God is now sending His final appeal to His Church and Israel. This book is an end-time prophecy! (Jeremiah 30:1-9).
God is about to shatter the power of His holy people (Daniel 12:7). This calamity is building now. The curses will come like waves in the sea, until we repent.
God’s goal is always to bring men to repentance.
Is that bad news? Not in the long run. The bad news is when God is no longer the potter and men have rejected His loving correction. Then the clay is no longer usable. There is no more hope that they can become members of God’s Family.
These are very specific warnings. And it gets even more specific! Why won’t we all heed God’s word now? This warning is aimed at you.
God addresses His Church first of all. “The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the Jews which dwell in the land of Egypt …. Ye have seen all the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem, and upon all the cities of Judah; and, behold, this day they are a desolation, and no man dwelleth therein, Because of their wickedness which they have committed to provoke me to anger, in that they went to burn incense, and to serve other gods, whom they knew not, neither they, ye, nor your fathers” (Jeremiah 44:1-3). Jerusalem and the cities of Judah were emptied of human beings—“so no man dwelleth therein”! This is a thunderous warning of the crisis we will experience very soon!
These people turned to “other gods, whom they knew not.” Today, God is addressing those in His Laodicean Church, which knew the true God and then turned to the gods of this world that they did not know. They would have only known those gods had they not known the true God. They have rejected God’s rule. They went from God into the world.
Let’s not forget that these are end-time prophecies. “Howbeit I sent unto you all my servants the prophets, rising early and sending them, saying, Oh, do not this abominable thing that I hate. But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear to turn from their wickedness, to burn no incense unto other gods” (verses 4-5). God always sends His prophets to warn. He does the same today. Still, they “burn incense to other gods.” This refers to the temple worship.
The Laodiceans are still religious, but they are not worshiping the true God! They refuse to return to the true God.
Then comes the fiery furnace. “Wherefore my fury and mine anger was poured forth, and was kindled in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem; and they are wasted and desolate, as at this day. Therefore now thus saith the Lord, the God of hosts, the God of Israel; Wherefore commit ye this great evil against your souls, to cut off from you man and woman, child and suckling, out of Judah, to leave you none to remain; In that ye provoke me unto wrath with the works of your hands, burning incense unto other gods in the land of Egypt, whither ye be gone to dwell, that ye might cut yourselves off, and that ye might be a curse and a reproach among all the nations of the earth?” (verses 6-8). God relates that the Laodiceans knew God and then cut themselves off. This prophecy could only apply to God’s own people. The Laodiceans and nations of Israel are cursed and eventually scorned by “all the nations of the earth.”
Royalty and Wives Warned Too
God’s people are following the wrong examples. “Have ye forgotten the wickedness of your fathers, and the wickedness of the kings of Judah, and the wickedness of their wives, and your own wickedness, and the wickedness of your wives, which they have committed in the land of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem?” (verse 9). The kings of Judah and their royal wives were setting bad examples on David’s throne. And the same evil is rampant today.
Look at the example set on David’s throne today. God is deeply concerned and prophesies His warning. Queen Elizabeth ii sent the stone of David’s throne to Scotland. That stone is a symbol of Christ Himself! (Our free booklet The Key of David explains how.) Now their Protector has left them! Perhaps the Queen doesn’t understand how she has made her throne vulnerable to Satan’s attack! Satan is now attacking that throne as never before. The Queen could hardly have made a bigger mistake!
Prince Charles has publicly lived in an adulterous relationship with a married lady. Princess Diana went from one sordid adultery to another, while the whole world ogled and many followed her example! Since her death, she has widely been viewed as a saint! In truth, she was in the vanguard of a spirit that turned our families upside down!
God thunders that these are nation-destroying problems!
When she married, Princess Diana had the word “obey” removed from the wedding ceremony. She didn’t want to obey her husband, and Charles shamefully agreed! God holds him more accountable. Herbert Armstrong prophesied that the royal marriage would fail because of that serious omission.
Princess Diana led an unparalleled rise of feminism and rebellion against God’s law and the marriage covenant of God. It is blatant rebellion against God, and it is wrecking the families in Israel. It leads to Sodom and Gomorrah!
The family is a God-plane relationship. It was designed to prepare us to enter the God Family forever! Distorting God’s intent or ignoring His instruction regarding that relationship is a very serious problem. Men and women must repent of their evil, or they have no future beyond this life! They are fighting God!
“As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths” (Isaiah 3:12). This is end-time prophecy also. Who is God addressing? In the context, we see that Zion is the focus—“my people.” Zion is God’s Church. Women today say they are seeking a 50-50 marriage, but in truth their goal is to rule! It is an affront to God—open rebellion against Him!
“Moreover the Lord saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet” (verse 16). These daughters are haughty and proud. They lack humility.
What will God do to correct the situation? “Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the Lord will discover their secret parts” (verse 17). They will be smitten with scabs and stripped naked. God will humble them until they accept His rule.
“In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon” (verse 18). “In that day” means this is an end-time prophecy. This occurs just before Christ’s return.
“And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty” (verse 24). God will plunge Israel into concentration camps and death! World War ii was mild by comparison.
This horrendous destruction is described in the context of family rebellion. Israel wants upside-down marriages, and God’s Laodicean Church wants an upside-down spiritual marriage. The Laodiceans don’t want Christ to rule His Bride. That is the worst possible mistake they could make. God will not have it.
Their future is very dark, until they learn this lesson!
Where have they gone astray? “They are not humbled even unto this day, neither have they feared, nor walked in my law, nor in my statutes, that I set before you and before your fathers” (Jeremiah 44:10). These royal members have broken God’s law against fornication and adultery! And it is leading America and Britain into destruction.
God’s own Church has been affected—men and women and children. They too have rebelled against God’s law and government, and now God will punish His Church for following the world instead of leading it in righteousness.
Here is what the Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary states about the words “they” and “you” in verse 10: “The third person [they] puts them to a distance from God, on account of their alienating themselves from Him. The second person [you] implies that God formerly had directly addressed them.” The word “you” is how God addresses His own disciples (Matthew 24:4, 9).
These were God’s own people who were receiving revelation directly from God and then rebelled in this end time.
The law and statutes were “set before you.” The word translated “set” can even mean “make a covenant.” That is exactly what God did with His own people. He made a covenant with them—a marriage covenant. They became the Bride of Christ.
God set the law before His Church only. Then they committed spiritual adultery by turning to other gods. The Laodiceans are following the spirit of those ruling on David’s throne. God punishes for physical and spiritual adultery.
Anciently, God sent only one man to warn them—Jeremiah. He was the physical head of God’s government. And today, God sends one man to warn His Church and Israel. That warning message is supported by God’s very elect. You are reading that warning. Only the Philadelphia Church of God submits to God’s law and government today—the same government taught by Herbert W. Armstrong. God used Mr. Armstrong to set His government and law before us in this end time.
The Laodiceans have rejected that government. Only the pcg remembers and keeps God’s government!
“Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will set my face against you for evil, and to cut off all Judah” (Jeremiah 44:11). Do you have any idea what it means to have God “against you”? This is what God’s Laodiceans face today. If they fail to repent now, they should be terrified!
The Queen of Heaven
“Then all the men which knew that their wives had burned incense unto other gods, and all the women that stood by, a great multitude, even all the people that dwelt in the land of Egypt, in Pathros, answered Jeremiah” (verse 15). These men knew that their wives had turned to other gods. Like Adam, they just followed along. This is only a type of what the Laodicean husbands and wives are doing today. Generally, the wives are leading the men. These men and women of God are following the world as marriages are being turned upside down. Children’s minds are being twisted and warped by their dysfunctional families. They know God’s way and reject it through self-deceit.
“As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the Lord, we will not hearken unto thee” (verse 16). Just like in chapter 43, they rejected Jeremiah’s authority from God. And again, the same is true today.
We don’t have just some tiny little doctrinal differences with the Laodiceans. We are keeping God’s government. They are rejecting God’s government—and know it! They were taught government through Mr. Armstrong, as were all of God’s people. God says they are without excuse!
“But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil. But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine. And when we burned incense to the queen of heaven, and poured out drink offerings unto her, did we make her cakes to worship her, and pour out drink offerings unto her, without our men?” (Jeremiah 44:17-19).
These ladies turned religion into a female-dominated worship. They didn’t do it “without our men,” or their husbands. That means the men had full knowledge of the women ruling their religion and their homes.
This was audacious and brazen public rebellion against God’s family plan! This was a group of leading women addressing God’s Prophet Jeremiah! They weren’t afraid of God’s government. And the weak men went along.
These treacherous women knew they were not responsible for their false religious practices if their husbands approved (Numbers 30:7). Since their husbands approved, they said the men were responsible! And that is also true today.
God holds the men accountable for leading the families. They are commanded to lead the women in love and even die for them if need be. That is what the Church’s Husband, Jesus Christ, did. But the men are also to be the head of the family, as Christ is the Head of the Church.
Just because the husbands are mainly to blame for not leading the family doesn’t mean the women won’t suffer too. They all suffer captivity and death because of their rebellion.
Conspiracy in the Priesthood
Where is there any real hope in this world? Jeremiah was surrounded by the total collapse of Judah’s freedom. It was about to be conquered by Babylon. Still, Jeremiah had great hope and proved it by making an investment which will probably be in our memory forever.
“And the Lord said unto me, A conspiracy is found among the men of Judah, and among the inhabitants of Jerusalem. They are turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, which refused to hear my words; and they went after other gods to serve them: the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant which I made with their fathers” (Jeremiah 11:9-10). These people broke God’s covenant and “turned back.” Only God’s people today have entered into a covenant with God. Only they can turn back from their covenant. Again we see God describing His own Church.
“What hath my beloved to do in mine house, seeing she hath wrought lewdness with many, and the holy flesh is passed from thee? when thou doest evil, then thou rejoicest” (verse 15). Here God discusses “my beloved in my house”—God’s temple, or His Church today. Just before they are to be plunged into the worst time of suffering ever seen on this Earth, God reminds us that He loves them.
The “holy flesh,” or holy sacrifices, have ceased. They no longer do God’s will. At one time these people were holy to God, but not anymore.
“For the Lord of hosts, that planted thee, hath pronounced evil against thee …” (verse 17). God planted this Church. Trace back the history of this Church and you see it was begun by the great God! Focus on who planted them! What a beginning!
That makes the end agonizingly sad. “For the Lord of hosts, that planted thee, hath pronounced evil against thee, for the evil of the house of Israel and of the house of Judah, which they have done against themselves to provoke me to anger in offering incense unto Baal. And the Lord hath given me knowledge of it, and I know it: then thou showedst me their doings. But I was like a lamb or an ox that is brought to the slaughter; and I knew not that they had devised devices against me, saying, Let us destroy the tree with the fruit thereof, and let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name may be no more remembered. But, O Lord of hosts, that judgest righteously, that triest the reins and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I revealed my cause. Therefore thus saith the Lord of the men of Anathoth, that seek thy life, saying, Prophesy not in the name of the Lord, that thou die not by our hand” (verses 17-21). God’s own priesthood was secretlyplotting to kill Jeremiah! At the time, Jeremiah knew nothing about it.
What does that mean for the very elect who are delivering Jeremiah’s message today? It means the priests God planted and raised up will have the most evil thoughts and deeds toward God’s very elect! At one time they delivered the very prophecy of God. Now they are bitterly working to destroy that message and the messenger! They were fighting for God. Now they are fighting God.
“And I raised up of your sons for prophets, and of your young men for Nazarites. Is it not even thus, O ye children of Israel? saith the Lord. But ye gave the Nazarites wine to drink; and commanded the prophets, saying, Prophesy not” (Amos 2:11-12). This is the same end-time problem that Jeremiah prophesied. God says, “I raised up of your sons.” God raised up these ministers to prophesy. They did so, but then stopped. They were sober and became drunk. Then they hated and tried to destroy the same message they had prophesied in the past.
So who is prophesying about new godly revelation from the books of Jeremiah and Amos today? There you will find God! And who is fighting against that prophecy? There you will find the Laodiceans! You can easily see this battle today within God’s Church.
One vivid example was our court battle over Mystery of the Ages. That was just one big part of this prophecy being fulfilled right now. Fighting for that book was our greatest honor!
You can see this battle raging in every major and minor prophet of the Bible. It’s painfully obvious in God’s Church—Philadelphians versus Laodiceans.
Hope in Anathoth
The evil priests who tried to kill Jeremiah and his message lived in Anathoth. This was where Jeremiah was born. Today it is a little community called Anata, just outside Jerusalem. I have done a television program from there.
Anathoth was a city of God’s own priests. It was assigned to the Levites, a type of God’s ministers today. Is there an Anathoth today? God’s end-time Work and college were raised up in Pasadena, California, by Herbert W. Armstrong. As far as I know, all of God’s ministers received some kind of training there. That is where I got my degree.
I still believe the same message I was taught there. Mystery of the Ages was produced from there. We fought in a fierce court battle over that book, against ministers from the same Church that Herbert Armstrong was used to raise up in that same city!
God gives us ample warning of what would emanate from that city today! God warns His very elect that our worst enemies will come from within God’s own Church! It is prophesied to happen. Be vigilant.
Delivering God’s message is no small challenge. But what a fabulous reward God gives us for doing so.
God promises to punish them for their evil. “Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, Behold, I will punish them: the young men shall die by the sword; their sons and their daughters shall die by famine: And there shall be no remnant of them: for I will bring evil upon the men of Anathoth, even the year of their visitation” (Jeremiah 11:22-23). No remnant of them is left. These ministers who do the plotting against Jeremiah’s message today will probably be a part of the 50 percent of the Laodiceans who die forever! (Matthew 25:1-10). God help the poor rebels who fight against God.
Even in the midst of betrayal and adversity, Jeremiah still had great hope. “The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar. For then the king of Babylon’s army besieged Jerusalem: and Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the prison, which was in the king of Judah’s house” (Jeremiah 32:1-2). The end of Judah was dangerously near. The Babylonian armies had already surrounded Jerusalem. Jeremiah was in prison. Zedekiah, the last king of Judah, was sitting on the throne of David. This evil king actually imprisoned God’s prophet at this critical juncture. The king hated Jeremiah’s message. There was no way out, except God’s way, which the king and the people rejected (verses 3-5).
Then Jeremiah was inspired by God to make a strange decision. Just before the whole area fell to Babylon, Jeremiah purchased a plot of land in Anathoth from his prison cell. This was probably the most spiritually evil city in Judah. The priests led a revolt against God from there.
“Behold the mounts, they are come unto the city to take it; and the city is given into the hand of the Chaldeans, that fight against it, because of the sword, and of the famine, and of the pestilence: and what thou hast spoken is come to pass; and, behold, thou seest it. And thou hast said unto me, O Lord God, Buy thee the field for money, and take witnesses; for the city is given into the hand of the Chaldeans” (verses 24-25). Why such an act? God is sending an inspiring message through that purchase of real estate. At the very moment Judah was under siege by Babylon, Jeremiah bought a plot of land in Anathoth.
Israel today is about to lose its land just like Judah did. That includes America, Britain and biblical Judah (the land called Israel today). But we know, as Jeremiah knew, that God will also bring His people back to their land after 31/2 years of Tribulation.
We must see the imminent collapse of Israel, but like God and Jeremiah, we must see the wonderful World Tomorrow. Then Christ will be ruling the world from David’s throne.
Christ’s future rule on this Earth ought to be as real as a piece of real estate in Pasadena, California! We tend to only see the problems on this Earth and not God’s overall plan.
We should be willing to invest our time, money and effort in God’s glorious Work today. God’s Work will usher in the wonderful World Tomorrow. Doing God’s Work is an investment in that incredible future!
Jeremiah was no prophet of doom. He had the greatest vision in the Bible, clearly focused. If we keep this vision in our minds, we shall never be overcome by discouragement!
Jeremiah was not even allowed to take a wife and have a family (Jeremiah 16:1-2). He was willing to make that sacrifice—in fact, any sacrifice—for God. He kept his mind filled with the greatest vision in the Bible.