Jeremiah 22! Jeremiah 22!
Jeremiah 22! Jeremiah 22!
Jeremiah 22! Jeremiah 22!
One morning I awoke with these words ‘ringing’ in my head.
I was not sure, then, what God was telling me.
Since that time about He has revealed more of His mind.
It’s not the sort of thing that happens to you every day. It certainly wasn’t for me! I was one for minding my own business, just quietly getting on with my life, and letting others get on with theirs. But all that suddenly changed when someone picked a fight with me.
That someone was a minister in the WCG to which my wife and I then gave our loyalties. I could hardly believe what he was up to. How he had the audacity to poke his nose into our affairs under the guise of ‘ministerial counsel’ was beyond me! But he did.
Only later did I come to see why. He was after us! He wanted to find fault with us; to find some excuse which he could use as a ruse to have us expelled from ‘his’ congregation. We were a threat to his supremacy.
I won’t go into all the details here. It is irrelevant, and frankly unimportant. Sufficient to note that Satan’s tools in the Church do not like the sons of God. Rancour festers beneath the surface, especially when God calls certain ones into active service for Him! Like the long-standing jealousies between Ishmael and Isaac, Esau and Jacob, or Jacob’s sons and Joseph, the inheritors of the birthright are resented by those who are destined to lose out.
Our minister ‘friend’ sought his opportunity, and like all who look hard enough, he eventually found it. He falsely accused us, tailored his story to fit his devious design, and had us summarily expelled from the church without recourse.
At the time, it was a vicious stab in the back. The pain was intense, and it took months for the wounds to heal. But they did heal, and it is all behind us now. It was Satan’s attack, but permitted by God’s design, and He had the final say. Little did we know then that it was to be the first step through a door that God was to open before us to serve Him!
A year or so later, I awoke very early in the morning (unusual for me). Helena was also awake, and – don’t ask me to explain it – instinctively we knew that we were both thinking the same thing! The thought had been implanted in our minds that we had been framed by this minister. We were so naive that, up to this time, the thought never crossed our minds that he had contrived the whole thing.
Revelation from God is given for a purpose, and He knows how to achieve His purpose. When He chose Jonah to go to Nineveh, He knew what He was doing, even though Jonah ran the other way at first. God gave him revelation for the task.
When He called Elijah, He gave him the revelation he needed to do the job. When He chose Moses, God made sure Moses was equipped, even though he felt humanly inadequate for the assignment.
That is often the case with prophets. They ARE inadequate, by themselves. Or they would be, without God giving the support.
That support begins with revelation. I don’t mean God bypasses the importance of the Bible, and gives something else. Not at all. He gives ancillary revelation to the prophet – things which complement the Bible, and elaborate on its meaning or application; or things which are needed personally to accomplish the task in hand.
That was what God was doing that morning by repeating to me: Jeremiah 22! Jeremiah 22! Jeremiah 22! Jeremiah 22! Jeremiah 22! Jeremiah 22!
This ‘word’ was so strong, that I could not dismiss it. I told Helena immediately. She opened to Jeremiah 22 and read it. But it didn’t make a lot of sense. God said nothing further then.
Over the course of time, things started to gel in my mind about this passage. First, He highlighted verse 3 to me, where He said:
Execute judgment and righteousness, and deliver the plundered out of the hand of the oppressor...
We knew by now who one of the oppressors was in our former association. And we were beginning to see how our former friends whom we had left behind in that church were being oppressed or plundered, spiritually.
The biggest question remained unanswered: how on earth could WE deliver them??!!
The psychological walls around that church (which is really a cult, not a church – as is the case with so many Christian groups) were so tight that ‘defensive’ reactions against the ‘deliverer’ were stronger than the desire to be delivered. (In fact, they couldn’t even see that they needed deliverance! They thought that shoe fit our foot!)
It was like Moses found when he wanted to stand up for his blood-brothers. They resented him for who he was. Eventually, he had no other course open to him but to leave them where they were for another 40 years. God took him into the wilderness until they were ready.
God also took Moses OUT from their company to prepare him for what lay ahead. Moses’ training for the job now entered another phase. He had been brought up in Egypt, but now God took him away from what was familiar in the physical, and gave him a new perspective on life. He came to know God. He learned to heed what God said more than what man said.
All true prophets go through a ‘wilderness’ experience where they are alone with God and inculcate what is needful for their task. Some are ‘loners’, anyway. Isolation, at some point, may be necessary to prepare them to do the job. It is a time when God can speak most meaningfully.
God never wastes His words. They may seem cryptic to us – too short even to make much sense. But should we expect a God who is so vastly superior to us to be devoid of mystery? Invariably He wants us to discover things for ourselves. Then they are more meaningful than if He handed them to us on a platter. Whatever you work for, you always appreciate, and the longer you have to work for it, the more you value it.
The Bible takes a lot of unravelling in many places. It is a lifetime's work; nay, several life-times’ work. You will never get to the bottom of its wonders in this life. It will cause you to marvel. The more you read it, the more you marvel. The deeper you get into it, the deeper you can go. Its words and thoughts are unfathomable in virtue and limitless in scope. They are the work of a Master of mathematical and literary genius beyond human appreciation.
So, it should come as no surprise that the cryptic word God spoke to me some 7 years ago is only now becoming more clear, as we approach the time of its fulfilment.
A Prophecy of No Return
What Jeremiah 22 contains is a prophecy of no return. The nation of Judah and its king had become so corrupt that their character could not be reformed without complete destruction. Jeremiah had to convey God’s words to them:
I will prepare destroyers against you; everyone with his weapons. They shall cut down your choice cedars and cast them into the fire. And many nations will pass by this city; and everyone will say to his neighbour, ‘Why has the Lord done so to this great city?’ Then they will answer, ‘Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord their God, and worshipped other gods and served them (Jer 22:7,8).
Jeremiah was commissioned to declare this fact to the king and the people. It wasn’t an easy or a pleasant task. God told him:
Before you were born I set you apart; I ordained you a prophet to the nations (Jer 1:5). Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you.... Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth and the Lord said to me: Behold I have put My words in your mouth. See I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant (Jer 1:8-10).
Twice as much tearing down as building up was in God’s plan of reform.
The same is true today in the Church. Judah or Jerusalem is a type of the Church. It was the place where God had placed His name back then. Now He is working with His Church, those whom He has called out from this world to be spiritually separate. The Church is not a large organised physical structure or organisation of men, nor is it several organisations. It is a spiritual creation of God – all those in whom His Spirit lives.
In reformation, there has to be twice as much pulling down of the old, as building up of the new, taking place.
We are entering now a time of further intense reformation for the whole Church. It is very late now in God’s plan. A prophetic cry is to go out to all who will listen.
But if you will not hear these words, I swear by Myself, says the Lord, that this house shall become a desolation (Jer 22:5).
Those words are as salient today to God’s people now as they were to His people of Judah when Jeremiah first spoke them.
There is duality in God’s Word. If these words no longer had relevance to the Church, do you think they would have been preserved in sacred writ? I think not. Jesus said not a shred of the prophets’ writings would lose its impact or relevance as long as heaven and earth exist (Matt 5:17,18).
God is about to speak some words to His Church via prophetic revelation which she must heed. If she doesn’t, she will become the object of destruction, just as Jerusalem was.
One major contention God had with Judah was that they had forsaken the covenant (Jer 22:9). A covenant is an agreement made between two parties. The two bind themselves to keeping the agreement. The duty of Israel and Judah was to OBEY God in all His commands, statutes, precepts and judgements so that God could bless them and make them a model nation. God made the proposition. Israel agreed to it, although she later broke the agreement.
We live under a new covenant today, but it is one in which our duties towards God are, in fact, GREATER, than for Israel under the old covenant. Jesus expounded this in Matthew chapters 5 to 7 and elsewhere in the gospels.
But many church leaders have tampered with true Bible teachings, dismissing some of God’s commands as irrelevant to the Church today ‘under grace’. God has a controversy with these people, just as He had a controversy with the nations for their wickedness (Jer 25:31), especially Israel and Judah.
Many church leaders today have repeated the former mistakes of the biblical kings. Yahweh said of them:
Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness (Jer 22:13).
It is shocking just how many CoG leaders today have gone the same route! While they profess to follow Christ, they deny His teachings in many respects. It is probably fair to say that the majority of church leaders avoid teaching on specific subjects, for fear of upsetting the people. And many of them water down unpalatable aspects of God’s truth in order to retain their following. Acceptability is probably higher on most preachers’ agendas than undiluted truth!
Human nature would rather preach ‘smooth things’, to curry men’s favour, than what hurts. We always prefer to take the easy option – to do what comes naturally, than what God commands.
History attests to that fact. It was what led to Israel’s downfall. She defaulted on her duty to God. Judgement – which included destruction and exile – followed.
The Church in most of its quarters is doing the same today. Its fate will be similar. There is no avoiding it. Judgement always follows in the wake of rebellion.
You may not like to call it rebellion. “That’s too strong!” Is it? God doesn’t seem to think so. You can call a spade a fork, but it doesn’t change what it is.
The WCG threw us out because of the demonic powers that held sway within. Because God was about to use us in ministry (this writing ministry was birthed soon after we were catapulted out of their company), demons attacked us through the tools which they could use. The most powerful avenue of attack was through the ministry. In hierarchic churches, ministers are the ones which hold most power, and which Satan can use most effectively to his advantage. The dogmas of the group provide justification for the wrong behaviour. Prevalent psychology further consolidates it.
Instead of the truth of the Bible being scrupulously followed, it became scrupulously denied. Church dogma – established by the teaching of men – was upheld. It took first place. The Word of God had to fall into line with that, not vice versa.
Bible teaching and meaning was made to fit church dogma, instead of church dogma being made to fit Bible teaching. WCG leaders fulfilled Jesus’ words all over again:
This people honours Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men (Mark 7:6,7).
Little wonder that the Spirit departed! They had shut God out by their doctrinal rebellion and self-will. The WCG changed their doctrine from one of punctilious ritualism to wanton liberalism! They swung from one extreme to another. Covering their licentiousness with a cloak, they have tried to delude their members that they are introducing true freedom in Christ. Nothing could be a more pernicious lie!
God has decreed their fate in Jeremiah 22. As it was in Judah, so shall it be in any church that denies absolute obedience to God. Destruction is decreed on those who forsake the covenant.
I spoke to you in your prosperity, but you said, ‘I will not hear.’ This has been your manner from your youth, that you did not obey My voice. The wind shall eat up your rulers [shepherds], and your lovers shall go into captivity; surely then you will be ashamed and humiliated for all your wickedness (Jer 22:21,22).
This was part of what God was saying to me that morning some 7 years ago, but I was not able, then, to discern what He meant. Only now, with hindsight, can we see the fuller intent of His words. He is saying that there is no return for those who deliberately deny Him. They have chosen the way that leads into spiritual captivity.
Just as it was said of rebellious king Coniah:
‘As I live,’ says the Lord, ‘though Coniah... king of Judah, were the signet [ring] on My right hand, yet I would pluck you off’ (Jer 22:24).
Likewise this judgement is also decreed upon WCG leaders who lead their people into rebellion. They will go into exile. So final is this fate, that God accentuates it by a threefold warning (3 is used in the Bible to denote finality):
O earth, earth, earth, Hear the word of the Lord! (Jer 22:29.)
It is fitting, that it should occur in verse 29! 29 is a numeric symbol for the expectation of judgement – so often a part of prophetic ministry. And more fitting too, that it should precede the castigation which follows against false ‘shepherds’ (Jer 23:1,2).
While the CoGs have repudiated the doctrinal apostasy of the WCG, they have their own spiritual laxity and deadness to contend with.
Malcolm B Heap, March
1999 (republished March 2013 in MM's Newsletter)
Further Reading for WCG and ex-WCG folk:
1. What Does It Take To WAKE UP The Churches of God? (AA7-3.)
2. A series of 50 articles written under the inspiration of the Spirit in 1998 about the WCG and its misdeeds and misrule. (WCG50.)