Chapter 2: Adonai—Our Head Who Blesses
Amos is a “book of doom,” according to the Anchor Bible. That is true, if you understand it. This is a difficult book to read and understand—but even more difficult to accept—because of the nightmarish prophecies that fill it.
Nevertheless, it applies specifically to the people in God’s Church more than most prophetic books.
There is not a stronger book in the Bible than Amos—certainly not of this size.
The Prophet Amos had a monumental task to grapple with in writing down the dark visions God gave him. He was a poet, and he sought to describe what he saw in the most vivid, descriptive language he could fashion. He wrote some very black poetry, the way the world would view it, adding a lot of poetic detail. His creative mind felt the full impact of what God revealed to him.
As we deliver God’s trumpet warning to this sinful world today, we should be able to identify somewhat with Amos’s difficulties. These are serious times. Studying the book of Amos made me realize that more deeply.
However, Amos was able to maintain his stability in a key way—one that we must learn from as we do God’s Work.
Twenty-five times in his little book, Amos uses the name Adonai when referring to God—more than all the other minor prophets combined.
Why would Amos use that name so much?
The primary definition for Adonai is “headship; the head” (see the Companion Bible). Perhaps as Amos worked to convey all of those frightening prophecies, he wanted to ensure that he held the Head—the God of the Old Testament who became Jesus Christ. His book contains so much bad news, perhaps he wanted to keep reminding himself that the great God was behind it all. This is God’s idea, not mine, he may have thought. He does everything for a reason. I want to make sure I view this bad news as God does.
Most of God’s people in this end time have lost their Head (Colossians 2:19). They allowed themselves to be beguiled by men. As a result, they will lose their reward and, for those who don’t repent, even their eternal life!
If God’s faithful remnant is to avoid making the same mistake, we must have deep understanding and faith in these prophecies. We need to understand them well enough that no man who tries to pervert the truth can beguile us!
Each member in God’s Church is responsible for holding the Head.
Amos held the Head. He kept God’s headship present in his thoughts all the time.
A richer understanding of the name Adonai includes the sense of God blessing. He is our Head who blesses—not only His very elect, but also the whole world.
Prophecy contains so much bad news. Thinking about a rising beast power and about the death of Israel can be depressing! It is essential that we hold the Head—especially when looking at all the bad news. If we don’t, we can almost want to avoid watching world events altogether, because they are so negative! But is that the way our Head thinks about it? If you are holding the Head, you will think of those prophecies the way the Head does.
All of this destruction is directed by Adonai, our Head, in the context of blessings! God is trying to give eternal life to as many people as possible.
Christ does curse His people when they rebel. But even those curses are turned into blessings if the people repent.
This book does have a lot of bad news for the nations of Israel and God’s Laodicean Church in this end time. Amos undoubtedly kept repeating the title Adonai to remind himself continually that, in spite of all the suffering, he was serving his Head who blesses. Adonai’s purpose is to bless you and all mankind.
All of the evil is coming upon us because of rebelling against God’s law. The inhabitants could not bear God’s words, delivered by Amos (Amos 7:10). They heard God’s prophecies and continued to sin—just as they do today.
Because of these deadly prophecies, Amos wanted to keep the Adonai who blesses in his mind always. That is even more needful today, since we prophesy about the worst time of suffering ever on Earth.
The Prophet Amos was able to find the good news in the bad news. That motivated him to do the Work of God! He didn’t get depressed or try to avoid bad news. Understanding the truth motivated him, as it should us.
Some 95 percent of God’s own people have refused to deliver God’s message today. Was it because they lost sight of Adonai who blesses?
That had to be a big part of why they lost Adonai, their Head (Colossians 2:18-19).
If we don’t keep our godly perspective, we won’t see God’s love in our trials, the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.
Amos repeatedly referred to the Adonai who blesses!
If we hold the Head, that means we bring His thinking to bear on all the bad news. We view it as Christ does (Philippians 2:5). Otherwise, we will become negative as the persecution intensifies as a result of our increasingly strong warning.
Amos was more explicit than the other prophets in describing the coming destruction. That is a big part of the reason why the land would not bear his words.
Will God’s loyal people be able to bear the persecution that comes because of our message? I do fear at times how this Church will fare between now and the Great Tribulation.
There is some extremely bad news ahead in the short run. We must be able to face the worst news and still know that we serve the Adonai who blesses.
If we understand the purpose of the bad news, we can draw inspiration and hope from those very prophecies!
Bethel and Gilgal
Bethel and Gilgal are end-time code words pointing back to the beginning of Israel as a nation. They are the key to correcting the problems of God’s lukewarm Church and the nations of Israel.
“Come to Bethel, and transgress; at Gilgal multiply transgression; and bring your sacrifices every morning, and your tithes after three years” (Amos 4:4). Bethel means house of God. In this prophecy, it has become corrupt. For Jacob, Bethel was the starting point of his relationship with God (Genesis 28:16-22).
A church (house) of God has gone astray, and God is pointing it back to the beginning—when it was obedient to God. Today, God is trying to point the Laodiceans back to their beginning to help them see how they went astray. My book Malachi’s Message tells this story in more detail; request a free copy if you do not have one.
Bethel is mentioned seven times in the book of Amos (Amos 3:14; 4:4; 5:5 twice, 6; 7:10, 13). Seven is God’s number of completion. So the structure of this prophecy is very precise and well-planned by God, and it is all focused on this end time.
Gilgal is also transgressing. This was the first place Israel camped after reaching the Promised Land. An altar of 12 stones was built to honor God. Twelve is the number of new institutional beginnings. The Israelites were following God when they came out of Egypt. So God is pointing not only the Church but also the modern-day nations of Israel back to their beginning—when they were obeying God.
“And offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, and proclaim and publish the free offerings: for this liketh you, O ye children of Israel, saith the Lord God” (Amos 4:5). The church is “religious,” but God is very critical of its religion. The Laodiceans offer no sin offering. That means they are blind to their own sins (as in Revelation 3:14-20). Therefore, they won’t receive correction. God plagues them—and the nations of Israel—five times (Amos 4:6-11). Still, they fail to repent—until they are in the Great Tribulation. They are about to meet their God (verses 12-13).
Bethel (a type of God’s Church) will come to nothing in the Tribulation, and Gilgal (a type of modern-day Israel) is going into captivity (Amos 5:5). This is what it will take to turn 50 percent of the Laodiceans to God—the other 50 percent will lose their salvation (Matthew 25:1-13).
The job of the Philadelphia Church of God is to warn all of them.
Sodom and Gomorrah
Thinking about a huge nuclear holocaust isn’t exactly inspiring, but that is exactly what we are facing in the world today! It is worse than anything we have ever seen on Earth. Amos described it just as it will be. While these aren’t pleasant words to hear, we must see the good news in the bad.
Amos was human as we are. He must have thought, Why do I have to deliver such a negative message? The inhabitants of the land can’t bear to hear it! It’s not easy for any man to deliver a message like that!
“Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?” (Amos 3:6). Notice that: God is responsible for all of this! Our Head who blesses has done it! Shouldn’t that cause us to think differently about it?
Notice the reason God sends this destruction:
“I have overthrown some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord” (Amos 4:11). This is also destruction by “fire.” The word some is in italics, which means the translators added it. God is going to destroy the U.S. and Britain as He did Sodom and Gomorrah. God did this by calling down fire from heaven (Genesis 19:24). “Fire from heaven” is going to destroy our nations unless they repent of their sodomy and upside-down family life! (Isaiah 3:12).
Amos writes in a poetic style. But what black poetry. Why all of this unparalleled bad news? Because after all of these curses, “yet have ye not returned unto me”!
Why do America, Britain and the Middle East Jews see trouble on every side? Will we have nothing left but two legs or a piece of an ear before we finally accept God’s message?
Remember, you can’t return to God if you never were with Him. These nations of Israel have a history with God—unlike the Gentiles. So we get corrected first. God corrects until our people get the message. All of this bad news has a wonderful purpose.
Christ’s greatest passion is to finish the Work (John 4:34). Is this my greatest passion? Is it yours? We all have room to improve. We all need severe self-examination.
Is this too horrible to face? Amos didn’t think so.
The reference in Amos 4:11 to Sodom and Gomorrah is clearly referring to the fire from heaven that destroyed those cities. But it also refers to their abominable sins—particularly sodomy! The modern nations of Israel love it—and they hate those who dare criticize it! But what does God say?
Think about what God did to Sodom and Gomorrah. Do you hate sodomy as God does? Would you blot out cities as God did because of it? We must learn to think the way God does.
But our Head who blesses did not destroy those cities indiscriminately. There was a wonderful purpose in it. Scripture shows that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah have yet to be judged (e.g., Matthew 10:15). There will yet come a day when God will resurrect them, remove the scales from their eyes, and reveal His truth to them.
When our Head who blesses sends destruction, it is ultimately meant to turn people to God!
The same God who sent fire to correct Sodom and Gomorrah is going to send “fire” in this end time in order to correct the nations!
“Hear ye this word which I take up against you, even a lamentation, O house of Israel. The virgin of Israel is fallen; she shall no more rise: she is forsaken upon her land; there is none to raise her up. For thus saith the Lord God; The city that went out by a thousand shall leave an hundred, and that [the same city of 1,000] which went forth by an hundred shall leave ten, to the house of Israel” (Amos 5:1-3). The city is a target. Nuclear bombs are going to be dropped on cities! A 10 percent loss in a military campaign is disastrous. Here, 90 percent of the people in a city die immediately! Then, only 10 percent of the survivors remain alive. Only 10 out of 1,000 are left—or 10,000 out of a million. This is speaking of 99 percent destruction of the population of our major cities! Other biblical verses indicate 1/10 of the total population survives (Isaiah 6:9-13).
Do we deeply fathom what is about to happen to the nations of Israel? Do we have the courage to face this stupendous disaster?
Sodom and Gomorrah were left in ashes (2 Peter 2:6). They suffered the vengeance of “eternal fire” (Jude 7). The same fate awaits our major cities.
That is what it takes for them to repent of their sodomy. That is how hardened they are in their sins.
“Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all” (Luke 17:28-29). It rained “fire and brimstone” on Sodom. A similar disaster is prophesied for the U.S. and Britain. “Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed” (verse 30). Because modern-day Israel is living like Sodom and Gomorrah—it will die like Sodom and Gomorrah! Please read that again. If we live like Sodom, we will die like Sodom—in fire from heaven! This same type of destruction is coming just before Christ returns! God has prophesied!
Why does the destruction have to be so severe? Because of the hardness of the people! God always sends a warning message, but it goes unheeded—people continue to revel in their abominable sins.
Would Adonai—“our Head who blesses”—really destroy 99 percent of the people in the cities? He certainly would—just look at Sodom and Gomorrah!
It’s not God who is hard—it is the people! The people are caught up in spiritual Sodom and Gomorrah!
Our Head realizes that this is the best way to get the most people into the Family of God. The destruction of cities is a terrible thing, but if you thought you could get even one more person into the Family of God forever, wouldn’t you say it’s worth it? Yes!
God wants the largest family possible. If you look at the end result of all the bad news, you won’t be discouraged! God isn’t discouraged, even though He sheds tears over the people of Israel and all their terrible suffering!
God took Lot and his family out of Sodom before it was destroyed. And in this end time, God will take a small, righteous remnant out of biblical Israel and save their physical lives (Revelation 12:14).
The Excellency of Jacob
“That drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments: but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph” (Amos 6:6). Joseph is the United States and Britain. Problems abound everywhere: violence, crime, family breakdown, drugs, an enormous pornography sewage, perverted music, terrible problems in our financial structure, and social unraveling. In spite of all of our problems, people “drink wine in bowls.” They are living the “good life” as our nations fall apart.
They are celebrating when they ought to be grieving. This is happening right now!
“Therefore now shall they go captive with the first that go captive, and the banquet of them that stretched themselves shall be removed. The Lord God hath sworn by himself, saith the Lord the God of hosts, I abhor the excellency of Jacob, and hate his palaces: therefore will I deliver up the city with all that is therein” (verses 7-8).
Note that statement! God says, “I abhor the excellency of Jacob, and hate his palaces.” What we esteem highly in our societies, God abhors! That is a strong statement! What Israel exalts, God HATES! Might this be an area where we need to examine ourselves to see if we hate the same things God does? Ought not we pray and ask our Adonai who blesses for His view?
Amos had God’s view. Hatred of evil motivated this godly prophet. If we are going to be motivated to dispense God’s message, we are going to have to hate what God hates! We must hate what is happening in Israel and to Israel. We must hate how people are defaming God—our Head, and soon to be their Head.
Consider the television and movies of this world, for example—which people get so excited about. Do you hate the sin that is glorified in that entertainment? Does it make you yearn for a new, godly civilization?
Amos hated the evils of this world. Lot’s wife didn’t. Her family had to practically drag her out of Sodom, and she still looked back longingly at the evil city she loved!—before God transformed her into a pillar of salt.
“I abhor the excellency of Jacob, and hate his palaces.” When I read those words, I know I don’t hate this world as God does. The world we live in does not represent the way God thinks and lives. He is going to revolutionize it top to bottom when He establishes His Kingdom. It is that world we need to set our affections on.
“And it shall come to pass, if there remain ten men in one house, that they shall die. And a man’s uncle shall take him up, and he that burneth him, to bring out the bones out of the house, and shall say unto him that is by the sides of the house, Is there yet any with thee? and he shall say, No. Then shall he say, Hold thy tongue: for we may not make mention of the name of the Lord” (Amos 6:9-10). This is talking about nuclear holocaust, as it does in other scriptures (e.g., Matthew 24:21; Daniel 12:1). This will be the worst trouble ever known to man!
So it is here in Amos, an uncle comes in and burns the bodies and takes some bones out of the house. Undoubtedly because of the radiation, everybody is dead in the house. There is no indication of an army invading. Still, death fills the cities.
“For, behold, the Lord commandeth, and he will smite the great house with breaches, and the little house with clefts” (Amos 6:11). The word breaches is rare. The Anchor Bible Commentary says there is “no other occurrence of any word with the same root.” The Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon defines this word as “drops of dew.” If you carefully read the context, there seems to be no doubt this is referring to nuclear fallout!
The word clefts means fissures. That is “a break or split in tissue usually at the junction of skin and mucous membrane,” according to Webster’s Dictionary. The root word means “to tear in pieces.”
“Drops of dew,” or nuclear fallout, certainly will “tear in pieces” human flesh. Nuclear warfare is coming! Many Bible scriptures tell us that! We can’t hide from it.
“But, behold, I will raise up against you a nation, O house of Israel, saith the Lord the God of hosts; and they shall afflict you from the entering in of Hamath unto the river of the wilderness” (verse 14). The chronology is about serious problems (verse 6), nuclear attack (verses 8-10), after which armies come in to oppress. The Anchor Bible commentary says: “The language used in Amos 6:14 … points to an incipient future, if not to events already in train [or already occurring].” There is no invasion described, only a nuclear attack and then an army moving in to oppress.
“Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, Amos hath conspired against thee in the midst of the house of Israel: the land [or inhabitants] is not able to bear all his words” (Amos 7:10). This is a hard message to receive. The land could not bear the words of Amos!
However, the primary meaning of this book is for the end time. The words are much more difficult to bear in this nuclear age than they were in the age of Amos. It will be very hard for the people today to “bear all his words.”
Tradition indicates that Amos was killed for delivering God’s message. The Philadelphia Church of God must also deliver God’s message. Our job is not an easy one. Thankfully, God rewards us by taking us to a place of safety during this nuclear nightmare.
Considering how grim this message is, can you see why Amos had to continually focus on Adonai in order to remain positive?
Church Has Lost Its Urgency
“Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, which are named chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel came!” (Amos 6:1). Zion is God’s Church (Isaiah 40:9; Micah 4:2). God is wrathful toward those who are “at ease” in God’s Church. God’s people must listen or pay a traumatic price.
One commentary says “at ease” means “to rejoice in what lacks substance and reality”! This is speaking of a church rejoicing in the physical—not God’s truth. It rejoices in a religion of false “love,” and it rejects the dire prophecies of God. These religionists are lost in the present because they have lost God’s overview. They are out of touch with reality.
As the nations face the worst time of suffering ever known in the history of man, God’s Laodicean Church is failing to warn them! They are at ease because they don’t see the mind-splitting reality. They are “blind.”
“Ye that put far away the evil day, and cause the seat of violence to come near” (Amos 6:3). Only those in God’s Church know about “the evil day”—the end-time nuclear destruction. But they put it far into the future—when it’s actually very near! The closer the evil day is, the more at ease they become.
When 95 percent of God’s Church (Zion) is lukewarm and at ease, “the evil day” is imminent! This great “falling away” of God’s people (2 Thessalonians 2:3) is a sign that the nuclear destruction and Israel’s captivity are frighteningly close! Tragically, most of God’s people won’t see it until it is too late (Ezekiel 33:31-33).
Joseph Tkach Sr. made the following statement in the May 21, 1990, Worldwide News, just four years after Mr. Armstrong died: “If anyone is still unclear about the need for us to change our preoccupation with prophecy, whether in preaching, teaching, in the publications or on the telecast, then let me make the truth very plain.” He went on to condemn the wcg’s past “preoccupation with prophecy” (taught by Mr. Armstrong). That statement was prophecy being fulfilled!
“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). These are ministers whom God raised up—God’s true ministers. The truth is being compromised and watered down. Then these lukewarm ministers say “Prophesy not.” This is a prophecy of how the wcg violently changed its views on prophecy! This church prophesied God’s Word before this time. That is why the leaders say “Prophesy not.” The wcg leaders told the ministers not to prophesy as they did in the past! The ministry is saying, “Prophesy not”—after the death of Mr. Armstrong!
This is an end-time prophecy for God’s Laodicean churches right now! (That includes other groups that have left the wcg—except the pcg, which continues to proclaim a strong message of prophecy.)
The wcg, and other Laodicean offshoots, refuses to give God’s strong warning about an end-time nuclear holocaust. It’s a terrifying and very difficult message to deliver just before Christ returns to rule this world. God’s Philadelphia Church must do it. If we don’t warn Israel and the world, their blood will be on our heads (Ezekiel 3:17-19).
Mr. Tkach Sr. said, “If anyone is still unclear about the need for us to change our preoccupation with prophecy …”—then he went on to say, in the language of the Prophet Amos, “Prophesy not”!
He said that the wcg must get away from Mr. Armstrong’s view of prophecy—but it was God’s view of prophecy.
“Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3). The controversy over a watering down of God’s truth caused a church split. The two churches could not agree. The Philadelphia Church refused to accept the lukewarm changes.
I want to repeat this pivotal prophecy: “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. The lion hath roared, who will not fear? the Lord God hath spoken, who can but prophesy?” (verses 7-8). God raises up a group that won’t compromise, and He “revealeth his secret” to them. That is why we see new revelations from God in Malachi’s Message and in the literature of the Philadelphia Church of God. That too was prophesied. When this happens, it is a time of great crisis! The “lion hath roared.” The Great Tribulation is very close when the church split occurs! We are not setting dates, but Christ is roaring from the Philadelphia Church! It’s “panic time,” whether people realize it or not. God says we must prophesy!
Roar From Zion—At Ease in Zion
“And he said, The Lord will roar from Zion …” (Amos 1:2). God is going to roar out of Zion—His Philadelphian Church! This is not the Laodicean Church. It says “Prophesy not.”
The Laodiceans (the majority of Zion) are “at ease.” But there is another Zion that roars for God—the Philadelphia Church. When the Lion roars, it’s time to become galvanized and respond to God—or be caught in the Great Tribulation.
A trumpet is being blown in God’s Church today (Amos 3:6). The people should be “afraid”—not “at ease.” In ancient Israel, the trumpet was used to sound the alarm of invasion. Today we blow that trumpet spiritually to God’s Laodicean Church and modern-day Israel—they have been invaded by demon armies and are dying spiritually. It is a terrible alarm that should cause people to tremble!
At a time when the wcg should be more urgent than ever before, it is “at ease.” The Laodiceans have turned away from Christ and what He taught through Mr. Armstrong.
The Lion of Judah is roaring. The Laodiceans don’t hear what the Spirit says (Revelation 3:20, 22). Christ has removed their lamp and they are “blind” to reality. Christ is still going to roar through the Philadelphia Church, which is separated from the Laodicean Church for that very purpose!
God says “Woe to them” (the Laodiceans). Why? They are going to experience the holocaust themselves unless they repent. Because they knew about “the evil day,” and then had to experience it, their suffering is far more painful and their salvation in doubt.
“That lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall; That chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of musick, like David” (Amos 6:4-5). This is luxurious living by the Laodicean Church and the nation. That church is “rich, and increased with goods” (Revelation 3:17). Its trust is in material things—not God.
Look again at Amos 6:6—this time from a spiritual perspective: “That drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments: but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.” This verse is doubly condemning of the Laodiceans! Like the rest of the people, they are glutted on luxuries as the nation falls apart. They are not grieving for their nation. They should show their grieving through the warning message. The Laodicean churches aren’t warning the nation and telling the people why it’s all happening—even though they have the power to do so. God is about to shatter that power because they have ceased using it to serve His cause! (Daniel 12:7).
It’s the same prophecy Christ talked about. “But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 24:48-51). These are people who know about God’s coming—God’s people. A little remnant is doing God’s Work, but most of God’s people are not. The majority are “at ease in Zion” and say, “My Lord delayeth his coming” and, “Prophesy not.” And then they go about their carnal ways (verse 49)—just as in Amos 6:1-3.
God is talking about a Church of God that has lost its love for God’s Work—its urgency.
“And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matthew 24:12). The Greek word translated “love” is agape—or God’s love, not man’s love. Only God’s people have God’s love. Many of them are losing that love. God is prophesying of a wholesale departure of His people from the truth in the end time (verse 13). This apostasy is also called “the great revolt” (2 Thessalonians 2:3; Williams translation).
The Laodiceans don’t see that Christ’s return is imminent—that He has not delayed His coming! The Laodiceans don’t have a strong warning message of prophecy. This is how they could express their love, by giving the world a better chance to repent and escape the coming disaster! Instead, they talk about a syrupy type of “love” with very little practical meaning.
God says they are going to be shocked out of their “at ease” posture. There will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” These lukewarm Christians shall “go captive with the first that go captive” (Amos 6:7). The remainder of Amos 6 tells about the nuclear holocaust.
You can’t afford to guess about which church is right! You must prove it from your Bible. You must know.
As Paul said, “I seek not yours [tithes and offerings], but you …” (2 Corinthians 12:14). We seek you so you may have God’s protection and membership in His Family. Soon, the holocaust will be here and God shall deliver His Philadelphian saints to a place of physical safety. Then everybody will know which church was doing God’s Work.