Chapter 3: Christ Personally Appears!
The book of Amos reveals how the Laodicean Church has lost its urgency at a time when America and Britain are facing nuclear holocaust. The first chapter of Amos discusses a fire (nuclear holocaust) that afflicts the U.S. and Britain and even some other nations (verses 4, 7, 10, 12). Then in Amos 1:14 and 2:2, 5, the fire is called “it.”
Here is what the Anchor Bible says regarding the “it” in Amos chapters 1 and 2: “All eight oracles refer to the same ‘it,’ which will not be retracted or reversed. There was a single decree covering them all. … [It] is a composition declaring judgment on the entire region as a unit. … This unity suggests one cosmic holocaust, not just several invasions that would pick off these countries one by one” (emphasis mine throughout). Amos likens it to that fire that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. It is called “fire from … heaven” (Genesis 19:24).
The Anchor Bible calls it “one cosmic holocaust”! That is, a massive destruction from the heavens—from the cosmos. It’s discussing a nuclear attack primarily on the U.S. and Britain.
A Mysterious Word
“Hear this word that the Lord hath spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt …” (Amos 3:1). God brought His family out of Egypt. The Hebrew word for family is mispaha. “The mispaha is the largest subtribal unit, between tribe and family, and could be called a clan,” the Anchor Bible says. “This discussion of Israelite kinship terminology underscores the unique and puzzling use that Amos makes of the term mispaha. [A] mispaha can be given the rank of a tribe, as a major unit in a nation. But a mispaha is never viewed as an autonomous political unit. Amos 3:1 is the only place in which Israel is called a mispaha.“
So the word family could be a tribe or a clan or “between tribe and family.” We can understand this word more clearly if we look at the context of Amos 2 and 3. Also, remember this is primarily an end-time book. God brought Israel out of Egypt, but that is only a type of bringing spiritual Israel, or the Church, out of this world.
Amos talks about ministers whom God raised up (Amos 2:11-12). That means he is discussing God’s true Church. One church prophesies (Amos 3:7-8) and one church refuses to prophesy (Amos 2:11-12). That means there is division between these two churches and they can’t walk together (Amos 3:3).
The word family (verse 1) is referring mainly to God’s spiritual Family—the true Church of God.
“You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities” (verse 2). The root word of the word known is used in marital relations. The English equivalent is “to make love.” Christ is the spiritual Husband of His Church. They are spiritual “lovers.” This is a unique, loving relationship that exists only between God and His true Church.
So we see that Amos 3:1 is primarily discussing God’s spiritual Family. And it is divided. God’s Family should be deeply united.
The book of Amos is mainly focusing on God’s Church! And it is being fulfilled this very moment. It’s only for the world secondarily. God’s people must awaken and fear more acutely. We can’t hide from our God-given responsibility!
God’s Family has had a spiritually loving relationship with God. They received a special calling from God the Father (John 6:44). It is the highest possible honor. “You only have I known of all the families of the earth …” (Amos 3:2). “You only”! This is a rare and glorious honor to know the great God spiritually. But many of God’s people now have a ho-hum attitude and have grown lukewarm.
So what is God’s response? Because God has known only you, He says, “… therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities” (verse 2). With this great honor of knowing God as no one else on this planet does, there comes a weighty responsibility. If God’s people fail in their responsibility to God and the world, then God is going to punish them!
This is a “thus saith the Lord God”! We can’t take our calling lightly. God never does! This punishment is about to be inflicted on God’s people.
The Philadelphia Church prophesies the truth. But the Laodiceans will ridicule prophecy—until the Great Tribulation arrives. Then God will hammer and batter them with reality.
God is pleading with and warning His people. Only we have been given God’s Holy Spirit. Only we have received His revelations. Now the Laodicean Church is moving away from this unparalleled calling. Nothing is more tragic. Nothing is more scandalous than to know the great God and then become lukewarm or turn away. Nothing!
“I saw the Lord standing upon the altar: and he said, Smite the lintel of the door, that the posts may shake: and cut [wound is a better translation] them in the head, all of them; and I will slay the last of them with the sword: he that fleeth of them shall not flee away, and he that escapeth of them shall not be delivered” (Amos 9:1). This is discussing the physical temple anciently and the spiritual temple, or God’s true Church, today.
Amos calls it “the altar.” Not just any altar.
Remember Amos 3:14: “That in the day that I shall visit the transgressions of Israel upon him I will also visit the altars of Bethel: and the horns of the altar shall be cut off, and fall to the ground.” Here Amos talks about “altars” and “the altar.” The Anchor Bible says the latter altar perhaps “refers to the great and main altar of Bethel [God’s house] as a special target.”
Today, we know this is referring to God’s true Church that became Laodicean. The Bible repeatedly mentions a great Church of God that went astray just before Christ returns.
The altar is a type of the ministry (Revelation 11:1). The ancient temple is a type of God’s Church today (Ephesians 2:19-22). God is severely correcting the Laodicean ministry. That is the theme of Malachi’s Message.
Here is what the Anchor Bible relates about Amos 9:1: “[God’s] presence in the sanctuary, where normally the priest would be standing or officiating, would indicate that something out of the ordinary, something ominous, was about to happen.” God is directing the smiting in a special and personal way.
We certainly witnessed this prophecy fulfilled, in large part, in our court battle with the wcg over Mystery of the Ages. It was God who gave us the court victory. It was a miraculous, Red Sea kind of victory. Without God’s special intervention, His message could not have been delivered. Habakkuk speaks of it as part of a double wonder (Habakkuk 1:5; meaning in Hebrew). (Request my free book The New Throne of David to understand.)
A Wall Street Journal reporter wrote an article about the split in the wcg. He interviewed people in our Church. He also talked to people in the Laodicean churches and said that “all of them were glued to the court case.”
I said several times to our Church members, before we won the court case, that a pcg victory would wound all of the Laodiceans in the head. I pointed out several times that this was the primary spiritual meaning behind this verse.
The Eternal is “standing by” (correct translation) the altar. “God is described as ‘standing [same Hebrew word] in the congregation’ (Psalm 82:1) for administering justice” (Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible). The pcg could not get justice from the wcg or the courts. So God intervened in a very personal way to give us true justice! He dealt with the altar, or the wcg ministry, in the court case. He demonstrated His authority to all the Laodiceans.
Lange’s, the International Critical, the Interpreter’s Bible and Jamieson, Fausset and Brown commentaries all state that Amos 9:1 is the fifth vision of Amos. Number five is the biblical number for judgment.
In Leviticus 26, God says He will punish Israel “seven times more” for our sins—this is first implied in verse 17, then stated four more times (verses 18, 21, 24, 28)—a total of five times—the number of judgment. It means that God keeps intensifying the punishment until our people repent. That is what it takes to break Israel’s rebellious spirit.
In the other four visions, Amos stated that “the Lord God shewed unto me.” But here, in the fifth vision, Amos stated that “I saw the Lord.” This vision is stronger, more threatening and troubling than the others. Amos saw God in this vision, which is not the case in the other four visions (see Amos 7:1, 4, 7; 8:1). There is a big difference between “the Lord God shewed unto me” and “I saw the Lord.”
Christ made some kind of a special effort in fulfilling this prophecy today. Christ personally saw to it that we received justice!
The Companion Bible states that in the original manuscripts, the word Lord is combined with “eth”—which means God Himself. So Christ, the Head of His Church—makes a personal appearance!
Here are quotes from three more commentaries:
“In the four previous visions, the Lord showed the prophet only what He was about to do; in this one the prophet sees the Lord actually engaged in executing his judgment” (Lange’s Commentary).
“This vision has an entirely different introduction from those of the preceding visions. Here Yahweh Himself appears, the symbol being no longer used” (International Critical Commentary).
“I saw the Lord: not as in the case of the four other visions, ‘The Lord God caused me to see’” (Interpreter’s Bible).
Most of the commentaries absolutely believe Christ was prophesied to make a personal appearance. (Request our free booklet on Habakkuk for even more detailed prophecies.)
The major part of this prophecy has been fulfilled. The remainder of Amos 9 will make that clear. We were called to “knock” on the Laodicean door (Revelation 3:20). But winning our court case went beyond knocking, to smiting! That is the only way we could get justice.
God’s Work could not have been done if the Philadelphia Church of God hadn’t received the rights to publish Mr. Armstrong’s writings! That is how important this court case was.
The altar was built only for worship in the tabernacle or temple. Again, the altar is a type of the ministry today. Christ had to “smite” them. That means the ministry must have gone astray. In fact, they were destroying God’s Work. God’s Work is far more important than anything else being done on Earth. Jesus Christ personally intervened so His Work could be finished. He had to smite the ministers and people who were fighting against Him. But He wounded all of the Laodicean members in the head through our court victory.
God has made it abundantly clear who is continuing the Work He did through Mr. Armstrong.
Let’s take a closer look at Psalm 82:1: “God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.” The word stands is the same Hebrew word as in Amos 9:1. God “judgeth among the gods.” “How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah” (Psalm 82:2). The words judges and judge are the same Hebrew word, and it means “to judge, i.e. pronounce sentence (for or against); by implication, to vindicate or punish.” In the court case, God vindicated the pcg and punished the wcg.
The word judge also means “to litigate” (as in court) or “to judge (to give justice).”
The wcg took us to the courts for justice from men. I said in my sermon November 11, 2000, “God is going to give them some real justice.” We now see that God has given them true justice.
God made the temple, or the Laodicean Church, “shake.” The word shake means “to be agitated; … to quake, shake …. The primary notion of this term is a loud crashing noise” (Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible). That means that God caused a spiritual earthquake in the Laodicean Church. But how? Deep down the Laodiceans know that we are right. They once believed what we believe now. But they do all they can to hide from that reality. One way or another, God is going to make them face reality. When we won the court case, all of them were shaken. God gave them a strong dose of reality. He showed them, in a powerful way, who is continuing the Work He did through Mr. Armstrong—who is the true successor to Mr. Armstrong.
God is standing by the altar, but He commands Amos to smite the temple. So there must be a modern-day type of Amos whom God uses, with the help of his supporters, to smite the Laodicean temple. As Lange’s Commentary states, “The prophet is not to be merely a spectator, but takes part in the action.” God works through His very elect.
Now back to Amos 9:1. “I saw the Lord standing [by] the altar: and he said, Smite the lintel of the door, that the posts may shake ….” It is going to have far-reaching consequences. The posts, or the pillars, shake, which means it’s going to shake the whole roof and the foundation—everything—spiritually.
Now let me show you what the Anchor Bible says about this: God Himself is standing not on the altar but by it. “[S]tanding on the altar is not the same, and ‘beside’ is better. [God’s] presence in the sanctuary, where normally the priest would be standing or officiating, would indicate that something out of the ordinary, something ominous was about to happen.” Christ is here Himself doing it, smiting something.
Our court victory was not the blow of a man. God struck and wounded all of the Laodiceans in the head. This is what all the Laodiceans must see if they are to be in God’s Kingdom.
In that sermon November 11, 2000 (during the court case), I said: This “means the wcg and the Laodiceans are going to receive a spiritual wound, when we win Mr. Armstrong’s writings so that we can publish them. Amos 9:1 is as simple as the court case—this I fully believe.”
There should be no chapter break between chapters 8 and 9. Amos discusses the 50 percent of God’s people who lose their eternal life—“they shall fall, and never rise up again” (Amos 8:14).
The next verse is Amos 9:1, which is about the court case. The people who fought against God in court are in danger of falling and never rising again. This is the greatest tragedy in this end time!
They had the revealed truth of God, then rejected and tried to destroy it. There is no future for anybody who fails to repent of such a horrendous sin.
Physical Earthquake Too?
Could Amos 9:1 also refer to what used to be God’s physical house in Pasadena, California—in a secondary way? God only knows, but I don’t believe we can rule out that strong possibility. Amos says: “… cut [wound] them in the head, all of them” (Amos 9:1).
A destruction of God’s house, at what was once the headquarters of the Laodicean Church, would wound all the Laodiceans in the head, or impact their thinking in a powerful way.
It is common for God’s physical temple, or house, to be destroyed when the people turn away from God.
The Pasadena campus and God’s house have now been sold. Did the leadership of the wcg really talk affectionately about God’s house in Pasadena? Or was it looked upon as just another building? They specifically told the members not to call the auditorium “God’s house”! Mr. Armstrong called it God’s house most of the time.
The whole wcg building program was stopped so this house could be built to the honor of the great God! Mr. Armstrong believed the Church received a command from God to do so through the book of Haggai! This building was the most important building on the Earth to God—and to some of His people! God is deeply concerned about His Church’s attitude toward that house. It reflects their thinking toward God! Mr. Armstrong, inspired by God, repeatedly asked the wcg members to make prodigious sacrifices to build a house for God!
If the campus hadn’t sold, the wcg leaders would have destroyed the auditorium to build a housing project. They are “rich, and increased with goods” and have no need for God (Revelation 3:14-18).
“The words of Amos, who was among the herdmen of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel, two years before the earthquake” (Amos 1:1). This earthquake was so powerful it was labeled “the earthquake.” There was no need to say which earthquake in the time of Amos. Everybody knew what was meant when “the earthquake” was mentioned. It occurred two years after Amos prophesied and was remembered centuries afterward (Zechariah 14:5).
An earthquake is very prominent in the book of Amos. Will there be a modern-day counterpart of the earthquake that struck in the time of Amos? Only God knows. But we must remember that this book is mainly prophecy for today!
“And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee” (Zechariah 14:5). This is an earthquake to occur at Christ’s return. Zechariah is also an end-time book. How did the earthquake happen anciently “in the days of Uzziah king of Judah”? Josephus says Uzziah went into the temple to offer incense. This act was opposed by the priests who were appointed to do this job. The earthquake struck at this time, and a huge crack was made in the temple.
God was very concerned about what happened in His physical temple. We know that God has to be far more concerned about what is happening today in His spiritual temple!
We also know that God is dealing with us spiritually today. God is not going to take lightly the rebellious changes occurring in the Laodicean churches—and in His physical house.
Am I saying that what used to be God’s physical house in Pasadena is going to be destroyed? No, I am not. God only knows. But can we rule out that possibility in view of Amos 9:1 and other verses? I don’t think so. A shaking of God’s former physical house could also shake the spiritual temple, or Laodicean Church.
The city of Laodicea in the first century was repeatedly struck by earthquakes. So God’s Laodicean saints had that problem to cope with then. And the first-century Laodicean Church was only a type of the end-time Laodiceans. Only God knows the details of what is to occur. But this much we do know: Total destruction is coming upon the Laodicean Church! God’s Philadelphia Church must warn the Laodiceans and pray that they will repent!
Let’s not forget that God’s emphasis in the book of Amos today is on the spiritual.
Laodiceans Face Death
Notice the last part of Amos 9:1: “… and I will slay the last of them with the sword: he that fleeth of them shall not flee away, and he that escapeth of them shall not be delivered.”
The Revised Standard Version says, “not one of them shall escape.” Prophecy shows that the Laodiceans must die in the Tribulation to prove themselves to God. Not one will escape alive. This doesn’t refer to physical Israel. Some of them will be saved (verse 8).
The Anchor Bible says Amos 9:1 “includes not only the demolition of the temple but also military defeat, exile and extermination of survivors.”
“And though they go into captivity before their enemies, thence will I command the sword, and it shall slay them: and I will set mine eyes upon them for evil, and not for good” (verse 4).
Verses 2 and 3 also illustrate that none of the Laodiceans survive. Notice the Revised Standard Version: “Though they dig into Sheol, from there shall my hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, from there I will bring them down. Though they hide themselves on the top of Carmel, from there I will search out and take them; and though they hide from my sight at the bottom of the sea, there I will command the serpent, and it shall bite them.”
The Laodiceans say, “Prophesy not” (Amos 2:12). The Philadelphia Church says, “The lion hath roared … who can but prophesy?” (Amos 3:8). We see two deeply divided churches of God. When you see this division, the “lion hath roared.” We’re not setting dates, but God says it is dangerously close to disaster for modern-day Israel. God’s Philadelphia saints are going to know the “lion hath roared”! God has revealed it! All of God’s people must be warned.
Economically and politically, Germany is already united and leading the European Union. Germany is God’s tool to correct the U.S. and Britain (Isaiah 10:5-6). And events are moving so fast that even the people who are leading these events are shocked! Figuratively, it’s as if Amos already hears the marching of the jack-booted German soldiers.
The point is this—when you see the division in God’s own Church, the end is perilously close! The Lion has roared! Even if we are deaf to the roaring Lion, frightening and unparalleled tragedy is still about to strike!
The Tabernacle of David
We won the works of Mr. Armstrong on January 16, 2003. Only then did we fully understand the book of Amos. That victory specifically dated the book of Amos. We can see clearly where we are in Bible prophecy. How dangerously close we are to the nuclear Great Tribulation!
Soon the inhabitants will not be able to bear his words.
Can you believe God?
I wrote Who Is ‘That Prophet’? in 2001, about two years before that victory. Here is a quote from that booklet: “Some Laodiceans call us and say, ‘We really hope you win this court case.’ I have to wonder, do they really? They are sitting out there on the fence doing nothing. They don’t have the courage to join the fight for God. Doesn’t God expect more? He wants deeds. How can we be neutral in times like these?
“Remember Amos 9:11: ‘In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old.’ If you’re going to build this tabernacle ‘as in the days of old,’ you would have to have the books and booklets you once had. ‘That they may possess the remnant of Edom …’ (verse 12). That must include Mystery of the Ages and Mr. Armstrong’s other books and booklets. That is what I believe, and faith firmly dictates that I continue to believe that until God says otherwise.”
Now that amazing prophecy has been fulfilled! We now own the copyrights to Mr. Armstrong’s major writings. The living God gave us the victory. He fulfills His Bible prophecies—and it is time this world takes notice.
Now let’s read those two verses in their entirety: “In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old: That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the Lord that doeth this” (Amos 9:11-12). “In that day” always refers to the end time. The word Edom refers to 50 percent of God’s Laodicean Church. (To understand who Edom is, request free copies of Malachi’s Message and Obadiah.)
What is the tabernacle of David? The word tabernacle means a temporary dwelling, like hut or booth. This raising of the ruins does not refer to the millennial period when Christ rules. There is nothing temporary about His rule. These verses refer to a time just before Christ returns.
The Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible defines the word tabernacle as “a temporary abode.” It states, “The most common use of the term had to do with the yearly booth made in conjunction with the Feast of Tabernacles …. Amos 9:11 stated that God would raise up the fallen booth of David.”
So we see that a temporary dwelling has fallen, and Christ is going to raise up that tabernacle—another temporary dwelling—before He returns. The tabernacle refers to God’s end-time Church. This Church teaches about the inspiring throne of David, which Christ will sit on when He returns. That inspiring truth is what The United States and Britain in Prophecy is all about. The bigger version of that book is one of the major books we won in our court battle.
Mr. Armstrong mailed out over 5 million copies of that book—more than any other book or booklet he wrote. Getting this book was a pivotal part of how we had to “raise up his ruins.”
Winning the court case was one of the greatest, most specific prophecies that ever will be fulfilled about the pcg in this end time!
This prophecy is about the tabernacle of David for an inspiring reason. The firstfruits—those called out of this world before Christ’s return—are to share David’s throne with Christ. We will be royal kings and priests forever! (Revelation 1:6).
Fighting the court battle was another example of how we build the character of God’s kings and priests.
Today, God empowers us to “close up the breaches.” Here is how the Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon explains this expression: “[T]o surround with a fence, hedge, wall, hence to erect a wall” or “to fortify with a wall, to wall around, i.e. to set any one in safety, Ezekiel 13:5.”
In raising up the ruins, God leads us to build a protective wall around His truth. We must not allow anyone to “cast down the truth” (Daniel 8:11-12), which was what recently happened in God’s Church. (Our booklet Daniel—Unsealed at Last! explains this thoroughly. It’s yours for the asking.) Somebody had to leave God’s Church in ruins. This is why we have to raise up the ruins.
Let’s look at Amos 9:12 again: “That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the Lord that doeth this.” According to Strong’s Concordance, the word possess in verse 12 means “to occupy (by driving out previous tenants, and possessing in their place); by implication, to seize, to rob, to inherit; also to expel, to impoverish, to ruin ….” In this prophecy, God was quite specific in how He would direct us through the lawsuit. Being able to use the material was not enough—God wanted us to control it. As to how that would work out, at the time I wrote Who Is ‘That Prophet’? we still weren’t quite sure.
Gesenius’ Lexicon defines it as “to take possession of his goods.” The goods, or writings, of Mr. Armstrong really belonged to us. But we still had to get them through the courts.
The expression also means the following: “It has the legal sense of becoming an heir (Jeremiah 32:8) and the military sense of invasion for the purpose of settling in the territory. Both meanings are prominant with regard to God’s covenant with Israel” (Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible).
Both Edom and the heathen are “called by my [God’s] name.” That “signifies that these peoples had been conquered by God” (Interpreter’s Bible Commentary). This refers to God’s own people at the time they knew God and obeyed Him. After Mr. Armstrong died, they rebelled. Fifty percent sold their birthright as Esau (or Edom) did. And 50 percent became “heathen.” According to Bible scholars, this word has to be defined by the context. The word heathen means Gentile (see Strong’s Concordance). This group of God’s people have rebelled and become spiritual Gentiles.
Edom and the heathen destroyed the tabernacle of David when they rebelled against God. But God’s very elect were used to change the devastated condition of God’s Church. This is all God’s doing. He says, “I raise up the tabernacle” and “I will raise up his ruins” and “I will build it as in the days of old.” Now we can see that God has done exactly what He said would be done!