Chapter 4: Famine of the Word
Mr. Armstrong used to talk about the Bible being a coded book. Only God can reveal that code. Amos 7 is a coded chapter of great importance.
“And the Lord said unto me, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, a plumbline. Then said the Lord, behold, I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people Israel: I will not again pass by them any more” (Amos 7:8). This Philadelphia work is God’s final warning to the Laodiceans and to the nations of Israel. God is about to destroy as if by rule and line—hence the plumbline. It is a calculated and measured destruction by God!
‘High Places of Isaac’
“And the high places of Isaac shall be desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste; and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword” (Amos 7:9). The Anchor Bible says: “The pairing of Isaac and Israel is unique …. Elsewhere in the Bible all of Isaac’s connections are with the south and specifically with Beersheba.” That being the case, we should examine this expression a little more closely.
This verse discusses the “high places [or religious places] of Isaac” and the “sanctuaries [or religious places] of Israel.” Two types of religious places are discussed.
First, let’s consider the high places of Isaac. One example, listed in the reference of most Bibles, is discussed in Genesis 26:23-25. God appeared to Isaac in person, and he built an altar there! The point is that those high places, or altars, of Isaac started with God’s inspiration and power! Later, they were corrupted when the people departed from God.
“High places of Isaac” is a coded expression. Amos is referring to a religion that started with God’s great power and then turned away from God. Since this is primarily an end-time book, we know it is discussing a church that began with God and turned Laodicean (Revelation 3:14-17). It is a church that started in this age with Mr. Armstrong, but has since departed from what God established through him. Only the Philadelphia Church holds fast to what Mr. Armstrong taught.
We must understand the book of Amos spiritually today. The Bible story about Isaac and Israel has a modern-day counterpart. God’s Church today is spiritual Israel. God also sent us an “Isaac” to establish His truth in the latter days. Ancient Israel received and later rejected God’s instruction to Isaac. The wcg committed the same sin by rejecting God and Mr. Armstrong!
Amos also discusses “sanctuaries of Israel.” These are churches that didn’t start with God’s power. They have never known God as the religious places of Isaac have known Him (Amos 3:1-2). Two groups are discussed here: God’s own Church that has watered down the truth, and the totally deceived churches of today’s world that have never known God.
The religious places of Isaac are going to be “desolate.” The Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon gives its first definition of this word as follows: “to be astonished (the primary idea is that of silence, being put to silence …).”
One of the major sins of the Laodiceans is that they talk back to God (Revelation 3:17; Malachi 3:13-14). God is about to silence them! He will drive them into the Great Tribulation unless they repent and follow God as the pcg is doing. The Bible indicates every one of them must give up their lives to prove themselves to God! Finally, half of them will shut their mouths and just obey God—even die for Him.
Land Not Able to Bear His Words
Now notice one of the pivotal prophecies in Amos’s book: “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 is not able to bear all his words” (Amos 7:10). This verse prophesies of a major attack against God’s people in the end time. But notice the sinister nature of what provokes it!
Bethel means “house of God.” So here is a priest of God’s house. The Anchor Bible says: “The title is unique. It points to a head priest of a specific shrine. No other Israelite priest is so named, not for any temple or city ….” This is the most important priest in a sinful Church of God. He is the priest of God’s house.
There is a modern counterpart to this priest of Bethel.
Will there be another direct confrontation between the Laodicean and Philadelphian churches in the near future? Here is why that could easily happen. The leaders in the United States and Britain will know that the Philadelphia Church of God came out of the Worldwide Church of God. The leaders of the nations could enlist the wcg in an attempt to stop the pcg’s message. Amos says “the land is not able to bear all his words”! This is a prophecy about the impact our message will have on modern Israel and the Laodicean Church! Surely nobody could seriously believe the wcg will preach a message the land cannot bear! The message of Amos is going to be delivered in this end time by the Philadelphia Church of God! A great work lies yet ahead of us. However, it is apt to be of short duration. Amos says when you see God’s Church divided, the end is very near!
The “land” means “the inhabitants of a region” (Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon). Those inhabitants are specifically the American and British peoples.
Amos is directing his message to the “remnant” (or end-time portion) of Joseph (Amos 5:15; 6:6). The story of Joseph and his two sons—Ephraim and Manasseh, or modern-day Britain and America—is recorded in Genesis 48:3-5, 10-20 and 49:22-26. Mr. Armstrong covered this very well in his book The United States and Britain in Prophecy.
Why can’t the land bear all of our words? Our message would not faze them unless there were serious problems plaguing the nations! The people try to close their minds to the coming catastrophe. But God’s Word won’t allow them to hide behind deceptions.
Herbert W. Armstrong never delivered this message! Our nations’ problems never became this bad while he was alive.
“And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord. And also I have withholden the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city: one piece was rained upon, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered. So two or three cities wandered unto one city, to drink water; but they were not satisfied: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord” (Amos 4:6-8). Amos is prophesying of disastrous droughts and floods! And they have already started occurring in the U.S. and Britain. We are facing horrendous times. The Laodiceans, America and Britain must be warned!
When you understand the seriousness of the message in the book of Amos, you can see why the land is going to have such a difficult time bearing it! “For thus Amos saith, Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel shall surely be led away captive out of their own land” (Amos 7:11). That is a strong, specific prophecy from the great God!
Amos 7:10 indicates just how strong the message of the Philadelphia Church of God is going to become! We must trumpet Amos’s prophecies—blast them, roar them, hurl them out there to this world in as dramatic a fashion as we possibly can! The land will not be able to ignore what we are saying.
But we must realize: If the people cannot bear the message, what are they going to do to the messenger?
Prophecy shows that they are going to cast out God’s people!
“Also Amaziah said unto Amos, O thou seer, go, flee thee away into the land of Judah, and there eat bread, and prophesy there: But prophesy not again any more at Bethel: for it is the king’s chapel, and it is the king’s court” (verses 12-13). This is probably how God’s people will go to the place of safety. What a blessing that God will protect us from the worst of the tribulation and persecution.
In these verses again we see the “prophesy not”-”prophesy” tension of Amos 2 and 3. It could be that one of the biggest confrontations will erupt between two of God’s own churches—the pcg and the wcg (and other Laodicean churches). The pcg must tell the people of Israel that they shall be “led away captive out of their own land”! The wcg is trying, even now, to squelch such a message—as it tried to do in the court case.
These powerful men told Amos, SHUT UP! SHUT YOUR MOUTH! But this mighty prophet remained loyal to God and refused to do so.
Do we have the spiritual courage required to tell people, including the leaders of nations, exactly what is about to happen? God’s prophecies will not go unfulfilled—they will happen precisely as God has ordained!
Look how strong Amos was! How easy would it be, if the land couldn’t bear the message, to give up? Amos never did.
“Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycomore fruit: And the Lord took me as I followed the flock, and the Lord said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel” (verses 14-15). Amos was a happy rancher and poet (see Chapter 5 of this book). He didn’t seek the job of a prophet—his background was far removed from anything of the sort. But here is what this faithful prophet of God said:
“Now therefore hear thou the word of the Lord: Thou sayest, Prophesy not against Israel, and drop not thy word against the house of Isaac. Therefore thus saith the Lord; Thy wife shall be an harlot in the city, and thy sons and thy daughters shall fall by the sword, and thy land shall be divided by line; and thou shalt die in a polluted land: and Israel shall surely go into captivity forth of his land” (verses 16-17).
You must admit, Amos didn’t go out with a whimper. He went out with a mighty bang! At the end of Amos’s life, God must have said, Well done, Amos!
Will God say that of you and me? Well done in delivering the book of Amos! The tougher they got, the tougher you got in delivering that message! Well done!
‘Drop Not Thy Word’
Notice how these verses give more detail about a coming confrontation for God’s Church, including with the Laodicean leaders.
In Amos 7:16, the head priest is telling Amos not to prophesy against Israel and against the house of Isaac (the Laodicean Church today). This represents the Laodicean leaders—people who know us and who say the nastiest things about us. They will do all they can to destroy us!
“[D]rop not thy word” is another coded expression. Why is it so stated?
“Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass” (Deuteronomy 32:1-2). This is the same expression as the one in Amos. God’s word, or doctrine, drops as rain. How? When rain falls, it produces a growth of vegetation or crops. The words of God from the pcg are raining continually into the Laodicean churches and causing people to come out of their lukewarm and rebellious ways. This produces spiritual growth in their lives.
We continue to drop God’s word into all of the Laodicean congregations—which is a major part of our commission from God (e.g., Revelation 3:20). Some Laodicean members are responding and exhibiting spiritual growth. It’s happening right now. Amos prophesied that the pcg would become a much greater agitator to the wcg and all of the Laodiceans as we get closer to the end of this age. Gesenius’ Lexicon defines drop as “to drop, fall in drops … like rain.” And these drops of God’s spiritual truth are falling into the “house of Isaac”—or the Laodicean churches!
Dropping God’s word like rain is contrasted with the “famine” of God’s word in the next chapter.
Famine of the Word
“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord [Adonai—Amos continues to remind himself] God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord” (Amos 8:11).
The Laodicean Church is already experiencing the famine of God’s word! The Laodiceans do not receive God’s word today, and they never will until they repent! Instead of receiving new revelation from the living God, they have nothing but spiritual starvation.
Meanwhile, God is flooding His very elect with precious new truths! The Adonai who blesses pours out revelation upon us, practically faster than we can keep up with it!
Do you thank God that you’re not living in famine?
This book of Amos is an example of God providing meat in due season. It shows us the shortness of the times we live in and explains what we must be doing. This is revelation from God that we must have! And God expects us to deliver it. He is blessing His Work, and we are building and publishing and broadcasting as quickly and effectively as we can. Our Head is rushing along, pushing this Work very hard, because of the urgency of the times.
Soon, people will not be able to find any of these booklets. They won’t be able to find any spiritual food! People will be crying out for someone to “drop” God’s word—His revealed prophecies. But then it will be too late physically. God’s very elect will be in a place of safety. Those who paid attention are going to realize what they didn’t do and what they should have done. God’s word will cease being preached (except by the two witnesses). All of God’s people will then know which church Christ was leading.
Never to Rise Again
The last verse in Amos 8 brings this book right up to date. It puts these prophecies into our time by introducing our court case with the Worldwide Church of God, which we discussed in Chapter 3.
“They that swear by the sin of Samaria, and say, Thy god, O Dan, liveth; and, The manner of Beersheba liveth; even they shall fall, and never rise up again” (Amos 8:14). Who are these people who fall and never rise up again? That could only refer to people who received God’s spiritual begettal and who then lost it!
Prophecy shows that half of the Laodiceans will not repent, and they are going to lose their eternal lives. As Herbert W. Armstrong often said, this is dangerous knowledge! Once people understand it, they are under God’s judgment. “Dangerous knowledge” is almost an understatement.
I believe those people we battled in court, and those who vehemently supported them, are among those who have fallen—and will never rise again!
How dangerous it is to walk away from God.
If you have received God’s Spirit, you must make sure you are right with God. Many people have fallen away because they have gotten bitter against a minister or another member. Really they have allowed themselves to become bitter against God! We cannot afford to be wrong about this! Before you decide to get bitter against God, remember these prophecies: There are people who have fallen and who will not rise again! The way God views it, they are shamefully left without an excuse!
The pcg is laboring diligently to reach as many Laodiceans as possible and encourage them to repent and turn back to God! We must be zealously motivated to help them, because their need is so desperate.