OLD TESTAMENT - LESSON 35
Amos 3; 7-9; Joel 2-3
- Amos teaches that the Lord reveals his secrets to his servants the
- Amos prophesies of ancient and latter-day Israel.
- Joel prophecies that God will bless his people in the latter days and
pour out his Spirit upon them.
- Janette Hales Beckham shares the following story: "When I was
a young wife and mother, my husband spent two years in the air force. We
living in military housing on Long Island, New York. While tending our
young children, I often visited with neighbors who had come from all over
the country. One day as a neighbor and I were talking about our beliefs,
she became curious about what was different about The Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints.
"I told her briefly about the
Restoration, and I explained that the restored Church of Jesus Christ has
a living prophet today. This really seemed to pique her interest, and she
wanted to know what the prophet had said. As I started to tell her about
the Doctrine and Covenants and modern revelation, she said, 'But what has
he said lately?' I told her about general conference and that the Church
had a monthly publication with a message from the prophet. Then she got
really interested. I was so embarrassed to admit that I hadn't read the
current message. She concluded our conversation by saying, 'You mean you
have a living prophet and you don't know what he said?'" (Ensign,
May 1996, p84)
- If someone asked you what the living prophet has recently said, would
you be able to answer the question? Do we appreciate the blessing of a
- In his famous talk, Profile of A Prophet, Hugh B. Brown described his
conversation with a "very prominent English gentleman, a member
of the House of Commons and formerly one of the justices of the supreme
court of Britain." President Brown had this conversation in England
prior to the outbreak of World War II.
- In his discussion, President Brown made an argument for the validity
of a god speaking through living prophets. After discussing ancient prophets,
President Brown said to the Englishman, "'Then, my Lord' -- that
is the way we address judges in the British commonwealth -- 'my Lord, I
am submitting to you in all seriousness that it was standard procedure
in Bible times for God to talk to men'."
Englishman: "I think I will admit
that, but it stopped shortly after the first century of the Christian era."
President Brown: "Why do you think
Englishman: "I can't say."
President Brown: "You think that
God hasn't spoken since then?"
Englishman: "Not to my knowledge."
President Brown: "May I suggest some
possible reasons why he has not spoken. Perhaps it is because he cannot.
He has lost the power."
Englishman: "Of course that would
President Brown: "Well, then, if
you don't accept that, perhaps he doesn't speak to men because he doesn't
love us anymore. He is no longer interested in the affairs of men."
Englishman: "No, God loves all men,
and he is no respecter of persons."
President Brown: "Well, then, if
you accept that he loves us, then the only other possible answer as I see
it is that we don't need him. We have made such rapid strides in education
and science that we don't need God any more."
President Brown then said that the Englisman
responded in a trembling voice as he thought of the impending war, "Mr.
Brown, there never was a time in the history of the world when the voice
of God was needed as it is needed now. Perhaps you can tell me why he doesn't
President Brown responded, "He does
speak, he has spoken; but men need faith to hear him." (see CR,
- To restate my previous question: Do we appreciate the blessing of
a living prophet?
Amos: God Speaks To Prophets
- Historical Background:
READ AMOS 3:6-7. God reveals his secrets to his prophets.
- Time frame: Amos mission took place about 750 BC (may have preached
in the years prior to this year).
- Amos had a short ministry during the later portion of the reign of
Jeroboam II, king of Israel.
- Conditions during this period:
- The nations of Israel and Judah had risen to positions of power and
- The worship of Jehovah had degenerated into a religion of form: the
people offered sacrifices, paid tithes, and carefully observed the laws
of the Sabbath; yet their lives showed little evidence of true social morality
and love for their neighbors.
- The pagan rites and idolatry of the fertility cults were still common
in Israel and Judah.
- Contemporary prophet: Hosea.
- The Prophet Amos:
- He was a shepherd from Tekoa, a small village in the hill country of
- His message was for all Israel.
- He spoke of the judgements which were about to descend on the nations
surrounding Israel and on the two kingdoms of the house of Israel.
WHAT KIND OF RESPECT AND ATTITUDE SHOULD WE HAVE TOWARDS THE MESSAGES
SPOKEN BY THE LORD'S PROPHETS?
- JST: "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, until he revealeth
the secret unto his servants the prophets."
- Joseph Smith: "...the grand rule of heaven was that nothing
should ever be done on earth without revealing the secret to his servants
the prophets" (TPJS, p264).
- WHAT DID THE PROPHET AMOS TEACH ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF PROPHETS?
- One who believes that the Bible is the word of God, must believe this
statement spoken by Amos. He clarifies the fact that God works through
his servants, the prophets, before he does anything related to this world.
He spoke to Noah and had him warn the people before the world was destroyed
by the flood. He spoke through John the Baptist to prepare the people for
the coming of the Lord. He spoke to Joseph Smith and the gospel was restored
to the earth. If we believe that God remains active in the affairs of the
world, then we must believe that he is communicating through a prophet.
Amos made it clear and nowhere in the Bible did the Lord rescind that message.
- President Harold B. Lee: "Way back in the time of President
Wilford Woodruff someone was 'prophesying' about the end of the world,
and President Woodruff was being asked when the world was coming to an
end. He said, 'Well, I don't know, but I am still planting cherry trees.'
He was that unconcerned, as he knew that if the Lord wanted to tell anybody,
he would be the first one to know. We must understand this." (Stand
Ye In Holy Places, p160)
- Elder Matthias F. Cowley: "From this we learn that if there
are no prophets of the Lord, then our Heavenly Father is doing nothing
in a religious sense among the people of this earth; but if He is doing
a work among them for their redemption, then there must be prophets."
(Cowley's Talks on Doctrine p23)
- Elder Orson F. Whitney: "This means, as I interpret it, that
the all-wise Dispenser of human affairs will neither cause nor permit any
event to take place, concerning which the world need to have foreknowledge,
until he has communicated with his chosen servants, his oracles among men,
and given them due notice of its approach." (Saturday Night Thoughts,
- D&C 1:37-38: "Search these commandments, for they are true
and faithful, and the prophecies and promises which are in them shall all
be fulfilled. What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse
not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall
not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or
by the voice of my servants, it is the same."
- A few weeks ago I misplaced my set of keys. There are important keys
on my ring that include various house keys, car keys, and keys to a variety
of other important locks. When I discovered the loss, I began a diligent
search. I searched high and low for about an hour before I left for another
commitment. When I returned, I continued the search for much of the rest
of the evening. I couldn't seem to rest until those keys were located.
The Lord said for us to "search"
the words which he has spoken to his prophets. Are we as anxiously engaged
in a "search" of the scriptures and the words of his living prophets
as I was in my search for the keys? Are we restless to learn the truth
and anxious to do the will of the Lord?
My keys are important because they enable
me to have access to my home, transportation, and a variety of other things.
The words of the Lord through his prophets contain "keys" that
enable us to unlock the mysteries of heaven. "Search the scriptures;
for in them ye think ye have eternal life" (John 5:39).
- On the day the Church was organized, the Lord gave the Saints the following
counsel concerning his prophet: "Wherefore, meaning the church,
thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall
give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me;
For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience
and faith" (D&C 21:4-5).
The Lord goes on and gives us a promise if
we are diligent to the above commandment: "For by doing these things
the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God
will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens
to shake for your good, and his name's glory" (D&C 21:6).
- HOW HAVE YOU SEEN THIS PROMISE FULFILLED IN YOUR OWN LIFE AS YOU HAVE
OBEYED THE COUNSEL OF THE PROPHETS?
- In my own life, the greatest blessings and joy I have received have
come as I have been diligent in obeying the counsel of the prophets. Spencer
W. Kimball was the prophet at the time my wife and I were married. I remember
attending a fireside at BYU in which he taught that young couples should
not postpone having children, not because of education or finances or convenience.
We felt that it was important to have children and I graduated from BYU
with a degree and two daughters. Those two daughters have grown into wonderful,
young women and have given me three beautiful grandchildren with a fourth
on the way. We have been blessed for years by that decision to not wait
and those blessings are continuing the expand.
- There is a reverse side to that promise in D&C 21:6. When we fail
to obey the commandments of the Lord given through his prophets, we are
not entitled to that blessing. The darkest times in my life have resulted
because I did not heed the warnings given through the Lord's servants.
Amos Prophecies of Ancient & Latter-day Israel
- Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, sent a message to Jeroboam king of Israel:
"Amos hath conspired against thee in the midst of the house of
Israel: the land is not able to bear all his words. For thus Amos saith,
Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel shall surely be led away captive
out of their own land" (Amos 7:10-11).
READ AMOS 8:11-12. Amos prophecies of the consequences for rejecting
- Because of what Amos prophesied, "Amaziah said unto Amos, O
thou seer, go, flee thee away into the land of Judah, and there eat bread,
and prophesy there" (7:12). Amaziah did not like what Amos was
preaching and told Amos to get out of town and do his prophesying elsewhere.
- READ AMOS 7:14-17. Amos respones to Amaziah.
- WHAT DO THESE VERSES TEACH US ABOUT THE PROPHET AMOS?
- He was a man of courage. Like Abinadi in the Book of Mormon, he was
not afraid of teaching the truth.
- He was faithful to his calling from the Lord. When the Lord said, "Go,
prophesy unto my people Israel", Amos did as he was commanded.
- WHY DO YOU SUPPOSE THAT SO MANY PEOPLE, IN ALL AGES OF TIME, HAVE REJECTED
OR IGNORED PROPHETS' MESSAGES?
- They are comfortable in their sins and unwilling to change.
- They did not exercise sufficient faith in the teachings of the prophets.
READ AMOS 9:8-15. Israel to be brought from captivity
after their destruction.
- WHAT WERE THE CONSEQUENCES FOR ISRAEL REJECTING THE COUNSEL OF THE
- "...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).
- Elder Matthias F. Cowley: "We learn from this that the time
was coming when men should seek to the four points of the compass, and
in all directions, and yet fail to find the word of God; but we find the
Bible in every direction, and that is said to contain the word of the Lord."
(Cowley's Talks on Doctrine, p23)
- After the time of Malachi, the words of Amos were fulfilled as Israel
no longer had a prophet in their midst. This famine lasted until John the
Baptist prophesied of the coming Messiah. "Amos's prophecy also
applies to the Great Apostasy, the centuries of spiritual darkness that
followed the death of the Savior's Apostles and ended with the restoration
of the gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith" (Gospel Doctrine
Teacher's Manual, p172).
- WHAT ARE THE RESULTS FOR US PERSONALLY IF WE REJECT THE COUNSEL OF
- Consider this analogy from Elder Neal A. Maxwell: "Those who
have lived in the midst of the famine foreseen by Amos, one of not hearing
the full word of God (Amos 8:11-12), have never known the taste and nourishment
of the whole-grain gospel. Instead, some have subsisted on the fast foods
of philosophy." (Men and Women of Christ, p39)
- It is interesting to observe those around me who are suffering from
a spiritual famine. Their life seems to have little or no meaning. They
are missing so many of the blessings of life and eternity that come from
knowing and doing the will of God.
- WHAT EVIDENCE DO YOU SEE THAT PEOPLE TODAY ARE WANDERING "FROM
SEA TO SEA" SEEKING FOR THE WORD OF THE LORD?
- In today's world we see a plethora of people caught up in this spiritual
"famine" wandering and searching for some kind of spiritual guidance.
They seek for answers from astrologers, tarot card readers, or others that
prophesy of the future from a variety of sources. They seem to be literally
running "to and fro".
In Amos 6:1 we read, "Woe to them that are at ease in Zion".
- WHAT IS AMOS'S CONCLUDING MESSAGE?
- Israel shall not be completely destroyed, but will be sifted among
the nations (8-9).
- Israel shall once again be restored as a great and prosperous people
- WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BECOME AT EASE IN ZION?
- See verses 3-6.
- I think it means that one is not diligent in growing in the faith,
serving others, sharing the gospel, contributing to our communities and
- Ezra Taft Benson: "It is not going to be enough just to accept
the teachings, standards, and ideals of the Church passively. It will require
real activity, real dedication to the principles of righteousness if we
are to face the future unafraid. But if we have the courage, sound judgment,
and the faith so to do, then no matter what happens we will be able to
face any situation with courage and with faith and with the assurance that
God will sustain us. I know that now is the time probably more than any
other time in our lives to live the gospel. We should not be lulled away
into false security as Nephi said many would be in the last days. We should
not be pacified and feel in our hearts that we can sin a little, that we
can attend to our meetings part of the time, that we can pay a token tithing,
that we can live the gospel when it is convenient, and all will be well.
We must not be "at ease in Zion" and say "Zion prospers,
all is well" (2 Nephi 28:21, 24). But we must live the gospel plan
in its fulness every day of our lives. Therein is safety. Therein will
come a satisfaction which comes from righteous living which will enter
our hearts, give us the courage and the strength that we need. There is
no security in unrighteousness. The sinful always live in despair (see
Moroni 10:22)." (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, pp337-338)
Joel's Prophecies About The Latter Days
- Historical Background:
Through Joel, the Lord issued several invitations to those living
in the latter days. Consider what these invitations mean to you.
- Time frame: There is disagreement as among scholars as to the time
in which Joel lived. Some date it earlier, during the reigns of the Jewish
kings Joash (c. 837-797 BC) or Uzziah (c. 792-740 BC). Others date it late,
after the time of Nehemiah, from 400 to 350 BC.
- The major lesson of the book : God will judge the heathen in the Battle
Joel has also prophesied of the blessings which the Lord has
promised to those who follow him in the latter days.
- "Turn ye even to me with all your heart" (2:12).
- As we turn towards something, we must also turn away from something
else. The Lord is asking us to turn away from the things of the world,
but he says to do it "with all your heart". We cannot
turn part way and look both directions. The Lord is telling us to turn
a full 180 degrees and focus our efforts on him and his ways.
- "Rend your heart, and not your garments" (2:13).
- The Hebrew word for "rend" is qara', meaning
to "tear, tear in pieces".
- It was the ancient custom to tear one's garments as a token of great
sorrow or abject humility. The Lord is inviting us to "rend"
our heart or humble ourselves before him.
- Elder Neal A. Maxwell: "...as to the cares of the world and
the things of the world, it seems that if our hearts are so set upon the
things of this world, they must be broken before they can be set upon the
things of God" (We Talk of Christ, p133)
- "Turn unto the Lord your God" (2:13).
- "Sanctify the congregation" (2:16).
- This seems to be an invitation to assist others in also turning to
Christ. We do this through teaching in our families, fulfilling our Church
callings, and sharing the good news of the gospel.
- "Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice" (2:21).
- If we turn to the Lord, rend our hearts, and assist in sanctifying
the congregation, we need to fear. We are following the path the Lord has
set us. That path leads to happiness in this life and joy through the eternities.
Indeed, we have reason to "be glad and rejoice".
- "...he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great
kindness, and he will turn away the evil from you" (JST 2:13).
- The Lord will "pity his people" (2:18).
- The Hebrew word for pity is chamal, meaning to spare or have
- The northern army described in Joel 2:1-11 will be driven into a barren
place (2:20). Much of Chapter 2 refers to the Battle of Armageddon.
- "Ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied" (2:26).
- In contrast to the spiritual famine described by Amos, the righteous
in the latter days will have a spiritual feast.
- "I am in the midst of Israel,...and my people shall never be
- "I will pour my spirit upon all flesh" (2:28).
- Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "This promise, as pertaining to the
last days, was made by Joel and renewed by Moroni when he appeared to the
Prophet Joseph Smith on Sept. 21, 1823. (Joel 2:28-32; Jos. Smith 2:41.)
It has reference, not to the Holy Ghost, but to the pouring out of the
Spirit of Christ, the spirit or light which enlighteneth every man born
into the world. Those who hearken to this spirit and are led by its strivings
come to the knowledge of the truth, accept the gospel, and receive the
gift of the Holy Ghost. (D. & C. 84:44-48.)" (Mormon Doctrine,
- President Joseph Fielding Smith discusses the great discoveries and
inventions of our modern age and says, "I do not believe for one
moment that these discoveries have come by chance, or that they have come
because of superior intelligence possessed by men today over those who
lived in ages that are past. They have come and are coming because the
time is ripe, because the Lord has willed it and because he has poured
out his Spirit on all flesh." (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:183)
- Young and old will prophesy, dream dreams, and see visions (2:28).
- "Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered"
- "The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice
from Jerusalem" (3:16).
- We live in a time when the word of the Lord goes forth to the world
from his prophets. In the Millennium, we shall hear the voice of the Lord
issued forth from Zion and Jerusalem.
- "The Lord will be the hope of his people" (3:16).
- The Lord is our hope in a day of worldwide despair.
- "The Lord will be the...strength of the children of Israel"
- "So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion"
Over 2700 years ago, the prophet Amos issued forth a clear statement
that rings throughout all the ages of time on this earth, "Surely
the Lord God will do nothing, until he revealeth the secret unto his servants
the prophets" (JST Amos 3:7). We are living in the last days prior
to the Lord's reign on earth. There will be many challenges and difficulties,
but the Lord has sent forth his prophets to guide us throught these tumultuous
times. If we are to spiritually survive, we must heed the words of the
Lord's servants. Consider the words from a favorite hymn (no. 21):
Come, listen to a prophet's voice,
And hear the word of God,
And in the way of truth rejoice,
And sing for joy aloud.
We've found the way the prophets went
Who lived in days of yore;
Another prophet now is sent
This knowledge to restore.
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