Old Testament Lesson 47 (Amos; Obadiah)
November 13–19

AMOS

The Book of Amos

Amos is one of the 12 prophets of the Old Testament with shorter books referred to as “minor prophets” (by no means meaning their messages were of lesser import). Amos prophesied during the reigns of Uzziah, king of Judah, and Jeroboam II, king of Israel. He ministered to the people of the Northern Kingdom from about 800 to 750 BC, approximately 30 years prior to the end of the kingdom’s existence in 721 BC.

Professor D. Kelly Ogden said the prophet’s preaching is also dated (beginning) at “two years before the earthquake” . . .  This earthquake, the only one explicitly mentioned in the Old Testament, was apparently so severe that it was used for some time to date historical events. It was of such unusual intensity and inflicted such devastation that the memory of it survived for more than two and a half centuries. In Zechariah 14:5 this earthquake serves as a pattern for extremely intense and destructive earthquakes [in latter days] . . .  [It] caused damage over a wide area . . .  Yigael Yadin dated the earthquake to approximately 760 BC.”
(endnote: 1)

Amos’ Call from the Lord

Amos was a shepherd from Tekoa, now a hilltop of ancient ruins about 6 miles southeast of Bethlehem and 12 miles from Jerusalem. The Hebrew name Amos means “bearer” or “burden” and refers to the weighty warning he was to carry to the kingdom of Israel. His ministry was among those of the Northern Kingdom of Israel.

●  Amos 1:1   Amos received his instructions by vision.

●  Amos 7:14–15  Amos described his call from the Lord while prophesying against Amaziah, a priest in the kingdom of Israel, who sought to divert him from his mission.

●  Amos 7–9  The last three chapters of Amos describe 5 visions Amos had. The fifth starts with the words “I saw the Lord” (Amos 9:1). Each had a symbolic meaning, showing that the Lord would bring the kingdom of Israel to an end if they did not repent.

(1)  A swarm of locusts (Amos 7:1–3)
(2)  Devouring fire (Amos 7:4–6)
(3)  The master builder with the plumb line (Amos 7:7–9)
(4)  The basket of summer fruit (Amos 8)
(5)  The smitten sanctuary (Amos 9:1–6).

●  Amos 7:10,12–13  These prophecies of Amos, apparently given in Bethel, offended the political and religious leaders of Israel, and Amaziah denounced him. v. 12Amaziah factitiously calls Amos a “seer”, and in the process defines what a seer is—one who sees the future.

Amos Condemns Israel’s Neighbors

●  Amos 1:3—2:1   Amos began his ministry by first warning Israel’s neighboring nations (10 nations and 26 cities) of the punishments that were coming if they did not repent.

Amos Condemns Israel

●  Amos 3:1–2   The Lord greatly blesses the righteous and if they become wicked they are punished.

●  Amos 2:1—4:10   Amos condemns Israel for her many sins:

— Treading on the poor, making merchandise of human beings (Amos 2:6–7).
— Buying the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of shoes (Amos 5:11; 8:6).
— Prostitution committed in holy sanctuaries (Amos 2:7).
— Corrupted court and legal processes, perverted judgment, despising the righteous, and afflicting the just (Amos 2:8; 5:7–12; 6:12).
— Seeking to pollute Nazarites by getting them to drink wine (Amos 2:11–12).
— Violence and robbery (Amos 3:10; 6:3).
— The wealthy enjoyed winter houses and summer “cabins”—Ivory-decorated and cut-stone houses and palaces, while the poor lived in hovels (Amos 3:15; 5:11; 6:8, 11).
— The unrighteous, unfeeling women of Israel (“kine of Bashan”) were gratifying themselves at the expense of the poor and the needy (Amos 4:1). They asked their husbands to bring them wine bought with money squeezed from their victims. Amos compares them to fat and well-fed cows (“kine”).
— Hypocrisy in ordinances (Amos 4:4–5; 5:21–23).
— Disdain of honest judges (Amos 5:10).
— Bribery (Amos 5:12).
— The righteous keep silent—they do not condemn evil (Amos 5:13–15).
— Shallow, hypocritical festivities and ritual performances (Amos 5:21–22).
— Luxurious living, music, and reveling while some were suffering (Amos 5:23; 6:4–7).
— Idolatry (Amos 5:26; 8;14).
— Too much ease in Zion—beds of ivory, plentiful food, and music—all while destruction hangs over their heads (Amos 6:1–6).
— Gluttony and revelry (Amos 6:4–7).
— Pride, vainglory, and a false sense of security (Amos 6:8, 13).
— Drunkenness (Amos 8:4).
— Deceitful business practices, and desecration of the spirit of the Sabbath (Amos 8:5–6).

Israel’s Predicted Punishments

●  Amos 4:6–13   Punishments that God sent Israel to induce them to repent:

— Rains were withheld, causing famine (vv. 6–8).
— Blight and mildew consumed crops (v. 9).
— War and pestilence (v. 10).
— Earthquakes devastated pastures, gardens, and cities (v. 11).
— None of these punishments caused Israel to repent

●  Punishments that will come because they did not repent:

— Israel will fall and rise no more (Amos 5:2).
— Only a tenth would remain (Amos 5:3).
— Gilgal will go into captivity and Bethel will be nothing (Amos 5:5).
— There will be wailing and mourning (Amos 5:16–17).
— They will “go into captivity beyond Damascus” (Amos 5:27).
— Few will escape; the destruction will be great (Amos 6:8–11).
— Locusts will devour their grains (Amos 7:1).
— Drought will devour the land generally (Amos 7:4).
— King Jeroboam will die by the sword (Amos 7:11).
— The priest Amaziah’s family will suffer greatly for their wickedness (Amos 7:12–17).
— Amos compares Israel to harvested fruit, ripening for destruction (Amos 8:1–12).
— Destruction was inescapable because Israel had not repented (Amos 9:1–5).

●  Amos 8:11–12   There will also be a spiritual famine—no word of God to guide them.

— This prophecy was fulfilled by the fact that there was no prophet to speak the word of the Lord from Malachi till the coming of John the Baptist (400 years).

— It was fulfilled again when Christ’s Church was destroyed and His Apostles killed. There was another spiritual famine upon the earth which lasted from about 100 AD until the time of the Restoration in 1820.

— Roger Williams, pastor of the oldest Baptist Church in America, resigned his position because: “There is no regularly constituted church on earth, nor any person authorized to administer any church ordinance; nor can there be until new Apostles are sent by the Great Head of the Church, for whose coming I am seeking.”
(endnote: 2)

Amos Prophesies of Israel’s Captivity

●  Metaphors of Captivity:

— There will be no escape from their enemies (Amos 2:14–16).
— It will be like a lion, bear, or serpent catching up with a fleeing man (Amos 5:19).
— It will be like a lion devouring an animal and leaving only pieces (Amos 3:12).
— They will be like a bird trapped in a snare (Amos 3:5).
— They will be carried away like fish caught on a hook (Amos 4:2), or . . .
— Like fish caught in a sieve (Amos 9:9).

●  Direct Descriptions of Captivity:

— Their temples and houses will be destroyed (Amos 3:11–15).
— “I will take you into exile beyond Damascus” (Amos 5:27).
— The wicked will be the first of those to go into exile (Amos 6:7).
— Israel must go into exile away from his land” (Amos 7:11).
— “Israel shall surely go into exile away from its land” (Amos 7:17).
— There will be many killed, with their bodies stacked up (Amos 8:1–3).
— There will be darkness, lamentations, and mourning (Amos 8:9–10).
— They will be killed, taken captive, and “sifted” among all nations (Amos 9:1–4, 8–10).

●  Amos’ prophecies were literally fulfilled.

Amos Prophesies of a Latter-day Gathering

●  Amos 9:7–11   “I will sift the house of Israel among all nations.”

— Israel could not expect deliverance simply because they were the chosen people (v. 7).
— Israel would be destroyed, except for a remnant of Jacob whom the Lord would preserve because of his mercy (v. 8).
— The gathering of the righteous remnant will be such that not one worthy soul will be unnoticed (v. 9).
— The Lord will establish his work, even to the raising of the temple in Jerusalem to its proper place (v. 11n).

●  Amos 9:11–15   Though Israel will be punished for their rebellion, they will eventually be restored. This restoration is now in progress.  Because these last five verses of the book of Amos paint a wholly different scene—restoration to the land and prosperity in it—some scholars claim these verses were not written by Amos but by a later disciple. But there is a pattern visible in Hebrew literature of pronouncing curses, judgments, and destruction followed by a message of hope.

— Moses (Lev. 26:40–46), Isaiah (Isa. 40–66), Micah (Micah 4–5), and Joel (Joel 2:25–26; 3:1) all did the same thing.
— Every righteous soul who has taken upon himself the name of the Lord—be he Israelite or Gentile—will be brought into the kingdom (v. 12).
— Israel will be gathered back into the kingdom of God, inheriting every blessing promised to the righteous, with no fear of losing them again (vv. 14–15).

●  Amos 8:7–10   Amos describes some of the circumstances associated with the 2nd Coming of Christ.

THE PROPHET OBADIAH

Obadiah saw in vision the salvation of Israel and other important events of the latter days. His book is the shortest of those of the prophets and, indeed, of all the books of the Old Testament. Nothing more is known about him than what is in the book. A man named Obadiah protected the Lord’s prophets during Ahab’s reign (1 Kings 18), but it is not likely he was the author of this book. He prophesied of the destruction of Edom in ways similar to Jeremiah’s.

The Book of Obadiah

Obadiah was one of the twelve prophets of the Old Testament with shorter books (though by no means reflecting messages of lesser import). Nothing is known of Obadiah’s personal life. The time of his ministry is not known with certainty; however, the book was written in the context of the capture of Jerusalem, probably referring to the capture by Babylon in 587 BC. It contains a prophecy against Edom for her complicity in the destruction of Judah by the Babylonians.  Also, it has a prophecy against all the nations.  Finally, it contains a well-known prophecy of “saviors” that will “come up upon Mount Zion” in the latter days—a prophecy that Joseph Smith says has reference to our doing temple work for our dead.

The Destruction of Edom

● Edom is . . .
— The land southeast of Israel occupied by Esau’s descendants (Gen. 36:1).
— The land is also referred to as “Idumea.”
— Obadiah cursed them for rejoicing in Israel & Judah’s destruction.
— They symbolize all nations that fight against Israel.
— They have been promised destruction (D&C 1:36).

●  Jeremiah 49:17–18   Jeremiah prophesied against Edom for their complicity in Judah’s destruction.

●  Obadiah 1:1–2     During the siege of Babylon against Judah, the Edomites should have come to the aid of Judah rather than taking spoils
               10–15, 18      and hindering her escape.

●  Obadiah 1:3–9   The Edomites (the world) are living in false security

Elder Parley Pratt said, “Edom also presents a striking fulness of plain and pointed predictions in the prophets. These predictions were pronounced upon Edom at a time when its soil was very productive and well cultivated, and everywhere abounding in flourishing towns and cities. But now its cities have become heaps of desolate ruins, only inhabited by the cormorant, bittern, and by wild beast, serpents, etc., and its soil has become barren; the Lord has cast upon it the line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness, and it has been waste from generation to generation, in express fulfillment of the word of prophecy.”
(endnote: 3)

●  Obadiah 1:15–16   A day of judgment will come upon all nations.

Saviors on Mount Zion

●  Obadiah 1:17–20   A day of deliverance and rejoicing is promised.

●  Obadiah 1:21   Saviors will “come up on mount Zion”.

●  D&C 86:11   They will be saviors of His people Israel.

●  D&C 127:6   They will be saviors of those who are dead.

The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “The election of the promised seed still continues, and in the last day, they shall have the Priesthood restored unto them, and they shall be the ‘saviors on Mount Zion,’ the ministers of our God; if it were not for the remnant which was left, then might men now be as Sodom and Gomorrah.”
(endnote: 4)

“But how are they to become saviors on Mount Zion? By building their temples, erecting their baptismal fonts, and going forth and receiving all the ordinances, baptisms, confirmations, washings, anointings, ordinations, and sealing powers upon their heads, in behalf of all their progenitors who are dead, and redeem them that they may come forth in the first resurrection and be exalted to thrones of glory with them; and herein is the chain that binds the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, which fulfills the mission of Elijah.”
(endnote: 5)

“And now as the great purposes of God are hastening to their accomplishment, and the things spoken of in the Prophets are fulfilling, as the kingdom of God is established on the earth, and the ancient order of things restored, the Lord has manifested to us this day and privilege, and we are commanded to be baptized for our dead, thus fulfilling the words of Obadiah, when speaking of the glory of the latter-day . . .  A view of these things reconciles the scriptures . . . , justifies the ways of God to man, places the human family upon an equal footing, and harmonizes with every principle of righteousness, justice, and truth.”
(endnote: 6)

President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “[In the temple] we literally become saviors on Mt. Zion. What does this mean? Just as our Redeemer gave His life as a vicarious sacrifice for all men, and in doing so became our Savior, even so we, in a small measure, when we engage in proxy work in the temple, become as saviors to those on the other side who have no means of advancing unless something is done in their behalf by those on earth.”
(endnote: 7)

FOOTNOTES

1: In Kent Jackson, ed., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 4: 1 Kings to Malachi [1964].

2: Picturesque America, 502.

3: Voice of Warning, 25.

4: Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 189.

5: Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 330.

6: Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 223.

7: “Closing Remarks,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2004, 105.

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