Old Testament Lesson #35 | BYU Studies

Old Testament Lesson #35

"God Reveals His Secrets to His Prophets"
August 17, 2018
Old Testament Lesson #35
"God Reveals His Secrets to His Prophets"
Author BYU Studies Staff,

Amos and Joel warned of calamity to come upon Judah and Israel because they had forsaken the Lord and trodden down the poor. Their words describe the destructive power of God and the mercy that could come to the humble and pure.

"Amos through Malachi: Major Teachings of the Twelve Prophets," Blair G. Van Dyke and D. Kelly Ogden, Religious Educator 4, no. 3 (2003): 61–88.
Amos is to Israel in the seventh century BC what Jeremiah is to the kingdom of Judah one century later. Both are known as prophets of doom. Two sins are dominant in Amos's appeal to God for a swift judgment against Israel. First, the Israelites have turned from Jehovah to idolatry. Second, they have severely treaded upon the poor.

Joel: The dominant theme of the prophecy of Joel is "the day of the Lord." This phrase always refers to the Second Coming. The latter days are clearly the focus of his prophecy. In this light, Joel serves as an instruction manual for our time. His counsel could be summarized in two phrases: "turn to me" and "gather to the temple and pray."

"The Great and Dreadful Day of the Lord: The Anatomy of an Expression," Dana M. Pike, BYU Studies 41, no. 2.
Speaking of the last days, the Lord declared through the ancient Israelite prophet Malachi that Elijah would return "before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord" (Mal. 4:5). And through the prophet Joel, the Lord foretold signs in the heavens "before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come" (Joel 2:31). Jesus' Second Coming is the "day of the Lord" referred to in these prophecies. Many Latter–day Saints interpret the phrase "the great and dreadful [or terrible] day of the Lord" to mean the Lord's Second Coming will be "great," or good and desirable, for the righteous, but "dreadful" for the wicked, who will be destroyed. However, this interpretation misrepresents the original meaning of the phrase. For one thing, the Hebrew language in which this expression was originally written does not support this explanation. For another, the English word "great" was not used with the modern meaning "desirable" until long after the King James Version was translated. This study will elucidate the meaning of the expression "the great and dreadful/terrible day of the Lord" by (1) examining the Hebrew grammar and vocabulary behind the English translation of Joel 2:31 and Malachi 4:5; (2) considering the broader biblical context in which this expression occurs; (3) highlighting modern prophetic statements that pertain to the meaning of this expression; and (4) comparing this expression with other "great and ___" formulations in scripture.

"Amos: The Lord Reveals His Secrets to His Servants the Prophets," Old Testament Student Manual Kings–Malachi (1982), 89–96
Amos was a discerning observer of the religious and social conditions of his times. The kingdom of Israel to the north was prosperous. Greed, corruption, and vice were common among the wealthy. The condition of the poor was pitiful. Religion had lost its vitality. Morals seemed forgotten. When called by the Lord, Amos was a herdsman, one who kept flocks and tended vineyards. Yet he rose fearlessly to the occasion and worked among the people, prophesying of their future as individuals and as a nation.

"Joel: God Will Not Be Mocked," Old Testament Student Manual Kings–Malachi (1982), 83–87
The last days are to be characterized by the pouring out of the Spirit upon all flesh. Sons and daughters will prophesy—preach, exhort, pray, and instruct so as to benefit the Church. Direct revelation will be given. Young men and women who are representatives of the Lord will be inspired. The gifts of teaching and inspiration will be given to all classes and levels of people. The Lord will call and qualify those He chooses. He will pour out His Spirit upon them, and they will be endowed with the gifts necessary to convert sinners and to build up the Church.

"Moroni Expounds Old Testament Scriptures," Sidney B. Sperry, Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 4, no. 1.
The book of Joel (2:28–32) is quoted by Moroni to Joseph Smith.  The gist or general meaning of the prophecy can easily be determined by reason of Moroni's words to Joseph. Let us postulate eight points with respect to the prophecy and discuss them.

1. In general, the book of Joel refers to the events that are to take place prior to the second advent of our Lord and to the peaceful condition of Israel thereafter.
2. The locust plague and other events mentioned in Joel 1 represent general destruction and mourning on the earth prior to "the day of the Lord" mentioned in Joel 1:15.
3. Joel 2:1–11. Further judgments. Note the reference to the "day of the Lord is great and very terrible" in Joel 2:11.
4. Joel 2:12–17. This constitutes a plea to the Lord's people for repentance and reform.
5. Joel 2:17–27. The Lord is to take pity on his people and bless them.
6. Joel 2:28–32. These verses, which were quoted by Moroni, indicate that great signs and wonders are to be given preceding the "great and terrible day of the Lord" mentioned in Joel 2:31. They also indicate that great spiritual blessings are to be given to the Lord's people in that day. We can assume that a great part of this scripture yet awaits fulfillment.
7. Joel 3:1–15, 19. Israel is to be gathered and retribution is to come upon her enemies by the judgments of God.
8. Joel 3:16–18, 20–21. The blessed state of Israel's redeemed.

"Scriptural Perspectives on How to Survive the Calamities of the Last Days," Hugh W. Nibley, BYU Studies, Volume 25, no. 1
In the Little Apocalypse of Matthew 24 and Joseph Smith—Matthew, Jesus prophesies of the events that will precede the end of the world and emphasizes that his Second Coming will be a complete surprise. People are not supposed to prepare for that day; rather, they should live every day as if the Lord were coming on that day. The only preparation is to avoid taking advantage of others, oppressing the poor, and living in luxury. The difference between the righteous and the wicked is that the righteous are the ones who are repenting. Strictly speaking, there are no "good guys"; everyone needs to repent. Numerous stories in the Book of Mormon illustrate distinctions between righteous and wicked behavior. These scripture stories were intended for our day so that we may learn how to properly prepare for the last days.

"Invoking the Council as Witnesses in Amos 3:13," David E. Bokovoy, Journal of Biblical Literature, Volume 127, no. 1
"Listen and witness against the House of Jacob," declares Amos's judgement oracle in Amos 3:13. Since in many biblical texts this type of invocation reflects traditional responsibilities allocated to the heavenly host, a synchronic reading of Amos 3 may provide the intended addressee for the undefined masculine plural imperatives. Notwithstanding his supremacy, the God of ancient Israel was not alone, and perhaps, from the perspective the author of Amos 3, this deity could invoke his [s–v–k] to assist in the important process of rendering a divine judgment.