“Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.“
Amos 3 verse 7 has become a familiar verse to those of us involved in discernment ministries. It is a verse not only employed by the Mormons, but by some within the mainstream Christian church. This verse is often used to teach that God speaks to His people today through living prophets.
These, so-called, prophets, speak the very words and thoughts of God and as such, they not only need to be heard but they need to be obeyed – as if submitting to God Himself.
Does Amos 3:7 support the claim for Mormonism’s Living Prophets
CONTEXT, CONTEXT, CONTEXT
“A text without a context is a pretext for a proof text.”1
It is said that there are three rules to biblical interpretation. The first rule is ‘context’. The second rule is ‘context’. The third rule is… well you get the idea. To rightly understand the meaning of Amos 3:7, we need to consider its immediate context. To whom was Amos speaking and what was he telling them?
Amos was speaking to the nation of Israel, warning them of the coming judgement. It was this ‘secret’ that God had revealed to His prophet Amos. In fact, we find that this is the constant ‘secret’ God reveals to His prophets in the Old Testament.
God uses His prophets to warn His people of a coming judgement. Why did God reveal coming judgements through His servants the prophets? He made it known beforehand so that His people, Israel, would have every opportunity to be penitent and turn back to him. Such is the grace of God.
God especially reveals the secrets of His coming judgment, so that men will have time to repent and no reason to be surprised. “Such secrets of God are revealed to them, that they may inform the people; that, by repentance and conversion, they may avoid the evil, and, by walking closely with God, secure the continuance of his favour”2
Therefore, in context, Amos chapter 3:7 appears as a parenthetical statement. Amos is merely pointing out that God, in His mercy, warns of a coming judgement through those He has called to speak for Him – His prophets. There is nothing within the context to suggest that this is anything other than this. Note that it does not say that God doesn’t do anything, lest He reveal it to His prophets. God is not bound by a faulty interpretation of Amos chapter 3 verse 7.
A couple of other important things to point out is that these prophets of God never prophesied falsely and that the verse under consideration is in the Old Testament. With this all in mind, should we consider that God has ‘Old Testament’ type prophets in the Church today, through whom He reveals His secrets?
Through His Son
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds… Hebrews 1:1-2
Here we find the writer to the Hebrews acknowledging that God spoke in former times through His prophets, but notice the shift. The writer says: ‘in these last days spoken to us by his Son’.
This is not so much about what the Son said, but about who the Son is and what He did. Jesus, the Son of God, is the pinnacle of God’s revelation. He is the Father’s final prophet, His closing word to the world. The author to the Hebrews unpacks all that has gone before and points his readers to the One that it is all about – Jesus.
Now that Christ has been revealed, is there a need for the ‘Old Testament’ type Prophets? As the Bible is read, believed, and proclaimed surely all believers are now acting as prophets as we point people to repentance and faith in Jesus, and warn of the dangers of not trusting in Him:
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. John 3:36
Not so, say the Mormons. The Church still needs a special group of prophets to lead the church today. They claim that was always God’s intention, but the great apostasy robbed the church of such anointed and appointed ones. Thankfully such prophets have been restored to the church and they are to be found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are blessed to be led by living prophets—inspired men called to speak for the Lord, as did Moses, Isaiah, Peter, Paul, Nephi, Mormon, and other prophets of the scriptures.3
That is quite a claim. The men who lead the Mormon Church are said to be on an equal footing with Moses, Isaiah, Peter and Paul (we can leave aside the Book of Mormon prophets).
What can be said about the four named biblical ‘prophets’ is that none of them sought others to follow them, but all pointed to another Prophet. Moses spoke of one to come:
The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken… Deuteronomy 18:15
Isaiah speaks of what this Prophet will do:
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:5
Following Isaiah, Peter points to what this Prophet did:
Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. 1 Peter 2:24
And Paul points people to faith in this Prophet:
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. Roman 10:9
Jesus Himself taught that the prophets of old all pointed to Him:
And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. Luke 24:27
The fact is that it is all about Jesus. The prophets spoke of Him, the whole Bible points people to Him, therefore we have no need of further revelation. Jesus is enough!
Is Jesus Not Enough?
We sustain the President of the Church as prophet, seer, and revelator—the only person on the earth who receives revelation to guide the entire Church. We also sustain the counselors in the First Presidency and the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators.4
Though the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would say that they to point people to Jesus, the statement above demonstrates that, for them, Jesus is not enough. You need the Church, and a leader who receives revelation to guide the entire Church. He is their Pope.
Taking Amos 3 :7, as a key verse, Mormon leaders convince their membership that God communicates through His servant the ‘prophet’. No wonder there is great excitement when the bi-annual General Conference comes around. Mormons are waiting to hear what this prophet of God has to say. Will he bring forth new ‘secrets’ from Heavenly Father?
Like the prophets of old, prophets today testify of Jesus Christ and teach His gospel. They make known God’s will and true character. They speak boldly and clearly, denouncing sin and warning of its consequences. At times, they may be inspired to prophesy of future events for our benefit.
We can always trust the living prophets.5
If God has living prophets operating today, those ‘like the prophets of old’, then they should be trusted and listened to. Why? Because those prophets of old never got anything wrong, that which they spoke always came to pass. So, is this what we find with the living prophets found in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
Failed Living Prophets
But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him. Deuteronomy 18:20-22
Have the living prophets of the Mormon Church ever prophesied falsely, let’s begin with the Prophet and Founder Joseph Smith:
“I prophesy in the name of the Lord God of Israel, unless the United States redress the wrongs committed upon the Saints in the state of Missouri and punish the crimes committed by her officers that in a few years the government will be utterly overthrown and wasted, and there will not be so much as a potsherd left, for their wickedness in permitting the murder of men, women and children, and the wholesale plunder and extermination of thousands of her citizens to go unpunished, thereby perpetrated a foul and corroding blot upon the fair name of this great republic, the very thought of which would have caused the high-minded and patriotic framers of the Constitution of the United States to hide their faces with shame.”6
This did not happen.
“Verily this is the word of the Lord, that the city New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the saints, beginning at this place,(Independence Missouri) even the place of the temple, which temple shall be reared in this generation. For verily this generation shall not all pass away until a house shall be built unto the Lord, and a cloud shall rest upon it, which cloud shall even be the glory of the Lord, which shall fill the house.”7
This did not happen.
What of other ‘living prophets’ within the church?
Orson Pratt – “God promised in the year 1832 that we should, before the generation then living had passed away, return and build up the City of Zion in Jackson County.”8
Heber C. Kimball – ‘Plurality of wives is a law established by God forever. It would be easier for the United States to build a tower to remove the sun as to remove polygamy’.9
These did not happen. Many other such instances could be cited, but these are sufficient to make the point. Considering these clear false declarations from previous Mormon prophets, should the current living prophet be trusted? Yes, say the leaders, who then exhort Mormons to blindly trust:
Our greatest safety lies in strictly following the word of the Lord given through His prophets, particularly the current President of the Church. The Lord warns that those who ignore the words of the living prophets will fall (see Doctrine and Covenants 1:14–16). He promises great blessings to those who follow the President of 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. “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” (Doctrine and Covenants 21:4–6).
My Mormon friends, no one is safe following a false prophet and a false church. If it is safety, you are looking for submit yourself fully to Jesus alone. God has spoken and does speak, through His Prophet – Jesus.
Jesus accomplished the work of a prophet through His earthly teaching ministry and by speaking through the Apostles. Now that the Apostolic era has ended, new revelation from God has ceased, but by His Spirit, Jesus is illuminating the meaning of the Apostolic Word—the Scriptures—to us.10
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. Acts 4:12
1 Attributed to the father of Evangelical scholar, Dr Don Carson
6 (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol. 5, p. 394, May 1843)
7 Doctrine & Covenants 84:4-5
8 Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 362 (May 5, 1870)
9 Millennial Star, vol. 28, p. 190