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Handout 35: Amos, Minor prophet w/5 others, Jeroboam II, Tekoa, Amaziah, Uzziah, Joel, husbandman, Israel, temple
JSH, destruction. September 2014
Amos (Heb. burden bearer). An enigmatic sheep herder and dresser of sycamore trees, the first of the great classical prophets. Elisha and Elijah known for deeds, but Hosea, Amos, Joel, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi known for scriptural writing. (786-746 b.c.) Lived during reign of Jeroboam II.
From Judah but preached in Israel. He wrote at a time of relative peace and prosperity, neglect of religion. Spoke against increased disparity between wealthy and the very poor. His major themes of social justice, God’s omnipotence, and divine judgment became staples of prophecy. He was not of school of prophets but the first to have a book named after him.
Jeroboam II (c. 781-741 B.C.), ruler of the Northern kingdom, had conquered Syria, Moab, and Ammon- extended his dominions to the Dead Sea on the south. The whole northern empire of Solomon restored – enjoyed a long period of peace and security marked by a revival of artistic and commercial development. Social corruption and the oppression of the poor and helpless were prevalent.
Amos was quite unpopular because he pointed out the collapse of moral standards and the increase in idolatry.
People built many altars on mountains to serve the Canaanite gods, the Baal and Ashtarte. The Golden Calves, which the first Jeroboam set up in the north and south of the country to turn the people away from the Beth Hamikdosh in Jerusalem, were worshipped more than before and the teachings of the Torah and the holy commandments were viewed with contempt.
Again and again, God sent His messengers, the prophets, to admonish the people and to warn them that unless they mended their ways, they and the land would be doomed. Yet the admonitions were, for the most part, unheeded.
His fearless and outspoken words came thundering and stirred the people. Characteristic are his opening words: “God will roar from Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem; and the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither.” By “the shepherds” he must have meant the leaders of Israel, who failed their “flock;” and “the top of Carmel” were likewise those sitting at the top, who will be first to be stricken down.
He addresses himself to Judah:
“Thus with God, ‘For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not withhold My punishment: because they have despised the Torah of G-d, and have not kept His commandments…'” In similar words he begins his prophecy against the Northern Kingdom:
Thus saith God, ‘For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not withhold My punishment: because they sold the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of sandals…'”
Amos was not afraid to appear in Bethel at the very time when crowds were gathered there to worship the Golden Calf which Jeroboam the First, had set up in a special temple. In the very midst of the celebration, Amos announced the terrible punishment that God would bring upon the sinful people of Israel. The crowd became angry, and their leader, the false priest Amaziah, incited the people to do violence to Amos.
However, King Jeroboam protected the prophet, and let no harm befall him. Amaziah ridiculed the prophet, warning him to flee to Judah, where people of his kind would be more welcome, and never return to Bethel. But Amos replied that he was no professional prophet, nor a prophet’s disciple, but a simple man from the land, a breeder of sheep. Amos declared boldly and fearlessly that God had sent him to Bethel to speak in His Name and warn the people of their impending doom.
He accurately foretold the destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel (although he did not specify Assyria as the cause) and, as a prophet of doom, anticipated later Old Testament prophets.
The little that is known about Amos’ life has been gleaned from his book, which was, in all likelihood, partly or wholly compiled by other hands. A native of Tekoa (now a ruin), 12 miles south of Jerusalem, Amos flourished during the reigns of King Uzziah (c. 783–742 BC) of Judah (the southern kingdom) Under the impact of powerful visions of divine destruction of the Hebrews in such natural disasters as a swarm of locusts and fire, Amos traveled from Judah to the neighboring richer, more powerful kingdom of Israel, where he began to preach.
The Book of Amos puts the date as two years before an earthquake that may have occurred in 750 BC. Amos fiercely castigated corruption and social injustice among Israel’s pagan neighbors, Israel itself, and Judah; he asserted God’s absolute sovereignty over man; and he predicted the imminent destruction of Israel and Judah. After preaching at Bethel, a famous shrine under the special protection of Jeroboam II, Amos was ordered to leave the country by Jeroboam’s priest Amaziah. Thereafter his fate is unknown.
Amos was a thoughtful, probably well-traveled man of fierce integrity, who possessed a poet’s gift for homely but forceful imagery and rhythmic language. So distinctive is his style of expression that in many instances the reader can distinguish those portions genuinely by Amos from parts probably invented by others, such as the concluding, optimistic section foretelling the restoration of the Davidic kingdom.
As a theologian, Amos believed that God’s absolute sovereignty over man compelled social justice for all men, rich and poor alike. Not even God’s chosen people were exempt from this fiat, and even they had to pay the penalty for breaking it; hence, Amos also believed in a moral order transcending nationalistic interests.
Joel (Heb. Yah is God). Son of Pethuel. Little known of him.
Lived in Judah after Exile, between 538-331 b.c. although some scholars think his ministry took place about the time Joash reigned in Judah (800 b.c.). He prophesied of our day. On the night Moroni visited Joseph Smith, Moroni quoted from Joel and said the prophecies would shortly be fulfilled. (JSH 1:41)
Biblical scholars do not agree on when Joel lived. Some think he preceded Amos and Hosea because both men quoted him (compare Amos 1:2 with Joel 3:16), but it is also possible that Joel quoted them, so this evidence is not conclusive. Joel may have served before the time of Isaiah, for Isaiah quoted one of Joel’s prophecies (compare Isaiah 13:6 with Joel 1:15), but it may be that Joel quoted Isaiah.
Joel 1:1-4: Hebrew literature is noted for its rich imagery. In these verses and those that follow, Joel used the figure of a famine to portray Judah’s future. The palmerworm is the Hebrew gazam, which means “gnawer.” The locust is in Hebrew arbeth, which means “many.” The cankerworm is the Hebrew yeleq, which means “licker”; and the caterpillar is the Hebrew chasil, which means “consumer”. These Hebrew terms refer to the stages of development in the life of a locust. Such imagery fixed forever in the minds of the Jews the devastation prophesied by Joel for the latter days.
Joel is a major source on the Battle of Armageddon (means: last battle between good/evil before Day of Judgement. Also, hill of Megiddo, sough of Haifa, Israel).
Joel 1:5-7: The vine and the fig tree, among the most stable and enduring of the plants that nourished Israel anciently, represented the finest that the Lord had given His chosen people. But they had rejected the gift and the Giver, and all would be laid waste by the numberless nation of invaders who, as a lion, would not be denied. The lion is the most feared of animals and pulls down his prey with great savagery. A tree is barked by stripping the bark from the trunk, which kills the tree. The imagery was clear. The house of Israel would be pulled down, or cut off, and spoiled by powerful outside nations. Their vineyards and orchards would be desolate.
Joel 1:8–20: One of the consequences of Judah’s destruction and scattering as a nation was the loss of her temple worship, the source of joy and gladness (see Joel 1:16). Their field was wasted; they were no longer a fruitful people unto the Lord (see vv. 10, 12).
At this time a husbandman was a person who tended an orchard, and a vinedresser was one who cultivated a vineyard. (In New Testament times a husbandman also took care of a vineyard.) The girding in verse 13 refers to putting on clothing of sackcloth (coarse cloth made of animal hair), which would constantly remind them of the great tragedy coming to their people. Joel called upon all the people to
howl and lament because the temple would fall and the people of God would undergo national disaster.
Just as Moses had instructed Israel to learn a song (Deut. 31:30–32:43), the words of which would remind them of their condemnation if they broke their covenants, so Joel instructed Judah to learn the words they would cry in the last days as a reminder of her future sorrow. A solemn assembly was held to gather priesthood leaders and members to consider these sacred matters ( v. 14).
Joel 2:28-32: When Moroni appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith he quoted these verses, saying that they were not yet fulfilled but soon would be. Moroni also explained that the “fulness of the Gentiles was soon to come in” (Joseph Smith—History 1:41). These statements clearly put the fulfillment of this part of Joel’s prophecy after A.D. 1823. It applies to the latter days in language and content, though it has was fulfilled previously. Verse 32 is a reference to Jesus Christ. Rom10:13.
Joel 3:1-8: These verses add to the picture described in chapter 2. Joel used allusions and figures well understood by his people to describe the great signs and judgments to take place in the latter days just before the return of the Lord. In chapter 3 Joel gave another picture of God’s judgment upon the nations. Israel, who had been scattered among the nations, will receive a change in her fortunes, and retribution will come upon her enemies in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, literally, the “Valley of Decision” in Hebrew. Just where this valley is located is not entirely clear. Most likely it is the Kidron, a narrow valley between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives (see D&C 45:47–49; 133:19–21. This passage seems to refer to the final scenes of the battle of Armageddon in Jerusalem, when the great earthquake will strike the massive army and Jesus will appear on the Mount of Olives to deliver Israel.
Joel’s message. Although he used imagery that is not always familiar to us, he dealt with four major issues quite clearly:
1. A lamentation over the devastation of the land by great armies (symbolized by locusts) and other judgments.
2. The destruction of the army of locusts and a renewal of spiritual and material blessings.
3. The outpouring of God’s Spirit upon all flesh.
4. The judgment upon the nations and deliverance of God’s people.
Joel saw the days preceding the Second Coming. He attempted to warn as well as prophesy concerning those events. Because Moroni quoted a part of the book of Joel to Joseph Smith and said it was “not yet fulfilled, but was soon to be” (JSH 1:41), we should carefully study the message and learn of the things we need to do before the great and terrible day of the Lord.