Amos 7-9

Amos 7-9

Scripture Thought (What I Learned):

Today, we see wars and hear of rumors of wars just as the Bible predicted. However we see so many people turn away from the scriptures and turn to other methods of finding truth, wisdom and knowledge. I have spoken to many people throughout my life in school, work, strangers in the store, etc. A majority of the people I have spoken to, regarding religious or spiritual matters are looking for the truth, but have expressed to me that they know not where to find the truth.

I can’t count the times that I have heard something to the effect as; “I just hate religions, because they all fight. I just believe in God and that is all that is needed”. God never intended for people to fight over His gospel, I am sure He knew it would happen, but it is NOT His desire for it to happen. With the dozens, maybe even hundreds of religions out there it is no wonder people wander “… to and fro…” (Amos 8:12) There is a spiritual famine today, which was caused by an Apostasy, where people turned away from the Lord.

The Lord, however, has promised to RESTORE His church and His people. This Restoration occurred in 1820, when young Joseph Smith was praying about which church to join, God and His son Jesus Christ appeared to him and told him, that none of the churches were correct. He was guided through the Lord to restore GOD’s Church on the earth. From then on, we have had modern day prophets who lead and guide the Lord’s church in Modern days. The fruit and evidence of this Restoration is the Book of Mormon, which would come forth at a time of great ‘Spiritual Famine’.

Let me be clear that the Book of Mormon, does NOT discredit or disregard the Bible in anyway, instead it acts as a companion to the Bible. We have the Old and New Testaments written in the ‘Old World’ (Middle East) and we now have Another Testament of Jesus Christ (The Book of Mormon) which was written in ancient times in the ‘New World’ (the Americas).

The Book of Mormon explains and builds upon what we already know of the Bible and goes into more detail about;

• The purpose of mortal life and death (See 2 Ne. 2:212 Ne. 33:9Alma 12:24Alma 34:32Alma 42:4)

• The certainty of life after death (See 2 Ne. 9:3–7Mosiah 16:83 Ne. 11)

• What happens when the spirit leaves the body (See Alma 34:34Alma 40:11–14, 21)

• The description of the Resurrection (See 2 Ne. 9:12Alma 40:23Alma 41:23 Ne. 11:1–16)

• How to receive and retain a remission of your sins (See Mosiah 4:1–3, 12, 26Alma 4:14)

• What hold justice or mercy may have on you, (See Alma 34:15–16Alma 41:14Alma 42:15–16, 22–25)

• What to pray for (See 2 Ne. 4:352 Ne. 32:8–9Enos 1:9Alma 13:28Alma 34:17–27Alma 37:36–373 Ne. 18:19–21Moro. 7:26)

• Priesthood (See 2 Ne. 6:2Mosiah 18:18Alma 6:1Alma 133 Ne. 11:213 Ne. 18:37Moro. 2:2Moro. 3:4)

• Covenants and ordinances (See 2 Ne. 11:5Mosiah 5:5Mosiah 18:13Alma 13:8, 16)

• The office and ministry of angels (See 2 Ne. 32:2–3Omni 1:25Moro. 7:25, 37)

• The still, small voice of personal revelation (See 1 Ne. 16:91 Ne. 17:44–45Enos 1:10Alma 32:23Hel. 5:303 Ne. 11:3)

• The mission of Jesus Christ (See 1 Ne. 11:13–332 Ne. 2:6–10Mosiah 3:5–12Alma 7:7–133 Ne. 27:13–16)

The Book of Mormon quenches the spiritual hunger and thirst that was described by Amos of old. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-days Saints…

“We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins. (2 Nephi 25:26)

Chapter 7: Amos, a prophet of God

In this chapter we learn about how Amos became a prophet of God. Amos explains that he saw a vision of locusts, and a vision of fire; in both instances, the Lord is deaf to Amos’ petitions that Jacob may be spared. There is a further vision of a plumb line (to see if Israel is ‘straight’ or rather ‘righteous’ on the Lord’s path). Amaziah, a priest of Bethel, speaks against Amos. Amos replies;

“…I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son; but was an herman, and a gatherer of sycamore fruit: And the Lord took me as I followed the flock, and the Lord said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel.” (Amos 7:14-15).

Here we learn something VERY important. Prophets are not born of a special family bloodline, nor are they educated in a formal setting to become a prophet. The Lord choses His prophets by his own means, including finding un-educated herders, farmers, etc. and then slowly teaching them throughout their lives to become a prophet. They are not paid, nor do they work their way to the top. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this is the same. Prophets are selected by the Lord, not by man. They are sculpted throughout their lives, while living their lives and working in their respective careers.

The Lord decrees Amaziah’s punishment – his wife shall be a harlot, your sons and daughters shall fall by the sword, you shall die in a defiled land.

Chapter 8: A time of famine: The Great Apostasy

Amos has a vision of summer fruit; which signifies the end has come on Israel. Dishonesty and cheating the poor is disapproved of. In that day of Apostasy (a falling away from the Lord’s teachings), when the world will no longer turn to God “… the sun shall go down at noon…” (Amos 8:9), which will cause the sky to be darkened.

Amos also speaks of a famine; this famine will afflict the entire earth. However, this famine is not a famine of food and water, but of the word of GOD! “Behold the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.” (Amos 8:11-12)

                This ‘spiritual’ famine will occur on the earth, just as it has in the past. People want to know the truth, the desire and rather long for the opportunity of knowledge and wisdom. Some of the most basic desires of the human experience are to know; where we came from, and why we are here on the earth. What purpose do we have? Amos described a time when people would go to the ends of the earth to find this truth, to find anything to fill that spiritual void in their lives, but sadly, they would not find it during that time of Apostasy.

Chapter 9: The Restoration

Amos has a vision of the Lord at the temple, seeing the work of destruction. The Lord will sift the house of Israel, as grain is sifted in a sieve. Those who think they will be unaffected by the calamity will die by the sword. With all this destruction the Lord promises to raise the tabernacle of David.

“In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old.” (Amos 9:11). Israel shall be restored, and fruit and wine shall be abundant. Israel will be planted in the land, and no longer pulled up.

 

Ezekiel 5-6

Ezekiel 5-6

Chapter 5: Judgment of Jerusalem

Ezekiel is commanded to shave his head and beard. Once he has the hair, he is commanded to evenly divide the hair into thirds.

  • He must burn a third
  • Smite a third with his knife
  • Scatter a third to the wind

He is commanded to do this to indicate the judgment that will be executed on the inhabitants of Jerusalem. The chapter goes on further to explain more judgments; including famine and wild beasts. The result of this judgment leads fathers to “…eat the sons… and the sons shall eat their fathers…” (Ezekiel 5:10) The pangs of hunger cause these wicked people to resort to cannibalism.

Chapter 6: Israel shall be destroyed

Ezekiel sets his face towards the mountains and prophesies against Israel: He is told to tell its people that the high places will be made desolate, those who are close to the city will die by the sword and those far off shall die from famine. After all this desolation, the people will know that God exists.

Ezekiel 3-4

Ezekiel 3-4

Chapter 3: A Prophet’s Duty

Ezekiel is commanded to eat the scroll, and it tastes as sweet as honey. Yeah, you read that right! God commands Ezekiel to eat a book!

“MOREVER he said unto me… eat that thou findest; eat this roll [scroll/book], and go speak unto the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll… cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll… Then did I eat; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness.” (Ezekiel 3:1-3)

So here is the question, would you take this to literally mean eating a book? I don’t think so. What we can learn here is that God wants us to indulge in the scriptures, make it part of a daily routine… just like we do with eating! If we stop reading his word, we should feel hungry! If we let it become part of a daily routine, we will be spiritually full!

The chapter goes on to explain that Ezekiel, a prophet is also a watchman. God warns Ezekiel that if he does not warn the wicked, and the wicked die because of their iniquity, Ezekiel is answerable for it! However, if Ezekiel tells them and the wicked do not heed him, he is not answerable. Likewise, Ezekiel is answerable if a righteousness man commits iniquity and is not warned.

See Ezekiel 3:18-21 for the Purpose of Prophets.

Chapter 4: The Famine of Jerusalem

Ezekiel represents Jerusalem with a ‘tile’ (a brick or maybe a rock/stone of some sorts) and uses an iron pan to make a models of a fort and battering rams to signify the forthcoming siege by the Chaldeans.

Ezekiel is then commanded to lie on his left side for 390 days (because the house of Israel has had 390 years of iniquity) and on his right side 40 days (because Judah has had 40 years of iniquity). While Ezekiel is doing this, he is commanded only to eat the worst kinds of grain, and have only cow’s dung for fuel, to represent the scarcity of provisions during the siege of Jerusalem.

2 Kings 7-8

2 Kings 7-8

Chapter 7: Israel Takes Spoil

After the great besiegement of Samaria the King of Israel was angered toward God. However God made a promise through Elisha that the economic situation in Samaria would be cured within 24 hours and that the price of food would plummet. One of the officers of the king was doubtful and asked how such a thing could be done, implying that it in fact could not happen. So Elisha told him that he would see the great miracle but not partake or participate in the greatness of it.

During this time a group of lepers were sitting at the gates of the city pondering over the situation… if they thought, food does come… they would surely be the last to receive it. So they decided instead of sitting and waiting to die of hunger that they would go and surrender to the Syrians who had been surrounding the city for months. When the lepers arrived at the outskirts of the town, to their surprise they found a Syrian camp, full stocked with materials and food… but no men. So the Lepers take advantage of the situation and they eat and drink. But not only that, they also find gold and clothing, which they carry out of the camp to go and hide. But after some time they realize that something bad would befall them if they did not use these supplies to help out the rest of the city. So they decide to go and speak to the household of the king. With this information the King decides to send people to the camp to see what is going on. He thinks however that it is a trick to get the people to come to them and then get captured alive. But the men he sends come back with a different report. After following the trail of the Syrians the servants of the king realize that the Syrians left in haste and threw out all their provisions alongside the road as they fled.

So the people go and plunder the tents of the Syrians, therefore validating the prophecy made by Elisha that the problems (economic) would be solved within 24 hours. The officer who had doubted the words of Elisha was charged with opening the gate at the city, where the excited and desperate people fled the city to get provisions… trampling the man to death. So we see that the man learned of the miracle, but never had the chance to participate in the miracle.

Chapter 8: Elisha Prophesies a Seven Year Famine

The woman, to whom Elisha restored life back into her son is around the area Elisha is and he tells her to go and stay wherever she can, because the Lord has called for a famine and it will stay for seven years. She goes to the king and asks for a repeal of her land that was taken away. The interesting part is that the woman came to make this request at the same time Gehazi was telling the king about all the great miracles of Elisha. Jehoram tells her that she can have all her land and everything that came from it back. This was very different from his father Ahab, who was a land grabbing control freak.

Elisha then went down to Damascus, where Ben-Hadad the king of Syria was sick. So he sends a messenger (Hazael, who is a high official to the king) to Elisha asking him if he would be cured of his sickness.

Elisha tells Hazael to tell the king, that he shall recover.  But in reality he will die (but after he is cured from the illness). Elisha just stares and him and cries, so Hazael asks Elisha why he is crying. Elisha explains he will cause evil will befall Israel, that the strongholds will be burned, young men will kill with the sword and that he will dash the children and kill pregnant women.

Hazael then departed from Elisha and came to his master (the King of Syria). The king of Syria asked him if he would recover and Hazael told him that he would. But, the next day, Hazael puts a thick cloth (dipped in water) and puts it over the king’s face, suffocating him and causing him to die.

Jehoram, the song of Jehoshaphat began to reign as king over all Judah. (this is a continued story from 1 kings 22:50 and is not to be confused with the Jehoram of 2 Kings 3 who is called “Joram” in these next passages. Jehoram walked in the ways of all the kings of Israel that is in wickedness and evil. The evil was so great that the Lord could destroy Judah, but for the sake of his ancestor, David and the promise that God made to him, the Lord did not destroy Judah. Edom revolted against this king and caused many problems. So Ahaziah reigns over Judah (the son of Jehoram) began to reign and he too walked in the ways of Ahab. They caused war against Hazael the king of Syria.

2 Samuel 21-22

2 Samuel 21-22

Chapter 21: The Lord Sends a Famine

The Lord sends a famine to Israel, while King David reigned, the famine lasted for 3 years. David went to the Lord and inquired of the reasoning behind the famine. The Lord responded by saying that it was because of Saul and what he had done to the Gibeonites. So David goes to them and asks them how he can atone for what Saul had done. They respond by telling him that they want nothing more than the sons of Saul to be hanged unto the Lord. So David sends all of the children of Saul, except Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan who was the son of Saul.

7 of the children of Saul are delivered to the Gibeonites and are hanged on the first day of the barley harvest. Rizpah, who was the mother of two of Saul’s children held a vigil over the dead bodies until it rained. This means that the famine was over and justice had finally been brought to Israel. David finds the bones of Saul and Jonathan and takes them along with the seven to give them a proper burial.

During a battle with the Philistines, David grows weak and is almost killed by one of the descendents of Goliath, but Abishai saves him. David grows older and older, but with the help of his other three servants; Sibbechai, Elhanan, and Jonathan… Israel is able to continue in power! By the hand of David and his servants, they killed Goliath and all his giant offspring.

Chapter 22: The Lord Blesses Those Who Trust Him

David sings praise to the Lord. The entire chapter has a Psalm sort of feel to it, so I will include the verses that I felt most important in my reading.

“In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried to my God: and he did hear my voice out of his temple, and my cry did enter unto his ears” (2 Samuel 22:7) – Some people believe that God has abandoned them in their times of trouble. On July 8, 1838, Joseph Smith was in distress. He along with other leaders of the restored church of Jesus Christ , were locked up in prison (for no reason). Joseph Smith was hungry, tired and sick. Not only were Joseph and his leaders suffering in prison, but members of the church all over were being persecuted, raped and murdered! He cried out to the Lord; “O God, where art thou? And where is the pavillion that covereth thy hiding place? How long shall thy hand be stayed, and thine eye, yea thy pure eye, behold from the eternal heavens the wrongs of thy people and of thy servants, and thine ear be penetrated with their cries? Yea, O Lord, how long shall they suffer these wrongs and unlawful oppressions, before thine heart shall be softened toward them, and thy bowels be moved with compassion toward them?” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:1-3)

                The Lord responded; “My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure well, God shall exhalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:7-8). So what do we learn here? We learn that even in the darkest of hours, the Lord is with us. Often times we do not fully understand the “WHY”, but the Lord does and he needs us to be patient and endure well. Maybe he is training us for something worse, or setting us up for something better. We never know, but if we are loyal to him, we will have the power to triumph over all our foes.

David continues with his Psalm; and says that “With the pure thou wilt show thyself pure; and with the froward (deceitful, perverted or crooked) thou wilt she thyself unsavoury.” (2 Samuel 22:27). Essentially if we are good and follow God’s commandments, we will always see the good in God and feel of his love and warmth. But if we are deceitful, perverted or crooked, we will always see God in a different light and we will think of him as bad. Why? Because those who are perverted or crooked, will never feel the warmth and love of God, like those who love God and show their love, by following his commandments!

“It is God that avengeth me, and that bringeth down the people under me” (2 Samuel 22:48). Essentially, we must sometimes give up our hate and just love our enemies and let God deal with their mis-deeds.