Bread of Life by Chris Young
Although he was from Tekoa, a village about 12 miles south of Jerusalem and about 6 miles from Bethlehem, Amos prophesied in the northern kingdom of Israel. When the priest Amaziah told him to go home and stop saying unpleasant things about the king of Israel, Amos replied that this wasn’t his idea:
I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycomore 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
In other words, “I didn’t choose to do this. I was chosen by God.” These words are similar to Abinadi’s response when the priests of King Noah tried to stop him from speaking: “Touch me not… for I have not delivered the message which the Lord sent me to deliver…. But I must fulfil the commandments wherewith God has commanded me” (Mosiah 13:3-4).
Amos was keenly aware of the important role of a prophet. “Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not known it? Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants, the prophets” (Amos 3:6-7, see footnote 6b). King Mosiah’s servant Ammon taught that “a seer is a revelator and a prophet also; and a gift which is greater can no man have…. By them shall all things be revealed, or, rather, shall secret things be made manifest, and hidden things shall come to light, and things which are not known shall be made known by them, and also things shall be made known by them which otherwise could not be known” (Mosiah 8:16-17).
Here are two blog posts about the important role of prophets:
- Why Do We Need Prophets?
- What Should I Do When Prophetic Teachings Are Difficult to Understand or Accept?
Caring for the Poor and Needy
Amos warned the people of Israel not to be complacent. “Woe to them that are at ease in Zion,” he said, “and trust in the mountain of Samaria [the capital city of Israel], which are named chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel came!” (Amos 6:1). Nephi may have had this passage in mind when he wrote, “Wo be unto him that is at ease in Zion! Wo be unto him that crieth: All is well!” (2 Nephi 28:24-25).
One symptom of this complacency was insensitivity to the needs of others. The residents of Samaria “oppress the poor” and “crush the needy” (Amos 4:1). “They afflict the just…and they turn aside the poor in the gate from their right” (Amos 5:12). They “swallow up the needy, even to make the poor of the land to fail” (Amos 8:4).
Isaiah later rebuked the people of Judah in similar terms: “Ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor” (Isaiah 3:15, 2 Nephi 13:15). “Woe unto them that…turn aside the needy from judgment, and…take away the right from the poor of my people” (Isaiah 10:1-2, 2 Nephi 20:1-2).
Here are a couple of blog posts about the importance of caring for the poor:
Moses taught the children of Israel that “man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live” (Deuteronomy 8:3). Amos also recognized the importance of spiritual sustenance and prophesied of a spiritual drought:
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
In contrast to this famine, Amos exhorted the people of Israel to be proactive in drawing close to God: “Thus saith the Lord unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live…. Seek the Lord, and ye shall live;” (Amos 5:4, 6).
The Book of Mormon prophet Jacob urged us, since we have been “nourished by the good word of God all the day long” to bring forth good fruit (Jacob 6:7). And Moroni taught that the church has a duty to ensure that its members are “nourished by the good word of God” (Moroni 6:4).
Here is a blog post about the importance of feeding our spirits:
Work for the Dead
Obadiah lived at a time when the kingdom of Judah had been conquered by their enemies, probably at the beginning of the Babylonian Captivity. His message was directed at the Edomites, who were descendants of Jacob’s brother Esau. Apparently, they were delighted at the destruction of Jerusalem, and even came down from their mountain homes to steal from their damaged homes. (See Obadiah 1:13.) Even though more than a thousand years had passed since Jacob and Esau were on the earth, Obadiah told the Edomites that they should consider the descendants of Jacob to be their brothers and sisters, and they should be on their side:
In the day that thou stoodest on the other side, in the day that the strangers carried away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem, even thou wast as one of them.
But thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother in the day that he became a stranger; neither shouldest thou have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; neither shouldest thou have spoken proudly in the day of distress.Obadiah 1:11-12
He further prophesied that the children of Israel would one day be gathered and restored to their lands: “Saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the Lord’s” (Obadiah 1:21).
Joseph Smith explained how we can part of this work of gathering and restoration: “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 … in behalf of all their progenitors who are dead, and redeem them … ; and herein is the chain that binds the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers” (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, Chapter 41: “Becoming Saviors on Mount Zion”).
Here is a post about the importance of connecting with our deceased ancestors: