Lesson 35: God Reveals His Secrets to His Prophets

Old Testament: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, (2001), 170–74


Purpose

To teach class members that in the latter days, the Lord reveals his secrets to his prophets and pours out his Spirit on all people.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Prayerfully study the following scriptures:

    1. a.

      Amos 3:6–7. Amos teaches that the Lord reveals his secrets to his servants the prophets.

    2. b.

      Amos 7:10–17; 8:11–13; 9:8–15. Amos is called of God to be a prophet (7:10–15). He prophesies of the captivity and scattering of Israel (7:16–17; 9:8–10). He prophesies that there will be a famine of hearing the word of the Lord (8:11–13). He prophesies that in the last days Israel will be established as a great and prosperous people (9:11–15).

    3. c.

      Joel 2; 3:16–17. Joel prophesies of the wars and calamities of the last days (2:1–11). He calls on the people to repent (2:12–14; note that the Joseph Smith Translation of verses 13 and 14 explains that the people, not the Lord, were to repent). Joel prophesies that God will bless his people in the latter days and pour out his Spirit upon them (2:15–32; 3:16–17).

  2. 2.

    Additional reading: Joseph Smith—History 1:41; Doctrine and Covenants 1:14–28, 37–38.

  3. 3.

    If you use the second attention activity, you may want to arrange for musical accompaniment for the hymn. You may also want to invite a class member to share briefly some recent counsel from the prophet.

  4. 4.

    If possible, obtain a picture of the living prophet.

Suggested Lesson Development

Attention Activity

You may want to use one of the following activities (or one of your own) to begin the lesson. Select the activity that would be most appropriate for the class.

  1. 1.

    Share the following story with class members:

    “When I was a young wife and mother, my husband spent two years in the air force. We lived in military housing on Long Island, New York. While tending our young children, I often visited with neighbors who had come from all over the country. One day as a neighbor and I were talking about our beliefs, she became curious about what was different about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    “I told her briefly about the Restoration, and I explained that the restored Church of Jesus Christ has a living prophet today. This really seemed to pique her interest, and she wanted to know what the prophet had said. As I started to tell her about the Doctrine and Covenants and modern revelation, she said, ‘But what has he said lately?’ I told her about general conference and that the Church had a monthly publication with a message from the prophet. Then she got really interested. I was so embarrassed to admit that I hadn’t read the current message. She concluded our conversation by saying, ‘You mean you have a living prophet and you don’t know what he said?’” (Janette Hales Beckham, “Sustaining the Living Prophets,” Ensign, May 1996, 84).

    • If someone asked you what the living prophet has recently said, would you be able to answer the question?

    Explain that this lesson emphasizes the importance of listening to and following the living prophet.

  2. 2.

    Ask class members to sing the hymn “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet” (Hymns, no. 19). Explain that it is important for us to study the counsel of our living prophet. Invite class members to share some counsel that he has given recently. Or invite an assigned class member to review briefly some recent counsel from the prophet.

Scripture Discussion and Application

As you teach the following scripture passages, discuss how they apply to daily life. Encourage class members to share experiences that relate to the scriptural principles.

Amos was a shepherd from Tekoa, a small town south of Jerusalem. He ministered to the people of the kingdom of Israel from about 800 to 750 B.C. Most of these people were in apostasy. They loved riches and oppressed the poor, and they were so hardened that not even famine or pestilence humbled them. As Amos confronted the people with their sins, he prophesied even more dire penalties. Nevertheless, he emphasized that God was eager to cleanse anyone who would repent, exhorting, “Seek the Lord, and ye shall live” (Amos 5:6). Amos also prophesied about the latter days.

The prophet Joel ministered to the people of the kingdom of Judah. We do not know exactly when he lived, but his prophecies are of particular importance to us because many of them concern the latter days. Joel used the powerful image of a devouring host of locusts to symbolize the devastation that armies and God’s judgments would bring in the latter days. Joel also prophesied great blessings in the latter days, foreseeing that the Lord would “pour out [his] spirit upon all flesh” (Joel 2:28).

1. Amos teaches that the Lord reveals his secrets to his servants the prophets.

Teach and discuss Amos 3:6–7.

  • How do we hear the word of the Lord in our day? What did the prophet Amos teach about the importance of prophets? (See Amos 3:7.) What two words were changed in the Joseph Smith Translation of Amos 3:6–7? (See footnotes 6b and 7a; in verse 6 the word known is used instead of done, and in verse 7 the word until is used instead of but.) How do these changes clarify the meaning of the passage? Point out that the Joseph Smith Translation itself is an example of the Lord’s secrets being made known to a prophet for our benefit.

  • What does Doctrine and Covenants 1:37–38 teach about the respect we should have for the messages of the prophets? (Display a picture of the living prophet.) As recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 21:4–5, what counsel and commandment did the Lord give the Saints on the day the Church was organized? What blessings did he promise if the Saints would do this? (See D&C 21:6.) How have you seen this promise fulfilled in your own life as you have obeyed the counsel of the prophets?

2. Amos prophesies of ancient and latter-day Israel.

Teach and discuss Amos 7:10–17; 8:11–13; 9:8–15.

  • Why did Amaziah, a priest in the kingdom of Israel, ask Amos to leave the land? (See Amos 7:10–17. Amos had prophesied that evil would come to the people and their king. Amaziah and his people did not want to hear the truth about their evil doings.) What do verses 14 through 17 teach us about the prophet Amos? (He had integrity and courage. He would not change what the Lord told him to say but continued to prophesy that evil would come to the people if they did not repent.)

  • In all ages of time, why have so many people rejected or ignored prophets’ messages? What did Amos prophesy would be the result if Israel rejected the counsel of the prophets? (See Amos 8:11–13. Spiritual famine, or apostasy, would result.) What are the results for us personally if we reject the counsel of the prophets?

    Amos’s prophecy of a spiritual famine was fulfilled among the children of Israel after the time of Malachi, the last Old Testament prophet. This period ended approximately 400 years later when John the Baptist was called to prepare the way for Jesus Christ. Amos’s prophecy also applies to the Great Apostasy, the centuries of spiritual darkness that followed the death of the Savior’s Apostles and ended with the restoration of the gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith.

  • In what ways can the absence of the word of the Lord be compared to a famine? What evidence do you see that people today are wandering “from sea to sea” seeking for the word of the Lord? How can having the blessings of the restored gospel be compared to a feast?

  • What message of hope concludes the book of Amos? (See Amos 9:8–15. The children of Israel would not be completely destroyed, they would be scattered among all the nations, and in the last days they would be reestablished as a great and prosperous people. Note that at the end of verse 9, the Lord makes clear that he is concerned about each member of the house of Israel.)

3. Joel prophesies that God will bless his people in the latter days and pour out his Spirit upon them.

Teach and discuss Joel 2; 3:16–17.

The prophet Joel described some of the events of the latter days that would precede the Second Coming. He described the march of a great army that would cause great destruction because of the wickedness of the people (Joel 2:1–11). He called on Israel to repent and turn to the Lord, promised that God would be in their midst, and described the eventual triumph and redemption of Israel (Joel 2:12–32).

  • Write Joel 2:12–32 and Joel 3:16–17 on the chalkboard. Ask class members to review these passages and look for answers to the following question: What invitations has the Lord given to those living in the latter days?

    Write the word Invitations on the chalkboard. As class members mention phrases, write key words from each invitation on the chalkboard. Encourage class members to mark these phrases in their scriptures. The following are some invitations that might be mentioned:

    Invitations

    1. a.

      “Turn ye even to me with all your heart” (Joel 2:12).

    2. b.

      “Rend your heart” (Joel 2:13, meaning to break your heart or be humble).

    3. c.

      “Turn unto the Lord your God” (Joel 2:13).

    4. d.

      “Sanctify the congregation” (Joel 2:16).

    5. e.

      “Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice” (Joel 2:21).

  • What do these invitations suggest about the importance of turning to the Lord with all our hearts? What can we do to sanctify ourselves so we are worthy of the Lord’s promised blessings?

  • Ask class members to review Joel 2:12–32 and Joel 3:16–17 again, looking for answers to the following question: What blessings has the Lord promised to those who follow him in the latter days?

    Write the word Blessings on the chalkboard. As class members mention phrases, write key words from each blessing on the chalkboard. Class members may also want to mark these phrases in their scriptures. The following are some blessings that might be mentioned:

    Blessings

    1. a.

      “He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and he will turn away the evil from you” (Joseph Smith Translation, Joel 2:13; see footnote 13b).

    2. b.

      The Lord will “pity his people” (Joel 2:18).

    3. c.

      The Lord will drive the northern army (described in verses 1–11) into a barren place (Joel 2:20).

    4. d.

      “Ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied” (Joel 2:26).

    5. e.

      “I am in the midst of Israel, … and my people shall never be ashamed” (Joel 2:27).

    6. f.

      “I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh” (Joel 2:28; see also verse 29).

    7. g.

      Young and old will prophesy, dream dreams, and see visions (Joel 2:28).

    8. h.

      “Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered” (Joel 2:32).

    9. i.

      “The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem” (Joel 3:16).

    10. j.

      “The Lord will be the hope of his people” (Joel 3:16).

    11. k.

      “The Lord will be the … strength of the children of Israel” (Joel 3:16).

    12. l.

      “So shall ye know that I am the Lord your God dwelling in Zion” (Joel 3:17).

  • What do these blessings teach about the Lord’s commitment to his covenant people? about his power in behalf of his Saints? about his mercy and love? about our opportunities in the last days?

  • Joel’s declaration that the Lord would pour out his Spirit on all people in the latter days (Joel 2:28–29) is a stark contrast to the famine that Amos described (Amos 8:11–12). The angel Moroni quoted Joel’s prophecy to Joseph Smith and told him that it was not yet fulfilled but was soon to be (Joseph Smith—History 1:41). What examples have you seen of this outpouring in the lives of youth and adults today?

Conclusion

Emphasize that it is a great blessing to live in the latter days, when many prophecies are being fulfilled and when we have the guidance of a living prophet. Encourage class members to prayerfully study the words of the living prophet and apply his counsel in their lives.

Additional Teaching Ideas

The following material supplements the suggested lesson outline. You may want to use one or more of these ideas as part of the lesson.

1. Becoming at ease in Zion

In what ways might we be at ease in Zion today? How can we guard against this?

2. “I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh” (Joel 2:28)

  • All the modern inventions of travel and communication have come since the gospel was restored. How do these developments help fulfill Joel’s prophecy in Joel 2:28–29? How do these developments help further the work of the Lord in our day?

    You may want to read the following statement from Elder Joseph Fielding Smith to help class members understand the great benefit of these inventions in performing the work of the Lord:

    “I maintain that had there been no restoration of the gospel, and no organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there would have been no radio; there would have been no airplane, and there would not have been the wonderful discoveries in medicine, chemistry, electricity, and the many other things wherein the world has been benefited by such discoveries. Under such conditions these blessings would have been withheld, for they belong to the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times of which the restoration of the gospel and the organization of the Church constitute the central point, from which radiates the Spirit of the Lord throughout the world. The inspiration of the Lord has gone out and takes hold of the minds of men, though they know it not, and they are directed by the Lord. In this manner he brings them into his service that his purposes and his righteousness, in due time, may be supreme on the earth.

    “… I do not believe for one moment that these discoveries have come by chance, or that they have come because of superior intelligence possessed by men today over those who lived in ages that are past. They have come and are coming because the time is ripe, because the Lord has willed it, and because he has poured out his Spirit on all flesh” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1926, 117).