This article was posted at Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry. I would be interested in comments from my Mormon readers as to their thoughts about this article.
by Luke Wayne
"Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets," (Amos 3:7, KJV).
The Mormon Church argues that this verse proves their belief in a modern day prophet and continued revelation. There are several reasons, however, to reject this interpretation.
The context of the passage is specifically addressing God's judgment of cities in the time of ancient Israel. The verse is obviously not asserting that God is sending a constant stream of unending revelation to update the prophets on everything He is doing everywhere in the universe as He guides and sustains all of creation. In fact, if we include the whole context, we find that it says:
"Hear this word that the Lord hath spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying, You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities. Can two walk together, except they be agreed? Will a lion roar in the forest, when he hath no prey? will a young lion cry out of his den, if he have taken nothing? Can a bird fall in a snare upon the earth, where no gin is for him? shall one take up a snare from the earth, and have taken nothing at all? Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it? Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets," (Amos 3:1-7).
Of all the nations of the world, God had only known Israel. Prophetic oracles were given only to Israel (Romans 3:1-2). This is specific to them. A series of rhetorical questions are then asked, leading to the final question, "Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?" The word "evil" here is meant in the sense of calamity or disaster, and the obvious answer is "no." There will not a disaster in their cities unless God brings it about. If there is calamity in the city, God has done it. In fact, God goes on in the next chapter to take credit for all the variety of disasters and troubles their cities have faced, such as drought, starvation, disease, and invasion by enemies (Amos 4:6-10). Right after Amos 3:6 says "Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?" Amos 3:7 goes on to say, "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." The point is that God raises up prophets to warn Israel before He judges their cities. It is not saying that God literally will not take any action of any kind throughout all creation anywhere without revealing it through a prophet, but rather that God will not do anything regarding Israel's judgment without first revealing it through a prophet.
In fact, if one takes this as a universal promise to all nations and all times, it actually refutes Mormonism! There is calamity and disaster in cities all over the world all the time. If this promise in Amos 3:7 is universal and for all times, and if the Mormon prophet is the one true prophet of God, He should be warning each of these cities around the world of their imminent troubles. After all, calamity does not come to a city unless God does it, and God does nothing without first revealing it to His prophet. We can easily test this theory by checking if all these cities and nations were warned by the Mormon prophet prior to their disasters. They were not. So if the typical Mormon interpretation of Amos 3:7 were true, it would still prove their own claims false!
Finally, while there are both men (Acts 13:1) and women (Acts 21:9) in the New Testament church who are rightly called prophets, God's revelation through His servants "the prophets" ended with John the Baptist (Matthew 11:13). It was superseded by God's greater and final revelation in Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:1-2). The coming of Jesus was the great fulfillment of all that came before (Luke 24:44) and the ushering in of the new and better covenant (Hebrews 8:13). God now communes with His people in Christ through the indwelling of the Spirit and has already made Himself and His judgments known in Jesus. There are no grounds for the Mormon idea that Christians today must be under an unending chain of governing prophets. Not Amos nor any biblical author puts forward such a claim.