[ Author: Kathy Petersen ]
A misapplication of scripture
When talking to Mormons, Seventh-day Adventists, or any other sect which claims to be based on the Bible, and also to have modern-day prophets who receive revelation from God (which often contradicts the Bible), they’ll often point to Amos 3:7 as proof of God always having prophets:
(KJV) Amos 3:7 “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.”
They’ll quote this verse (without ever going into the context), and say, “See! This says that God won’t do anything without telling His prophets; God is still working today, therefore God must still have prophets that He’s revealing His secrets to.”
First, even if that were what the verse was saying, it does not follow that their particular prophet is the one (or one of the ones) that God is revealing stuff to. [The other “false prophet tests” in the Bible should still be applied to their claimed prophet(s), past or present, with false prophets rejected.]
Second, the context of Amos 3 is that of woe and destruction which is being prophesied to happen to Israel (in this chapter) and the surrounding nations (the chapter before and after), for their sins – with Israel being the main focus of the punishment for their iniquities because they were God’s chosen people (and had been given the Law, the true worship of God, the prophets, etc.), and had spurned it, and gone off worshipping false gods, and mingling worship of false gods with the worship of the One True and Living God (Yahweh, YHWH, the LORD).
Checking the context
So, the context of the things which God is revealing is not of everything that God ever did, is doing, or will do, but of God graciously warning people about the coming destruction because of their sins, which they can turn aside by repenting and obeying Him. Frankly, this sort of “prophetic warning” is woefully lacking from most if not all those who claim to be prophets or prophetesses in our modern times.
The context doesn’t support their claims of being prophets, because they’re not warning of specific judgments that are coming because of specific sins. [I would add that the Bible is sufficient warning of this, since it commands certain things, and warns of judgment if people do not do them. Certainly, eternal judgment should be sufficient warning – if people will not turn aside from sin to escape the judgment of hell, why should they turn aside from sin to escape the judgment of plague, disease, or other bad things in this life?]
However, if the passage means what they claim it means, it is actually damning to their position (hence the title of this article.)
What I mean by that is this: most of these groups do not claim that God has always had prophets! Let that sink in for a moment. Oh, they’re fine with starting with their own first claimed prophet (e.g., Joseph Smith for Mormons, or Ellen G. White for Seventh-day Adventists, or any of a thousand other “prophets” in modern times – not just those living today but going back the last 2-3 centuries [the 1800s seemed to be particularly prone to this!]), but they can’t, don’t, and won’t even attempt to point to prior prophets of God who would fit Amos 3:7.
Indeed, they would generally recognize that “the voice of God” via the prophets was silent from the time of the death of the Apostles (or whenever they start “the Apostasy” – because most would claim that there was a universal or near-universal Apostasy from “true Christianity” soon after the close of the first century, thus necessitating a “restoration”, which conveniently usually starts with their particular prophet); further, they would usually agree that God was likewise silent from the end of the OT until the preaching of John the Baptist. However, they do not tend to make the claim that God was inactive, doing nothing, for all of that time!
Facing a dilemma
So, ask them, “Was God inactive from the time of Malachi until the time of John? Was He inactive for the 1800 or so years from the death of the Apostles until the time of [JS, EGW, or other “prophet” of their choice]? I thought you said that this verse proved that prophets are necessary for this day! Where were God’s prophets during all that time?”
It’s an uncomfortable position for them, because most of them have never considered that they are functional “cessationists” (i.e., that they believed that God’s prophets had ceased to exist) for hundreds of years of earth’s history – from the time of Malachi to John, and from the end of the first century until their particular prophet came on the scene.
And while Mormons continue to have modern-day Prophets (though they don’t typically prophesy, and haven’t issued any Amos-style warnings), other groups may not, so you can ask them who is their current Prophet, and if they say they have none, ah, that opens up another interesting discussion.
Why doesn’t Amos 3:7 apply in this case? The only answer they could possibly give (as far as I can imagine) is that God doesn’t need to talk to prophets today because their past prophet is sufficient even until this time. But if that’s the case, why wouldn’t the “past prophets” of the Bible (i.e., the completed canon of Scripture) be similarly sufficient for lo these hundreds of years?