112.2: Prophets and Social Justice. Amos and Joel; OT Lesson 35 (Study Notes)

God Reveals His Secrets to His Prophets


Class Member Reading: Amos 3; 7; 8; 9; Joel 2; 3; D&C 1:37-38

Additional Reading: Joseph Smith–History 1:41; D&C 1:14-28

Other Reading: The rest of Amos and Joel, especially Amos 4-5


What is the “secret” that God reveals to his prophets? And what do we make of the fact that Amos was called from outside all institutional structure? This section explores how Amos’ critiques apply to our modern lives and institutions and how we can care better for each other and the world.


Jessica and Jeremy continue a bold, challenging, but important discussion


You can access the Annotated Reading here (or PDF).

You can access the Lesson Notes here (or PDF).



Thanks to William Newman for content editing and Steven Nelson for the music.

Latest Comments

  1. Jenne says:

    Here is your critique for why not to teach in the midst of serving. It rings disingenuous and seems to be a bait and switch where someone is becoming a captive audience as they feel obliged to sit and listen. I think you also suggested going to local municipalities and requesting information on where service is necessary. The government with its separation of church and state would be very uncomfortable sending religious teaching out into the community using their govt resources to make the contacts.

    With this in mind, the onus for establishing contact with the needy is on the religious group that wants to serve. The church is very good at creating side businesses to provide serving that uphold a certain level of civilization so why not create non-profits in every community that is staffed with a social worker whose job is to isolate the needs within the community and then put the members of the church on meeting those needs? The obvious answer is because non-profits are not a good investment that can turn one talent into ten ( the church is really good at that). Utah’s state government is currently leading the nation on ending homelessness by providing an apartment and a social worker to every person without a home at a cost savings to the state. The church can look to this program as an example and could take this up in local communities instead of waiting for municipalities to pilot the program. Seattle is emulating it as well so it is catching on.

    Jared, you make the point that church members are tapped out on donations except there is an effort to convince citizens of the world that a good portion of income can be given to charitable causes every year. Peter Singer who wrote The Life You Can Save is encouraging everyday people to pledge up to 25% of income to alleviating global poverty, which says to Mormons that we can try to double our donations and adjust our standards of living accordingly.


  2. Michael Sasse says:

    Jared, you do an excellent job in explaining and giving perspective of what these scriptures are trying to tell us. Like you, I’d like to see more emphasis on the 4th mission of the church. However, trading tithing to the church for donations to the poor would not be an appropriate recommendation–specifically, in a church setting (although, I suppose, for those who give 10 percent of gross income, giving 10 percent of the difference between gross and net income could be a bit of a compromise). Also, while I agree that the church and church members can and should do more for those in less fortunate circumstances, I think you and your panel underestimate what individual church members (and the church) regularly do for their community compared to their peers (in other churches and otherwise). I looked up the topics covered in the April 2014 General Conference and “Service” was tied with “Adversity” (no surprise there) as being the topic most covered (6 talks including the Relief Society Meeting). Granted, service talks frequently include church service, in particular, but service in the community is also frequently encouraged. In addition, under the topic “Love”, President Monson encouraged us–once again– to “love (the essence of the gospel)” our neighbor–maybe not specific enough for some, but service given towards community needs is implied. Also, fyi, our Stake has recently started a pilot program called “Just Serve” in which service provided by church members using local non-profit agencies is being organized.
    Finally, given the title of this Lesson–God Reveals His Secrets to His Prophets–I think more time devoted to the purpose of Prophets in our lives, was an important point that wasn’t really covered in this lesson. Along those lines, seeking personal revelation would be part of the process of “listening” to our prophets.
    Again, I appreciate your passion and devotion.


    • Jared Anderson says:

      Great comments…. I will include them in the next Corrections to Consider.


    • Garrett says:

      I may be wrong, but I think that Jared’s point may have been not that we don’t really emphasize service in the church, but that we might be able to better incorporate the community service and loving our neighbors into the 10-40 hours we are already asked to give for church callings and meetings. Let’s be honest, after a full work day, church meetings, homework, cooking, cleaning, scouts, FHE, temple, etc. asking for more community service on top of that is nearly pointless. I didn’t even get a chance to watch Modern Family in there as it was, and it might be good to find a little time to exercise as well. Luckily I can do that while listening to Jared’s excellent podcast.
      I’ve never seen a regular ward service night, but there is always a regular ward temple night, and if a service night were implemented it would likely be in addition to, rather than instead of ward temple night.

      Thank you Jared, you speak to me.


      • Jared Anderson says:

        Thank you Garrett. Yes, you understand precisely the main points we were trying to make.


      • Garrett says:

        I cringed with embarrassment as I listened to part two of the podcast and realized that there was really no doubt about the intentions relating to service. I apologize for commenting before finishing the podcast. It definitely spoke for itself, and much better than I could have.
        In addition, I love what was said about allowing the scriptures to speak to us as they are rather than trying to fit them into a box that meets our expectation. There is a great big beautiful world out there that is much more inspiring when I allow it to show me what it is, rather than trying to fit it into my comfortably limited understanding.
        Thanks again for your time and effort.


  3. eric says:

    Great work on this one. I appreciated the boldness and challenging nature of these two podcasts. Both guests were fantastic as well. I don’t think they were overly critical, especially when viewed in context of the entire body of work you have created here. Well done as always!


  4. Dana Watkins says:

    I love being challenged by your insight and ideas–even those that may outwardly appear overly radical. However, I had to draw the line at your suggestion that we may know better how to spend our tithing dollars than those whom we have sustained to be caretakers of those sacred funds. Surely we can exercise some faith on their behalf that those monies will be well spent. It is rather presumptuous to think that we can self-righteously take a portion of the money we have pledged to the Lord and donate it to some cause that we think is better than how it is currently spent. I don’t think that’s our call. Furthermore, it puts us on a precipitously dangerous slippery slope. As Jesus said in Matt. 23:23 “…for you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, justice, mercy, and faith: these ought you to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” I believe we can–and should–pay our tithing in addition to observing the “weightier matters of the law.”


  5. Corey says:

    So frustrating… But, really great job on this podcast. As a politically rather Libertarian leaning individual, many would expect me to take great issue with the ideas presented toward social justice… However, the lesson/discussion filled me with frustration, that THIS message isn’t being hammered into us from nursery to High Priests/Relief Society mtg and General conference. Why on earth aren’t we letting the scriptures speak, taking their calls to repentance seriously, and pushing each other to better care for the poor?

    Thank you so much for the work you’re doing. It’s keeping me sane, even if frequently frustrated.


  6. Sam says:

    I personally believe what you taught about the OT’s message about social justice. It needs to be not just part of our teachings, but among our central teachings and practice. But what do you do with the Savior’s teachings on the subject in the Bible? Sure the poor are blessed, but he also quipped to apostles who thought that an extravagance should be sold to benefit the poor that “the poor you shall always have with you, but you will not always have me”? The apostles saw a better way to minister–sell and give to the poor–and he corrected them. To the gentile woman, he used a metaphor that assumed the propriety of not giving the children’s food to the dogs, meaning that it should be withheld from lower beings. I get that he was speaking figuratively, but if you live inside his figurative language, it suggests a normative value is placed on withholding from the needy or at least the outsiders. Besides telling the rich young ruler to sell all that he had and give to the poor, and making a prediction about the fat man’s chance through the needle, it is hard to find solid messages from him about giving to the poor. He praised charitable giving too such as with the good Samaritan. But it seems like the condemnation if those who fail to give to the poor was crisp and pronounced in the Jewish Bible but not in the NT.
    It appears that the OT and the BoM have much stronger teachings in that regard than the NT or PoGP.


    • Jared Anderson says:

      Great observations Sam. The gospels are a bit tricky because historical context is required to really understand Jesus’ message. Jesus’s ministry was a symbolic prefigurement of the Messianic Era (what we call the Millennium), and so there was an emphasis on everyone having what they needed and social divisions being removed, but there was also a message of enjoying abundance. That is why Jesus was called a “glutton and a drunkard.” Lots of tensions there that make Christianity so distinctive.


      • Sam says:

        And yet the poor were all around him. He was one of them. “Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” Why wasn’t the call to give the poor more of an emphasis and why did he actually seem to discourage giving to the poor in a few instances? To say that he was participating in the metaphor of abundance when there were starving children and widows around him just doesn’t square with his message to the rich young ruler, the social justice themes in the OT or the Jesus who I want to read into the scriptures. Would he really ignore the very real hungry cries of a starving child to make a point of metaphorical abundance? We have abundant examples of him being moved to compassion and even tears regarding physical, psychological, and familial suffering. He was moved to compassion also when clerical abuses caused suffering. It is striking to me that we don’t have a single example in the NT of his being moved to compassion by the hunger of those he saw around him. Even when he provided wine and food, each of those examples seem to be just when it was convenient (wine runs out at Mom’s soiree, couple thousand people are up the mountain with nothing to feed them, etc) not because he saw someone starving and fed them.


  7. Sam says:

    I shouldn’t have omitted my congratulations. This was another superb episode. So well done!


  8. lizzyjones says:

    After listening to this episode and teaching this lesson last week, I was yearning to hear more about our responsibility toward the poor during GC…loved Elder Holland’s talk!


    • Jared Anderson says:

      Agreed! So glad Elder Holland addressed this vital issue in conference. I will have to add the link to the lesson.


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