Amos 8:11-12: The Great Apostasy

Amos 8:11-12 reads, “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.”

Many Mormons have used these verses to support the idea that there would be a  Great Apostasy.where all authority would be lost on the earth soon after the death of the apostles. Although he is a faithful Latter-day Saint teaching at Brigham Young University in Provo, UT, Charles Harrell does not think this is a good passage to support the Great Apostasy:

Biblical scholars explain that, in its historical context, the “famine” alluded to in this passage refers to the imminent consequence of the wickedness and apostasy of ancient Israel as seen in the Assyrian conquest (see Amos 7:11). Similar mention of this state of spiritual depravity in ancient Israel can be found in other writings in the wake of the Babylonian captivity (e.g., Isa. 29:10). Amos is telling the Israelites that, although at present they have prophets to tell them the word of the Lord, “the days [will] come” (in their captivity) when they will no longer have access to God’s words. This prophecy was uttered around 760 B.C. and Israel was invaded by the Assyrians about 40 years later. Echoing the view of other Old Testament scholars, BYU religion professor D. Kelley Ogden comments, “Amos’s mission was to warn Israel of its present disastrous state and forewarn it of impending captivity.” He further notes that “Amos’s prophecies [including this one] were fulfilled, soon by the Assyrians and then later by other conquerors.” While the language of these Old Testament prophecies may contain apt descriptions of the spiritual depravity of our modern day—and for that matter almost any other period of history—the scholarly consensus is that in their original context, these prophecies were expressly directed at ancient Israel’s apostate condition.” (‘This is My Doctrine,’ ch. 2)