OLD TESTAMENT - LESSON 33
Jonah & Micah
- Jonah is called to preach to Ninevah, but runs away.
- The people of Ninevah respond to Jonah's message and repent.
- Micah prophecies of the mission of latter-day Israel.
Jonah Called To Preach To Ninevah
- Historical Background.
READ JONAH 1:1-3. Jonah flees his mission.
- Time frame:
- Jonah's mission: about 788 BC.
- He probably lived during the early reign of Jereboam II of Israel.
- He prophesied to the nation of Assyria (also to Israel, but not mentioned
in the Book of Jonah).
- Many Bible critics consider the story of Jonah to be an allegory or
- Jesus said that Jonah preached repentance to Ninevah (Luke 11:29-32)
and that the episode in the whale was a sign of Christ's own death and
While Jonah was sailing to Tarshish a great tempest came up and threatened
the ship (1:4).
- WHY DID THE LORD WANT JONAH TO GO TO NINEVAH?
- WHY DO YOU SUPPOSE JONAH WAS RELUCTANT TO GO TO NINEVAH?
- It was a city of great wickedness and violence (see Nahum 3:1-5).
- WHY DID JONAH FLEE TO TARSHISH?
- "...to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD"
- Sidney Sperry: "A call on a mission - and direct from the Lord!
But it was no surprise to the prophet to be called, for he had probably
carried out many missions for the Lord in Israel before. His surprise lay
not in the fact of the call but in the kind of call, and rebellion arose
in his heart. It was a call to go to Nineveh, 'the great city' of Assyria,
and preach to its heathen inhabitants, for their wickedness had come up
before the Lord. . . .
"Jonah was torn between his loyalty
to God and the whip of his emotions. The latter were at a fever pitch and
in the end determined his actions. Because he couldn't face the mission
call, he determined to flee the country and get away from the unpleasant
responsibility. He did not intend to lay down his prophetic office; he
merely wanted to absent himself without leave for a time until an unpleasant
situation adjusted itself." (Voice Israel's Prophets, pp328-29)
- HOW MIGHT WE SOMETIMES TRY TO HIDE FROM THE LORD?
- Consider these possibilities from the Old Testament Student Manual
- A person who refuses to accept a call in the Primary because she would
not be able to attend Relief Society meetings.
- A young man who turns down a mission call so he can accept a scholarship
from a university.
- A family who does not hold regular family home evenings.
- A person who gets behind on his bills and does not pay his tithing.
- A young women too shy to accept a call as a Young Adult Relief Society
- WHAT ARE THE RESULTS OF OUR EFFORTS TO HIDE FROM THE LORD?
"Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish's belly"
- All those in the ship gathered to cast lots to find who it was that
brought evil upon the ship. The lot fell upon Jonah (1:6-7).
- Jonah explained the reason for the tempest and said, "Take
me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you:
for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you" (1:12).
- The crew of the ship was hesitant to throw Jonah overboard, but eventually
were forced to take action because of the continuing tempest. When they
did so, "the sea ceased from her raging" (1:13-15).
- "Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah.
And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights"
This was a tough way for Jonah to learn that the Lord is serious about
his commandments. And yet the Lord was merciful in that he put Jonah in
a situation that would humble him and provide the opportunity to repent.
- While Jonah was in the belly of the fish he had a change of heart.
Consider a few of the words of his prayer:
- "I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy
holy temple" (2:4).
- "When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and
my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple" (2:7).
- "But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving;
I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD" (2:9).
- "And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah
upon the dry land" (2:10).
During his earthly ministry, the Savior spoke about the "sign
of the prophet Jonas" or Jonah (Matthew 12:39).
- IN WHAT WAYS DOES THE LORD HELP US TO REPENT AND RETURN TO HIS WAYS?
- When we disobey the Lord, we may set up a chain of circumstances that
can humble us. If we are honest in heart, then these circumstances should
provoke us to repent, as did Jonah.
- WHAT IS THIS SIGN AND WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
- Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "Our Lord refused to give the wicked
and adulterous Jews any sign proving his divine Sonship, except the sign
of Jonas (Jonah). This was that 'as Jonas was three days and three nights
in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights
in the heart of the earth.' (Matt. 12:38-41; 16:4.) Thus Jonah's burial
in and coming forth from the 'great fish' (Jonah 1:15-17; 2) symbolizes
the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, so that 'as Jonas was a
sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation.'
(Luke 11:29-30.) By repenting and believing Jonah, wicked Nineveh was saved;
by repenting and believing Christ, the wicked Jews could have freed themselves
from sin. And the miracle of the resurrection, symbolized by the sign of
Jonas, stands as a witness against them that they rejected their God."
(Mormon Doctrine, p711)
- President Spencer W. Kimball: "When I ask for more missionaries,
I am not asking for more testimony-barren or unworthy missionaries. I am
asking that we start earlier and train our missionaries better in every
branch and every ward in the world. That is another challenge--that the
young people will understand that it is a great privilege to go on a mission
and that they must be physically well, mentally well, spiritually well,
and that 'the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance.'...
"The question is frequently asked:
Should every young man fill a mission? And the answer has been given by
the Lord. It is 'Yes.' Every young man should fill a mission."
(Ensign, Oct. 1974, pp7-8)
- Jonah was commanded by the Lord to go to Ninevah and preach repentance.
Like Jonah, the young men of the Church have been called by the Lord to
go into the world and preach repentance.
- WHAT ARE SOME OF THE REASONS WHY SOME ABLE YOUNG MEN CHOOSE NOT TO
- There are a variety of excuses used by young men for not serving a
mission such as school, academic and athletic scholarships, jobs, girl
friends, and even sin. These are only excuses or symptoms. I think the
real reason is the lack of testimony and commitment to the Lord. He who
is truly committed to the Lord is willing to sacrifice whatever he must
to give missionary service.
- Elder Charles A. Callis: "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints has grown great in service and sacrifice. This Church will always
be a missionary church, and its glorious work will be performed in a spirit
of service and sacrifice. Sacrifice will bring forth the blessings of heaven."
(CR, Oct. 1925)
- Elder David B. Haight: "In behalf of the Brethren, this is
a call for retired couples to seriously consider serving a mission. we
desperately need more couples to help meet our needs.... Less than 50 percent
of the requests for couple missionaries from [our] mission presidents are
"The Brethren hope that many,
many more couples will make themselves available for full-time service
to the Church. The need is great! Hundreds of thousands of new members
join the Church each year, and they need to hear a friendly voice of support
and comfort from experienced members.
"The refrain, 'I'll go where
you want me to go, dear Lord' should be more than a hymn we sing on Sunday.
It should be our own prayer of faith as we serve wherever the Lord has
need of us." (Ensign, Feb. 1996, pp7,12)
- While on my mission in eastern Oklahoma, I had the opportunity to work
with a missionary couple from Pleasant Grove, Utah. They were a wonderful
blessing to the local branch. As young missionaries we were primarily in
the business of seeking out prospects and teaching them the gospel. This
older couple was able to pick up where we left off. They continued to teach
and fellowship new members. They worked with inactive members. They were
a wonderful resource to those holding various positions throughout the
branch. I learned of the tremendous blessing such couples bring to an area.
The need is great.
- Though older couples have not been given the same commandment to serve
as the young men of the Church, according to Elder Haight, each retired
couple needs to prayerfully consider missionary service. Like the young
men, couples can also come up with reasons for not serving. Many of those
reasons can be overcome if there is a willingness to do whatever the Lord
asks. Yes, it is a big sacrifice to leave a comfortable home, the relaxation
of retirement, chances for travel, and the companionship of grandchildren.
- HOW CAN WE BE MORE VALIANT IN OBEYING THE LORD AND SHARING THE GOSPEL?
- It is important that we establish an attitude of missionary service
in our homes. I was blessed to grow up in a family with a legacy of missionary
service. Missionary service was talked about and from my earliest memories
I always expected to go on a mission. My great-great grandfather, Heber
C. Kimball, opened the British Mission and served on many other missions.
My parents had pride in this legacy and often talked about this great man.
My father served on a mission to Texas during
the Great Depression. He was asked to stay out an additional year because
of the great need for young elders. It was a sacrifice for dad to give
up another year of his life and a sacrifice for grandfather to come up
with the additional funds. My older brother served a mission to England.
My grandmother served two missions after the passing of her husband. Grandma
often talked of her missions and the importance of the work. I often remember
her reminding me to sit up at the dinner table and have proper manners
because we wanted to always set a good example to those with whom we came
When it came time for me to go on a mission,
the Vietnam War was raging and the Church had a quota system. Because of
that, my mission was postponed for six months. But there was still no question,
that I would serve. About that same time, my father was operated on for
cancer and laid up for several weeks. The bishop asked my dad if I would
still be able to serve. My dad responded that his operation had nothing
to do with my missionary service. He said that if I wanted to go on a mission,
I should go and he would make sure I had the money needed to stay in the
field. My dad continued to help each of the grandchildren that wanted to
serve on missions with financial support. Dad passed away last year, but
knowing that he might not live long enough to see my son serve, he gave
us money to bank for his mission.
- I have been blessed with the missionary spirit in my home. We need
to pass this legacy on to our children. We need to talk of the importance
of the work. We need to share stories of those whose lives have been touched
by missionary service. We need to invite the full-time missionaries into
our homes. As parents, we need to set the example for our children, and
make plans and talk about the mission we will serve when we retire. Like
Jonah, we are heading out into a society as wicked as Ninevah. But there
are those who will repent and accept the gospel. We must prepare ourselves
The People of Ninevah Respond To Jonah's Message
- "And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time,
saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the
preaching that I bid thee" (Jonah 3:1-2).
HOW DID THE PEOPLE OF NINEVAH RESPOND?
- Jonah learned his lesson "and went unto Nineveh, according
to the word of the LORD" (3:3).
- He preached repentance and warned the people of their destruction (3:4).
HOW DID THE LORD RESPOND TO THE ACTIONS OF THE PEOPLE?
- READ JONAH 3:5-9. The people repent.
- Anciently, people clothed themselves in a coarse cloth, called sackcloth,
and sat in ashes to show they were humble and repentant.
HOW DID JONAH RESPOND WHEN THE LORD FORGAVE THE PEOPLE OF NINEVEH?
- "And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil
way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto
them; and he did it not" (3:10).
- JST: "And God saw their works that they turned from their evil
way and repented; and God turned away the evil that he had said he would
bring upon them."
The Lord then gave Jonah an object lesson to teach him that God loves
all his children and desired to show mercy to the repentant people of Nineveh
(see Jonah 4:4-11).
- "...it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry"
- "Here Jonah demonstrated a second problem: a weakness of character.
He pouted because the people did repent and God turned his wrath away.
Jonah was so upset that he wished he were dead. Though he had repented
of his desire to escape the call of the Lord and went to Nineveh, Jonah
had not substatially changed his attitude toward the Gentiles."
(Old Testament Student Manual 2:100).
- Brother LeGrande Davies: "Jonah's perception of his mission
was different from the Lord's and he tried to force his ideas on the Lord.
He wanted to destroy the people of Nineveh, but God forgave them. In the
midst of Jonah's rebellion, the Lord introduces a kikion tree, to grow
up, shelter and protect Jonah from the heat of the sun, for which Jonah
is very grateful. But in the night a worm eats out the inside of the plant,
and when the sun comes up and the hot east winds or 'death winds' off the
deserts blow, it withers and dies. To Jonah's distress God then asks, 'Are
you so angry over the kikion?' 'Yes,' Jonah answers, 'I am very angry about
it.' The Lord replies, 'You are sorry for the kikion but you didn't have
any part in growing it. It is a plant which came in the night and withered
in the night, and why should not I be sorry or feel concerned for the great
city of Nineveh?' (Jonah 4:6-11)." (Religious Studies Monograph
Series, Isaiah and the Prophets, 10:93)
- Historical Background:
- Time frame:
- Micah's mission: about 740-697 BC.
- His mission began during Hosea's and extended some years beyond it.
He prophesied to both Judah & Israel.
- Israel (the northern kingdom) taken captive in Assyria in about 721
- Contemporary Prophets:
- Brother Duane S. Crowther: "Micah is a product of the open
hills and shows dislike for the cities. As a member of the oppressed peasantry
he speaks for the common people and defends them against the nobles and
rich landlords of Judah. He is primarily an ethical and religious teacher
and shows little knowledge or interest in political matters."
(Prophets & Prophecies of The Old Testament, p282)
- Micah prophesied about the destruction of Israel and Judah.
READ MICAH 5:2. The birth of the Savior prophesied.
READ MICAH 2:12. The remnant of Israel to be gathered.
- READ MICAH 1:2-9. Destruction of Israel &
- HOW WAS THIS PROPHECY FULFILLED?
- Israel (Jacob) taken captive by Assyria in 721 BC.
- Jerusalem destroyed & Judah taken captive by the Babylonians in
- Micah, like Hosea, pointed out the sins of Israel & Judah and prophesied
the judgments which would come upon them. Unlike Jonah and Ninevah, the
people failed to heed the words of the Lord and their destruction was made
READ MICAH 4:6-7,11-13. Israel to be gathered
& made a strong nation.
READ MICAH 5:8-9. The remnant of Israel to be
like a lion.
- HOW IS THIS PROPHECY BEING FULFILLED?
READ MICAH 6:6-8. What does the Lord require?
- Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "These words of our Lord to the Nephites
are quoted from Micah 5:8-9 and have reference to the desolations and ultimate
burning that shall destroy the wicked at the Second Coming. Except for
a few who are the humble followers of Christ, the Gentiles will not repent.
They will revel in their abominations and sin against the restored gospel,
and they will be burned by the brightness of our Lord's coming while the
righteous -- here called the remnant of Jacob -- shall abide the day. And
then, in the prophetic imagery, it will be as though the remnant of Israel
overthrew their enemies as a young lion among the flocks of sheep."
(The Millennial Messiah, p248)
- This really sums up what is required of us.
The story of Jonah is an interesting story about the importance of doing
missionary work. The Lord will see to it that his work goes forth. Our
responsibility is to accept his call and preach the gospel wherever and
with whomever we have the opportunity. It is a great work and we live in
a day when the ancient prophecies are being fulfilled. We can be part of
Lesson 34: Hosea 1-3; 11; 13-14
Additional Reading: The remainder of Hosea
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