Sharing the Gospel with the World
This lesson is on the stories of Jonah, and Micah.
The official church guide can be seen at Lesson 33 of Official LDS Church site for Gospel Doctrine
We encourage you to make sure you are familiar with the official church curriculum as the first step in your lesson preparation, as this is the material recommended by the General Authorities of the church.
Supplementary material here is not intended to substitute for lesson preparation, but hopefully it will enhance your preparations for Sunday School.
Jonah probably lived in the 7th or 8th century BC. The city of Nineveh was the capital of Assyria, and was known as a stronghold of sin.
Jonah is called by God to preach to the people of Nineveh. While some people have believed that Jonah was afraid to go, this is not the case. God's prophecy to Jonah was that if the people of Ninevah did not repent, God would destroy them. Since the people of Ninevah were considered enemies to the Northern Kingdom of Israel, Jonah, while displaying the weaknesses of men and not the strengths of God, preferred to have the people of Ninevah destroyed.
Because of his stubborness to follow his own will, and not God's will, Jonah tries to escape from God's command. He gets on board a ship at Tarshish, in an effort to leave. While on ship, a huge storm arises, and Jonah confesses to the others on board the ship that the cause of the storm is the Lord's anger at Jonah. He tells them to avoid the storm, they should throw him overboard. At first, the others refuse, but relunctantly agree.
Jonah is swallowed by a large sea creature. While the Bible doesn't specifically say that a whale swallowed Jonah, it was simply a great fish. Living on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, that fish was more likely a large shark, although this is definitely speculation. While in this sad state, Jonah prays to God, and in answer to prayer, Jonah is spit out of the fish alive.
Modern Day Fish Tales
There have been other modern day reports of men being swallowed by fish and living to tell the tale. Edward B. Davis, Associate Professor of Science and History at Messiah College, in Grantham, PA came across an article describing a man off the Falkland Islands who had been inside the belly of a sperm whale for 36 hours due to a fishing/whaling accident. Even after 36 hours, he was found alive and an excerpt of the account can be read at the link here. This inspired him to find more information.
The link also references a second man who was swallowed by a shark in the English channel. Two days later, his fellow sailors found and killed the shark. When they opened it up, they found their unconcious friend alive and took him to a hospital. A newspaper article entitled "The Jonah of the Twentieth Century" is dated from the 1920's or 1930's and is also contained in the same link here.
From a theological point of view, the strongest reason to believe the story of Jonah is Jesus Christ's reference to the "sign of Jonah" where he states in Matthew 12:39-41: ...An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: [Jonah]
Vs. 40 For as Jonas was three days and three night in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Vs. 41, The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.
Readers of this story still find Jonah's unrepentant attitude a conundrum. After being saved from the fish, Jonah repents and preaches to the city of Ninevah. Miraculously, the city holds a fast and repents and the Lord does not destroy the city.
Jonah is upset by this, so God teaches him one more lesson. The Lord caused a plant (in Hebrew a kikayon) to grow over his shelter, giving Jonah some shade from the sun. Later, a worm bit the plant's root and it withered. Jonah, being now exposed to the burning heat of the sun, became faint and desired that God would take him out of the world.
The Lord said unto him, "Do you have reason to be concerned at the death of a plant, which cost you nothing, which rises one night and dies the next; yet would you not have me pardon such a city as Nineveh, in which are 120,000 persons not able to distinguish their right hand from their left, and many beasts besides?"
God clearly uses imperfect people to do his miracles.
Micah is the author of the Book of Micah, also called "The Morasthite" to distinguish him from Micaiah, the son of Imlah (1 Kings 22:8). He was a prophet of Judah, a contemporary of Isaiah (Micah 1:1), a native of Moresheth of Gath (1:14, 15). Very little is known of the circumstances of his life (comp. Jer. 26:18, 19).
Book of Micah
Micah wrote the book in the reigns of Jotham (742-735 BC), Ahaz (735-715 BC), and Hezekiah (715-687 BC), roughly 735-700 BC. Few Old Testament scholars today would defend Micah's authorship of the entire book. However, some scholars attribute much more of the materials to Micah than others. The authorship of the book of Micah is somewhat controversial. It is generally agreed that Micah composed chapters 1 through 3; some scholars hold that chapter 6 and sections of chapter 7 were also written by the historical Micah.
Micah's message was from a small town southwest of Jerusalem, Moresheth-gath.
Purpose of Book of Micah
Micah expressed disdain for the corruptions and pretensions of Jerusalem and its leaders. In an era of urbanization, he championed the traditions of early Israel. Before Kings' David and Solomon, Israel was primarily an agricultural society. However, with David and Solomon's extensive building programs, including the Temple of Solomon, the Nation of Israel became much more of an urban society.
He warned that God would judge the land because of their false worship and moral corruption. He prophesied that God would make Samaria a heap of ruins and likewise Zion. His credentials are divine inspiration and his unflinching stand for moral truth (3:8). His strong sense of call is exhibited in virtually every line.
- Micah condemned religious practice untethered from ethical performance (3:9-10,6:3-5,6-8).
- He criticizes the prophets who give oracles for money (3:11) or tailor their messages according to their clients' generosity (3:5). As a contrast to this, remember the story of Balaam, who wanted to receive money for cursing Israel.)
He speaks to the issues of his day in terms of Israel's covenant obligations, in a similar way that often our General Authorities remind us of our temple covenants. Additionally, he reminds the nation that God will lead his people to future glory, in spite of Israel's failures (in Micah's day) to maintain their righteousness.
The book may be divided into three sections:
- Chapters 1-3 mainly consist of oracles of judgment.
- Chapters 4-5 of oracles of hope.
- Chapters 6-7 begins with judgment and moves to hope.
Chapters 1-3 mainly consist of oracles of judgment. Judgment in Micah is seen in the destruction of Samaria, in the coming of an invader against Jerusalem. This because the greedy land-owners would be abandoned by Jehovah or Yahweh, as well as the false prophets of the land. The siege of Jerusalem would clean the land from idolatry and militarism.
Chapters 4-5 consist of oracles of hope. The prophet said that those conditions would not prevail forever. Judgment would come but a saved, chastened, and faithful remnant would survive. A new king from the line of David would be born in Bethlehem and replace the present weak king on the throne. He would reign in the majesty of the name of Yahweh. His people would dwell securely and he would be great to the ends of earths.
Chapters 6-7 begin with judgment and move to hope. Micah puts a protest on the people's lips, offering any religious response God cared to ask for. Violence, deception, and crooked business practices were rampant. They would bring desolation and destruction to the land. The reference to Omri and Ahab indicates that the same kinds of corruption that destroyed the northern kingdom had now spread to Judah.
In conclusion, Micah's later hearers take his messages to heart. His words of hope gave them new heart to live as God's people in a darkened world.
Additional Teaching Materials
- Old Testament Institute Manual
- The Old Testament Made Easier Part 2. David J Ridges, 2006.