Jonah 1–4

Old Testament Teacher Resource Manual, (2003), 205–206


Introduction

Jonah’s name means “dove.” He was the son of Amittai and came from Gath-hepher in the territory of Zebulun, three miles (five kilometers) northeast of Nazareth (see Jonah 1:1; 2 Kings 14:25). Jonah prophesied the successful campaign of Jeroboam II to restore Israel to her original borders after years of subjection to Damascus in about 788 B.C. (see 2 Kings 14:25). But he is best known for his mission to the people of Nineveh and his experience with the whale.

Jonah testified of the Lord’s justice to the people of Nineveh, and his prayer from the belly of the whale is a moving testimony of the Lord’s mercy. As with Abraham and Isaac, events in Jonah’s life story also testify powerfully of Jesus Christ. The Savior referred to His own death, burial, and resurrection as “the sign of the prophet Jonas” and warned those of His own generation that the people of Nineveh, who believed Jonah’s warning, would stand as witnesses against them (see Matthew 12:39–41; Luke 11:29–30; see also Bible Dictionary, “Jonah,” p. 716).

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Suggestions for Teaching

weekly icon Jonah 1–4. Every able young man should be worthy and willing to serve a full-time mission. Worthy young women who desire may also serve. Missionaries have the privilege of teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to Heavenly Father’s children all over the world. (40–50 minutes)

Make up a “mission call” for each student, personalizing each call with the student’s name and specific mission assignment. Give students their mission calls as they enter the classroom. Invite them to share the name of their mission and how they feel about their call. Ask:

  • What are some reasons you might feel apprehensive about any mission?

  • What should be our attitude when the Lord calls us to serve?

Consider reading or singing “I’ll Go Where You Want Me To Go” ( Hymns , no. 270).

Tell students that today they will learn about a prophet who did not want to go where he was called. Have them read Jonah 1:1–2. Ask:

  • Who was the prophet, and where was he called to go?

  • What might have concerned Jonah about serving a mission in a place like Nineveh? (see the introduction to Jonah in Old Testament Student Manual: 1 Kings–Malachi , p. 97).

Have students read Jonah 1:3. Ask:

  • How did Jonah react to his call?

  • Why do you think Jonah headed to Tarshish instead of Nineveh?

Use the following map to show where Jonah was going. See also Bible Dictionary, “Tarshish” (p. 780) and the commentary for Jonah 1:2–3 in Old Testament Student Manual: 1 Kings–Malachi (p. 98).

Read with students Jonah 1:4–3:10 and discuss the following questions:

  • What happened to Jonah as he tried to escape his mission to Nineveh?

  • Why do you suppose the Lord didn’t let Jonah drown?

  • How did the Savior refer to Jonah’s experience with the “great fish”? (see Matthew 12:38–40; 16:1–4).

  • How did the people of Nineveh respond to Jonah’s preaching?

  • What does this story teach about Heavenly Father’s love and hope for His children? (see the commentary for Jonah 3:5–9 in Old Testament Student Manual: 1 Kings–Malachi, pp. 99–100).

  • What does it teach about having hope for loved ones who have gone astray?

Have students read Jonah 4:1–3. Ask:

  • Why was Jonah angry when the Lord spared Nineveh?

  • Why would Jonah be bothered by the Ninevites’ repentance?

Read Jonah 4:4–9 with students and discuss how the Lord taught Jonah that He loves all of His children. Ask:

  • What fears might you have traveling to a people you don’t know?

  • Since the Lord loves all of His children, how can we come to love them also?

  • How would a greater personal conversion to the gospel influence our desire to share it with others? (see Mosiah 27:32–28:4).

Write Modern Gourds on the board. Ask students:

  • Why did Jonah feel more sorrow over the gourd than he did for the people in Nineveh?

  • What did the Lord try to teach Jonah about his attitude toward the people of Ninevah by using the growth and death of the gourd plant?

  • How is that like people today who are more concerned about worldly pursuits and their own needs than about saving those struggling without the gospel?

Have students list possible “modern gourds” that sometimes get in the way of our serving Heavenly Father’s children (such as it not being convenient or other excuses and distractions). Have them read Jonah 4:10–11, and ask:

  • Why was the Lord willing to extend mercy to the people of Nineveh? (see 2 Nephi 26:33; Alma 26:37).

  • What does the phrase “cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand” mean? (see the commentary for Jonah 4:1–11 in Old Testament Student Manual: 1 Kings–Malachi, p. 100).