Prophets gone astray

7. Jonah was a prophet, tried to run away,
But he later learned to listen and obey.
When we really try, the Lord won’t let us fail:
That’s what Jonah learned deep down inside the whale.

Certainly my least favorite song in the Children’s Song Book (to the point that I refused to play it at all during my last stint in primary), but the story of Jonah has been going through my mind a lot for the last week or so.

I recently listened to a great podcast episode discussing the Assyrians and Nineveh which put it fresh in my memory.  When you look at the book of Jonah, the first chapter contains almost everything we all remember about Jonah: He was called to preach to Nineveh, runs away, gets thrown overboard, then eaten by a whale, where he stays for 3 days/nights.

However, if you continue on, Chapter 2 is his prayer of thanksgiving for having survived. Things start getting interesting in Ch. 3 (for our purposes at least).  After he’s on dry land, the Lord commands him to go cry repentance to Nineveh (and boy did they need it – see the Hardcore History episode above if you want details), and threaten them with destruction.  When the people hear his dire prophecy, they actually repent, and God stays His hand and doesn’t destroy the city.

Here’s where it gets interesting: Instead of expressing joy like your typical missionary, Jonah then gets MAD! He’s upset that God didn’t punish those darn evil people like He said He would.  The rest of Chapters 3 and 4 go on to show God teaching Jonah how he loves EVERYONE.

After reviewing this delightful book of the Hebrew Bible, I thought about how much relevance it has for our current situation in the church. After much thought, prayer, and a genuine wrestle with the recent policy changes, I feel like our church leaders are acting a bit like Jonah.  Not Chapter 1 Jonah, but Chapter 3 Jonah.  They’re not seeing how loving God is toward ALL of his children; instead, they’re trying to place that love within their own bounds, and hurting a lot of people in the process.

Prophets have been wrong before (Adam-God, Blacks & the Priesthood/Temple), and they can do it again. I think they are doing it right now.

And can we please get rid of that song!?! (Or at least the chorus, and change it out of a minor key?)

  1. Please, please listen to Jared Anderson’s podcast on the book of Jonah (Part 1, and Part 2). Fantastic insights.
  2. And check out a recent podcast from Bill Reel on how Joseph and even Lehi may have been deceived by an Angel.



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