- Nahum; Habakkuk; Zephaniah: “His Ways Are Everlasting,” November 28-December 4
Stained glass window depicting Isaiah, Zechariah, and Habakkuk. This window is on the south aisle of St John the Evangelist, Knotty Ash, a church in Liverpool, England.
About 50 years after the death of Isaiah, the prophets Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah preached in Jerusalem. All three were likely familiar with Isaiah’s prophecies; all three of their books include paraphrases of his teachings. By the time of their ministries, the northern kingdom of Israel had been conquered by the Assyrian Empire. The Babylonian Empire was growing and was becoming a threat to both the Assyrians and to the kingdom of Judah. All three prophets anticipated difficult days ahead, but all three emphasized the goodness of God and the importance of waiting patiently for His promises to be fulfilled.
Nahum: Publishing peace
Israel may have been conquered by the powerful Assyrian army, but Assyria itself will be destroyed. That is the message of Nahum. “Now will I break his yoke from off thee,” says the Lord to Israel, “and will burst thy bonds in sunder” (Nahum 1:13).
Nahum teaches us to trust God. “The Lord is slow to anger,” he says, but He “will not at all acquit the wicked” (Nahum 1:3). “The Lord is good,” he adds, “a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him” (Nahum 1:7).
In a paraphrase of Isaiah 52:7, Nahum rejoices in messengers who communicate the good news of the gospel to God’s children:
Nahum 1:15 Isaiah 52:7 Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace!… How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!
Several Book of Mormon prophets also reference this passage from Isaiah, including Nephi, Abinadi, and Mormon. Jesus Christ also referenced it during His ministry on the American continent. Here is a blog post about the significance of this passage:
Habakkuk: A marvelous work
“O Lord, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear?” implored Habakkuk. “Why dost thou shew me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance?” (Habakkuk 1:2-3). His heartfelt plea is similar to Joseph Smith’s prayer from Liberty Jail. (See Doctrine and Covenants 121:1-3.) And like Joseph Smith, Habakkuk records the answer he received from God, which is a paraphrase of Isaiah 29:14:
Habakkuk 1:5 Isaiah 29:14 Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvellously: for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you. Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.
In response, Habakkuk reaffirms his confidence in God:
I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me….
Behold…the just shall live by his faith.Habakkuk 2:1, 4
Nephi quoted Isaiah’s prophecy of God’s marvelous work and connected it to the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. (See 2 Nephi 27:26.) Jesus also referenced it, using similar language to Habakkuk’s version of the prophecy: “In that day, for my sake shall the Father work a work, which shall be a great and a marvelous work among them; and there shall be among them those who will not believe it, although a man shall declare it unto them” (3 Nephi 21:9).
Zephaniah: Be glad and rejoice!
“The day of the Lord is at hand” (Zephaniah 1:7). This is Zephaniah’s warning as he foretells the destruction which will befall the kingdom of Judah, as well as many other nations: Philistia, Moab, Ammon, Ethiopia, and Assyria. But in the end, his message is an invitation to have patience and exercise faith in God: “Wait ye upon me, saith the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations” (Zephaniah 3:8).
Zephaniah’s joyful description of the gathering of Israel is reminiscent of several passages from Isaiah, including the following:
Zephaniah 3:14-15 Isaiah 52:9-10 Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem.
The Lord hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy: the king of Israel, even the Lord, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more.
Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.
The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.
The prophet Nahum characterized the chaos which would accompany the destruction of the Assyrian Empire in this way: Thy shepherds slumber, O king of Assyria: thy nobles shall dwell in the dust: thy people is scattered upon the mountains, and no man gathereth them. Nahum 3:18 As Ezekiel would later point out, a shepherd is supposed to be… Continue Reading →
The following passage appears in the books of both Micah and Isaiah: In the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let… Continue Reading →
Callings can be challenging. They can stretch us in unexpected ways. They can make us uncomfortable or anxious. They can also reveal latent talents, spark new relationships, and expand our perspectives. Moses was hesitant to accept the call to free his people from bondage. “Who am I?” he asked the Lord (Exodus 3:11). Enoch protested… Continue Reading →
Micah ends his book by testifying of God’s love for His children: Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their… Continue Reading →
The book of Jonah contains a poetic prayer which the prophet offered from the belly of the fish. In that prayer, he laments the blessings lost by those who turn away from God, and he vows to be faithful to the covenants he has made: They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy. But I will… Continue Reading →
Can our feelings be harmful? Absolutely. Like an undisciplined child, they may need to be trained, guided, and coaxed in the right direction. We need not be slaves to our emotions; we ought to be their master. Jonah was unhappy when God showed mercy to the people of Ninevah. Like the brother of the prodigal… Continue Reading →
As Jonah lay in the belly of a fish, he prayed to God, acknowledging his own distress but expressing faith that God hadn’t abandoned him: I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice. For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the… Continue Reading →
Obadiah was unhappy with the Edomites. They stood by and watched as their neighbors in the kingdom of Judah were conquered and carried away captive. “On the day that you stood aloof,” he said, “on the day that strangers carried off his wealth and foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem, you were… Continue Reading →
Nobody likes to be corrected. Our brains are really good at constructing arguments to prove that we are right. We bristle when we are chastised, and even if we are able to override the initial defensive instinct and be civil, we can’t seem to escape the initial sting and the instinctive desire to ignore or… Continue Reading →
Amos decried the complacency he saw among the inhabitants of Israel. Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, which are named chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel came! Amos 6:1 He went on to describe them lying on beds of ivory, eating, drinking, and using expensive ointments, but not… Continue Reading →
There’s an interesting refrain in Amos 4. Five times, the Lord describes calamities which the children of Israel have experienced, and five times, he repeats the same words of lamentation: “Yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord” (Amos 4:6-11). It’s an interesting pattern, and it says something about the Lord’s motivation in allowing us to… Continue Reading →
When Alma spoke in the city of Zarahemla, he asked a number of questions to help his listeners assess their own spiritual state. “Have ye spiritually been born of God?” he asked. “Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?” (Alma 5:14). Later in the sermon, he addressed a question to… Continue Reading →
The prophet Amos asked the people in the kingdom of Israel a series of rhetorical questions to illustrate their lack of awareness: (See Amos 3:3-6, New Living Translation.) He asks one more question which is a little tricky: “Does disaster come to a city unless the LORD has planned it?” Joseph Smith actually corrected that… Continue Reading →
Yesterday, I had the privilege of discussing Helaman 2 with Kevin and Shelbi Stanfill on their weekly Book of Mormon Podcast. Here is a link to the podcast: https://open.spotify.com/episode/3ol90n35WzpaFM0uf8FAgh
The prophet Joel foretold a time when people of all ages and economic statuses would receive revelation in abundance: I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my… Continue Reading →
In March, 2019, I studied 20 different names or titles of Jesus Christ which appear in the Book of Mormon. I was particularly interested in the way each name was used, both in the Book of Mormon and in the Bible.
The Book of Mormon builds on a biblical foundation, both historically and doctrinally. Here are some of the ways that a strong Old Testament foundation can enhance your study of the Book of Mormon.
Nearly a third of the book of Isaiah is quoted in the Book of Mormon, and the book encourages us to search the words of Isaiah diligently. Here are some blog posts to assist you in your study of Isaiah’s words.