Lesson 154: Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah
    Footnotes

    “Lesson 154: Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)

    “Lesson 154,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual

    Lesson 154

    Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah

    Introduction

    Nahum prophesied of the downfall of Nineveh, the capital city of Assyria. Habakkuk asked the Lord questions regarding the punishment of the wicked. The Lord answered his questions, and Habakkuk praised the Lord. Zephaniah prophesied of the disasters that would accompany the fall of Judah.

    Suggestions for Teaching

    Nahum 1–3

    Nahum prophesies of the downfall of Nineveh, the capital city of Assyria

    On the board, draw a simple picture of several arrows pointing at a person, and invite students to imagine that the arrows represent the evils and perils that threaten us in our day.

    figure with arrows
    • What are some of the evils and perils that threaten us in our day? (You could invite a student to write the class’s responses on the board near the arrows.)

    Invite students as they study the prophecies of Nahum to look for truths that will help them find protection against the evils of our day.

    Explain that the prophet Nahum prophesied during the time of the Assyrian Empire, approximately 100 years after the time of Jonah. The Assyrian army had already destroyed the Northern Kingdom of Israel and was planning to conquer the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Invite students to turn to Bible Map no. 5, “The Assyrian Empire.” Ask students to locate the cities of Nineveh and Jerusalem on the map. Explain that Nineveh was the capital city of Assyria.

    Point out the phrase “the burden of Nineveh” in Nahum 1:1. Explain that this phrase refers to a message of doom pronounced against Nineveh. Remind students that the people of Nineveh had repented once before when Jonah preached to them. But more than 100 years later, at the time of Nahum, the people of Nineveh had again become wicked.

    Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Nahum 1:1–8. Ask the class to follow along, looking for words and phrases that describe the nature of God, including His power and His being slow to anger.

    • How did the Lord feel about Nineveh?

    • Why do you think the Lord was angry with the people of Nineveh?

    Point out the phrase “the Lord is slow to anger” in verse 3, and explain that this phrase implies that the Lord had given the people of Nineveh adequate time to repent. Because they chose not to repent and continued in wickedness, they would experience the Lord’s judgments.

    Ask students to notice the phrase “the Lord is good, a strong hold” in verse 7, and explain that a stronghold is a fortress or position that provides a strong defense against attacking forces. Invite a student to quickly draw a stronghold around the figure on the board.

    • According to verse 7, what will the Lord be for those who trust Him? (After students respond, write the following principle on the board: The Lord is a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who trust Him.)

    • What does it mean to trust in the Lord? (List answers on the board.)

    To help the class add to their understanding of what it means to trust in the Lord, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

    Elder Richard G. Scott

    “To trust means to obey willingly without knowing the end from the beginning (see Prov. 3:5–7)” (“Trust in the Lord,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 17).

    • In what ways have you witnessed that the Lord blesses those who trust Him?

    Invite students to ponder and record a goal in their class notebooks or scripture study journals stating how they plan to better show their trust in the Lord.

    Summarize Nahum 1:9–14 by explaining that Nahum prophesied that Nineveh would be destroyed for its wickedness.

    Invite a student to read Nahum 1:15 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Nahum reminded the Jews to do. Explain that the phrase “the feet of him that bringeth good tidings” is a reference to the Lord Jesus Christ (see Mosiah 15:18).

    • What was Nahum’s counsel to the people? (Remind students that these feasts and vows were designated by the law of Moses.)

    • How might the observance of these feasts and rituals help the people develop trust in the Lord so they could be protected by Him?

    Summarize Nahum 2–3 by explaining that Nahum saw that Nineveh’s downfall would be desolating. Explain that these prophecies about the destruction of Nineveh can be likened to the destruction of the wicked in the last days at the Lord’s Second Coming.

    Habakkuk 1–3

    Habakkuk wonders at the power of the Lord and the coming destruction of Jerusalem

    Explain that the prophet Habakkuk may have lived sometime between the fall of the northern tribes of Israel (721 B.C.) and the destruction of Jerusalem (587 B.C.). Summarize Habakkuk 1–2 by explaining that Habakkuk learned that the Lord would use a wicked nation (the Babylonians, also known as Chaldeans) to destroy the kingdom of Judah. This troubled Habakkuk, and he asked the Lord why He would use a wicked people to destroy His chosen people. The Lord answered kindly and encouraged patience, assuring Habakkuk that in time the wicked Chaldeans would also be punished.

    Explain that Habakkuk 3 contains a prayer of praise to the Lord. Invite a student to read Habakkuk 3:17–19 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Habakkuk learned from his dialogue with the Lord. Explain that a hind is a deer that can travel easily across rocky and uneven terrain.

    • How do these verses relate to the principle written on the board?

    Zephaniah 1–3

    Zephaniah prophesies of the destruction of Jerusalem as a type of the Second Coming

    Write the following list of events on the board. You may want to adapt this list to match the experiences of your students.

    School test

    Date

    Audition

    Performance

    Athletic meet or game

    Mission

    Patriarchal blessing

    General conference

    Invite students to choose one of the events on the board and explain what they would do to prepare for that event.

    The Second Coming

    Display the picture The Second Coming (Gospel Art Book [2009], no. 66; see also LDS.org). Ask students why it matters how we prepare for the Savior’s Second Coming. Invite students to look for a truth in Zephaniah that will help them know how they can prepare for the Second Coming.

    Explain that the prophet Zephaniah probably lived during the time of Habakkuk, Jeremiah, Lehi, and other prophets, and he joined them in warning the kingdom of Judah of approaching destruction. Zephaniah’s prophecies also apply to the latter days and warn of the calamities to come before the Second Coming of the Savior.

    Explain that Zephaniah 1 records the Lord’s description of the destruction awaiting the people because they “turned back from the Lord” (Zephaniah 1:6). The Lord “bid his guests” to come to “a sacrifice” that He had prepared and said that He would punish those who came clothed with “strange apparel” (Zephaniah 1:7–8). “Strange apparel” in this context likely means foreign apparel worn for idolatrous purposes; those wearing it would have shown indifference for Jehovah.

    Invite a student to read Zephaniah 1:14–15 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the nation of Judah will experience because of their sins. Invite students to report what they find.

    Invite a student to read Zephaniah 2:1–3 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord counseled the Jews to do before the day of destruction.

    • What did the Lord counsel the Jews to do before the day of the Lord’s anger?

    • What is meekness?

    To help class members understand the meaning of the word meekness, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley:

    President Gordon B. Hinckley

    “Meekness implies a spirit of gratitude as opposed to an attitude of self-sufficiency, an acknowledgment of a greater power beyond oneself, a recognition of God, and an acceptance of his commandments” (“With All Thy Getting Get Understanding,” Ensign, Aug. 1988, 3–4).

    • What principle do these verses teach that can help us prepare for the day of the Lord’s Second Coming? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify the following principle: As we seek the Lord, seek righteousness, and seek meekness, we can be protected from harm in the day of His judgment.)

    • How do you think we can be more righteous and meek?

    Summarize Zephaniah 2:4–3:7 by explaining that Zephaniah prophesied that the Lord would destroy several wicked nations. Explain that similar destruction will come to all of the wicked in the day of God’s judgment before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

    Invite a student to read Zephaniah 3:8 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord counseled the righteous to do to prepare for the Second Coming. You may want to suggest that students mark what they find.

    • What do you think it means to “wait” upon the Lord?

    To help students understand what it means to wait upon the Lord, invite someone to read aloud the following explanation from President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency:

    President Henry B. Eyring

    “The word wait in scripture language means to hope for or anticipate” (“Waiting Upon the Lord” [Brigham Young University fireside, Sept. 30, 1990], 4; speeches.byu.edu).

    • What are some ways we can show that we hope for and anticipate the Second Coming?

    Invite a student to read Zephaniah 3:17–20 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord promised those who wait upon Him.

    • What did the Lord promise to those who wait upon Him faithfully?

    • What principle can we learn from these verses about waiting upon the Lord? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify the following principle: If we will wait upon the Lord, He will deliver us from our sorrows, afflictions, and captivity.)

    Explain that waiting upon the Lord takes patience. Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

    Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

    “Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don’t come until heaven; but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come” (“An High Priest of Good Things to Come,” Ensign, Nov. 1999, 38).

    You may want to suggest that students write this statement in the margin of their scriptures.

    • When have you or someone you know waited upon the Lord and been delivered from sorrow or afflictions?

    Invite students to reflect on the principles they identified in the lesson today and determine what they will do to live these principles. You may want to invite students to record their goals in their class notebooks or scripture study journals.