Lesson of Nineveh: God commands and He revokes as seemeth Him good

After Jonah prophesied the downfall of Nineveh within 40 days, the people "believed God, and proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them." (Jonah 3:5.)

"And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way and repented; and God turned away the evil that he had said he would bring upon them." (Joseph Smith Translation, Jonah 3:10.)This incident is instructive because it shows that a specific prophecy or decree from God through one of His servants is not necessarily irrevocable.

Indeed, He revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith, "Wherefore I, the Lord, command and revoke, as it seemeth me good. . . ." (D&C 56:4.)

The circumstance of this revelation was that Ezra Thayre, who had been appointed to travel to Missouri with Thomas B. Marsh (see D&C 52:22), was unable to start on his mission when Elder Marsh was ready. Ezra Thayre was unprepared due to his involvement in a controversy at Thompson, Ohio, where members of the branch of the Church were divided on questions having to do with the consecration of properties. (See headings to D&C 54 and 56.)

That the Lord occasionally does alter decrees in no way means He is changeable or capricious, or that the servant through whom His words came is a false prophet. It only means that in His infinite wisdom, He adapts His directives according to the righteousness, wickedness or changing circumstances of mortals and according to their use (or misuse) of their own agency.

Another example in this dispensation of the Lord revoking or revising a specific decree pertains to the commandment in 1832 to build a temple at Independence, Jackson County, Mo. (See D&C 84:4.) Because of persecution from enemies of the Church, the Saints were unable, at that time, to fulfill the commandment. Later, in reference to this occurrence, the Lord revealed:

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, that when I give a commandment to any of the sons of men to do a work unto my name, and those sons of men go with all their might and with all they have to perform that work, and cease not their diligence, and their enemies come upon them and hinder them from performing that work, behold it behooveth me to require that work no more at the hands of those sons of men, but to accept of their offerings.

"Therefore, for this cause have I accepted the offerings of those whom I commanded to build up a city and a house unto my name, in Jackson county, Missouri, and were hindered by their enemies, saith the Lord your God." (D&C 124:49, 51.)

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed