To encourage class members to fulfill their responsibilities as latter-day Israel to love all the people of the world and share the blessings of the gospel with them.
Prayerfully study the following scriptures:
Jonah 1–2. The Lord calls Jonah to preach repentance to the people of Nineveh. Jonah tries to flee from the Lord on a ship, is swallowed by a great fish, prays, and is delivered from the belly of the fish.
Jonah 3–4. Jonah prophesies the downfall of Nineveh and is angry when the people of Nineveh repent and the Lord spares the city (the Joseph Smith Translation of Jonah 3:9–10 explains that the people, not God, repented). The Lord uses a gourd and a worm to teach Jonah that he should love all people.
Suggested Lesson Development
You may want to use the following activity (or one of your own) to begin the lesson.
How many young men in the Church does the Lord want to serve full-time missions? (All worthy, able young men.) Why is it important that each of these young men respond to this call? Who else is eligible to serve full-time missions? (Worthy single sisters 21 years of age or older and senior couples when their circumstances allow.)
In 1979, President Spencer W. Kimball spoke of the need for more missionaries who could preach the gospel to people in all parts of the world. He declared:
“I believe the Lord can do anything he sets his mind to do. But I can see no good reason why the Lord would open doors that we are not prepared to enter” (“The Uttermost Parts of the Earth,” Ensign, July 1979, 9).
This lesson will discuss how the lives and writings of Jonah and Micah can help us understand our responsibility to love all people and share the blessings of the gospel with them.
Scripture Discussion and Application
As you teach the following scripture passages, discuss how they apply to daily life. Encourage class members to share experiences that relate to the scriptural principles.
1. Jonah is called to preach to Nineveh, but he runs away.
Teach and discuss Jonah 1–2.
Why did the Lord want Jonah to go to Nineveh? (See Jonah 1:2.) Why might Jonah have been reluctant to accept a mission call to Nineveh? (See Nahum 3:1–5, where the great wickedness and violence of Nineveh are described. The people of Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, were enemies to Israel.)
Why did Jonah go to Tarshish? (See Jonah 1:3.) In what ways do we sometimes try to escape from the presence of the Lord or from callings extended to us by his representatives? What are the results of such efforts?
How did the Lord show mercy and help Jonah repent? (See Jonah 1:4–2:10.) What did Jonah learn while he was inside the great fish? (See Jonah 2:1–9.) How does the Lord help us repent and return to his ways?
During his earthly ministry, the Savior spoke about the “sign of the prophet Jonas [Jonah]” (Matthew 12:39). What did this sign mean? (See Matthew 12:39–41. Jonah spent three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish and then was brought forth alive. The Savior would spend three days and nights buried in the earth and then would come forth resurrected.)
Through his prophets, the Lord has repeatedly commanded every worthy, able young man to serve a full-time mission. He has also encouraged senior couples to serve as full-time missionaries if they are able. (See the additional teaching ideas.) What are some reasons why some able young men and senior couples choose not to serve missions? (Lack of commitment and faith, unworthiness, unwillingness to leave the comforts of home and family, fear of what might be expected of them.) What can we learn from the story of Jonah that can help us be more valiant in obeying the Lord and sharing the gospel?
2. The people of Nineveh respond to Jonah’s message and repent.
Teach and discuss Jonah 3–4.
After Jonah repented, the Lord called him again to preach repentance to the people of Nineveh. How did the people of Nineveh respond to Jonah’s message? (See Jonah 3:5–9 and footnote 9a. In ancient times, people clothed themselves in coarse cloth, called sackcloth, and sat in ashes to show that they were humble and repentant.) How did God respond to the change in the people? (See Jonah 3:10 and footnote 10c.)
Jonah had prophesied the downfall of Nineveh (Jonah 3:4). How did Jonah respond when the Lord forgave the people of Nineveh? (See Jonah 4:1–3. He was angry because the Lord was merciful to the people.)
What did the Lord teach Jonah by the growth of the gourd that gave shade and comfort and then died? (See Jonah 4:4–11. God loves all his children. Just as he showed mercy to Jonah, he desired to show mercy to the repentant people of Nineveh.) What can Jonah’s experience teach us about loving other people?
3. Micah prophesies of the mission of latter-day Israel.
Teach and discuss the following passages from Micah.
The prophet Micah called on the people of Israel to repent of their wickedness and return to the Lord. He prophesied of the destruction of Jacob (Israel) and Judah. He also prophesied that latter-day Israel (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) would accomplish the purposes of the Lord with great power.
What promises did the Lord give in Micah 2:12–13? (He promised that he would gather the remnant of Israel, that they would become a great multitude, and that he would lead them.) How are these promises being fulfilled today?
Some of Micah’s great prophecies about the latter days are recorded in Micah 4:1–7. What did Micah prophesy about the latter-day temple? (See verses 1–2.) What did he prophesy about the Millennium? (See verses 3–7.) Why are these prophecies important to us?
What can we learn from Micah 4:11–13 about the latter-day destiny of Israel? (In the ancient world, oxen were often used to thresh grain. They would walk over the grain, separating the chaff from the kernel. The chaff was blown away and the kernel saved. The nations that oppose Zion will be gathered as sheaves and then be threshed by Israel.) How might this separation of the chaff from the kernel be compared to latter-day Israel’s responsibility to do missionary work throughout the world? (See D&C 29:7; 33:5–7.)
What are the Lord’s people compared to in Micah 5:7? How can the image of dew or showers on the grass be compared to the effect of Church members on the people of the world? What do you think Micah meant by saying that these showers will not wait “for the sons of men”? (Just as mortals cannot stop dew from forming or showers from falling, nothing can stop the Lord’s work from progressing throughout the world.)
What are the Lord’s people compared to in Micah 5:8? What does this image suggest about the strength and power of the Lord’s work? (Just as a flock of sheep have no power to stop a young lion, no power on earth will be able to hinder the work of the Lord.)
In 1842 the Prophet Joseph Smith declared, “No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done” (History of the Church, 4:540).
How can Micah 6:6–8 help us when we feel overwhelmed by all that is expected of us?
After prophesying of the Lord’s work in the latter days, what conclusion did Micah come to about God’s nature? (See Micah 7:18–20.) What phrases in these verses could be applied to the Lord’s dealings with the people of Nineveh? Which of these phrases could be applied to the Lord’s dealings with us?
Bear testimony that the Lord loves all his children and that we, as latter-day Israel, have the great responsibility to share his love and the truths of the gospel with all people. Ask class members to share what they have learned from Jonah and Micah.
Additional Teaching Ideas
The following material supplements the suggested lesson outline. You may want to use one or more of these ideas as part of the lesson.
1. Every worthy, able young man should prepare to serve a mission
Discuss the following statement from President Spencer W. Kimball:
“When I ask for more missionaries, I am not asking for more testimony-barren or unworthy missionaries. I am asking that we start earlier and train our missionaries better in every branch and every ward in the world. That is another challenge—that the young people will understand that it is a great privilege to go on a mission and that they must be physically well, mentally well, spiritually well, and that ‘the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance.’ …
“The question is frequently asked: Should every young man fill a mission? And the answer has been given by the Lord. It is ‘Yes.’ Every young man should fill a mission” (“When the World Will Be Converted,” Ensign, Oct. 1974, 7–8).
2. The need for couple missionaries
Discuss the following statement from Elder David B. Haight:
“In behalf of the Brethren, this is a call for retired couples to seriously consider serving a mission. We desperately need more couples to help meet our needs. … Less than 50 percent of the requests for couple missionaries from [our] mission presidents are being filled. …
“The Brethren hope that many, many more couples will make themselves available for full-time service to the Church. The need is great! Hundreds of thousands of new members join the Church each year, and they need to hear a friendly voice of support and comfort from experienced members.
“The refrain, ‘I’ll go where you want me to go, dear Lord’ (Hymns, 1985,