This is one in a series of reviews of the weekly lessons found in the Come, Follow Me for Individuals and Families published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To link to all of the 2022 teachings, click here. Bold face type in this article comes from the Church’s curriculum. (Note: Not every sentence written in the curriculum is being reviewed.)
Jonah was on a ship headed for Tarshish. There’s nothing wrong with sailing to Tarshish, except that it is far away from Nineveh, where Jonah was supposed to go to deliver God’s message. So when the ship encountered a great storm, Jonah knew it was because of his disobedience. At Jonah’s insistence, his fellow mariners cast him into the depths of the sea to stop the storm. It looked like the end of Jonah and his ministry. But the Lord hadn’t given up on Jonah—just as He hadn’t given up on the people of Nineveh and just as He doesn’t give up on any of us. As Micah taught, the Lord does not delight in condemning us, but “he delighteth in mercy.” When we turn to Him, “he will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and [He will] cast all [our] sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:18–19).
According to Mormonism, God will indeed have mercy . . . but only for those who are fully and consistently obedient to His commandments. I talked about this doctrine a few weeks ago, but just to verify, mercy must be earned according to Mormonism. As Ezra Taft Benson put it,
We go to our chapels each week to worship the Lord and renew our covenants by partaking of the sacrament. We thereby promise to take His name upon us, to always remember Him, and keep all His commandments. Our agreement to keep all the commandments is our covenant with God. Only as we do this may we deserve His blessings and merit His mercy.The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 442
“Merit His mercy” is anathema to the ears of a Bible-believing Christian. It certainly is a phrase with absolutely no support in the Bible.
Ideas for Personal Scripture Study
Jonah 1–4; Micah 7:18–19
The Lord is merciful to all who turn to Him.
The book of Jonah shows, among other things, how merciful the Lord is when we repent.
“When we repent” infers that success must be found in keeping God’s commandments. Unless this happens, no mercy is shown. For more on this topic, see Crash Course Mormonism.
Jonah 1; 3–4
All of God’s children need to hear the gospel.
Nineveh was part of the Assyrian empire, an enemy of Israel known for its violence and cruelty. To Jonah, it probably seemed unrealistic that the people of Nineveh were ready to accept the word of God and repent. Yet, as President Dallin H. Oaks taught: “We should never set ourselves up as judges of who is ready and who is not. The Lord knows the hearts of all of His children, and if we pray for inspiration, He will help us find persons He knows to be ‘in a preparation to hear the word’ (Alma 32:6)” (“Sharing the Restored Gospel,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2016, 58–59). What do you learn from Jonah 3 that inspires you to share the gospel even with those who may not seem ready to change?
I do agree that, sometimes, I tend not to share my faith with someone whom I feel is likely to reject the Gospel. But what could be meant by “all of God’s children need to hear the gospel”? In Mormonism, “God’s children” refer to every human who has ever lived, including those who are deceased. Thus, it is taught that missionaries should be sent throughout the world to share the LDS gospel with whomever will hear it. In addition, this could refer to “spirit missionaries” who are commissioned to share the LDS gospel to those in spirit prison who had work performed for them in LDS temples.
Micah 4:11–13; 5:8–15; 7:5–7
Jesus Christ quoted the writings of Micah.
It is well known that the Savior quoted Isaiah and the Psalms. Did you know that He also quoted Micah several times? Consider the following examples, and ponder why these passages might have been important to the Savior. Why are they important to you?
Micah 4:11–13 (see 3 Nephi 20:18–20). The Lord compared the latter-day gathering to a wheat harvest (see also Alma 26:5–7; Doctrine and Covenants 11:3–4). What does this comparison suggest to you about the gathering of Israel?
This prophecy has nothing to do with the LDS Church in the 21st century. Rather, it describes the restoration of Israel (Zion) that was soon to be coming at the time it was written pre-Babylonian captivity. A reference is made in verse 11 to the conquering of Jerusalem by Babylon in 586 BC, which placed the Jews who belonged to the southern kingdom into slavery. However, as predicted, Zion (Jerusalem) would be restored soon after this time.
Micah 5:8–15 (see 3 Nephi 21:12–21). What do these verses suggest to you about God’s people (“the remnant of Jacob”) in the last days?
This is another prophecy not meant to be fulfilled by the LDS Church. Verse 2 explains how a Savior would be born in Bethlehem. (We know who that is.) The fulfillment of this chapter came with the coming of the Messiah. The weak remnant returning from the Babylonian captivity would be restored through His work. Jacob continued the line of Abraham whose seed would continue, as God promised in Genesis 12:3; 22:17-18). Today Abraham is the father of many nations (Rom. 4:16-17).
Micah 7:5–7 (see Matthew 10:35–36). According to these verses, why is it important to “look unto the Lord” first? Why is this counsel important today?
It’s important because humans can be deceived to chase after things other than God. Our first priority must be God, not anything else, including power, money, or even family. Jesus said, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33).
“What doth the Lord require of thee?”
Micah invites us to imagine what it might be like to “come before the Lord, and bow … before the high God” (Micah 6:6). What do verses 6–8 suggest to you about what is important to the Lord as He evaluates your life?
God is more interested in heart obedience than a mere intent to robotically follow the ceremonial law. The transformation that takes place inside a person’s heart ought to have a major effect on outward actions. In 1 John 2, the apostle explains:
7 Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. 8 Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. 9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. 10 Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. 11 But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.
God does not want anyone who claims to be His follower to depend on outward works for justification of sins. Instead, He is more interested in a person’s heart. Works ought to follow as a result of what has taken place in the heart. This is called sanctification. First John 3:4-6 states,
4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.
Ideas for Family Scripture Study and Home Evening
What did Jonah learn about sharing the gospel? Who do we know that would be blessed by hearing the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ?
Just as it was used in the previous lesson, the words “restored Gospel” is meant here to indicate the “restored church” as led by LDS leaders. If there was no need for a “restoration” (i.e., the Gospel of Jesus was never lost), then there is no need to share a “message of the restored gospel.”
The Christian Gospel has never changed, as the Bible teaches that a person must:
- Recognize one’s sinfulness
- Receive Him by faith (justification by faith alone)
- Live for Jesus from now on (sanctification through works)
This gospel is quite simple. It is Mormonism that complicates it by requiring a list of rules and regulations never required by God.
Compare Mormonism’s Gospel with what is taught in Christianity by clicking Crash Course Mormonism.
True mercy is found only in a genuine relationship with Jesus. Mormonism turns the simple gospel into a very confusing mess by adding unbiblical rules and regulations. Each week the authors of this series attempt to show how their church is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, but this is far from the truth.