Sunday School lessons for Gospel Doctrine Class

Saturday, August 18, 2018

“Come to the House of the Lord”

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What are two things we are taught in our journey of gospel study that are greatly impressed upon?  To read the scriptures and obtain the blessings of the temple, each being imperative to our eternal welfare.  As we move further into the Old Testament we find that these teachings are not new and were stressed as much then as they are now.  The books of Chronicles are two great examples of these principles and teach us deeply of the importance of scripture study and temple blessings and attendance in the Gospel of Jesus Christ concerning our salvation.

The Chronicles
These two books which are counted as one in the Hebrew canon have a unique purpose all their own.  Though 1 and 2 Chronicles present much of the same history as 1 and 2 Kings, there are additional details in Chronicles that give insight into how the Lord interacted with His people, especially during the reigns of the kings.

A chronicle is actually an account of historical events presented in the order in which they occurred; the record in these books, deal mostly with events of the kingdom of Judah after the division of the kingdom. The first nine chapters of  2 Chronicles, deal with achievements of Solomon in his reign over the united kingdom of Israel, with emphasis on the building of the temple, the work of the priests and Levites, and the reinstating of the Mosaic sacrifices and rituals. The remaining chapters cover the reigns of Solomon's descendants from Rehoboam to Zedekiah, ending with the commencement of the Babylonian captivity.

After the death of Solomon, dissension developed in the kingdom of Israel and in about 975 B.C. the kingdom was divided.  The northern kingdom, or Kingdom of Israel, was led by the descendants of Ephraim and consisted of most of the tribes of Israel.  The southern kingdom, or Kingdom of Judah, was ruled by the descendants of Judah and consisted primarily of members from the tribe of Judah and Benjamin. Many descendants from the tribe of Levi as well as others from all of the tribes chose to be part of the kingdom of Judah and after this division, the wicked king Rehoboam continued to reign in Judah.

Then in about 740 B.C. Ahaz became king in Judah when his righteous father, Jotham, died. Ahaz did evil in the sight of the Lord and worshipped Baal.  When Ahaz died, his son Hezekiah became king of Judah, "And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD" 2 Chronicles 29:2  This is where we will begin our study.

King Hezekiah
Hezekiah was anointed for the purpose of leading Judah righteously and delivering them from their enemies. His name means “Jehovah strengthens” or “Jehovah is strength.” Hezekiah was one of the most important temporal rulers in the history of Israel. He brought about a revival of religion and worked earnestly to drive out idolatry. Hezekiah undertook the spiritual reformation of Israel, standing beside Isaiah in calling the people to repentance.

The life of Hezekiah dramatically validates the Lord's declaration that he delivers his people from all their enemies and prospers them when they honor him (2 Kings 17:39; 18:11–12). Almost immediately upon ascending the throne, righteous Hezekiah, unlike his wicked father, Ahaz, enjoyed the constant help of the Lord. Thus, Hezekiah prospered in all he did (2 Chronicles 32:21; 2 Kings 18:7). He became Judah's earthly deliverer and acted in similitude of the great Deliverer, Jesus Christ. Hezekiah's righteous rule was a repudiation of all that his wicked father had stood for. His twenty-nine-year reign (715–687 B.C.) was such that the author of 2 Kings 18 ranked him as the greatest king Judah had ever known or ever would know (2 Kings 18:3–5). In fact, Chronicles devotes more attention to Hezekiah than any other king since Solomon, including three chapters dedicated to his good deeds and inspired leadership (2 Chronicles 29–31).  (Prophets, Priests, and Kings Andrew Skinner)
One of the great acts of King Hezekiah was to help defend Jerusalem against attacks by the Assyrians.  He diverted the water of the spring of Gihon to the pool of Siloam, inside the city walls (2 Chronicles 32:2–4, 30; Bible Dictionary, “Hezekiah’s Tunnel,” 702). This was done by digging a tunnel for the water through about 1770 feet of limestone rock. Hezekiah then ordered that the fountains outside the city be covered to deny the Assyrians easy access to the water. Without this water inside the walls of the city, the people of Jerusalem would not have survived the siege by the Assyrians.

Just as the water from the spring of Gihon was vital for the physical survival of Hezekiah’s people during their battles with the Assyrians, living water is essential for our spiritual survival during our battles with Satan.

What is living water?  John 4:10–14.  Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained that living water is “the words of eternal life, the message of salvation, the truths about God and his kingdom; it is the doctrines of the gospel” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1966–73], 1:151)

How can we receive living water?  One way to receive this living water is to go to the temple, the house of the Lord, where we may be endowed with power and understanding, be instructed by the Lord, and feel peace and joy.  This is a great lesson taught to us by King Hezekiah.  Worship in the temple was an important protection for the Israelites in his time, and his works teaches us that it can also be an important protection for us today.

Part 1: Hezekiah orders the house of the Lord to be cleansed  2 Chronicles 29–30

Some details about the temple and worship not recorded in Kings are preserved in these chapters of 2 Chronicles.  Hezekiah’s father, Ahaz, was a wicked king who had desecrated the temple of the Lord and “shut up [its] doors” (2 Chronicles 28:24). When Hezekiah became king of Judah (the Southern Kingdom) in 715 B.C., one of the first things he did was open the doors of the temple and order the priests and Levites to cleanse and sanctify it (2 Chronicles 29:3–5).

Hezekiah corrected evils and innovations of his father, King Ahaz. He caused the doors of the temple to be opened again and repaired, the priests and Levites to be gathered and sanctified, the temple compound to be cleansed of "filthiness," and the people to be prepared to renew their covenants with God.  When that was all done, the rulers, priests, and people came to the temple with their offerings and musical instruments. Festive worship services and sacrifices were conducted. When all was set in order, the king rejoiced with all the people.

Why, according to Hezekiah, did the temple need to be sanctified? 2 Chronicles 29:6–7
6 For our fathers have trespassed, and done that which was evil in the eyes of the Lord our God, and have forsaken him, and have turned away their faces from the habitation of the Lord, and turned their backs.

7 Also they have shut up the doors of the porch, and put out the lamps, and have not burned incense nor offered burnt offerings in the holy place unto the God of Israel.

In what ways might we also be guilty of “turn[ing] away [our] faces from the habitation of the Lord”? Like ancient Judah, if we fail to keep the commandments and ignore temple covenants and obligations we are turning away our face from the Lord.

What happened to the people of Judah because of their disregard for the temple? 2 Chronicles 29:8–9    Wherefore the wrath of the Lord was upon Judah and Jerusalem, and he hath delivered them to trouble, to astonishment, and to hissing, as ye see with your eyes.

9 For, lo, our fathers have fallen by the sword, and our sons and our daughters and our wives are in captivity for this.
 Hezekiah explained to the priests and Levites that the Lord's past anger against Judah (and hence their political and social woes) were traceable to their forefathers’ defilement of God's holy house (2 Chronicles 29:6–9). The message, therefore, seems clear for every group in every dispensation which has placed itself in a covenant relationship to God through temple ordinances: community well-being depends on purity and exactness in temple worship (2 Chronicles 29:10–11). This was the thrust of Jesus’ instruction, as he himself was found daily teaching in the Temple (Matthew 26:55). 
(Prophets, Priests, and Kings Andrew Skinner)

What did Hezekiah hope to achieve by cleansing the temple and preparing it for worship again? 2 Chronicles 29:10   Now it is in mine heart to make a covenant with the Lord God of Israel, that his fierce wrath may turn away from us.

Why is it important to keep unclean things out of the temple?  D&C 97:15–17.
15 And inasmuch as my people build a house unto me in the name of the Lord, and do not suffer any unclean thing to come into it, that it be not defiled, my glory shall rest upon it;

16 Yea, and my presence shall be there, for I will come into it, and all the pure in heart that shall come into it shall see God.

17 But if it be defiled I will not come into it, and my glory shall not be there; for I will not come into unholy temples.

 "The physical structure as such is not the source of its holiness. Rather, the character of those who enter and the sacred ordinances and instructions received there nurture the spiritual atmosphere found in the temple. When members enter this holy house and center their thoughts on serving others, their own understandings are clarified and solutions to personal problems are received." (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, p1455)

What is our responsibility in ensuring that no unclean thing enters the temple? D&C 109:20–21  We must make sure that we are clean when we go to the temple.
20 And that no unclean thing shall be permitted to come into thy house to pollute it;

21 And when thy people transgress, any of them, they may speedily repent and return unto thee, and find favor in thy sight, and be restored to the blessings which thou hast ordained to be poured out upon those who shall reverence thee in thy house.

What did Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem do when the temple had been cleansed? 2 Chronicles 29:20–21, 29–31, 36   They brought animals for an offering and after the offering was made, they bowed in worship to the Lord, sang praises, and made additional sacrifices and offerings.  
This was a day of rejoicing, for once again the temple was purified.  

20 Then Hezekiah the king rose early, and gathered the rulers of the city, and went
30 Moreover Hezekiah the king and the princes commanded the Levites to sing praise unto the Lord with the words of David, and of Asaph the seer. And they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed their heads and worshipped.

31 Then Hezekiah answered and said, Now ye have consecrated yourselves unto the Lord, come near and bring sacrifices and thank offerings into the house of the Lord. And the congregation brought in sacrifices and thank offerings; and as many as were of a free heart burnt offerings.
36 And Hezekiah rejoiced, and all the people, that God had prepared the people: for the thing was done suddenly.

And Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah . . . that they should come to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, to keep the passover unto the Lord God of Israel...

Chapter 30 records events comparable to those in the lives of Mosiah and Alma in the Book of Mormon. It has no parallel in Kings. This Passover must have been kept before Israel was conquered by Assyria, during the time that Hoshea ruled Israel and Hezekiah ruled Judah (1 Kgs. 18:1; 17:6).
Some two hundred fifty years had passed since the division of the northern Israelite tribes from the tribes of Judah and others in the south when King Hezekiah and the true priesthood leaders courageously attempted to reconcile all of Israel with the Lord.

Whom did Hezekiah invite to come to the house of the Lord for the celebration of the Passover? 2 Chronicles 30:1, 6.   In an effort to reunite the Kingdom of God, Hezekiah sent letters of invitation to all the tribes of Israel in the north and the south, inviting them to come to Jerusalem and the temple for Passover and again be united children of God.   

1 And Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, to keep the passover unto the Lord God of Israel.
6 So the posts went with the letters from the king and his princes throughout all Israel and Judah, and according to the commandment of the king, saying, Ye children of Israel, turn again unto the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, and he will return to the remnant of you, that are escaped out of the hand of the kings of Assyria.

How was this invitation received?  2 Chronicles 30:10–11
10 So the posts passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh even unto Zebulun: but they laughed them to scorn, and mocked them.

11 Nevertheless divers of Asher and Manasseh and of Zebulun humbled themselves, and came to Jerusalem.
 It is a delight to read about the counsels of the king, princes, priests, and people and the letters of invitation sent out by proclamation to all Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba. There were appeals and admonitions for a righteous return to the Lord. Chronicles realistically reports the responses, unfavorable in some areas but favorable in Asher, Zebulun, and Manasseh as well as Judah. Priesthood service was extended to the multitude from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, so that all might be properly cleansed and participate in the Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the prayers of supplication to the Lord. The Lord graciously healed the people, and the king commended the Levites who had "taught the good knowledge of the Lord" (2 Chr. 30:22).
The rejoicing, peace offerings, and confessions continued another seven days beyond the normal Passover time. Joy and blessings prevailed such as had not been seen since Solomon's time.  
(Latter-day Saint Commentary on the Old Testament Ellis Rasmussen)

What blessing did the people of Israel reject by refusing to come to the temple?  2 Chronicles 30:7–9.

7 And be not ye like your fathers, and like your brethren, which trespassed against the Lord God of their fathers, who therefore gave them up to desolation, as ye see.

8 Now be ye not stiffnecked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves unto the Lord, and enter into his sanctuary, which he hath sanctified for ever: and serve the Lord your God, that the fierceness of his wrath may turn away from you.

9 For if ye turn again unto the Lord, your brethren and your children shall find compassion before them that lead them captive, so that they shall come again into this land: for the Lord your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if ye return unto him.

By the time of Hezekiah’s reign, much of the kingdom of Israel [the Northern Kingdom] had been taken captive by the Assyrians. Hezekiah promised the remaining Israelites that if they would “turn again unto the Lord,” the captives would be released. Instead, most of the people of Israel rejected Hezekiah’s invitation. Because of the wickedness of the people, the remainder of the kingdom of Israel was taken captive several years later 2 Kings 18:10–12. The captive Israelites became, what we know as, the lost ten tribes.

Part 2:  The Assyrians invade the kingdom of Judah. Isaiah and Hezekiah pray for help, and an angel of the Lord destroys much of the Assyrian army  2 Chronicles 32:1–23
In 2 Chronicles 32:1–23. Sennacherib, king of Assyria, invades Judah and speaks abusively against the Lord (32:1–19). Isaiah and Hezekiah pray for help, and an angel of the Lord destroys much of the Assyrian army (32:20–23).

Upon the death of Sargon II in 705 B.C., Hezekiah decided to break altogether from the grasp of Assyria (2 Kings 18:7). In 701 B.C., Sargon's son Sennacherib invaded Judah with a huge army to crush the rebellion. Before approaching Jerusalem, he attacked and conquered all the other fortified cities of Judah (2 Kings 18:13). Things looked bleak for Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:13–16). But he faced the challenge as an inspired deliverer. He consulted with his advisers to carry out his life-saving plans. “In all his righteous efforts, including his military undertakings to restore and preserve the kingdom, Hezekiah had as his constant ally and advisor the prophet Isaiah.”1 The fortifications of the city were repaired, and a secret tunnel (now commonly called Hezekiah's Tunnel) was dug through solid rock to carry into the city the waters of the Gihon Spring, which bubbled up in the Kidron Valley outside the city walls (2 Kings 20:20; 2 Chronicles 32:4, 30).

As the systematic destruction of the kingdom of Judah reached a crescendo under the Assyrian onslaught, Hezekiah encouraged his military commanders with a message of comfort and courage: “Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more with us than with him: with him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God to help us , and to fight our battles” (2 Chronicles 32:7–8; emphasis added). The account in 2 Kings reports that Hezekiah also made a bid for peace. He sent tribute to the Assyrian king encamped at Lachish in an attempt to induce the Assyrians to go home. While it is likely that we do not have the whole story, it appears that Hezekiah also sent tribute as a way of stalling for time to complete the last of his preparations for defense against an expected siege.

Hezekiah's tribute payment hardly satisfied Sennacherib. He sent two officials, his army commander and his chief chamberlain, to intimidate and humiliate both the leaders and the people of Judah into submission. They said, in effect, “We have already destroyed other lands; we have already destroyed your territory; you are the last to hold out. Your feeble god cannot possibly deliver you, just as the gods of other lands could not deliver them. Give up and resign yourselves to the inevitable” (see 2 Kings 18:17–35).

Hezekiah turned to what he knew was Judah's only salvation—the Lord. He himself went to the temple and concurrently sent messengers to the prophet Isaiah (2 Kings 19:1–5). The Lord's word through his prophet was one of assurance: “Be not afraid” (2 Kings 19:6). In fervent prayer at the Temple, Hezekiah petitioned the Lord for deliverance (2 Kings 19:14–19). Intercessory prayer was an important aspect of the ministry of the prophets (for example, Exodus 32:31–32; 33:12–17; Numbers 14:13–19; 1 Samuel 7:8–9; 12:19, 23; Jeremiah 15:1). Not only did Hezekiah act as the prophets did but he acted in the similitude of Jesus Christ, whose final, great intercessory prayer pleaded for the welfare, protection, deliverance, and unity of all his disciples (John 17).

Isaiah responded on behalf of Jehovah with an oracle against Assyria, rich in powerful poetic imagery (2 Kings 19:20–34). Jerusalem could “laugh” Assyria “to scorn,” he said, for the invaders had not offended mere mortals; they had “reproached and blasphemed” the Holy One of Israel (2 Kings 19:21–22). Concerning Assyria's king, “he shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shield, nor cast a [siege] bank against it. By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the Lord. For I will defend this city, to save it” (2 Kings 19:32–34).

Through divine intervention, Sennacherib did abandon his planned attack on Jerusalem. At night an “angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred fourscore and five thousand; and when they who were left arose early in the morning” they found the bodies of those who were smitten (JST 2 Kings 19:35). Some scholars have proposed that an epidemic struck the Assyrian troops. Others postulate that rumors of revolt back home forced Sennacherib to pull out. Whatever method the Lord used, the Assyrian demise was an act of God, in clear fulfillment of prophetic promises. It is imperative that its message not be obscured: the Lord delivers his righteous people “out of the hand of all [their] enemies” (2 Kings 17:39). Hezekiah was a partner in this deliverance and acted in similitude of the Heavenly King of deliverance—constant, encouraging, and positive. “Thus the Lord saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib the king of Assyria, and from the hand of all other, and guided them on every side. And many brought gifts unto the Lord to Jerusalem, and presents to Hezekiah king of Judah: so that he was magnified in the sight of all nations from thenceforth” (2 Chronicles 32:22–23).

Sennacherib's death also occurred as Isaiah had predicted (2 Kings 19:7, 36–37). He was assassinated in 681 B.C. as a result of some palace intrigue, and his son Esarhaddon (680–669) B.C.) came to the throne, followed by Ashurbanipal (668–627 B.C). After that, Assyria's power was soon eclipsed by that of Babylon, who ultimately destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple and carried away Judah into captivity.  (Prophets, Priests, and Kings Andrew Skinner)
After the kingdom of Israel was taken into captivity, the Assyrians began to attack the kingdom of Judah (2 Chronicles 32:1)   After these things, and the establishment thereof, Sennacherib king of Assyria came, and entered into Judah, and encamped against the fenced cities, and thought to win them for himself.

What did Hezekiah do when he saw that Sennacherib’s army planned to attack Jerusalem?   2 Chronicles 32:2–5
2 And when Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib was come, and that he was purposed to fight against Jerusalem,

3 He took counsel with his princes and his mighty men to stop the waters of the fountains which were without the city: and they did help him.

4 So there was gathered much people together, who stopped all the fountains, and the brook that ran through the midst of the land, saying, Why should the kings of Assyria come, and find much water?

5 Also he strengthened himself, and built up all the wall that was broken, and raised it up to the towers, and another wall without, and repaired Millo in the city of David, and made darts and shields in abundance.

After Hezekiah had made preparations for war, what did he tell his people about the impending attack?  2 Chronicles 32:6–8 
6 And he set captains of war over the people, and gathered them together to him in the street of the gate of the city, and spake comfortably to them, saying,

7 Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more with us than with him:

8 With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.
 What can we learn from Hezekiah about the proper relationship between trusting in our own efforts and trusting in the Lord?

What can we learn from Hezekiah about the proper relationship between trusting in our own efforts and trusting in the Lord? 

Elder Neal A. Maxwell:  "With regard to trusting in the arm of flesh, the Old Testament contains a warning about trusting the arm of flesh instead of trusting in the Lord. (2 Chronicles 32:8.) Later in the Old Testament, Jeremiah complained of a circumstance in which some 'trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm.' (Jeremiah 17:5.) Paul warns against walking after the flesh instead of after the Spirit. (Romans 8:1.) Nephi says, 'I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh.' (2 Nephi 4:34.) Through the Prophet Joseph Smith, we are warned about not trusting in the arm of flesh. (D&C 1:19.) How constant that concept is. Regardless of the hemisphere or the time in which the prophet lived, this warning, too, stays the same." (Things As They Really Are, p92)

Sennacherib sent his servants to speak to the people in Jerusalem. What did the servants say?   2 Chronicles 32:9–17 
9 After this did Sennacherib king of Assyria send his servants to Jerusalem, (but he himself laid siege against Lachish, and all his power with him,) unto Hezekiah king of Judah, and unto all Judah that were at Jerusalem, saying,

10 Thus saith Sennacherib king of Assyria, Whereon do ye trust, that ye abide in the siege in Jerusalem?

11 Doth not Hezekiah persuade you to give over yourselves to die by famine and by thirst, saying, The Lord our God shall deliver us out of the hand of the king of Assyria?

12 Hath not the same Hezekiah taken away his high places and his altars, and commanded Judah and Jerusalem, saying, Ye shall worship before one altar, and burn incense upon it?

13 Know ye not what I and my fathers have done unto all the people of other lands? were the gods of the nations of those lands any ways able to deliver their lands out of mine hand?

14 Who was there among all the gods of those nations that my fathers utterly destroyed, that could deliver his people out of mine hand, that your God should be able to deliver you out of mine hand?

15 Now therefore let not Hezekiah deceive you, nor persuade you on this manner, neither yet believe him: for no god of any nation or kingdom was able to deliver his people out of mine hand, and out of the hand of my fathers: how much less shall your God deliver you out of mine hand?

16 And his servants spake yet more against the Lord God, and against his servant Hezekiah.

17 He wrote also letters to rail on the Lord God of Israel, and to speak against him, saying, As the gods of the nations of other lands have not delivered their people out of mine hand, so shall not the God of Hezekiah deliver his people out of mine hand.

Why did they say these things?   2 Chronicles 32:18   Then they cried with a loud voice in the Jews’ speech unto the people of Jerusalem that were on the wall, to affright them, and to trouble them; that they might take the city.
In what ways does Satan try to convince us that God cannot or will not help us? Satan attempts to sow the seeds of doubt in our hearts he uses psychological warfare to break us down.

How did Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah react to the words of Sennacherib’s servants?  2 Chronicles 32:20; Isaiah 37:14–20
 20 And for this cause Hezekiah the king, and the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz, prayed and cried to heaven.
14 And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up unto the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord.

15 And Hezekiah prayed unto the Lord, saying,

16 O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, that dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth: thou hast made heaven and earth.

17 Incline thine ear, O Lord, and hear; open thine eyes, O Lord, and see: and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent to reproach the living God.

18 Of a truth, Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations, and their countries,

19 And have cast their gods into the fire: for they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them.

20 Now therefore, O Lord our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the Lord, even thou only.
How did the Lord answer Hezekiah’s and Isaiah’s prayers?  2 Chronicles 32:21–22; Isaiah 37:33–38 
21 And the Lord sent an angel, which cut off all the mighty men of valour, and the leaders and captains in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned with shame of face to his own land. And when he was come into the house of his god, they that came forth of his own bowels slew him there with the sword.

22 Thus the Lord saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib the king of Assyria, and from the hand of all other, and guided them on every side.

 33 Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shields, nor cast a bank against it.

34 By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the Lord.

35 For I will defend this city to save it for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.

36 Then the angel of the Lord went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.

37 So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh.

38 And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Armenia: and Esar-haddon his son reigned in his stead. 

Hezekiah and his people received the Lord’s protection because of their righteousness, which was demonstrated by their worship at the temple. How can temple attendance be a protection for us?  D&C 109:24–28
24 We ask thee, Holy Father, to establish the people that shall worship, and honorably hold a name and standing in this thy house, to all generations and for eternity;

25 That no weapon formed against them shall prosper; that he who diggeth a pit for them shall fall into the same himself;

26 That no combination of wickedness shall have power to rise up and prevail over thy people upon whom thy name shall be put in this house;

27 And if any people shall rise against this people, that thine anger be kindled against them;

28 And if they shall smite this people thou wilt smite them; thou wilt fight for thy people as thou didst in the day of battle, that they may be delivered from the hands of all their enemies.

What can we do to make temple worthiness and attendance a priority in our lives?

President Howard W. Hunter encouraged: “Let us be a temple-attending people. Attend the temple as frequently as personal circumstances allow. Keep a picture of a temple in your home that your children may see it. Teach them about the purposes of the house of the Lord. Have them plan from their earliest years to go there and to remain worthy of that blessing.  

“If proximity to a temple does not allow frequent attendance, gather in the history of your family and prepare the names for the sacred ordinances performed only in the temple. This family research is essential to the work of the temples, and blessings surely will come to those who do that work” (Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 8; or Ensign, Nov. 1994, 8)

Part 3: Josiah and his people covenant to serve the Lord 2 Chronicles 34

Moving to 2 Chronicles 34, after Hezekiah’s son and grandson rule in wickedness, Hezekiah’s great-grandson Josiah becomes king of Judah. Josiah destroys the idols in the kingdom and repairs the temple (34:1–13). The book of the law is found in the temple and read to Josiah, who weeps when he learns how far the people have strayed from the law (34:14–21). Huldah the prophetess tells of the forthcoming desolation of Judah but prophesies that Josiah will not have to witness it (34:22–28) Josiah and his people covenant to serve the Lord (34:29–33)  

Hezekiah was succeeded as king by his son Manasseh and his grandson Amon (2 Chronicles 33). Manasseh ruled Judah in wickedness, placing idols in the temple and leading the people to sin. Manasseh eventually humbled himself, however, and repented before his death. Manasseh’s son Amon also ruled in wickedness, worshiping the idols his father had made. Amon did not repent, and he was slain by his own servants. Amon’s son Josiah was made king of Judah when he was eight years old. He became a righteous king who rejected the wicked ways of his father and grandfather. 

Since it was "the people of the land" who made Josiah king at age eight (2 Chr. 33:25), perhaps they also provided him advisers and motivation for good. In the eighth year of his reign, he began to seek the Lord. Thus, at age sixteen he was getting a religious base, and by age twenty he began to "purge Judah," including Jerusalem and cities round about, in Simeon, and even northward into former territories of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Naphtali, and "throughout all the land of Israel" (2 Chr. 34:3-7). Because Assyria had taken the ten tribes of northern Israel into captivity some eighty years earlier (BD, "Chronology," p. 638), Josiah's cleansing in the north must have been undertaken among whatever Israelites there were among the other peoples Assyria had sent in (2 Kgs. 17:22-24).  (Latter-day Saint Commentary on the Old Testament Ellis Rasmussen)


What kind of person was King Josiah?   2 Chronicles 34:1–2; 2 Kings 23:25 

1 Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem one and thirty years  And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the ways of David his father, and declined neither to the right hand, nor to the left.  Note that the David mentioned in this verse is King David, who was Josiah’s forefather, not his literal father.

 25 And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.
What good things did Josiah do early in his reign as king?   2 Chronicles 34:3–8. He sought the true God, destroyed idolatry in the kingdom, and sent people to repair the temple and Josiah was only 15 or 16 years old when he began making these important changes.

The religious reforms of this young and righteous king were among the most consistent and thorough in his country's history. The writer of Chronicles tells us that he removed all of the pagan idols, Asherah pillars, and altars from throughout the land of Judah (2 Chron. 34:3-7). His desire to remove any corrupt religious object from Judah was so profound that he made dust from the idolatrous images and had it sprinkled on the graves of those who had sacrificed before them (2 Chron. 34:4). Further, he exhumed the bones of the pagan priests and had them burned on their own altars (2 Chron. 34:5).  (Studies in Scripture Vol 4 Kings to Malachi Kent P Jackson)

What significant discovery did Hilkiah the high priest make during the renovation of the temple?  2 Chronicles 34:14. He found a book of the law of the Lord, or the scriptures. Note that by this time in Judah’s history the written law apparently had been lost and was virtually unknown. 
 14 And when they brought out the money that was brought into the house of the Lord, Hilkiah the priest found a book of the law of the Lord given by Moses.

The discovery of the "book of the law" can be considered the most important event of Josiah's reign. Apparently uncovered by the high priest Hilkiah, the book was brought before the king. Upon hearing the words of the book, Josiah, now profoundly moved and disturbed by its content, "rent his clothes" (2 Kgs. 22:11). The book that was found within the walls of the temple is generally considered to be some form of the book of Deuteronomy. 5 Scholars have pointed to some of Josiah's reforms as reflecting things that are found only in Deuteronomy, namely the centralization of the religion in Jerusalem and the integration of religious leaders outside of Jerusalem with the temple officiators (see Deut. 12:13-14, 17-18; 18:6-8). (Studies in Scripture Vol 4 Kings to Malachi Kent P Jackson)

How did Josiah react when the book of the law was read to him? 2 Chronicles 34:19 And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the law, that he rent his clothes.  It was a custom in ancient Israel to rend, or tear, one’s clothes to show mourning or great sorrow.

Why was Josiah so distressed to hear what the book of the law contained?   2 Chronicles 34:21.
 21 Go, inquire of the Lord for me, and for them that are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book that is found: for great is the wrath of the Lord that is poured out upon us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the Lord, to do after all that is written in this book.

Josiah instructed Hilkiah and others to seek the word of the Lord concerning the book through a prophetess named Huldah (2 Kgs. 22:12-14). He recognized that if the book was indeed a sacred volume, his people were already under great condemnation for not obeying the laws of God. Huldah's prophecy testified to the sacred nature of the book and also confirmed that the people of Judah were indeed under condemnation for their idolatrous practices. (Studies in Scripture Vol 4 Kings to Malachi Kent P Jackson)

What did the prophetess Huldah say would happen to Judah because the people had failed to keep the word of the Lord and do what the scriptures taught? 2 Chronicles 34:22–25
22 And Hilkiah, and they that the king had appointed, went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvath, the son of Hasrah, keeper of the wardrobe; (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college:) and they spake to her to that effect.

23 And she answered them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Tell ye the man that sent you to me,

24 Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the curses that are written in the book which they have read before the king of Judah:

25 Because they have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands; therefore my wrath shall be poured out upon this place, and shall not be quenched.

Through Huldah, the Lord offered no consolation or optimistic future for his chosen people: "Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah hath read: Because they have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands: therefore my wrath shall be kindled against this place, and shall not be quenched" (2 Kgs. 22:16-17). Elsewhere in 2 Kings, the writer recorded that the sins of Manasseh had brought destruction upon the people of Judah (2 Kgs. 23:26; 24:3-4).  (Studies in Scripture Vol 4 Kings to Malachi Kent P Jackson)

What will happen to us if we neglect to read the scriptures and apply their teachings? 

 President Ezra Taft Benson described the dangers of neglecting one of our books of scripture, the Book of Mormon:  “In 1829, the Lord warned the Saints that they are not to trifle with sacred things (see D&C 6:12). Surely the Book of Mormon is a sacred thing, and yet many trifle with it, or in other words, take it lightly, treat it as though it is of little importance.

“In 1832, as some early missionaries returned from their fields of labor, the Lord reproved them for treating the Book of Mormon lightly. As a result of that attitude, he said, their minds had been darkened. Not only had treating this sacred book lightly brought a loss of light to themselves, it had also brought the whole Church under condemnation, even all the children of Zion. And then the Lord said, ‘And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon’ (D&C 84:54–57). …

“If the early Saints were rebuked for treating the Book of Mormon lightly, are we under any less condemnation if we do the same?” (Conference Report, Oct. 1986, 3–4; or Ensign, Nov. 1986, 4–5).

 What did Huldah say would happen to Josiah? 2 Chronicles 34:26, 28

 26 And as for the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the Lord, so shall ye say unto him, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel concerning the words which thou hast heard;  

28 Behold, I will gather thee to thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered to thy grave in peace, neither shall thine eyes see all the evil that I will bring upon this place, and upon the inhabitants of the same. So they brought the king word again.

The fulfillment of this promise is described in 2 Chronicles 35:20–24 

20 After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple, Necho king of Egypt came up to fight against Carchemish by Euphrates: and Josiah went out against him.

21 But he sent ambassadors to him, saying, What have I to do with thee, thou king of Judah? I come not against thee this day, but against the house wherewith I have war: for God commanded me to make haste: forbear thee from meddling with God, who is with me, that he destroy thee not.

22 Nevertheless Josiah would not turn his face from him, but disguised himself, that he might fight with him, and hearkened not unto the words of Necho from the mouth of God, and came to fight in the valley of Megiddo.

23 And the archers shot at king Josiah; and the king said to his servants, Have me away; for I am sore wounded.

24 His servants therefore took him out of that chariot, and put him in the second chariot that he had; and they brought him to Jerusalem, and he died, and was buried in one of the sepulchres of his fathers. And all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah.

Why did the Lord make this promise to Josiah? 2 Chronicles 34:27
27 Because thine heart was tender, and thou didst humble thyself before God, when thou heardest his words against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, and humbledst thyself before me, and didst rend thy clothes, and weep before me; I have even heard thee also, saith the Lord.

After Josiah found out that his people would be condemned because they had not done as the scriptures instructed, he called all the people to the temple and read the scriptures to them (2 Chronicles 34:29–30)Then the king sent and gathered together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. And the king went up into the house of the Lord, and all the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the priests, and the Levites, and all the people, great and small: and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant that was found in the house of the Lord.

Why do you think he did this? The people could not follow God’s laws if they did not know them.  

Concerned for the welfare of his erring people, Josiah gathered them to the temple area and read the words of the book so that all could hear. After the reading, Josiah and his people covenanted "before the Lord, to walk after the Lord, and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all their heart and all their soul to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people stood to the covenant" (2 Kgs. 23:3; 2 Chron. 34:31). The purging of idolatrous images and practices then took on new meaning and continued with consistency and force. Now the temple was purified by the removal of Canaanite altars and the Asherah pillar, which had been placed there by Manasseh, and by the destruction of the cultic prostitution centers adjacent to the temple (2 Kgs. 23:3-8). Topheth, the center for child sacrifice, was desecrated so "that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech" (2 Kgs. 23:10).  (Studies in Scripture Vol 4 Kings to Malachi Kent P Jackson)
How can parents follow Josiah’s example and teach their children the laws of the gospel?  D&C 68:25, 28.
25 And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents. 

28 And they shall also teach their children to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord.

We have more scripture available to us than the Israelites had, and the scriptures are more readily accessible to us. What responsibility do we have because of these blessings?
President Spencer W. Kimball said: “The Lord is not trifling with us when he gives us these things, for ‘unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.’ (Luke 12:48.) Access to these things means responsibility for them. We must study the scriptures according to the Lord’s commandment (see 3 Nephi 23:1–5); and we must let them govern our lives” (“How Rare a Possession—the Scriptures!” Ensign, Sept. 1976, 5)

Why do we sometimes have difficulty studying the scriptures?  They are not in our language  and some find it hard to understand, or too time consuming.  Maybe there are those that might be afraid of them, or have trouble with comprehension. 

How can we show the value we place on the scriptures?  Be valiant in our study even if it seems hard or time consuming.  If we do not understand what we read, we can pray for understanding and study what the prophets and apostles have said about the scriptures we are reading; if we are too sleepy to read the scriptures at night, we can find another time of day to read.

While Josiah and his people were at the temple, they made a covenant with the Lord. What did they covenant to do?   2 Chronicles 34:31–33
31 And the king stood in his place, and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord, and to keep his commandments, and his testimonies, and his statutes, with all his heart, and with all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant which are written in this book.

32 And he caused all that were present in Jerusalem and Benjamin to stand to it. And the inhabitants of Jerusalem did according to the covenant of God, the God of their fathers.

33 And Josiah took away all the abominations out of all the countries that pertained to the children of Israel, and made all that were present in Israel to serve, even to serve the Lord their God. And all his days they departed not from following the Lord, the God of their fathers.

In the temple we make sacred covenants with the Lord, the fulfillment of which will bring us earthly blessings and eternal exaltation. How can we prepare to make the sacred temple covenants? 

Once we have made these covenants, why is it important that we return to the temple as often as possible?  Although some of the practices in the temple of ancient Israel were different from what we do in latter-day temples (for example, we do not sacrifice animals or burn candles and incense in latter-day temples), the purposes of ancient temples and latter-day temples are the same: to prepare us to come into the presence of the Lord and be like him therefore we should attend as often as possible.

The people in the kingdom of Judah eventually became so wicked that the Lord allowed them to be taken captive (2 Chronicles 36:14–21). During their reigns, however, Hezekiah and Josiah had sought to strengthen the people by turning their attention to the temple and the scriptures.  As we focus our attention on scripture study and obeying the Lord’s commandments by being worthy to enter the temple, we will be blessed with spiritual strength and joy.

Come unto the Temple, enjoy the blessings thereof by living worthily and attending as often as possible. The results of such loyalty can be life changing even unto an eternal level.

 “A credit card with the Lord”

“I hold before you two credit cards. Most of you are familiar with cards such as these.  The first is a bank credit card. It permits me to secure merchandise on credit and then pay for my purchases at one time. It is a valuable thing and something to be safeguarded. If stolen and dishonestly used, it could cause me great loss and perhaps considerable embarrassment. In accepting it from my bank, I enter into a contract and become bound by obligations and agreements. In accepting the card, I agree to meet the conditions under which it was issued.

“It is issued for one year only and must be reissued each year if I am to enjoy the privileges afforded by it. It is not really mine. The bank retains ownership. If I fail in my required performance, then the bank may shut off the credit and repossess the card.

“The other card which I have is what we call a temple recommend. It represents a credit card with the Lord, making available to me many of His greatest gifts. The bank card is concerned with things of the world, the recommend with things of God.

“To secure a temple recommend, the receiver must also have demonstrated his eligibility, and that eligibility is based on personal worthiness. Once granted, it is not in place forever but must be reissued each year. Furthermore, it is subject to forfeiture if the holder does anything which would disqualify him for its privileges.

“Eligibility for a temple recommend is not based on financial worth. That has nothing whatever to do with it. It is based on consistent personal behavior, on the goodness of one’s life. It is not concerned with money matters, but rather with things of eternity.

“The bank card opens the door to financial credit. The temple recommend opens the door to the House of the Lord. It is concerned with entry into holy precincts to do sacred and divine work. …

“… This recommend which I have and which so many of you have is a precious and wonderful thing. It makes one eligible for an exclusive and remarkable privilege—the privilege of entering that House which says on its wall, ‘Holiness to the Lord—the House of the Lord.’ Live worthy to serve in that house. Keep it holy. Do your part to keep from the Lord’s house any unclean or defiling influence or person. Enjoy its beauty. Enjoy the wonder of the things that are spoken there, the beauty and the blessing of the ordinances there administered.

“To [those] who have not yet been to the temple, may I suggest that you take advantage of the opportunity of being baptized in behalf of the dead. And then let that sacred experience become an anchor to your lives, that you so conduct yourselves at all times and in all circumstances that, at the proper time, you may secure a special and restricted credit card with the Lord, even a recommend to His holy house, there to enjoy all of its blessings and privileges” (President Gordon B Hinkley Conference Report, Apr. 1990, 65, 69; or Ensign, May 1990, 49, 52).


Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols
Latter-day Saint Commentary on the Old Testament Ellis Rasmussen
Prophets, Priests, and Kings Andrew Skinner
Church News 1994 
Encyclopedia of Mormonism, p1455
Studies in Scripture Vol 4 Kings to Malachi Kent P Jackson
Things as They Really Are Neal A Maxwell
Conference Reports

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The Fall of Adam and Eve

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