Sunday School lessons for Gospel Doctrine Class

Saturday, July 28, 2018

The Influence of Wicked and Righteous Leaders



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When we get into 1 Kings, in the Old Testament, we really begin to get into the thick of the history with the tribes of Israel and even the beginnings of the scattering of Israel.  The Savior taught that every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation. This is what happened to the kingdom of Israel after Solomon's Death.  

Solomon, son of David and Bathsheba, is perhaps the most difficult of Israel's kings to understand. On one hand, he was the paradigm of the wise ruler who built the temple of the Lord and took the kingdom of Israel to new heights economically. On the other, he sowed the seeds for the disintegration of Israel and became involved in the worship of foreign gods, "which thing," we are told in the Book of Mormon, "was abominable" before the Lord (Jacob 2:24), leading one scholar to aptly refer to him as "the wisest of fools."

After Solomon's death, long-standing jealousies, antagonisms, and tensions between Judah and Israel (the northern tribes) erupted violently when rebellion against Rehoboam, Solomon's only known child and successor shattered the unity of the Israelite kingdom. The tensions had been aggravated in Solomon's later years by heavy taxation and forced labor. Hence, the prophesied division of the great Davidic kingdom came to pass: "For thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon. . . . I will take the kingdom out of his son's hand" (1 Kgs. 11:31, 35). The division of the kingdom was the Lord's doing.

The message is subtle but profound. God is not outside the historical process. He is the principal agent in history. He has a plan for Israel and intervenes through his prophets in the affairs of men to bring about his work and purposes. The division of the Davidic kingdom, or house of Israel, was a step preparatory to the scattering of Israel, in which Deity also took a personal role (Jer. 16:13; Ezek. 5:10; Jacob 5:8)   


Part 1. The kingdom of Israel is divided 1 Kings 12:1–20

1 Kings 12:1–20. Rehoboam succeeds his father, Solomon, as king over the twelve tribes of Israel. He rejects the counsel of wise men to serve his people, seeking instead to impose greater burdens on them 12:1–15. The kingdom is divided as ten tribes revolt 12:16–19; the ten tribes retain the title kingdom of Israel, while the tribes of Judah and Benjamin remain under Rehoboam’s rule and are called the kingdom of Judah. The kingdom of Israel selects Jeroboam, a former administrator in Solomon’s kingdom, as king 12:20.

Who Was Rehoboam?  Rehoboam was the only son and successor of King Solomon. 1 Kings 11:43 The Bible does not mention any other sons or daughters of Solomon.  Since Rehoboams mother Naamah was an Ammonite,1 Kings 14:21 he was only half Israelite.  But his mother's ancestry was Semitic since the Ammonites were descendants of Lot.  

Rehoboam, traveled to Shechem to be installed as the new king.  It was important for Rehoboam to go to Shechem to be formally recognized as king because Shechem was among the most ancient of the sacred towns of northern Palestine and a chief city of the northern tribes of Israel. It was at Shechem that Abraham camped when he first arrived in Canaan (Gen. 12:6). It was at Shechem that the Israelites buried the bones of Joseph when they came out of Egypt (Josh. 24:32). It was at Shechem that Joshua gathered together all the tribes of Israel to give them instructions and establish a special covenant between God and the people. Rehoboam recognized the need to be confirmed at this important place in order to cement northern allegiance to a united kingdom.

In this place is where he met Jeroboam, the Ephraimite adversary of Solomon and also where the northern tribes made known the conditions upon which they would accept him as king.  


“Rehoboam went to Shechem, because all Israel had come thither to make him king. ‘All Israel,’ according to what follows [compare 1 Kings 12:20–21], was the ten tribes beside Judah and Benjamin. The right of making king the prince whom God has chosen, i.e. of anointing him and doing homage to him … , was an old traditional right in Israel, and the tribes had exercised it not only in the case of Saul and David [see 1 Samuel 11:15; 2 Samuel 2:4; 5:3], but in that of Solomon also [see 1 Chronicles 29:22]. The ten tribes of Israel made use of this right on Rehoboam’s ascent of the throne; but instead of coming to Jerusalem, the residence of the king and capital of the kingdom, as they ought to have done, and doing homage there to the legitimate successor of Solomon, they had gone to Sichem, the present Nabulus [see Genesis 12:6; 33:18], the place where the ancient national gatherings were held in the tribe of Ephraim [see Joshua 24:1]. … On the choice of Sichem as the place for doing homage Kimchi has quite correctly observed, that ‘they sought an opportunity for transferring the government to Jeroboam, and therefore were unwilling to come to Jerusalem, but came to Sichem, which belonged to Ephraim, whilst Jeroboam was an Ephraimite.’ If there could be any further doubt on the matter, it would be removed by the fact that they had sent for Jeroboam the son of Nebat to come from Egypt, whither he had fled from Solomon [see 1 Kings 11:40], and attend this meeting, and that Jeroboam took the lead in the meeting, and no doubt suggested to those assembled the demand which they should lay before Rehoboam.” (Old Testament Student Manual)
What changes did the Israelites want Rehoboam to make from the way his father ruled?  1 Kings 12:3–4  Before supporting him they asked for a decrease in the severe financial and labor demands that had been instituted by Solomon (1 Kgs. 12:3-19; 2 Chron. 10:3-19) 


3 That they sent and called him. And Jeroboam and all the congregation of Israel came, and spake unto Rehoboam, saying,
4 Thy father made our yoke grievous: now therefore make thou the grievous service of thy father, and his heavy yoke which he put upon us, lighter, and we will serve thee.
One scholar noted that “Solomon’s kingdom barely outlived him. At his death his son and heir, Rehoboam, sought to ascend the throne of Israel and Judah. There was no difficulty in the south. The elders of Judah were no doubt pleased to anoint another native son to continue the rule which had favored Judah in so many ways. In the north, in Israel, it was a different story altogether. Before there was to be an acclamation of any son of Solomon, there must be some plain talk about certain policies of state which the men of the northern hills and valleys thought discriminatory if not unbearable. Forced labor gangs for royal building projects simply must not continue. Heavy and inequitable taxation favoring Judah would have to be modified. The new king would either have to find other ways to carry out his personal and imperial ambitions or else temper his desires. In any case, the northern tribes were clearly unwilling to bear the brunt of the monarchical burden. Underlying these real grievances was the reviving strength of the tribal elders. Solomon had not completely destroyed their power after all.(Harry Thomas Frank, Discovering the Biblical World, p. 99.)
What counsel did the older men give Rehoboam about ruling successfully? 1 Kings 12:6–7; 2 Chronicles 10:7  
6 And king Rehoboam consulted with the old men, that stood before Solomon his father while he yet lived, and said, How do ye advise that I may answer this people?
7 And they spake unto him, saying, If thou wilt be a servant unto this people this day, and wilt serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be thy servants for ever.
7 And they spake unto him, saying, If thou be kind to this people, and please them, and speak good words to them, they will be thy servants for ever.
The episode recorded in these verses demonstrates the value of age when wise counsel is needed. Because of their experience, older people are generally wiser than younger people. But because of their great energy and ability to adapt, youth can be very effective leaders. It is often best to allow the wisdom of the aged to guide the energy of youth; concerning the wisdom of the counsel given to Rehoboam by the old men.  
Why are we more likely to be influenced positively by a leader who is kind and who serves us? 
How can we apply this counsel at home? at church? at school? at work?  D&C 121:41–46   41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—
43 Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;
44 That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.
45 Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.
46 The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.
What are some examples you have seen of parents or other leaders applying this counsel successfully?
Refusing the counsel of older men, Rehoboam turned to young men he had known in his youth. What was their advice? 1 Kings 12:8–11.
8 But he forsook the counsel of the old men, which they had given him, and consulted with the young men that were grown up with him, and which stood before him:
9 And he said unto them, What counsel give ye that we may answer this people, who have spoken to me, saying, Make the yoke which thy father did put upon us lighter?
10 And the young men that were grown up with him spake unto him, saying, Thus shalt thou speak unto this people that spake unto thee, saying, Thy father made our yoke heavy, but make thou it lighter unto us; thus shalt thou say unto them, My little finger shall be thicker than my father’s loins.
11 And now whereas my father did lade you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke: my father hath chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.
What were the results of Rehoboam’s decision to follow their advice? 1 Kings 12:12–17.  When the new king made known his decision, even roughly and harshly, to increase their burdens rather than heed the counsel of the older men northern support was effectively destroyed, assuring a divided nation.  The phrase "Israel departed to their tents", refers to the ten tribes separating themselves from Rehoboam's kingdom.

12 So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king had appointed, saying, Come to me again the third day.
13 And the king answered the people roughly, and forsook the old men’s counsel that they gave him;
14 And spake to them after the counsel of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke: my father also chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.
15 Wherefore the king hearkened not unto the people; for the cause was from the Lord, that he might perform his saying, which the Lord spake by Ahijah the Shilonite unto Jeroboam the son of Nebat.
16 So when all Israel saw that the king hearkened not unto them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel: now see to thine own house, David. So Israel departed unto their tents.
17 But as for the children of Israel which dwelt in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned over them.
Those assembled made it clear that they no longer considered themselves to be part of the house of David (Judah). They rebelled against the dominion of Rehoboam and moved to establish their own kingdom. “To your tents” is an idiom meaning “Let’s go home!” (D. Guthrie and J. A. Motyer, eds., The New Bible Commentary: Revised, p. 337)
How might these results have been different if Rehoboam had followed the counsel of the older men? 1 Kings 12:7  7 And they spake unto him, saying, If thou wilt be a servant unto this people this day, and wilt serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be thy servants for ever.
Who was Jeroboam and What Important Part Did He Play in the Division of Israel?Jeroboam was the son of Nebat 1 Kings 12:15, an Ephraimite. He was one of Solomon’s twelve superintendents and had jurisdiction over all the taxes and labors exacted from the house of Joseph 1 Kings 11:28. The prophet Ahijah had prophesied that Jeroboam would someday take over much of the Israelite nation.  To illustrate his prophecy, Ahijah tore a cloak in twelve pieces, gave ten to Jeroboam, and said: “Take thee ten pieces: for thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to thee: but he shall have one tribe for my servant David’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel:” 1 Kings 11:31–32. Thus, he prophetically outlined events which would soon transpire.

How was this prophecy fulfilled?  1 Kings 12:20 The tribes of Judah and Benjamin stayed with Rehoboam who became king over the tribes of Judah and Benjamin in the South. His kingdom, Judah, had its capital at Jerusalem (1 Kgs. 12:19-21).   The other Ten tribes followed Jeroboam who was made king over the Israelites in the North, with their first capital city at Shechem. His kingdom, which consisted of the northern ten tribes, was usually called Israel, or Ephraim. Later, Omri made Samaria its capital. 

Rehoboam reacted to this secession by mobilizing an army from Judah and Benjamin to quell the rebellion, force the return of the northern territories, and preserve political unity. But the Lord, through the prophet Shemaiah, forbade him to carry out a war (1 Kgs. 12:20-24; 2 Chron. 11:1-4). When war did come a short time later, it proved to be a futile and lengthy enterprise. We are told simply that "there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all their days" (1 Kgs. 14:30). The division between their two kingdoms created two separate nations with separate histories from that time on. It will only be in Christ's millennial kingdom that the two will become one again (Ezek. 37:22).  The kingdom of Israel was divided largely because Rehoboam chose to follow the unwise counsel of his peers (1 Kings 12:9–16).

How can we resist the temptation to follow unwise advice from our friends?  Elder Malcolm S. Jeppsen said:  “Many of you … will be, at some time or another, approached by one or more of your ‘friends’ who will entice you to do something you know you should not do. …“‘No one will ever know,’ the so-called friends will tell you. ‘Besides, what difference will it make?’  “… You don’t have to reject your friends who are on the wrong path; you don’t even have to give them up necessarily. You can be their caring friend, ready to help them when they are ready to be helped. You can talk to them and lift them and bear your testimony to them. Lead them by example.  “But don’t ever be led into displeasing your Father in Heaven by your friends who might ask that as a condition of being your friend, you must choose between their way and the Lord’s way.  “If that happens, choose the Lord’s way and look for new friends” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1990, 59; or Ensign, May 1990, 45).
Part 2: Jeroboam and Rehoboam lead their kingdoms into idolatry 1 Kings 12:25–33; 13:33–34; 14:14–16, 21–24.
Through the prophet Ahijah, the Lord promised Jeroboam that he would be given a "sure house", or a secure kingdom if he would walk in the Lord's ways.  1 Kings 11:38
38 And it shall be, if thou wilt hearken unto all that I command thee, and wilt walk in my ways, and do that is right in my sight, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did; that I will be with thee, and build thee a sure house, as I built for David, and will give Israel unto thee.
How did Jeroboam forfeit the blessings of that promise?  1 Kings 12:25–33
25 Then Jeroboam built Shechem in mount Ephraim, and dwelt therein; and went out from thence, and built Penuel.
26 And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David:
27 If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah.
28 Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
29 And he set the one in Beth-el, and the other put he in Dan.
30 And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan.
31 And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi.
32 And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Beth-el, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Beth-el the priests of the high places which he had made.
33 So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Beth-el the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense.
The most significant aspect of Jeroboam's reign in Israel (922-901 B.C.) was his immediate idolatry. By establishing two golden calves (or young bulls) at open-air sanctuaries at Dan and Bethel—opposite ends of his kingdom (see Map 9)—Jeroboam hoped to compete effectively with the Judahite temple in order to strengthen his political position against Rehoboam, expand his religious influence, and solidify the division of the once-unified Davidic kingdom. What he succeeded in doing was to teach his people to shun Jehovah, Jehovah's prophets, and Jehovah's holy temple at Jerusalem. He cleverly manipulated an ancient Near Eastern symbol of strength and divinity (the bull or calf), which was already linked to the northern tribe of Joseph in old prophecy (Deut. 33:17). 5 It appears Jeroboam also hoped that his people had forgotten the idolatrous nature of calf worship (Ex. 32:19-35) and that they would associate his golden calves with the Exodus. In another clever manipulation, he used the Exodus, an event central to the very identity of Israelites and one always to be remembered by them (Ex. 13) as a tool to justify his own schemes and wicked religious reformation. He declared: "It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt" (1 Kgs. 12:28). This was an almost verbatim quotation of the people's proclamation at the golden calf incident during the Exodus (Ex. 32:4).  
In imitation of the Feast of Tabernacles, which was also related to the Exodus, Jeroboam instituted his own perverted feast in the North, created his own priesthood, cast out of his kingdom true priesthood holders, and made unauthorized sacrifices (2 Chron. 11:13-17; 13:9; 1 Kgs. 12:26-31). In all this he sinned greatly (1 Kgs. 12:30), yet in his view these innovations gave the Israelites everything they could want: the god of Joseph, the god of the Exodus, their own holy days, their own priests, and their own sympathetic king. In short, what he hoped the people would believe he was providing was not a new, perverted religious order but rather a new royal administration legitimized by old religious rites that were now being given renewed attention in a new day and age. 6  (Study in Scripture Vol 4 Kent P Jackson) 
Why did Jeroboam build the golden calves and high places and ordain false priests? 1 Kings 12:26–33; 13:33–34  Jeroboam was afraid that if his people went to Jerusalem to worship, they might go back to Rehoboam. In an effort to control his people and retain their loyalty, he made golden calves in Bethel and Dan, two cities in the Northern Kingdom, and invited his people to worship in those cities. In doing this, he allowed his fear of defeat to override his trust in the Lord’s promises. A wise leader trusts the Lord and does not base decisions on fear or personal judgment.
With the kingdom divided, the ten tribes could not conveniently worship in the temple at Jerusalem because Judah controlled the city. Jeroboam, concerned with keeping Israel under his control, devised a new scheme for worship that would cause his people to worship away from Jerusalem. He built two golden calves in northern cities and invited his people to worship them. Adam Clarke said that Jeroboam “invented a political religion, instituted feasts in his own times different from those appointed by the Lord, gave the people certain objects of devotion, and pretended to think it would be both inconvenient and oppressive to them to have to go up to Jerusalem to worship. This was not the last time that religion was made a state engine to serve political purposes.” (Old Testament Student Manual)
Following the events introducing idolatry Abijah the son of Jeroboam fell sick. When his son became sick, he sought the help of the prophet Ahijah who gave a prophesy concerning the house of Israel.    
What did Ahijah prophesy concerning Jeroboam’s house (family) and kingdom?  1 Kings 14:14–16.   
14 Moreover the Lord shall raise him up a king over Israel, who shall cut off the house of Jeroboam that day: but what? even now.
15 For the Lord shall smite Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water, and he shall root up Israel out of this good land, which he gave to their fathers, and shall scatter them beyond the river, because they have made their groves, provoking the Lord to anger.
16 And he shall give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, who did sin, and who made Israel to sin.
This passage refers to the captivity of the ten tribes of Israel: “After many minor losses in war the kingdom of Israel met an overwhelming defeat at the hands of the Assyrians, in or about the year 721 B.C. We read that Shalmanezer IV, king of Assyria, besieged Samaria, the third and last capital of the kingdom, and that after three years the city was taken by Sargon, Shalmanezer’s successor. The people of Israel were carried captive into Assyria and distributed among the cities of the Medes. Thus was the dread prediction of Ahijah to the wife of Jeroboam fulfilled. Israel was scattered beyond the river, probably the Euphrates, and from the time of this event the Ten Tribes are lost to history.” (James E. Talmage, The Articles of Faith, pp. 322–23.)
The fulfillment of this prophecy is found in 2 Kings 17:20–23
20 And the Lord rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of spoilers, until he had cast them out of his sight.
21 For he rent Israel from the house of David; and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king: and Jeroboam drave Israel from following the Lord, and made them sin a great sin.
22 For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them;
23 Until the Lord removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day.
Like Jeroboam, Rehoboam disobeyed God by leading people into idolatry (1 Kings 14:21–24). The wicked leadership of these two kings had long-lasting results. Both kingdoms were scattered or carried away captive many years later (Israel by the Assyrians and Judah by the Babylonians) because they continued in their wicked traditions.
How can one wicked leader have such a profound effect on so many people? 

We need not mirror the acts of wicked leaders as the people of Israel and Judah did. God has given us agency, and we can use that power to choose good, even if leaders choose evil (Helaman 14:30–31).
Part 3: Jehoshaphat leads the kingdom of Judah to follow the Lord and His prophets  2 Chronicles 17:1–10; 20:1–30.
The second book of the Chronicles is concerned with events of religious and ecclesiastical significance. Historical interest centers on the Davidic dynasty, so the record here deals mostly with the kingdom of Judah after the division of the kingdom; the northern kingdom of approximately ten tribes of Israel is mentioned only in reports of interaction with Judah.
2 Chronicles 17:1–10; 20:1–30. Jehoshaphat, Rehoboam’s great-grandson, reigns righteously in the kingdom of Judah, destroying the groves and high places and sending Levites throughout Judah to teach from the book of the law of the Lord (17:1–10). As Judah’s enemies come against them, Jehoshaphat and his people fast and pray. The Lord tells them the battle is not theirs, but his. Their attackers war among themselves and destroy each other (20:1–30).  
Three generations after Rehoboam his great grandson Jehoshaphat reigned over the kingdom of Judah.  Jehoshaphat was another king of Judah more honored in Chronicles than in Kings. Besides the usual phrases describing good behavior, it is said that "his heart was lifted up in the ways of the Lord"—a good description of the inner exaltation a righteous person may feel.  2 Chronicles 17:3–4, 6
3 And the Lord was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the first ways of his father David, and sought not unto Baalim;
4 But sought to the Lord God of his father, and walked in his commandments, and not after the doings of Israel.
6 And his heart was lifted up in the ways of the Lord: moreover he took away the high places and groves out of Judah.
How does our private devotion affect our ability to lead others?
Jehoshaphat “took away the high places and groves out of Judah” 2 Chronicles 17:6. What do you think the people learned from this?   “all Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives, and their children.”
What might we remove from our homes and our personal lives so we can worship God with greater devotion?
Jehoshaphat sent Levites throughout the kingdom to teach the people from “the book of the law of the Lord” 2 Chronicles 17:9  This mission to all the cities of Judah by nine Levites and two priests, who had the book of the law of the Lord with them, resembles missions undertaken among peoples of the Book of Mormon and also missionaries we send in our day. 
How do you think being taught from the scriptures affected the people of Judah? The results of this undertaking, for Judah's internal and external peace and security, were phenomenal.
How has personal and family scripture study helped you? 
How does scripture study in the home influence our families and the Church as a whole?  President Ezra Taft Benson taught: “Often we spend great effort in trying to increase the activity levels in our stakes. We work diligently to raise the percentages of those attending sacrament meetings. We labor to get a higher percentage of our young men on missions. We strive to improve the numbers of those marrying in the temple. All of these are commendable efforts and important to the growth of the kingdom. But when individual members and families immerse themselves in the scriptures regularly and consistently, these other areas of activity will automatically come. Testimonies will increase. Commitment will be strengthened. Families will be fortified. Personal revelation will flow” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [1988], 44).
2 Chronicles 20 tells of a period of terrible anxiety for the people of Judah, as three nations had declared war on them. The outcome seemed bleak for King Jehoshaphat and his people, who were greatly outnumbered.  
What did Jehoshaphat do to receive help?  2 Chronicles 20:3–13
3 And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.
4 And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the Lord: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.
5 And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court,
6 And said, O Lord God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee?
7 Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever?
8 And they dwelt therein, and have built thee a sanctuary therein for thy name, saying,
9 If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in thy presence, (for thy name is in this house,) and cry unto thee in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help.
10 And now, behold, the children of Ammon and Moab and mount Seir, whom thou wouldest not let Israel invade, when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them, and destroyed them not;
11 Behold, I say, how they reward us, to come to cast us out of thy possession, which thou hast given us to inherit.
12 O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.
13 And all Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives, and their children.
What was the Lord’s answer to this supplication?  2 Chronicles 20:14–17.
14 Then upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, came the Spirit of the Lord in the midst of the congregation;
15 And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the Lord unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s.
16 To morrow go ye down against them: behold, they come up by the cliff of Ziz; and ye shall find them at the end of the brook, before the wilderness of Jeruel.
17 Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the Lord will be with you.
The spirit of prophecy enabled a certain Levite Jahaziel to deliver the Lord's reply, and for it the king and the people gave thanks and praise to the Lord. 
What counsel did Jehoshaphat give his people?  2 Chronicles 20:20
20 And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.
As Latter-day Saints, how are we outnumbered today as were the people of Judah anciently? 
How does Jehoshaphat’s counsel apply to us?

Remembering the prophet Jahaziel’s assurance that the battle was God’s, Jehoshaphat appointed singers to praise the Lord rather than fight. When they began to sing, the Lord protected them by causing their attackers to war among themselves and destroy one another 2 Chronicles 20:21–24.
21 And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the Lord, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the Lord; for his mercy endureth for ever.
22 And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten.
23 For the children of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of mount Seir, utterly to slay and destroy them: and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, every one helped to destroy another.
24 And when Judah came toward the watch tower in the wilderness, they looked unto the multitude, and, behold, they were dead bodies fallen to the earth, and none escaped.
How are we protected when we remember and obey the words of the living prophet?
In contrast to Jeroboam and Rehoboam, who led their people into idolatry, Jehoshaphat influenced the people of Judah to humble themselves before the Lord 2 Chronicles 20:3–4
3 And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.
4 And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the Lord: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.
What examples have you seen of the influence of righteous leaders? 
What can we do to help those we serve live righteously?
Conclusion
Our lesson from the history of Israel in these books is that the power leaders have to guide people to wickedness or righteousness is immeasurable.  The Lord has said, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand” (Matthew 12:25). A great lesson to be learned in life is to live in harmony with others. Where there is disharmony and unhappiness tragedy results. On the other hand, where there is harmony and happiness progress follow. Not only is this true in nations or kingdoms, but it is also true in personal and family relationships.  Our responsibility to lead in our Church callings, in our communities, at work, and at home is more important than we sometimes realize.  We need to build harmonious relationships  which can be done by understanding and applying insights from the scriptures.  Everyone one of us is a leader, we are Israel, and in all senses the world sees, and looks at us.  Because of this we can't be just leaders, we must be good leaders by giving service, trusting and obeying the Lord, having faith in him, teaching from the scriptures, and following the prophets.
Resources:
Old Testament Student Manual
The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson
The Articles of Faith James E Talmadge 
Harry Thomas Frank, Discovering the Biblical World, p. 99.
Studies in Scripture Vol 4 Kent P Jackson
D. Guthrie and J. A. Motyer, eds., The New Bible Commentary: Revised, p. 337
Kings and Prophets in Divided Israel Andrew C Skinner
Jerusalem the Divided City Andrew C Skinner, Kelly Ogden, David B Galibraith 
Latter-day Commentary of the Old Testament Ellis T Rasmussen 
































The Fall of Adam and Eve

  Scriptures are hyperlinked to Scriptures at ChurchofJesusChrist.org Resource quotes have been highlighted in blue and are noted at the end...