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Lesson plan for 2 Kings 17-25

 Hezekiah = God is my strength 

Josiah = God supports and Heals
Huldah = to abide or to continue

Maybe draw a rough map of Israel and how it was divided and which kingdom took which nation.

Review of chapter 17:

The ministry of Elijah and Elisha did not stop the spiritual decay of the northern kingdom of Israel. They continued to ripe in iniquity until the Lord put an end to it. The Assyrians come in and transpopulate Samaria (what the land of the Northern Kingdom was called). Chapter 17 explains why this was done. They forgot Jehovah and lusted after other gods. They did not remember to keep Jehovah's commandments. They broke off from the house of David and their Kings continually lived in wickedness.

Can anyone quote the 10th article of Faith?

The Assyrians taking the northern Kingdom is where the 10 tribes become lost.

What significance does this have for us?

Ephraim was one of the prominent tribes in the Northern Kingdom. Us sitting in this room today is a witness that the Lord still remembers his promises, even 2,754 years later.

Another quick note from this chapter is the introduction of Samaritans in verse 29. These people are those transpopulated Assyrians that mixed with the remaining poor northern Israelites. These are important people to remember next year when we read the New Testament.

In chapter 18 we get introduced to one of the great descendant kings of David, King Hezekiah. He took the reign over the southern Kingdom (which was still intact after the northern tribes were carried away) at the age of 25. It is said of him in verse 5 that he trusted in the Lord so much that after him and before him there were no Kings of Judah like him.

In the 14th year of Hezekiah's reign, he is confronted with invasion because he refuses to be a vassal state to Assyria. The King of Assyria and Hezekiah communicate via letters when the King of Assyria threatens Hezekiah with invasion. He demands payment from Hezekiah of what is about the equivalent today of 55 million dollars. As expected, this apparently didn't appease the King as Hezekiah continued to refuse to be a vassal state.

The King of Assyria sends some of his servants with a great host against Jerusalem. Rabshakeh gives a masterful speech of political propaganda to the surrounding Israelite hosts.

Have class read 2 Kings 18:28-35

Rabshakeh was trying to undermine trust in Jehovah, his prophets, and the righteous King Hezekiah. He said a lot of enticing things. Where do we see this clever attempt to undermine trust in our day?

Hezekiah was actually not around to hear Rabshakeh's speech, but he got quick word of it. Hezekiah sends his servants to ISAIAH (yes, the Isaiah) to get revelation on what he is to do.

The revelation Isaiah receives is in 2 Kings 19:6-7. Read those verses.

The Lord doesn't tell Hezekiah to do anything, but to be not afraid. In the midst of overwhelming destruction and odds, how do we learn to simply be still and be not afraid? How or why is that good council? The Lord seems to give it repeatedly in the scriptures.

Rabshakeh ends up going back to Assyria, but, despite the revelation Isaiah receives, the threat from the Assyrians remains. Hezekiah receives another letter from different Assyrian military leaders and this really makes Hezekiah desperate. He takes the letters to the temple and spreads them before the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies. He utters a prayer that sounds similar to the desperation Joseph Smith has within Liberty Jail.

The Lord, again, through the prophet Isaiah responds:

Read 2 Kings 19:32-35

How can we receive this power of protection in our personal lives and within our families? How can we learn the meaning of Hezekiah's name and trust that God is our strength?

Point out that ancient Greek Historians say that it was mice that brought a plague that wiped out 185,000 Assyrian soldiers.

If there is time, you can read this poem by Lord Byron on the slaughtering of the 185,000 Assyrians:

"The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,
When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.

   Like the leaves of the forest when Summer is green,
That host with their banners at sunset were seen:
Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown,
That host on the morrow lay withered and strown.

   For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,
And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed;
And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill,
And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!

   And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide,
But through it there rolled not the breath of his pride;
And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,
And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf.

   And there lay the rider distorted and pale,
With the dew on his brow, and the rust on his mail:
And the tents were all silent, the banners alone,
The lances unlifted, the trumpet unblown.

   And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail,
And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal;
And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,
Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord!"

For sake of time, a brief review of chapter 20.
1. We get a story of Hezekiah delaying death through a miracle of the Lord. The sign given through the prophet Isaiah is that the shadow on a sundial moved backward instead of forwards. How does that happen?

2. Hezekiah's life sort of ends tragically when he forms a friendly relationship with the rising kingdom of Babylon. He invites visitors in from that Kingdom and shows them all the riches Judah has in their nation and temple. Isaiah rebukes Hezekiah for this and prophecies of Babylon carrying away Judah. Hezekiah dies and his very wicked son, Manasseh, reigns in his stead.

Moving to chapter 21, Manasseh undoes all the reforms Hezekiah did. Jewish scholars call Manasseh the Jezebel of the Southern Kingdom. Manasseh rules for a while and then His son takes over and isn't much better. Amon, his son, is killed in a conspiracy, and as a result, a young 8-year-old king is appointed in his stead, Amon's son Josiah.

Being so young probably allowed Josiah to be influenced for good, as he turned out to be one of the greatest kings Israel ever had.

We pick up in chapter 22 where Josiah has his servants repairing and renovating the temple. In their labor, they come across "the book of the law". We don't really know what this book was, but some scholars suggest it might have been something like the Book of Deuteronomy.

Josiah has the book read to him and is incensed. He rents his clothes as he begins to realize how off track the Lord's covenant people have become. Josiah seeks confirmation of this from a prophetess, Huldah. She gets the revelation that the message of the book is true and that Israel has fallen away.

Josiah seeks to rectify this and calls all the inhabitants of Jerusalem to the temple as he reads the book of the law or covenant to them.

Read 2 Kings 23:3

Spencer W. Kimball quote about how the scriptures transformed King Josiah:

"I feel strongly that we must all of us return to the scriptures just as King Josiah did and let them work mightily within us, impelling us to an unwavering determination to serve the Lord... I ask us all to honestly evaluate our performance in scripture study. It is a common thing to have a few passages of scripture at our disposal, floating in our minds, as it were, and thus to have the illusion that we know a great deal about the gospel. In this sense, having a little knowledge can be a problem indeed. I am convinced that each of us, at some time in our lives, must discover the scriptures for ourselves—and not just discover them once, but rediscover them again and again." (“How Rare a Possession—the Scriptures!” Ensign, Sept. 1976)

Elder Christofferson:

"Today the Bible and other scripture are readily at hand, yet there is a growing scriptural illiteracy because people will not open the books. Consequently they have forgotten things their grandparents knew. God uses scripture to unmask erroneous thinking, false traditions, and sin with its devastating effects... Surely with this blessing the Lord is telling us that our need for constant recourse to the scriptures is greater than in any previous time." (The Blessings of Scripture, April 2010 General Conference)

What are the blessings of scripture study? What do we see in Josiah's story that can tell us how important the scriptures are to us?

Josiah goes out and is even more zealous in his reforms than King Hezekiah was in his reforms. He dies (there are some conflicting stories in the Old Testament on how he dies), but it says in verse 25 that there was no other King of Israel like him that turned his heart and soul and might to the Lord. The scriptures are key in helping us do this.

After Josiah dies, we get wicked kings again and they have officially become a vassal state of Babylon. Kings of Judah refuse to pay their dues to Nebuchadnezzar and, therefore, he comes in and carries many of the southern kingdom away, mostly the royalty and more affluent community members. Nebuchadnezzar places Zedekiah as king over those who remained in Jerusalem. Zedekiah is mentioned in the first few verses of the Book of Mormon, therefore we are where the story of Lehi begins. We understand a little bit of the context he was living.

Zedekiah is wicked and once more Babylon comes against them and this time cleans house. The temple is reduced to dust and the walls of Jerusalem are brought down. Zedekiah dies a gruesome death.

The book of 2 Kings almost ends on this note, but we get an add-on at the very end of the book.

Read 2 Kings 25:27-30

The book ends by hinting that an heir of the Davidic Throne is still out there. The changing of Jehoiachin out of his prison clothes is meant to bring to our minds when Pharaoh brought Joseph out of prison. Joseph's story ends with a new beginning for the nation. Here we just read of the nation's annihilation, but there is still hope. That is the message at the end of the chaos that 2 Kings gives.

Joseph Smith once said:

"Those who have died in Jesus Christ may expect to enter into all that fruition of joy when they come forth, which they possessed or anticipated here. … I am glad I have the privilege of communicating to you some things which, if grasped closely, will be a help to you when earthquakes bellow, the clouds gather, the lightnings flash, and the storms are ready to burst upon you like peals of thunder. Lay hold of these things and let not your knees or joints tremble, nor your hearts faint; and then what can earthquakes, wars and tornadoes do? Nothing. All your losses will be made up to you in the resurrection, provided you continue faithful. By the vision of the Almighty I have seen it." (History of the Church, 5:361–62)


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