Old Testament Lesson 29 (2 Kings 17–25)
July 11–17

JUDAH’S DOWNHILL COURSE TO CAPTIVITY

From the time that Israel fell, it was clear that Judah suffered from the same sins that had brought the northern kingdom to destruction. Despite the efforts of two good kings, Hezekiah and Josiah (indicate them on the chart), the people were never completely cleansed of idolatry. Nor did they turn completely from the unrighteousness idolatry caused. Even with the work of the prophets, the reforms of the two kings, and some righteous individuals, the religious fabric of the kingdom gradually became tattered and threadbare. Before 587 B.C., Judah had ripened in iniquity.

●  1 Nephi 17:35; D&C 18:6  An earlier Gospel Doctrine manual explained that “to ‘ripen in iniquity’ means to become so evil that repentance is not likely. Those who are ‘ripe in iniquity’ deal in “wickedness, abominations, murders” (see Moroni 9), and secret combinations, which foster such a way of life. Only the Lord knows when a people is fully ripe in iniquity and when nothing can save that people from the destruction of which they have been warned.

HOSHEA REIGNED IN ISRAEL IN WICKEDNESS.

—  2 Kings 17:1–2  Hoshea “did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord.”

—  2 Kings 17:3–4  He submitted to Shalmaneser, the king of Assyria, but also sent messengers to the king of Egypt. For this, Shalmaneser “shut him up” in prison.

—  2 Kings 17:7–17   The Israelites forsook the Lord, worshiped idols, served Baal, sacrificed their newborn infants to the God Molech (their version of abortion?), and rejected all that the Lord had given them.

●  The northern ten tribes of Israel were sent captive into Assyria.

—  2 Kings 17:5–6, 18, 20–23  For their wickedness, the Lord sent Israel (the northern ten tribes) captive into Assyria by the hand of the kings of Assyria.

—  2 Kings 17:24  Assyria then brought other nations into Samaria to replace the people of Israel that they had taken captive. These nations served their gods in Israel.

HEZEKIAH (716-687 B.C.) REIGNED IN RIGHTEOUSNESS IN JUDAH.

●  2 Kings 18:1–3  Although he was the son of wicked Ahaz, King Hezekiah was determined to serve the Lord.

—  2 Kings 18:4–8  He destroyed idolatrous altars, restored the Passover, repaired the temple, kept the commandments, and heeded the prophets.

—  2 Kings 18:8  As a result of his reforms, Hezekiah was blessed by the Lord. He was able to hold Jerusalem against the Assyrian king Sennacherib, who captured all the surrounding cities. Jerusalem was an island in a sea of Assyrian conquests.

—  2 Kings 18:9–12  During this time, the northern ten tribes were taken captive into Assyria.

—  2 Kings 18:28-30  The King of Assyria delivered a blasphemous warning to Judah, telling them that they should not trust in God but rather they should submit to him and his rule.

—  2 Kings 19:14–19   Hezekiah prayed to the Lord and listened to what Isaiah, the Lord’s prophet, told him in answer to his prayers. He put his trust in the Lord.

—  2 Kings 19:32–34  The Lord declared through Isaiah that the king of Assyria “shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there” (v. 32). “By the way that he came, by the same shall he return” (v. 33). “For I will defend this city, to save it” (v. 34).

—  2 Kings 19:35–36  That night, the angel of the Lord went into the camp of the Assyrians and slew them all (v. 35). So, the Assyrian army departed and returned to their own country. (v. 36).

LONG REIGN OF MANASSEH (687-642 B.C.), A WICKED KING

●  2 Kings 21:2-9, 16  Manasseh, the wicked son of a righteous father, did away with all of Hezekiah’s reforms.

● He built up idol worship; defiled the temple with pagan altars and sacrificed his own son; tampered with the occult—enchantment, familiar spirits, and wizardry; disobeyed the prophets; and shed innocent blood.

2 Chron 33:11-20  There is an account here of Manasseh’s capture and ultimate repentance. Although he personally repented of his earlier sins, the consequences of his wickedness took their toll in the lives of others. As a result, Manasseh is remembered as one who contributed to the downfall of his people (see Jeremiah 15:4).

2 Chron 33:23  Amon, the son of Manasseh, followed his father’s wicked example. He ruled two years and was murdered by his servants because he “trespassed more and more.”

THE REIGN OF JOSIAH (640-609 B.C.), A RIGHTEOUS KING

●  2 Kings 22:2  Josiah did not follow his father’s wicked ways and was a righteous king. Beginning in the twelfth year of his reign, he was an energetic reformer in his work for the Lord.

●  2 Kings 22:8; 2 Chron 34:14 During his renovation of the temple in the eighteenth year of his reign Josiah discovered “a book of the law of the Lord.”

●  2 Kings 22:11-13
 The servants of Josiah went to inquire about the record to Huldah, the prophetess.

●  2 Kings 22:15-20 Instead of discouraging Josiah, the prophecies of Huldah concerning the book of the law inspired him to try to save his people.

●  2 Kings 23:3
 Josiah caused his people to renew their covenants with the Lord; restored the Passover [see 2 Chron. 35:1-19]; sought to cleanse his kingdom; and emphasized the importance of the temple in Judah’s worship again, as commanded in Deuteronomy 12:5-14.

●  2 Kings 23:29-30  Huldah’s prophecy concerning Josiah was fulfilled: the young king was killed in an encounter with Pharaoh-nechoh of Egypt. With him died Judah’s last hope of avoiding destruction. With his sons and grandsons the good-evil cycle swung to evil and stayed there.

EVIL RULERS HASTENED THE INEVITABLE DESTRUCTION

The last fifty-seven verses of 2 Kings record the steady decline of Judah toward its final devastation and the captivity of its people.

●  Jehoiakim  After three months as king, Jehoahaz, son of Josiah (also called Shallum [see Jeremiah 22:11]), was removed by the Pharaoh to Egypt, where he died. His brother Eliakim, renamed Jehoiakim, then reigned eleven years. Both did evil in the sight of the Lord, and Judah’s end drew nearer.

●  They persecuted the prophets.  The evil done by the last kings of Judah, as well as that of the earlier kings, was typical of the kind of wickedness that filled the kingdom. The people no longer trusted in the Lord; they sought other gods and other strength from Egypt and elsewhere. They saw no reason to live righteously and persecuted the prophets (Jeremiah, Lehi, and others). They did not want righteous people in their midst. From 750 to 600 B.C. the Bible traces the decline of a people who turned from the Lord, and who, in the face of their own destruction, denied it.

●  Jehoiachin, son of Jehoiakim , was king for only three months when he and many of his people were taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon.

●  Mattaniah (Zedekiah)
 Nebuchadnezzar set up Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle and another son of Josiah, as puppet king in Jerusalem and changed his name to Zedekiah.

—  1 Nephi 1:4-2:4  Lehi and his family left Jerusalem to escape its destruction.

— Most of the people in Jerusalem, including Laman and Lemuel, did not believe the end was near. Zedekiah rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar, thereby bringing about the destruction of Jerusalem and Judah. It remained for the prophets to tell of any further hope for Judah’s people; the book of 2 Kings did not do so.

●  2 Kings 25  This is an account of the end of the kingdom of Judah at the hand of the Babylonians (Chaldees). Events here took place in about the year 587 B.C. Verse 7 records the fulfillment of a prophecy of Ezekiel (see Ezekiel 12:13) that the king of Judah would go to Babylon, but not see it.

●  2 Kings 25:27-30  Perhaps the writer ended with this record of kindness on the part of Nebuchadnezzar’s successor to show that, even in deepest humiliation, the house of David had the right to some divine mercy. (Compare 2 Chronicles 36:11-21.)

LIKENING THE SCRIPTURES UNTO US

Although there were a few righteous people in Judah when Nebuchadnezzar’s armies overwhelmed Jerusalem (there were, in fact, prophets among the exiles), the nation as a whole had ripened in iniquity. Individual salvation, however, is not a national matter. A person might suffer in a national calamity, but if he has remained righteous, or has repented, his eternal life is not in jeopardy.

● Destruction is prophesied in the latter days as it was in the days of the kingdom of Judah. The righteous, however, need not fear. The Lord has promised that “the work of righteousness shall be peace” (Isaiah 32:17). This peace is that sweet, Calm assurance from God that gives the righteous an inner strength that Can help them withstand external Calamities. The righteous may suffer the effects of physical deprivation along with the wicked; some will suffer calamities, pain, and even death. Nevertheless, the righteous trust in God and will receive the peace the Savior promised, but which the world does not understand. (See John 14:27.) Although the Lord will not turn aside the destruction of an entire people, he will not fail any person who trusts in him.

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