These chapters tell the story of two righteous kings: Hezekiah and Josiah. Hezekiah would restore the Temple; Josiah would restore the scriptures. Can you imagine trying to practice true religion without a temple or the scriptures? No wonder the people had so much difficulty. But even the righteous reforms of these two kings weren’t enough to save a kingdom bent on destruction. Their repentance wouldn’t last long enough to prevent an impending Babylonian takeover.
“With the exception of King Josiah, all of the kings following Hezekiah caused great wickedness in the kingdom of Judah. Perhaps the most infamous was King Mannaseh, who built altars for Baal or other heathen deities—some even in the temple—and ‘made his son to pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards.’ (See 2 Kgs. 21:3–6.) Perhaps worst of all, he shed innocent blood until it ‘filled Jerusalem from one end to another.’ (2 Kgs. 21:16.)” (Garth A. Wilson, “The Mulekites,” Ensign, Mar. 1987, 61–62)
2 Chronicles 29:1-2 Hezekiah… did that which was right in the sight of the Lord
“At another desperate time of Judah's history, Hezekiah came to the throne. Darkness was prevailing then as now in the form of the might of Assyria. This and other forces threatened to destroy his people. Part of the northern tribes had already gone into Assyrian captivity. Judah itself was in a state of apostasy. In these challenging circumstances, Hezekiah's first official act as a young king of twenty-five is significant.
‘He in the first year of his reign, in the first month, opened the doors of the house of the Lord. . . . And he brought in the priests and the Levites . . . and said unto them . . . Sanctify now yourselves, and sanctify the house of the Lord. . . . For our fathers have . . . turned away their faces from the habitation of the Lord, and turned their backs. 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. . . . My sons, be not now negligent: for the Lord hath chosen you to stand before him, to serve him, and that ye should minister unto him, and burn incense.’ (2 Chronicles 29:2-11; emphasis added.)
“Members of the Church today face great challenges, both temporal and spiritual. Have we, on occasion, also ‘turned away [our] faces from the habitation of the Lord . . . [and] shut up the doors . . . and put out the lamps.’ Are we also ‘negligent’? Often so many pressures demand our time and attention. However, considering the times and the forces arrayed against our families, should we not follow Hezekiah's example and ‘sanctify the house of the Lord . . . in the first year of the first month?’ (Emphasis added.)” (S. Michael Wilcox, House of Glory: Finding Personal Meaning in the Temple [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1995], 62)
Spencer W. Kimball
Let this, then, be our watchword: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15).
If we will do so, and keep the commandments with all our heart as did Hezekiah, the Lord will guide us through troublous times, and we shall gratefully see his help in our behalf, and we will give deep love and appreciation to him for his many kindnesses and goodnesses. He is our Lord and our Great Strength. If we are worthy, he will be there in our time of need. Of that I have a sure understanding. (Ensign, Mar. 1981, 5)
2 Chronicles 29:5 Hear me, ye Levites, sanctify now yourselves
Spencer J. Condie
Within the kingdom of God, to lead is to serve.
But Rehoboam rejected the counsel which required him to humble himself and to serve others. Instead, he chose to reign over Israel with a very heavy hand, thus causing a great division into the northern Kingdom of Israel and the southern Kingdom of Judah. (See 1 Kgs. 12:20.)
For the next 220 years the people generally set aside their sacred covenants, thus wandering in the ways of the world. Then a young man named Hezekiah began to reign in Judah. “And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord,” and “He trusted in the Lord God of Israel.” (2 Kgs. 18:3, 5.)
Hezekiah gathered together the priesthood bearers of the day and said, “Hear me, ye Levites, sanctify now yourselves, and sanctify the house of the Lord God of your fathers, and carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place.” (2 Chr. 29:5.) “Be not ye like your fathers, and like your brethren, which trespassed against the Lord God … but yield yourselves unto the Lord, … and serve the Lord your God.” (2 Chr. 30:7–8.)
In response to this assertive leader, who was supported by the prophet Isaiah, “the Lord hearkened to Hezekiah, and healed the people” (2 Chr. 30:20), and “in their set office they sanctified themselves in holiness” (2 Chr. 31:18).
From King Hezekiah, as from King Benjamin (see Mosiah 2–5), we can learn a very positive lesson on leadership: circumstances do not always need to remain the same. Leaders can make a difference! Faith in the Lord and high expectations can bring about a mighty change of heart among an entire people. (“Some Scriptural Lessons on Leadership,” Ensign, May 1990, 27–28)
2 Chronicles 29:15 they gathered their brethren, and sanctified themselves… according to the commandment
Franklin D. Richards
When Solomon got his temple ready to be dedicated, he directed the whole Priesthood to sanctify themselves before going into the temple. Even the choristers and the singers had to be sanctified, before they could go in and receive of the presence and blessing of the glory of God. Do you think that all we need is to go to the Temple, hear somebody offer prayer, a little singing, and perhaps administration of the Sacrament and then go home?
When we dedicated the Temple at Manti, there were many brethren and sisters that saw the presence of spiritual beings, which could only be discerned by the eyes of the inner man. The Prophets Joseph, Hyrum, Brigham and various other Apostles that have gone, were seen; and not only so, but the ears of many of the faithful were touched and they heard the music of the heavenly choir that was there. Then what a happy thing it would be if everybody went to that house, when it comes to be dedicated, so upright in their hearts before the Lord as to be pleasing in His sight! (Brian H. Stuy, ed., Collected Discourses, 5 vols. [Burbank, Calif., and Woodland Hills, Ut.: B.H.S. Publishing, 1987-1992], vol. 3, Feb. 12, 1983)
2 Chronicles 29:24 they made reconciliation with their blood upon the altar, to make an atonement for all Israel
Here is the doctrine of the atonement—Old Testament style. The sacrifice upon the altar makes a reconciliation or atonement so that the people are spared the wrath of a just God. Obviously pointing to the ultimate and infinite sacrifice of the Savior, the blood pays the price of our sin. It is offered on the altar, meaning it is done before God and his angels as a witness that it is meant to ransom another, not the sacrifice itself. Only an infinite and vicarious ransom can bring the sinner back into the presence of God, or make man one with God.
“The underlying intent of the sacrificial ordinance was to direct man’s thoughts and reflective powers toward the Atonement. This was ‘the whole meaning of the law, every whit pointing to that great and last sacrifice; and that great and last sacrifice will be the Son of God, yea, infinite and eternal’ (Alma 34:14; see also Alma 13:16). Jacob taught, ‘We keep the law of Moses, it pointing our souls to him’ (Jacob 4:5)
“As the hosts of Israel offered their sacrifices, however, one wonders how many truly understood the divine meaning behind the mechanical process. Unfortunately, many in Israel never did understand the ordinances and sacrifices relating to the mission of the Savior. They apparently thought that the ordinances themselves brought salvation, without the sacrifice of a redeemer. Abinadi so testified: ‘There was a law given them, yea, a law of performances and of ordinances… And now, did they understand the law? I say unto you, Nay, they did not all understand the law; and this because of the hardness of their hearts; for they understood not that there could not any man be saved except it were through the redemption of God’ (Mosiah 13:30, 32; see also Alma 33:19-20)” (Tad Callister, The Infinite Atonement, 279-280)
2 Chronicles 29:30 they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed their heads and worshipped
Dallin H. Oaks
The weekly meetings of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the Salt Lake Temple always begin with a hymn. Elder Russell M. Nelson plays the organ accompaniment. The First Presidency, who conduct these meetings, rotate the privilege of selecting the opening song. Most of us record the date each hymn is sung. According to my records, the opening song most frequently sung during the decade of my participation has been “I Need Thee Every Hour” (Hymns, 1985, no. 98). Picture the spiritual impact of a handful of the Lord’s servants singing that song before praying for his guidance in fulfilling their mighty responsibilities.
The veil is very thin in the temples, especially when we join in worshipping through music. At temple dedications I have seen more tears of joy elicited by music than by the spoken word. I have read accounts of angelic choirs joining in these hymns of praise, and I think I have experienced this on several occasions. In dedicatory sessions featuring beautiful and well-trained choirs of about thirty voices, there are times when I have heard what seemed to be ten times thirty voices praising God with a quality and intensity of feeling that can be experienced but not explained. Some who are listening today will know what I mean.
Sacred music has a unique capacity to communicate our feelings of love for the Lord. This kind of communication is a wonderful aid to our worship. Many have difficulty expressing worshipful feelings in words, but all can join in communicating such feelings through the inspired words of our hymns. (“Worship through Music,” Ensign, Nov 1994, 9)
2 Chronicles 30:1 Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh
“After renewing the temple worship, Hezekiah's people returned to the Lord's house to renew their covenants. Hezekiah ‘wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh [the northern tribes], that they should come to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem.’
“At this time, the southern tribe of Judah was separated from, and often at war with, the northern ten tribes led by Ephraim. In spite of this, Hezekiah issued his invitation. ‘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. . . . 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.’ (2 Chronicles 30:1-9; emphasis added.)
“Hezekiah's gracious offer went largely unheeded among the northern tribes. As the ‘posts passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh even unto Zebulun . . . they laughed them to scorn and mocked them.’ (2 Chronicles 30:10.) How could the simple act of returning to the service and rites of the temple offer protection against the might of Assyria? In the end, only Hezekiah's kingdom and a few individuals from the northern tribes heeded the call.
“There is a sad conclusion to the northern tribes' refusal to return to the sanctuary. ‘In the fourth year [three years later] of king Hezekiah . . . Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against Samaria [the capital of the northern tribes], and besieged it. And at the end of three years they took it. . . . And the king of Assyria did carry away Israel unto Assyria . . . because they obeyed not the voice of the Lord their God, but transgressed his covenant.’ (2 Kings 18:9-12.)
“This is the beginning of the lost ten tribes. Had they heeded Hezekiah's invitation to return to the Lord's house and there worship Him, the whole history of Israel might have been different.
“…In light of this powerful Old Testament example, it is interesting to note a similar pattern in the Doctrine and Covenants. In 1841, the Lord instructed Joseph Smith to make a proclamation that would be sent ‘to all the kings of the world, to the four corners thereof, to the honorable president-elect, and the high-minded governors of the nation in which you live, and to all the nations of the earth scattered abroad. Let it be written in the spirit of meekness and by the power of the Holy Ghost.’ (D&C 124:3-4.)
“What was to be the central theme of this proclamation? Just as in Hezekiah's day, it was an invitation to come to the temple and there find safety from the last days of trial and turmoil. Notice what the Lord says after instructing Joseph Smith to send the proclamation to all nations: ‘The day of my visitation cometh speedily, in an hour when ye think not of; and where shall be the safety of my people, and refuge for those who shall be left of them? [Remember that Hezekiah's invitation was to the “remnant of you, that are escaped.” (2 Chronicles 30:6.)] Awake, O kings of the earth! Come ye, O, come ye, with your gold and your silver, to the help of my people, to the house of the daughters of Zion.’ This invitation to the kings of the nations was followed by an invitation to all the Saints to come ‘and build a house to my name, for the Most High to dwell therein.’ (D&C 124:10-11, 27; emphasis added.)
“The invitation was sent. It went largely unheeded by the nations of the world, but the Saints responded and built the Nauvoo Temple and have continued to build temples from that day on. The sobering lesson of Hezekiah's day is being repeated. For the Saints who come to the sanctuary, the Lord's miraculous deliverance from sometimes overwhelming odds and forces can also be expected. Might we, also, not have reason to hope that the enemy will not ‘shoot an arrow’ to strike at the foundations of our families?” (S. Michael Wilcox, House of Glory: Finding Personal Meaning in the Temple [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1995], 62-65)
2 Chronicles 30:8 be ye not stiffnecked… but yield yourselves unto the Lord, and enter into his sanctuary
“After reducing the northern kingdom of Israel, the Assyrian army also laid siege to Hezekiah in Jerusalem. Full of confidence, the Assyrian emissaries shouted to the defenders on the walls: ‘What confidence is this wherein thou trustest? Thou sayest, (but they are but vain words,) I have counsel and strength for the war. Now on whom dost thou trust? . . . Ye say unto me, We trust in the Lord our God. . . . Let not Hezekiah deceive you: for he shall not be able to deliver you out of his hand: Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord, saying, The Lord will surely deliver us. . . . Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered at all his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria?’ (2 Kings 18:19-33.)
“But the people, renewed by their worship and the example of Hezekiah, ‘held their peace’ and waited for the Lord's deliverance. (2 Kings 18:36.) When Hezekiah heard the words of the Assyrian messenger and knew there was no logical way he could hold out against the might of the Assyrian army, he ‘went into the House of the Lord’ and there offered a deeply touching prayer in behalf of his people. The Lord responded by assuring Hezekiah that the Assyrians would not ‘shoot an arrow’ against the city. That night ‘the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand. . . . So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed.’ (2 Kings 19:1, 32, 35-36.)
“We do not now face invading armies, but the forces arrayed against our families are surely no less dangerous. I firmly believe the Lord will be willing to offer the same blessings he offered Hezekiah's people if we also will heed the invitation to ‘enter into his sanctuary.’” (S. Michael Wilcox, House of Glory: Finding Personal Meaning in the Temple [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1995], 63-64)
Ezra Taft Benson
We should seek for the blessings and ordinances of the temple. This means that we are keeping the commandments of the Lord—honesty, integrity, personal chastity-and sustaining the Lord's priesthood leadership, and are worthy to be ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood…
We appreciate that some married couples have not realized the importance of the temple ordinances. Some of these members are not engaged in Church activity. As brothers and sisters in full fellowship of the Church, we have a responsibility to encourage them to full activity and then, by assignment of quorum leaders, to prepare them for the ordinances of the temple…
I am grateful to see young adults go into the house of the Lord to be married for time and eternity; to see grandchildren born under the covenant. No richer blessings can come to us. The blessings of the house of the Lord are eternal. They are of the highest importance to us because it is in the temples that we obtain God's greatest blessings pertaining to eternal life. Temples are really the gateways to heaven. (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 255)
Howard W. Hunter
Let us be a temple-attending and a temple-loving people. Let us hasten to the temple as frequently as time and means and personal circumstances allow. Let us go not only for our kindred dead, but let us also go for the personal blessing of temple worship, for the sanctity and safety which is provided within those hallowed and consecrated walls. The temple is a place of beauty, it is a place of revelation, it is a place of peace. It is the house of the Lord. It is holy unto the Lord. It should be holy unto us. (The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, edited by Clyde J. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997], 239)
Introduction: 2 Chronicles 32
For some reason, the footnotes of the LDS scriptures don’t reference all the chapters of Isaiah that deal with the same content as 2 Chronicles 32. In fact, this chapter is really an abbreviated record of the history that is contained in Isaiah 36-39 and 2 Kings 18-20. What Isaiah discusses in 4 chapters is covered in only one in 2 Chronicles.
Not all of Isaiah is Messianic and apocalyptic. Isaiah 36-39 give us a great insight into the later ministry of Isaiah, particularly as it relates to the righteous reign of king Hezekiah.
“Isaiah lived during the reigns of four kings of Judah: Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah. His ministry began in about 740 B.C., the year Uzziah died, and perhaps continued some 40 to 50 years, through and beyond the reign of Hezekiah.
“It was during the reign of Hezekiah, the righteous son of Ahaz, that Isaiah had his greatest religious and political influence, as he was Hezekiah's chief adviser.
“Hezekiah suppressed idolatry and reconstituted the temple services, and, with Isaiah's help, made reforms in church and state during his reign, which lasted 29 years.” (LDS Church News, 1990, 07/14/90)
2 Chronicles 32:2-8 when Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib was come
One of the maxims of Mormonism is that we appeal to the Lord for help after we have done all we can do ourselves (D&C 9:7). Spencer W. Kimball declared, “Perspiration must precede inspiration; there must be effort before there is the harvest.” (Ensign, Sept. 1983, 5) Hezekiah follows this principle when faced with an overwhelming enemy.
- He stops the fountains of waters so the Assyrians have nothing to drink (v. 3)
- He fortified the city, building a wall and towers (v. 5)
- He made weapons and armed the people (v. 5)
- He set the military in order, organizing captains of war (v. 6)
- He encouraged the people with the lesson learned by Elisha’s servant, “there be more with us than with him” (v. 7; see also 2 Kgs. 6:16)
- He sent tribute to Sennacherib (2 Kgs. 18:13-16)
“Hoping to avoid a direct confrontation when he saw that Sennacherib was preparing to attack Judah, Hezekiah sent Sennacherib a substantial tribute of gold and silver, including most, if not all, of the palace and temple treasuries. He even had the gold plating taken off the temple doors and pillars. (See 2 Kgs. 18:13-16.) But Sennacherib wanted more; he demanded absolute submission, and he knew that Hezekiah was one of the leaders in the revolt against Assyrian authority. He wanted nothing less than the unconditional surrender of Jerusalem, and he wanted her king still alive, so that he could humiliate, torture, and finally slowly impale King Hezekiah upon a pointed stake, just as he had done to the rebel kings of the Philistines.” (Victor L. Ludlow, Isaiah: Prophet, Seer, and Poet [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], 319)
Now, brethren and sisters, under those distressing circumstances what did Hezekiah do? After he had prepared to defend his country and his liberty he prayed to the Lord, and "for this cause Hezekiah, the king, and the prophet Isaiah, the son of Amos, prayed and cried to heaven." Don't you think, after he had taken every means to defend himself and his people, that that was the proper time and a good time to cry unto the Lord, and to cry unto him in faith. (Conference Report, October 1929, Third Day—Morning Meeting 108 - 109)
2 Chronicles 32:15 let not Hezekiah deceive you
Then Rabshakeh stood, and cried with a loud voice in the Jews’ language, and said…
Let not Hezekiah deceive you: for he shall not be able to deliver you.
Neither let Hezekiah made you trust in the Lord saying, the Lord will surely deliver us: this city shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria
Hearken not to Hezekiah… (Isa. 36:13-16)
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
Hezekiah’s servants had requested that the Assyrians speak in their own language, so as not to frighten the people. The Assyrian response was:
Hath my master sent me to thy master and to thee to speak theses words? Hath he not sent me to the men that sit upon the wall, that they may eat their own dung and drink their own piss with you (Isa 36:12).
“The Assyrian ambassador is also known by his title, Rabshakeh. The Rabshakeh was an adept propagandist, whose mastery of Hebrew and understanding of Jewish culture were so keen that some scholars assert he must have been an apostate Jew serving as an Assyrian mercenary…
“Instead of lowering his voice or speaking in Aramaic, the Rabshakeh raises his voice to a shout. Addressing those on the wall, he says that it is to them that Sennacherib has sent him to speak. He adds the vulgar claim that they and their leaders will eat their own waste if Assyria besieges the city. He continues in his role of ‘propaganda minister’ by seeking to undermine the popular support of King Hezekiah's government, saying that Hezekiah's call for the people to trust in the Lord is foolishness. Using a blasphemous allusion to prophecy (‘hear the words of the great king of Assyria’) the Rabshakeh describes Sennacherib as the advocate of the people. He promises the Jews that if they will submit, they can keep their own property until Sennacherib takes them to a good land like their own. Finally, the Rabshakeh boastfully belittles the gods of the many nations that Assyria has subjected, claiming that Jehovah can do no better at rescuing his people from Assyria.” (Victor L. Ludlow, Isaiah: Prophet, Seer, and Poet [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], 320-321)
2 Chronicles 32:19 they spake against the God of Jerusalem
Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria?
Where are the gods of Hamath and Arphad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? And have they delivered Samaria out of my hand?
Who are they among all the gods of these lands, that have delivered their land out of my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?
But they held their peace, and answered him not a word: for the king’s commandment was, saying, Answer him not. (Isa 36:18-21)
2 Chronicles 32:20 For this cause Hezekiah the king, and the prophet Isaiah… prayed and cried to heaven
And it came to pass, when king Hezekiah heard it, that he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the LORD.
And he sent Eliakim, who was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests covered with sackcloth, unto Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz.
And they said unto him, Thus saith Hezekiah, This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and of blasphemy: for the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth.
It may be the LORD thy God will hear the words of Rab-shakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master hath sent to reproach the living God, and will reprove the words which the LORD thy God hath heard: wherefore lift up thy prayer for the remnant that is left.
So the servants of king Hezekiah came to Isaiah.
And Isaiah said unto them, Thus shall ye say unto your master, Thus saith the LORD, Be not afraid of the words that thou hast heard, wherewith the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me.
Behold, I will send a blast upon him, and he shall hear a rumour, and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land…
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.
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 for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake. (Isa 37:1-7; 33-35)
2 Chronicles 32:21 And the Lord sent an angel, which cut off all the mighty men of valour
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.
So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh.
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. (Isa 37:36-38)
If every one of the Latter day Saints lived up to their privileges, they would not fear the world, and all that they can no, any more than they fear that the cranes, that fly croaking three quarters of a mile above them, will drop their eggs upon them to dash their brains out. You might as well fear that event, as to fear all the forces of hell, if the people were sanctified before the Lord, and would do His will every day.
Are these ideas strange to you? Read and learn how the Lord protected the children of Israel in former days, even during their wickedness, and rebellion against Him.
Whenever a good man would say, "Cease your wickedness, turn from your idols, and seek to the Lord," and they hearkened to his counsel, then the Lord would fight their battles, and kill their enemies by scores and hundreds of thousands. And on one occasion the angel of the Lord slew one hundred and eighty-five thousand of those who came against His people to destroy them, "and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses." So reads the Bible. The Lord fought their battles.
Again, Elisha's servant saw that there was more for them than all who were against them; he saw that the sides of the mountains were covered with "chariots of fire."
When the Lord commands those invisible beings, shall I say, those who have had their resurrection? yes, millions and millions more than the inhabitants of this earth, they can fight your battles.
Now, since one angel could fight their battles in former times, and overcome the enemies of the people of God, whom shall we fear? Shall we fear those who can kill the body, and then have no more that they can do? No, but we will fear Him who is able not only to destroy the body, but has power to cast both soul and body into hell fire. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 2: 255 - 256)
2 Chronicles 32:24 In those days Hezekiah was sick to death, and prayed unto the Lord
In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came unto him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live.
Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed unto the LORD,
And said, Remember now, O LORD, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore.
Then came the word of the LORD to Isaiah, saying,
Go, and say to Hezekiah, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will add unto thy days fifteen years.
And I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria: and I will defend this city.
And this shall be a sign unto thee from the LORD, that the LORD will do this thing that he hath spoken;
Behold, I will bring again the shadow of the degrees, which is gone down in the sun dial of Ahaz, ten degrees backward. So the sun returned ten degrees, by which degrees it was gone down. (Isa. 38:1-8)
James E. Talmage
Are the days of one's life numbered, and is each appointed to die at a time prescribed? In a general way, yes; specifically, no. That is to say, it is the order of nature that every one shall die; and as physical powers weaken and expire with advancing age, it is unquestionably natural that the weakness of declining age is the precursor of natural dissolution or death. Many die in early years, and in each case death is the natural result of physical conditions operating as a natural cause.
But beyond all this we must recognize the fact that in individual cases special intervention of a power far above that of earth is possible. We read in the records of olden time that Hezekiah, king of Judah, was notified of his impending death. Isaiah, the son of Amoz, a prophet of the Lord, came to the king, saying, "Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order; die" (see II Kings, 20). We read that the king petitioned the Lord, and as a result the prophet came again into the royal presence with this message: "Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the Lord. And I will add unto thy days fifteen years" (verses 5, 6). Have we not here an instance of a life extended through prayer and faith, even after a specific determination of the time of death? This example is to be regarded as one of special intervention and divine direction, both as to the time of death as first appointed, and as to the extension of life. (“Destiny and Fate,” Improvement Era, 1908, Vol. Xi. June, 1908. No. 8)
2 Chronicles 32:25 Hezekiah’s heart was lifted up
Bishop John H. Vandenberg
There have been some noble men who unwittingly sought to counsel the Lord. One such man was Hezekiah, king of Judah, who began to reign when he was twenty-five years old. The scriptures tell us that during his reign ". . . he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord…
It is recorded that in about the fifteenth year of Hezekiah's reign,
Hezekiah [was] sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah . . . came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.
Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the Lord, saying,
I beseech thee, O Lord, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight… (2 Kgs. 20:1-3.)
The Lord then spoke to Isaiah the Prophet and said to him,
tell Hezekiah . . . Thus saith the Lord, . . . I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee…
And I will add unto thy days fifteen years (2 Kgs. 20:5-6.)
Thus the Lord granted Hezekiah's request to extend his life. This, no doubt, was enjoyed by Hezekiah, for during these additional years he did many things. But there was one unforeseen occurrence that destroyed much of the good he had accomplished. Hezekiah sired a son who was twelve years of age when his father passed away. This son, whose name was Manasseh, became king and
did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, after the abominations of the heathen…
he reared up altars for Baal…
used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards: he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger…
Moreover Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, . . . [and] filled Jerusalem . . . in doing that which was evil in the sight of the Lord. (2 Kgs. 21:2-3, 6, 16.)
As one reviews this account, one wonders, would it not have been better for Hezekiah to have submissively accepted the Lord's first decree, ". . . Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, . . ." (2 Kgs. 20:1.) (Conference Report, October 1964, Afternoon Meeting 40)
2 Chronicles 32:31 Howbeit in the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon… God left him
By a great miracle King Hezekiah of Judah was snatched from death and given fifteen more years of life. In an outburst of joy and gratitude he voiced his thanks and his infinite relief at knowing that God was able to give whatever one asked of him, even life itself; what is the security of all the world's wealth in comparison to that? And then a significant thing happened. Ambassadors arrived from Babylon, and Hezekiah simply could not resist showing them through his treasury, displaying his wealth and power. "Then came Isaiah the prophet unto King Hezekiah, and said unto him, What said these men? and from whence came they unto thee? And Hezekiah said, They are come from . . . Babylon. Then said he, What have they seen in thine house? And Hezekiah answered, All that is in mine house have they seen. Then said Isaiah to Hezekiah, Hear the word of the Lord of hosts: Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house . . . shall be carried to Babylon." (Isaiah 39:3-6.) The man couldn't resist showing off, and by his vanity he only whetted their greed. They liked what they saw and came back later to fetch it. He had played right into their hands. (Old Testament and Related Studies, edited by John W. Welch, Gary P. Gillum, and Don E. Norton [Salt Lake City and Provo: Deseret Book Co., FARMS, 1986], 230)
2 Chronicles 32:31 God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart
God never bestows upon His people, or upon an individual, superior blessings without a severe trial to prove them, to prove that individual, or that people, to see whether they will keep their covenants with Him, and keep in remembrance what He has shown them. Then the greater the vision, the greater the display of the power of the enemy. And when such individuals are off their guard they are left to themselves, as Jesus was. For this express purpose the Father withdrew His spirit from His son, at the time he was to be crucified… the Father [says], "you must have your trials, as well as others."
So when individuals are blessed with visions, revelations, and great manifestations, look out, then the devil is nigh you, and you will be tempted in proportion to the vision, revelation, or manifestation you have received. Hence thousands, when they are off their guard, give way to the severe temptations which come upon them, and behold they are gone. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 3: 206)
2 Chronicles 34:1 Josiah… did that which was right in the sight of the Lord
“The discovery of the ‘book of the law’ can be considered the most important event of Josiah's reign… 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. 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).” (Kent P. Jackson, ed., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 4: 1 Kings to Malachi [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1993], 170)
2 Chronicles 34:15 I have found the book of the law in the house of the Lord
Josiah’s reign was only 40 years before the ministry of Lehi. Interestingly, there was no record but in the house of the Lord in the days of Josiah. What happened in the next 40 years? Did the scribes take the record in the house of the Lord and make copies on plates of brass? Were the plates of brass that Nephi took a direct copy of the Josiah text or a completely different record? We don’t know, but it brings up an interesting point. The Jews had been so wicked for so long that they were to be destroyed. The word of the Lord was obviously precious in those days. Yet, the Lord wanted Lehi and his family to have the sacred record not the Jews. The tree was in decline; the Lord had in mind to nourish a transplanted branch. The Jews would lose that precious copy of the scriptures because that branch could never survive without them.
For a long period previous to finding the book, the Jews had been ignorant of the Scriptures, and had fallen into the grossest idolatry. A new revelation through the prophetess Huldah seems to have been sufficient to convince the king and all Israel of the divinity of the book. They must have been inclined, in that age of the world, to believe the history of the servants of God more than in this age; for now the people generally require a vast amount of evidence. The testimony of a dozen witnesses is scarcely regarded.
I have already observed, through the persecutions raised against the house of Israel, their books were destroyed; yes, even the tables of stone, for some reason, were taken from them, and all Israel were left without even a copy of the law, until accidentally they happened to find one that had been hid in the house of the Lord… The copy found anciently contained the words of the Lord. And the people were so rejoiced that the whole nation of Jews gathered together to hear it read, and rejoiced over it, and gave heed to its precepts. They were not like the present generation; they did not fight it, and testify all manner of evil against it, and publish lies against it; but they believed it on the testimony of the prophetess.
It is very probable that the Jews copied these sacred writings upon various materials. Bishop Watson informs us that "the Hebrews went so far as to write their sacred books in gold, as we may learn from Josephus, compared with Pliny." He further says, "Those books which were inscribed on tablets of wood, lead, brass, or ivory, were connected together by rings at the back, through which a rod was passed to carry them by." "The first books," continues Bishop Watson, "were in the form of blocks and tables, of which we find frequent mention in Scripture, under the appellation of sepher—that is, square tables. That form which obtains among us (he quotes from Pliny,) is the square, composed of separate leaves, which was also known, though little used among the ancients."
These copies of the Scriptures were destroyed, so that the Jews were again left destitute of the sacred writings. How they again obtained a copy, this generation are not informed. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 7: 24)
2 Chronicles 34:22 Hilkiah… went to Huldah the prophetess
“The power of her words and confidence I her message indicate that Huldah was neither surprised nor uncomfortable with the royal request. With the witness of the Spirit that attends the communication of prophets and prophetesses, Huldah bore fervent testimony of the Lord’s will (2 Chronicles 34:23-28; 2 Kings 22:15-20). Four times in her six-verse response to the scroll, Huldah boldy declared, ‘thus saith the Lord’ (2 Chronicles 34:23-24, 26-27).
“Validating the authenticity of the document, Huldah applied the specific judgments in the scroll to the Judah of her day… As difficult as it is for prophets or wise teachers and parents to deliver bad news—reminders of God’s displeasure, of broken dreams, or of other negative consequences that will surely come to their charges—failure to do so brings ‘the sins of the people upon our own heads if we [do] not teach them the word of God with all diligence’ (Jacob 1:19). Similar in faith and courage to other prophets, Huldah did not shy away from her duty. Neither did god leave her to face her mission alone. As a prophetess, Huldah would have been bolstered by God’s presence and confirming witness. Accompanied by the Spirit and the assurance of God’s continued love, her words had the power to communicate hope and the will to persist in righteous efforts…
“Huldah came on stage for one brief moment and left a lasting witness that continues to summon each of us to greater devotion to God.” (Camille Fronk Olson, Women of the Old Testament, [SLC: Deseret Book, 2009], 155-160)
2 Chronicles 34:23 Thus saith the Lord God of Israel
Quite remarkable it is that Huldah speaks with the phrase, “thus saith the Lord.” To Latter-day Saints, that phrase has come to be synonymous with the domain of the Prophet. However, the Old Testament teaches us that this requirement is not universal. Again, we learn that prophecy is a gift of the Spirit rather than a product of the Priesthood (D&C 46:22).
“The gift of prophecy is a special spiritual endowment that is available to every worthy member of the Church. Elder Bruce R. McConkie has said: ‘Every member of the Church—acting in submission to the laws and system which the Lord has ordained—is expected to have the gift of prophecy. It is by this gift that a testimony of the truth comes.’ (Mormon Doctrine, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1958, p. 542.)
“One definition of a prophet or prophetess, then, is one who knows by the Holy Ghost that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God, ‘for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy’ (Rev. 19:10). Moses prayed, ‘would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them’ (Num. 11:29). Thus, a woman who had an abundance of the special gift of testimony may have been referred to as a prophetess.
“The term can take on additional depth and meaning, however. Elder George Q. Cannon wrote: ‘The spirit of the Church of God is that manifested by Moses. … The genius of the kingdom with which we are associated is to disseminate knowledge through all the ranks of the people, and to make every man a prophet and every woman a prophetess, that they may understand the plans and purposes of God. For this purpose the gospel has been sent to us, and the humblest may obtain its spirit and testimony’ (in Journal of Discourses, 12:46).” (Daniel H. Ludlow, “I Have a Question,” Ensign, Dec. 1980, 31)
2 Chronicles 34:30 he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant
It’s frustrating to read the Old Testament record of how wicked the people were, how quickly they would turn to worship Baal, or how quickly they would relinquish promised blessings. They struggled for centuries with the very first commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:3). If they couldn’t keep the first commandment, what about all the rest?
The story of Josiah’s reading of the book of the law helps us to understand why the people were so wicked. They had no scriptures. They had no one teaching them out of the scriptures. While they had prophets calling them to repentance, that was not enough. Without the law in their own hands, they couldn’t get the principles in their own hearts and minds. It is the same with us.
George Albert Smith
I am not concerned whether or not you have the books of the great libraries of the world in your home, provided you do have these books [the scriptures]. Think of the millions of volumes that there are in our own Congressional Library at Washington, in the British Library, and in the libraries of other countries, millions of volumes—and yet all that God has revealed and published to the children of men that is necessary to prepare them for a place in the celestial kingdom is contained within the covers of these sacred books. How many of us know what they contain? I frequently go into homes where I see all the latest magazines. I find the books that are advertised as best-sellers on the bookshelves. If you were to throw them all away and retain only these sacred scriptures, you wouldn't lose what the Lord has caused to be written and made available for us all to enjoy. So, brethren and sisters, among our other blessings let us not forget that the Lord has made it possible for us to have, enjoy, and understand the scriptures and to have his word that has been given down through the ages for the salvation of his children. (The Teachings of George Albert Smith, edited by Robert McIntosh and Susan McIntosh [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 52)