Thursday, July 21, 2022

The “Reformers” Hezekiah & Josiah (2 Chronicles 29-34)

King Hezekiah

READ 2 Chronicles 29:2-10

When Hezekiah did “right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that David had done,” what does this mean?

He was a “righteous” king to the level of his knowledge, which knowledge he got through his reading of the record of David and/or through family traditions.

The record does not show that Hezekiah ever saw the Lord himself (see Isaiah 38:11) but while he prayed to the Lord, the Lord worked through Isaiah to answer his prayers (see Isaiah 38:2-4).

Why does he command the Levites to sanctify themselves and the Temple?

The Temple had been desecrated.

They wouldn’t have done it otherwise – it took a command from their king to repent; or perhaps former kings had compelled the priests away from the living God.

They cannot sanctify the Temple unless they first sanctify themselves - as they are temples themselves.

What happened to the people when they turned away their faces from the Lord?

They had been killed in war.

They had been taken captive.

They had become humiliated as a people.

The Lord left them to their own strength - the natural man relies on the arm of the flesh – it is natural consequence of turning from God (see 2 Chronicles 32:7-8).

Can we propose a covenant to God that He will honor?

No - we can keep HIS covenants, but He extends them to us - and then they can become a new and everlasting covenant FOR US (and irrelevant to all others, unless they receive their own covenant from God).

We can make a vow to Him, but only we are bound by it - we can’t “bind the Lord” through our attempts at righteousness (for are we not all beggars anyway?  We cannot “score points” on God).

 

 

Fast forward to Hezekiah’s great grandson…

King Josiah the Deuteronomist

READ 2 Chronicles 34:1-3

Who is 16-year-old King Josiah seeking after?

The God of David, his ancestor.

How does he seek after God?

By purging Judah of idolatry.

But not by actually finding the Lord Himself.

So, he’s not really seeking after God but is seeking after the religious traditions of the fathers, as he understands them.

 

READ 2 Chronicles 34:14, 18-22

What did they find in the Temple?

An old copy of the Book of Deuteronomy - the Law of Moses.

Why did the King rend his clothes when he heard the Law?

Because it had not been read or followed for so long, the difference between what the King thought was right and what the book said was right was so great that he rent his clothes.

Why did the King ask that group to “inquire of the Lord for him?”

He really needed to get an answer and didn’t feel that he could on his own.

The priests stood between the people and God.

Who did the priest and the scribe go to for the answer from the Lord and why?

Huldah the prophetess.

Because she actually communed with the Lord. 

She seemed to have “priesthood power”. 

She had the right to say “thus saith the Lord” because she had an audience with Him and had heard His words.

 

READ 2 Chronicles 34:23-28

Can the people still repent?

They CAN repent but it sounds like the Lord knows they will not repent…

Either that or something else is going on here… the story in the Old Testament as we have it has been tampered with…

Who will be spared?

The humble, soft hearted, repentant folk - regardless of station or calling or knowledge of the Lord - true seekers will be spared.

“Spared” is used in an interesting way here - it means they won’t have to go through the trials, not that the trials won’t be caused to happen.



Revisionist History

How might the events of World War 2 have been changed in the history books if Germany had managed to create an atomic bomb first and won the war?

Unfair/cruel/inhumane sanctions against Germany were imposed by the Allies after World War 1.

Hitler saved Germany economically in the 1930’s.

The Third Reich was divinely inspired and blessed.

Either “Jews are inherently evil from the pre-mortal life” or “reports that millions of Jews were killed was horrific Allied propaganda”.

Atom bomb technology and use was needed to quickly end the war and prevent the killing of many more soldiers and civilians on all sides.

How will descendants of people who have perpetrated these lies find out they have been deceived and lost the truth?

There are usually artifacts of the truth left behind, even when it is being obscured, and the truth has a habit of getting out eventually, for those who know what to look for – especially if you have an internet, where even the least person can share information; it’s hard to keep a false “narrative” alive forever – or at least to convince all of the people, all of the time, that it’s true.

Through a new revelation from heaven… (see Mosiah 4:9) - God reveals Himself to man or He remains forever unknown.

How might these descendants react when confronted with the truth, especially if it is from an un-bonafide source?

Reject it because they don’t believe the messenger (they don’t know God themselves so they rely on “authorities” that they hope know Him).

Reject it because it puts their ancestors in a bad light (pride).

Reject it because it seems foreign and wrong (contradicts everything they have been taught).

Reject it because “we are the good guys, after all - we are right, and we are righteous/chosen” (again, pride).

Reject it because they like their current state (the truth can be inconvenient; actually, it can shatter everything you believe, which is very difficult to take, psychologically).

What would have to happen for them to accept the truth?

Be truth seekers.

Be naturally humble individuals - don’t assume they know it all or that they are right.

Be soft hearted.

Be humbled by the Lord.

They must realize that scholarship will never be enough to restore lost truth; they must exercise the faith to go to God Himself and receive direct revelation regarding the truth.

How has Satan used these strategies with regards to the gospel?

The New Testament writings/letters between 70 AD and 150 AD - the Hellenist Christians.

The Old Testament books between 640 BC (Josiah) and 539 BC (conquest of Babylon by Persia and return of Jews to Jerusalem) - the Deuteronomists.

LDS church history: the narrative and doctrine has changed from the days of Joseph Smith to today.

How do we know that his happened to the Old Testament between this time period?

The Book of Mormon record is SO different from the Old Testament in its direct testimony of Christ.

The Brass Plates had not been altered or destroyed, so the changes could not have taken place too much earlier than this.

Plain and precious things about Christ had been removed from the Old Testament such that when Christ came to the Jews, very few of them understood His mission or recognized Him.

New discoveries show discrepancies (Book of Enoch, Dead Sea Scrolls, Nag-Hammadi, Margaret Barker research, etc).

When did Lehi leave Jerusalem?

Right before the Babylonian invasion.

When Judah was ripe for destruction.

While they were losing the word of the Lord.

The Plates of Brass were less prone to change than a scroll due to the nature of the plates.

Why would Satan want to revise the scriptures and change the ordinances?

“Knowledge saves a man”.

“A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge”.

If we change the ordinances, we break the covenants.

What is knowledge?

Truth is knowledge of things as they are, as they were, and as they are to come (D&C 93:24).

“Knowledge implies more than faith” although “through faith they were to obtain this knowledge (of God)” - see LoF 7:18.

What knowledge saves?

“This is life eternal that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.”

“And… all shall know me…even from the least unto the greatest” (D&C 84:98).

“An actual knowledge that the course of life which he is pursuing is according to His will” (LoF 3:5)… “requires more than mere belief or supposition that he is doing the will of God; but actual knowledge, realizing that, when those sufferings are ended, he will enter into eternal rest, and be a partaker of the glory of God” (LoF 6:5).

 

READ JST Luke 11:52

How do the scriptures enable us to gain this knowledge?

The scriptures teach us the way back to God’s presence.

The scriptures enable faith through the written testimonies of those who have made this journey.

The scriptures teach us that God is no respecter of persons - all are able to gain these blessings if they will exercise the faith necessary.

The scriptures contain God’s invitation to us: “come unto me!”

What is the best way to avoid having the words of the Lord changed by people with ill intent?

Write them in a way that they are disguised (like Isaiah or the Parables) OR…

Hide them in plain sight (like the Proverbs).

Why did the Lord destroy much of Judah and take the remaining people captive if Josiah was restoring truth to them?

Because Josiah did not restore the truth but sought to distort it – Josiah is actually the villain of the piece but because his side “won”, his followers rewrote the history to make him look like a restorer of lost truths.

His changes to the Gospel were why Jeremiah, Lehi and all the prophets were called to preach repentance.

The Book of Mormon, with its Brass Plates influence and direct revelation from God is a true account of the religion of the Jews at the time – a religion that Josiah changed and then used the principles of revisionist history to make it seem like he had restored the truth when really he had destroyed it.

The other proof is in the fact that the Lord allowed the Babylonians to come in and force the Jews “out of their place” as a curse for rejecting the fullness of the Gospel; God would have protected them otherwise (see D&C 124:27-50).

Why was this allowed to happen?

At the time, this “Reformation” or “purge” must have caused a great deal of rebellion, and it did, as there are many tales of groups besides Lehi who fled Jerusalem and took their more ancient religion with them (see Margaret Barker’s talk “What Did King Josiah Reform” given at BYU on May 6, 2006).

But this would never had happened if the Priestly leadership had not been complicit to one degree or another in the coup; they had something to be gained by aligning themselves with the interests of the kings – staying in power and perhaps cementing their power base in new doctrines they could create but pretend they were a restoration of what was once had or that continuing revelation was leading them in some new direction despite the unchangeable nature of God; apostasy is always an inside job, and as it usually wins, it has the power to rewrite the history and the scriptures, in its favor.

From God’s perspective, He has given us our agency and what we do with it is completely up to us (see Alma 42:27).

 

 

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