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Come, Follow Me (2 Kings 17-25)

This is one in a series of reviews of the weekly lessons found in the Come, Follow Me for Individuals and Families published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To link to all of the 2022 teachings, click here. Bold face type in this article comes from the Church’s curriculum. (Note: Not every sentence written in the curriculum is being reviewed.)

July 11-17, 2022

2 Kings 11-17

Despite the prophet Elisha’s impressive ministry, the spirituality of the Northern Kingdom of Israel kept declining. Wicked kings promoted idolatry, and war and apostasy abounded. Finally the Assyrian Empire conquered and scattered the ten tribes of Israel.

Meanwhile, the Southern Kingdom of Judah wasn’t doing much better; idolatry was also widespread there. But amid all this spiritual decay, the scriptural accounts mention two righteous kings who, for a time, turned their people back to the Lord. One was Hezekiah. During his reign, the Assyrians, fresh from their victory in the north, conquered much of the south. But Hezekiah and his people showed faith in the Lord, who delivered Jerusalem in a miraculous way. Later, after another period of apostasy, Josiah began to reign. Inspired in part by a rediscovery of the book of the law, Josiah brought reforms that revived the religious life of many of his people.

What do we learn from these two bright spots in the otherwise dark years of Judah’s history? Among other things, you might ponder the power of faith and of the word of God in your life. Like Israel and Judah, we all make both good and bad choices. And when we sense that reforms are needed in our lives, perhaps the examples of Hezekiah and Josiah can inspire us to “trust in the Lord our God” (2 Kings 18:22).

Like several lessons from the past month, the writers get off to a good start. Notice the words “power of faith and of the word of God.” What do you think the writer means by the word of God? Most likely it is a reference to the Standard Works, although no mention of the other LDS scriptures are specifically mentioned in this chapter. As a Christian, I hold that scripture is nothing less than the 66 books of the “Bible.”

Still, these three paragraphs could have been written by an Evangelical Christian. If only this was the style used instead of trying to prop up unique Latter-day Saint teaching.

Ideas for Personal Scripture Study

2 Kings 18–19

I can stay true to the Lord during challenging times.

Most of us have experienced times that challenge our faith. For Hezekiah and his people, one of those times came when the Assyrian army invaded Judah, destroyed many cities, and approached Jerusalem. As you read 2 Kings 18–19, imagine that you lived in Jerusalem during this time. How might you have felt, for example, to hear the taunts of the Assyrians as recorded in 2 Kings 18:28–37 and 19:10–13? What do you learn from what Hezekiah did in response? (see 2 Kings 19:1–7, 14–19). How did the Lord sustain Hezekiah? (see 2 Kings 19:35–37). Ponder how He has sustained you in challenging times.

You might also ponder the description of Hezekiah in 2 Kings 18:5–7. What do these verses suggest about why Hezekiah was able to remain faithful when challenges came? How can you follow his example?

No problem with this section as the authors stuck with the biblical text and asked legitimate questions.

2 Kings 19:20–37

All things are in the Lord’s hands.

Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, had good reason to believe that his army would conquer Jerusalem. Assyria had defeated many nations, including Israel—why should Jerusalem be any different? (see 2 Kings 17; 18:33–34; 19:11–13). But the Lord had a message for Sennacherib, given through the prophet Isaiah, and it’s recorded in 2 Kings 19:20–34. How would you summarize this message? What truths do you find in these verses that help you have faith in the Lord and His plan?

This may be the furthest I have ever gotten through a lesson without having direct heresy introduced.

2 Kings 21–23

The scriptures can turn my heart to the Lord.

Have you ever felt that you were lacking something spiritually? Maybe you felt that your relationship with God could be a lot stronger. What helped you turn back to Him? Ponder these questions as you read about how the Kingdom of Judah fell away from the Lord under King Manasseh (see 2 Kings 21) and how King Josiah helped them recommit themselves to Him (see 2 Kings 22–23). What inspired Josiah and his people? This account might inspire you to renew your commitment to “walk after the Lord … with all [your] heart and all [your] soul” (2 Kings 23:3).

I think it could.

As you read these chapters, consider also studying chapter 6 in Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball ([2006], 59–68), in which President Kimball suggested that the story of King Josiah “is one of the finest stories in all of the scriptures” (page 62). Why might President Kimball have felt that way? What do you find in President Kimball’s words, especially his comments about King Josiah, that helps you apply 2 Kings 22–23 to your life?

Though the authors don’t point it out, on the previous page (61) in that manual, Kimball was cited as saying this:

But we need to understand that it has [not] been [many] years since the world emerged from the long night of spiritual darkness that we call the Great Apostasy. We need to sense something of the depth of the spiritual darkness that prevailed before that day in the spring of 1820 when the Father and the Son appeared to Joseph Smith–a darkness which was foreseen by the prophet Nephi and described as “that awful state of blindness” in which the gospel was withheld from man.

On the next page (62), he \used Isaiah 29:14 out of context (see here) to support the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. He also mentioned the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price, which of course are the other two unique scriptures in Mormonism’s canon. So when he says “I ask us all to honestly evaluate our performance in scripture study,” he is not (as I suspect the authors of this Come, Follow Me series would agree) making a reference only to the Bible, which Joseph Smith taught was “true only as far as it is translated correctly” (Article 1:8). At the end of page 63, Kimball wrote, “Josiah had the law of Moses only. In our scriptures (plural) we have the gospel of Jesus Christ in its fulness, and if a taste is sweet, in fulness there is joy.”

Certainly the Bible needs to be studied, which is God’s Word for humans today. But I do not hold that the unique scriptures of Mormonism to be considered as direct communication by God. So I will disagree with Kimball and, I’m sure, the authors of this series, though I’m curious why these writers haven’t mentioned just what they mean by “scripture.”

Conclusion

Honestly, there was not much to disagree with in this chapter. In fact, this might be the shortest chapter of the entire series. Although I disagree with the LDS definition of scripture, generally this lesson stayed on track and we did not hear about prophets for today and other issues that brought focus on the LDS Church rather than the Old Testament that is supposed to be the focus of study.

 

 

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