To inspire each class member to receive the promised blessings that come from temple work and scripture study.
Prayerfully study the following scriptures:
2 Chronicles 29–30. Hezekiah, king of Judah, opens the doors of the temple and instructs the priests and Levites to cleanse and sanctify it for worship (29:1–19). When the temple is cleansed, Hezekiah and his people worship and praise the Lord (29:20–36). Hezekiah invites all Israel to come to the house of the Lord in Jerusalem (30:1–9). Some laugh and mock at the invitation, but the faithful of Israel worship the Lord in Jerusalem (30:10–27).
2 Chronicles 32:1–23. Sennacherib, king of Assyria, invades Judah and speaks abusively against the Lord (32:1–19). Isaiah and Hezekiah pray for help, and an angel of the Lord destroys much of the Assyrian army (32:20–23).
2 Chronicles 34. After Hezekiah’s son and grandson rule in wickedness, Hezekiah’s great-grandson Josiah becomes king of Judah. Josiah destroys the idols in the kingdom and repairs the temple (34:1–13). The book of the law is found in the temple and read to Josiah, who weeps when he learns how far the people have strayed from the law (34:14–21). Huldah the prophetess tells of the forthcoming desolation of Judah but prophesies that Josiah will not have to witness it (34:22–28). Josiah and his people covenant to serve the Lord (34:29–33).
If the following pictures are available, you may want to use them during the lesson: Temple Used Anciently (62300) and a picture of a latter-day temple.
Suggested Lesson Development
You may want to use the following activity (or one of your own) to begin the lesson.
Explain that to help defend Jerusalem against attacks by the Assyrians, King Hezekiah diverted the water of the spring of Gihon to the pool of Siloam, inside the city walls (2 Chronicles 32:2–4, 30; Bible Dictionary, “Hezekiah’s Tunnel,” 702). This was done by digging a conduit (tunnel) for the water through about 1770 feet of limestone rock. Hezekiah then ordered that the fountains outside the city be covered to deny the Assyrians easy access to the water. Without this water inside the walls of the city, the people of Jerusalem would not have survived the siege by the Assyrians.
Point out that just as the water from the spring of Gihon was vital for the physical survival of Hezekiah’s people during their battles with the Assyrians, living water is essential for our spiritual survival during our battles with Satan.
What is living water? (See John 4:10–14.)
Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained that living water is “the words of eternal life, the message of salvation, the truths about God and his kingdom; it is the doctrines of the gospel” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1966–73], 1:151).
How can we open a conduit to the Lord so that living water can flow in our lives?
Explain that one way to receive living water is to go to the temple, the house of the Lord, where we may be endowed with power and understanding, be instructed by the Lord, and feel peace and joy.
Point out that worship in the temple was an important protection for the Israelites in Hezekiah’s time, and it can also be an important protection for us today.
Scripture Discussion and Application
As you teach the following scripture passages, discuss how they apply to daily life. Encourage class members to share experiences that relate to the scriptural principles.
1. Hezekiah orders the house of the Lord to be cleansed.
Teach and discuss 2 Chronicles 29–30.
Hezekiah’s father, Ahaz, was a wicked king who had desecrated the temple of the Lord and “shut up [its] doors” (2 Chronicles 28:24). When Hezekiah became king of Judah (the Southern Kingdom) in 715 B.C., one of the first things he did was open the doors of the temple and order the priests and Levites to cleanse and sanctify it (2 Chronicles 29:3–5). Why, according to Hezekiah, did the temple need to be sanctified? (See 2 Chronicles 29:6–7.) In what ways might we also be guilty of “turn[ing] away [our] faces from the habitation of the Lord”? What happened to the people of Judah because of their disregard for the temple? (See 2 Chronicles 29:8–9.)
What did Hezekiah hope to achieve by cleansing the temple and preparing it for worship again? (See 2 Chronicles 29:10.) Why is it important to keep unclean things out of the temple? (See D&C 97:15–17.) What is our responsibility in ensuring that no unclean thing enters the temple? (See D&C 109:20–21. We must make sure that we are clean when we go to the temple.)
What did Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem do when the temple had been cleansed? (See 2 Chronicles 29:20–21, 29–31, 36.) Whom did Hezekiah invite to come to the house of the Lord for the celebration of the Passover? (See 2 Chronicles 30:1, 6.) How was this invitation received? (See 2 Chronicles 30:10–11.)
What blessing did the people of Israel reject by refusing to come to the temple? (See 2 Chronicles 30:6–9. Explain that by the time of Hezekiah’s reign, much of the kingdom of Israel [the Northern Kingdom] had been taken captive by the Assyrians. Hezekiah promised the remaining Israelites that if they would “turn again unto the Lord,” the captives would be released. Instead, most of the people of Israel rejected Hezekiah’s invitation. Because of the wickedness of the people, the remainder of the kingdom of Israel was taken captive several years later [2 Kings 18:10–12]. The captive Israelites became the lost ten tribes.)
2. The Assyrians invade the kingdom of Judah. Isaiah and Hezekiah pray for help, and an angel of the Lord destroys much of the Assyrian army.
Teach and discuss 2 Chronicles 32:1–23.
After the kingdom of Israel was taken into captivity, the Assyrians began to attack the kingdom of Judah (2 Chronicles 32:1). What did Hezekiah do when he saw that Sennacherib’s army planned to attack Jerusalem? (See 2 Chronicles 32:2–5.) After Hezekiah had made preparations for war, what did he tell his people about the impending attack? (See 2 Chronicles 32:6–8.) What can we learn from Hezekiah about the proper relationship between trusting in our own efforts and trusting in the Lord?
Sennacherib sent his servants to speak to the people in Jerusalem. What did the servants say? (See 2 Chronicles 32:9–17.) Why did they say these things? (See 2 Chronicles 32:18.) In what ways does Satan try to convince us that God cannot or will not help us?
How did Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah react to the words of Sennacherib’s servants? (See 2 Chronicles 32:20; Isaiah 37:14–20.) How did the Lord answer Hezekiah’s and Isaiah’s prayers? (See 2 Chronicles 32:21–22; Isaiah 37:33–38.)
Hezekiah and his people received the Lord’s protection because of their righteousness, which was demonstrated by their worship at the temple. How can temple attendance be a protection for us? (See D&C 109:24–28.) What can we do to make temple worthiness and attendance a priority in our lives?
President Howard W. Hunter encouraged:
“Let us be a temple-attending people. Attend the temple as frequently as personal circumstances allow. Keep a picture of a temple in your home that your children may see it. Teach them about the purposes of the house of the Lord. Have them plan from their earliest years to go there and to remain worthy of that blessing.
“If proximity to a temple does not allow frequent attendance, gather in the history of your family and prepare the names for the sacred ordinances performed only in the temple. This family research is essential to the work of the temples, and blessings surely will come to those who do that work” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 8; or Ensign, Nov. 1994, 8).
3. Josiah and his people covenant to serve the Lord.
Teach and discuss 2 Chronicles 34.
Hezekiah was succeeded as king by his son Manasseh and his grandson Amon (2 Chronicles 33). Manasseh ruled Judah in wickedness, placing idols in the temple and leading the people to sin. Manasseh eventually humbled himself, however, and repented before his death. Manasseh’s son Amon also ruled in wickedness, worshiping the idols his father had made. Amon did not repent, and he was slain by his own servants. Amon’s son Josiah was made king of Judah when he was eight years old. He became a righteous king who rejected the wicked ways of his father and grandfather.
What good things did Josiah do early in his reign as king? (See 2 Chronicles 34:3–8. He sought the true God, destroyed idolatry in the kingdom, and sent people to repair the temple. Point out that Josiah was only 15 or 16 years old when he began making these important changes.)
What significant discovery did Hilkiah the high priest make during the renovation of the temple? (See 2 Chronicles 34:14. He found a book of the law of the Lord, or the scriptures. Note that by this time in Judah’s history the written law apparently had been lost and was virtually unknown.) How did Josiah react when the book of the law was read to him? (See 2 Chronicles 34:19. Note that it was a custom in ancient Israel to rend, or tear, one’s clothes to show mourning or great sorrow.) Why was Josiah so distressed to hear what the book of the law contained? (See 2 Chronicles 34:21.)
What did the prophetess Huldah say would happen to Judah because the people had failed to keep the word of the Lord and do what the scriptures taught? (See 2 Chronicles 34:22–25.) What will happen to us if we neglect to read the scriptures and apply their teachings?
President Ezra Taft Benson described the dangers of neglecting one of our books of scripture, the Book of Mormon:
“In 1829, the Lord warned the Saints that they are not to trifle with sacred things (see D&C 6:12). Surely the Book of Mormon is a sacred thing, and yet many trifle with it, or in other words, take it lightly, treat it as though it is of little importance.
“In 1832, as some early missionaries returned from their fields of labor, the Lord reproved them for treating the Book of Mormon lightly. As a result of that attitude, he said, their minds had been darkened. Not only had treating this sacred book lightly brought a loss of light to themselves, it had also brought the whole Church under condemnation, even all the children of Zion. And then the Lord said, ‘And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon’ (D&C 84:54–57). …
“If the early Saints were rebuked for treating the Book of Mormon lightly, are we under any less condemnation if we do the same?” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1986, 3–4; or Ensign, Nov. 1986, 4–5).
What did Huldah say would happen to Josiah? (See 2 Chronicles 34:26, 28. The fulfillment of this promise is described in 2 Chronicles 35:20–24.) Why did the Lord make this promise to Josiah? (See 2 Chronicles 34:27.)
After Josiah found out that his people would be condemned because they had not done as the scriptures instructed, he called all the people to the temple and read the scriptures to them (2 Chronicles 34:29–30). Why do you think he did this? (The people could not follow God’s laws if they did not know them.) How can parents follow Josiah’s example and teach their children the laws of the gospel? (See D&C 68:25, 28.)
How can we show the value we place on the scriptures? Point out that we have more scripture available to us than the Israelites had, and the scriptures are more readily accessible to us. What responsibility do we have because of these blessings?
President Spencer W. Kimball said: “The Lord is not trifling with us when he gives us these things, for ‘unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.’ (Luke 12:48.) Access to these things means responsibility for them. We must study the scriptures according to the Lord’s commandment (see 3 Nephi 23:1–5); and we must let them govern our lives” (“How Rare a Possession—the Scriptures!” Ensign, Sept. 1976, 5).
While Josiah and his people were at the temple, they made a covenant with the Lord. What did they covenant to do? (See 2 Chronicles 34:31–33.) Explain that in the temple we make sacred covenants with the Lord, the fulfillment of which will bring us earthly blessings and eternal exaltation. How can we prepare to make the sacred temple covenants? Once we have made these covenants, why is it important that we return to the temple as often as possible?
Explain that the people in the kingdom of Judah eventually became so wicked that the Lord allowed them to be taken captive (2 Chronicles 36:14–21). During their reigns, however, Hezekiah and Josiah had sought to strengthen the people by turning their attention to the temple and the scriptures. Testify that as we focus our attention on obeying the Lord’s commandments and being worthy to enter the temple, we will be blessed with spiritual strength and joy. Encourage class members to enjoy the blessings of the temple by living worthily and attending as often as possible.
Additional Teaching Ideas
The following material supplements the suggested lesson outline. You may want to use one or more of these ideas as part of the lesson.
1. “A credit card with the Lord”
A week before this lesson is to be taught, ask a class member to become familiar with the following excerpt from a talk by President Gordon B. Hinckley and be prepared to share it with the class:
“I hold before you two credit cards. Most of you are familiar with cards such as these.
“The first is a bank credit card. It permits me to secure merchandise on credit and then pay for my purchases at one time. It is a valuable thing and something to be safeguarded. If stolen and dishonestly used, it could cause me great loss and perhaps considerable embarrassment. In accepting it from my bank, I enter into a contract and become bound by obligations and agreements. In accepting the card, I agree to meet the conditions under which it was issued.
“It is issued for one year only and must be reissued each year if I am to enjoy the privileges afforded by it. It is not really mine. The bank retains ownership. If I fail in my required performance, then the bank may shut off the credit and repossess the card.
“The other card which I have is what we call a temple recommend. It represents a credit card with the Lord, making available to me many of His greatest gifts. The bank card is concerned with things of the world, the recommend with things of God.
“To secure a temple recommend, the receiver must also have demonstrated his eligibility, and that eligibility is based on personal worthiness. Once granted, it is not in place forever but must be reissued each year. Furthermore, it is subject to forfeiture if the holder does anything which would disqualify him for its privileges.
“Eligibility for a temple recommend is not based on financial worth. That has nothing whatever to do with it. It is based on consistent personal behavior, on the goodness of one’s life. It is not concerned with money matters, but rather with things of eternity.
“The bank card opens the door to financial credit. The temple recommend opens the door to the House of the Lord. It is concerned with entry into holy precincts to do sacred and divine work. …
“… This recommend which I have and which so many of you have is a precious and wonderful thing. It makes one eligible for an exclusive and remarkable privilege—the privilege of entering that House which says on its wall, ‘Holiness to the Lord—the House of the Lord.’ Live worthy to serve in that house. Keep it holy. Do your part to keep from the Lord’s house any unclean or defiling influence or person. Enjoy its beauty. Enjoy the wonder of the things that are spoken there, the beauty and the blessing of the ordinances there administered.
“To [those] who have not yet been to the temple, may I suggest that you take advantage of the opportunity of being baptized in behalf of the dead. And then let that sacred experience become an anchor to your lives, that you so conduct yourselves at all times and in all circumstances that, at the proper time, you may secure a special and restricted credit card with the Lord, even a recommend to His holy house, there to enjoy all of its blessings and privileges” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1990, 65, 69; or Ensign, May 1990, 49, 52).
2. Purposes of temples
Bring pictures of several latter-day temples (in several architectural styles, if possible). Point out that although these temples may appear different from the outside, the ordinances performed and the covenants made inside these temples are the same.
Explain that although some of the practices in the temple of ancient Israel were different from what we do in latter-day temples (for example, we do not sacrifice animals or burn candles and incense in latter-day temples), the purposes of ancient temples and latter-day temples are the same: to prepare us to come into the presence of the Lord and be like him.
You may want to show “Ancient Temples,” a nine-minute segment from Old Testament Video Presentations (53224), which describes Moses’ tabernacle and some of the activities that took place there.
3. Studying the scriptures
Why do we sometimes have difficulty studying the scriptures?
List class members’ answers in a column on the chalkboard. Then discuss ways we can overcome these difficulties. For example, if we do not understand what we read, we can pray for understanding and study what the prophets and apostles have said about the scriptures we are reading; if we are too sleepy to read the scriptures at night, we can find another time of day to read. List these solutions in another column on the chalkboard.
Challenge class members to be more dedicated in their study of the scriptures.