Under the reign of kings Manasseh and Amon, the kingdom of Judah engaged in wicked practices of idolatry. When Josiah became the king, he used the book of the law to call the people to repentance. After Josiah was killed in battle, the next four kings led Judah back to wickedness. Under the reign of King Zedekiah, Jerusalem was destroyed and the people taken into bondage in Babylon.
Invite students to write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals a list of five to ten people they spend the most time with. Invite them to consider ways the people on their lists may influence them. Also ask students to ponder what influence they may have on the people they listed.
Invite students as they study 2 Kings 21–23 to look for principles that can help them understand how their choices can impact the lives of others.
Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from 2 Kings 21:1–9. Ask the class to follow along and look for ways King Hezekiah’s son Manasseh influenced the people of Judah.
What are some ways Manasseh influenced the people of Judah?
Explain that in verse 6 the statement that Manasseh “made his son pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments” likely means that Manasseh offered one of his own children as a sacrifice to one of the false gods he worshipped, and he sought and heeded false prophets and prophecies.
What principles can we learn from Manasseh’s unrighteous influence upon the people of Judah? (Students may identify several principles, but be sure to emphasize that if we make wicked choices, then our actions can lead others to sin.)
Invite students to think of examples of this principle in our day. Ask a few of them to share general examples they thought of. Caution them not to share anything that is too personal or to mention the names of individuals.
Display a dish (such as a bowl) and a rag. Ask a student to read 2 Kings 21:10–13 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord compared to a dish.
What did the Lord compare to a dish?
What do you think the Lord meant when He said He would wipe Jerusalem “as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it, and turning it upside down”? (Demonstrate these actions with the dish to help students understand that Jerusalem would be conquered and emptied of its people.)
Summarize the remainder of 2 Kings 21 by explaining that Manasseh died and his son Amon became the king. Amon followed his father’s example by ruling in wickedness. He was killed by his servants two years after he became king. The people then appointed Amon’s son Josiah as the next king.
Ask a student to read 2 Kings 22:1–2 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for what kinds of choices Josiah made as king of Judah.
What kinds of choices did Josiah make as king?
Summarize 2 Kings 22:3–7 by explaining that Josiah arranged payment for workers to repair the house of the Lord in Jerusalem. Ask a student to read 2 Kings 22:8 aloud. Invite the class to follow along and identify what was found in the temple.
What was found in the temple?
What was the book of the law? (Scrolls that contained scripture, including the Lord’s law given through Moses.)
Explain that the scriptures had been lost or hidden during the reign of the wicked kings before Josiah.
Invite a student to read 2 Kings 22:10–13 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how Josiah responded when the book of the law was found and read to him.
How did Josiah respond when he heard the words of the book of the law?
Why do you think Josiah was so concerned after he heard the words of the scriptures?
Summarize 2 Kings 22:14–20 by explaining that a prophetess named Huldah recounted the scriptural prophecy of judgment against the wicked. She also prophesied that Josiah would be blessed because of his faithfulness to the Lord. Huldah was a prophetess in the sense that she had the gift of prophecy. This gift is available to all members of the Lord’s Church.
Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from 2 Kings 23:1–4, 21–23. Ask the class to follow along and look for the kind of influence Josiah’s leadership and scripture reading had on his people.
What do you think it means that “all the people stood to the covenant”? (2 Kings 23:3). (The people promised to live according to the covenant recorded in the book of the law.)
How would you summarize the influence Josiah had on his people?
What principles can we learn from Josiah’s example? (Students may identify a variety of principles, but be sure to emphasize that if we make righteous choices, then our actions can lead others to turn to the Lord.)
To help students understand this principle, invite a student to read aloud the following statement from For the Strength of Youth:
“As you strive to live the gospel, you will encourage your friends to do likewise. Set an example of keeping the commandments, participating in Church activities, preparing to serve the Lord throughout your life, and remaining worthy to attend the temple.
“Invite your friends of other faiths to your Church meetings and activities. Help them feel welcome and included. Many people have joined the Church through the example and fellowship of their friends. Also make a special effort to reach out to new converts and to those who are less active” (For the Strength of Youth [booklet, 2011], 17).
In what ways have you been blessed because of the righteous choices of others?
When have you been able to help someone by setting a good example or by reaching out to him or her?
Invite a student to read 2 Kings 23:25 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what helped Josiah have such a great impact on his people. Ask students to report what they find.
What can the account of Josiah teach us about the importance of studying the scriptures? (Summarize students’ responses by writing the following principle on the board: Studying the scriptures can help us turn to the Lord with all our heart and put away evil influences.)
Write the following questions on the board:
Invite students to work in pairs and discuss their answers to these questions. Alternatively, you could invite a panel of three or four students to the front of the class and ask them to share their answers to the questions with the entire class.
Invite students to continue to prayerfully study the scriptures daily.
Summarize 2 Kings 23:26–37 by explaining that after King Josiah had ruled for 31 years, he was killed in a battle. After his death, two of his sons, Jehoahaz and then Jehoiakim, ruled in wickedness and led the people again into idolatry.
Explain that in 2 Kings 24, we learn that Jehoaikim’s son Jehoiachin became king of Judah. Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from 2 Kings 24:9–11, 13–16. Ask the class to follow along and look for what happened during Jehoiachin’s reign.
What happened during Jehoiachin’s reign?
Summarize 2 Kings 24:17–20 by explaining that the Babylonian king installed Zedekiah, of Judah, as a local king to rule his people but pay tribute to the Babylonians. Ask students to scan 2 Kings 24:19 to see whether Zedekiah promoted righteousness or wickedness during his reign as king.
Summarize 2 Kings 25:1–8 by explaining that Zedekiah rebelled against Babylon, and the Babylonians again attacked Jerusalem.
Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from 2 Kings 25:6–12. Ask the class to follow along and look for what happened to Zedekiah, his sons, and the city of Jerusalem.
What did the Babylonians do to Zedekiah and his sons?
Point out that one of Zedekiah’s sons, named Mulek, escaped the destruction of Jerusalem. The Lord directed Mulek and others to the promised land in the Americas sometime after Lehi and his family had left Jerusalem. Some of Lehi’s descendants found the descendants of Mulek and joined with them in Zarahemla. (See Omni 1:12–19; Mosiah 25:2; Helaman 8:21.)
What did the Babylonians do to most of the people of Judah? (They carried them captive into Babylon.)
What happened to the temple, the houses, and the walls of Jerusalem? (You may want to hold up the dish you displayed earlier to emphasize that the words of the prophets concerning Jerusalem were fulfilled.)
From the account of Zedekiah and his people, what principle can we learn about the consequences of disobeying the Lord’s commandments? (Students may identify a principle such as the following: If we disobey the Lord’s commandments, then we may lose His protection.)
You may want to conclude the lesson by sharing your testimony of the principles discussed in this lesson.
Consider looking ahead at some of the scripture mastery passages students may not yet be familiar with. Invite students to read them (you may want to suggest that students mark them in their scriptures). You might assign a new scripture mastery passage to each student or to pairs of students and ask them to create a picture on a piece of paper that visually depicts the truths taught in the passage. Invite them to explain their pictures to the class. You may want to display the pictures for future reference.
Note: You might consider using this scripture mastery activity at the beginning or end of any lesson as time allows.