What record will we leave for future generations?

Week Twenty Nine: 2 Kings 17–25

King Hezekiah and his son King Manasseh were two kings who were opposites in their desires and their reliance on the Lord. The choices they made had consequences for generations after them. We can learn a lot about how to find peace and truth in our day and for future generations by comparing and contrasting these two kings, who were father and son. Our actions will have a ripple effect on the lives of generations after us and we must decide now what that effect will be.

What will be the legacy we will leave our children? Will the record we leave behind be a correct picture of our life and our desires?

King Hezekiah was a righteous king who followed the words of the prophet Isaiah throughout his reign. Hezekiah destroyed the idolatry of his people and brought them back to worshipping the Lord, their God. Because of his righteous example and care for the spiritual and physical welfare of his country, the kingdom of Judah had been miraculously delivered from Assyrian invaders.

As the king lay dying, he prayed to 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.”[i] In answer to the king’s sincere prayer, Isaiah, the prophet, was told by the Lord to “Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the Lord, … I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee….”[ii] Hezekiah asked Isaiah for a sign to indicate that the Lord would heal him. Isaiah cried unto the Lord and in response, the shadow on the sun dial was brought backward ten degrees.

Hezekiah’s desires were righteous desires and the Lord listened to his prayers because he had served him. During Hezekiah’s sickness, the Babylonians had come in peace to wish King Hezekiah well, but Isaiah prophesied that the Babylonians would return and carry Judah away, spoiling the riches of the temple and destroying the city. Even in the face of this future tragedy, Hezekiah’s faith remained strong: “Good is the word of the Lord which thou hast spoken…Is it not good, if peace and truth be in my days?”2 Kings 20:19.

Hezekiah went on to live another fifteen years, enjoying peace and righteousness until his death. He had found the Lord’s peace, even though he knew of the future suffering of his people. President Heber J. Grant described the Savior’s peace this way: “His peace will ease our suffering, bind up our broken hearts, blot out our hates, engender in our breasts a love of fellow men that will suffuse our souls with calm and happiness.”[iii]

In contrast, King Manasseh reigned for a long period of 55 years, but “he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord.”[iv] He brought back the idol worship that his father had abolished. He built altars for other gods in the house of the Lord. He even sacrificed one of his own sons to these other gods and encouraged sorcery and wizardry. Through His prophets, the Lord warned the people and Manasseh: “Because Manasseh king of Judah hath done these abominations and hath done wickedly above all that the Amorites did, which were before him, and hath made Judah also to sin with his idols; Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Behold I am bringing such evil upon Jerusalem and Judah that whosoever heareth of it, both his ears shall tingle.”[v]

Manasseh chose evil all his days. When his son Ammon became king of Judah, he continued his father’s wicked ways. Ammon was so wicked that his servants conspired against him and slew him in his own home.

The powerful lesson is that our choices affect those around us and generations after us. The Lord has given us agency to choose our destiny. King Hezekiah chose a path of righteousness, but his son and grandson did not.

Elder Cook said: “Agency is essential to the plan of happiness. It allows for the love, sacrifice, personal growth, and experience necessary for our eternal progression. This agency also allows for all the pain and suffering we experience in mortality, even when caused by things we do not understand and the devastating evil choices of others. The very War in Heaven was waged over our moral agency and is essential to understanding the Savior’s earthly ministry.”[vi]

“Every human being who comes to this earth is the product of generations of parents.”[vii]

Thinking about the effect that our choices have on our families and those around us, we need to ask ourselves, “what is the legacy of my life that I will leave behind? Will my record be like King Hezekiah’s or King Manasseh’s?”  

Elder Bruce R. McConkie said: “In a real though figurative sense, the book of life is the record of the acts of men…. That is, every thought, word, and deed has an [effect] on the human body; all these leave their marks, marks which can be read by Him who is Eternal as easily as the words in a book can be read.”[viii]

Our Internet presence might be a good place to start to review what kind of record or legacy we now share and will leave for others. We may not have the worldly resources of these two kings, but we have been blessed with the resource of incredible technology to influence many people through our presence in online platforms.[ix]

If someone looked at our Pinterest board or our Instagram story, what would that person think were the desires of our heart? May we find joy in the Lord this week as we review the record we will leave for future generations and make sure it is a positive one.

[i] 2 Kngs 20:3

[ii] 2 Kings 20:5

[iii] Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant (2002), p. 26.

[iv] 2 Kings 21:2

[v] 2 Kings 20:11-12

[vi] Quentin Cook, Personal Peace: The Reward of Righteousness GC April 2013

[vii] Russell M. Nelson, “Generations Linked in Love ,” April 2010 GC.

[viii] Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 97

[ix] Randall L. Ridd, “The Choice Generation,” April 2014, GC.

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