Today I’ve been thinking about the parallels between two kings: Josiah, who reigned over Judah just before the Babylonian captivity (640-609 BCE), and Benjamin, who reigned over the Nephites about 500 years later. Both kings led their people in a spiritual reawakening. Here are some of their common experiences:
|Inspired by the scriptures||Was horrified when his people discovered the law in the temple and he realized how far his people had strayed from God’s expectations (2 Kings 22:8-13)||Taught his sons that, without the brass plates, they would have “dwindled in unbelief” and urged them to study the word of God (Mosiah 1:3-7)|
|Gathered the people to share the word of God||Gathered all of the people, “both small and great,” to the temple, where he “read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant” (2 Kings 23:1-2).||Gathered his people to the temple, where he delivered a message, including specific words given him by an angel (Mosiah 2:1-8, Mosiah 3)|
|Led the people in making a covenant with God||“Stood by a pillar, and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord, and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all their heart and all their soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people stood to the covenant” (2 Kings 23:3)||Invited the people to promise “do [God’s] will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things… all the remainder of [their] days” (Mosiah 5). Also recorded the names of all of the people who had entered into this covenant (Mosiah 6:1-2)|
Benjamin’s ancestor Lehi had lived in Jerusalem during the reign of Josiah and may have been eyewitness to the events described above. Regardless of whether he personally participated, these events were probably included in the brass plates, which contained “a record of the Jews from the beginning, even down to the commencement of the reign of [Josiah’s son] Zedekiah” (1 Nephi 5:12). So Benjamin was probably aware of Josiah’s actions and possibly influenced by them.
Sadly, Josiah’s people did not maintain their commitment long. After his death, three of his sons and one grandson—Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah—each reigned in turn. All four of them “did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord,” and the faithfulness of their people deteriorated rapidly (2 Kings 23:31-32, 36-37, 2 Kings 24:8-9, 17-19). Happily, Benjamin’s son, Mosiah, remained faithful, and his people remained true to their covenant. (See Mosiah 6:6-7, Mosiah 26:1-5.)
Here’s my impression about these two experiences: A righteous leader can be a catalyst for spiritual renewal. Josiah and Benjamin both felt the need to bring their people closer to God. Both made use of scripture and of the temple in that process. Both invited their people to make sacred covenants. In both cases, the people responded favorably to the invitation.
Today, I will follow the examples of Josiah and Benjamin. I will find ways to help other people grow closer to God, and to make and keep sacred covenants with Him. I will use the tools He has given us for that purpose, including the scriptures and the temple.