Reforms affected only outward worship

"The sad fate of the kingdom of Israel had some effect in partially awakening among the people of Judah a sense of their own impending doom," wrote Elder James E. Talmage in The Articles of Faith. (See chapter 17.)

"Hezekiah reigned as king for nine and twenty years, and proved himself a bright exception to a line of wicked rulers who had preceded him. Of him we are told that he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord.' During his reign, the Assyrians under Sennacherib invaded the land; but the Lord's favor was in part restored to the people and Hezekiah roused them to a reliance upon their God, bidding them take courage and fear not the Assyrian king nor his hosts,for,' said this righteous prince, `there be more with us than with him: With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God to help us, and to fight our battles.'"The Assyrian army was miraculously destroyed. But Hezekiah died, and Manasseh ruled in his stead; this king did evil in the sight of the Lord, and the wickedness of the people continued for half a century or more, broken only by the good works of one righteous king, Josiah."

Josiah became one of Judah's greatest rulers. With the help of Hilkiah, the high priest, Josiah tried to restore true worship in the kingdom of Judah. But Josiah's reforms affected only the outward worship of the Jews. Most of the people's hearts were still in apostasy, and after Josiah was slain by the Egyptians, the Jews returned to their apostate ways.

The kings who followed Josiah were wicked, and apostasy was so widespread that the Lord offered to save Jerusalem if just one righteous person could be found. (Jer. 5:1.) Many prophets came to warn the people that they must repent or be destroyed, but the people mocked the prophets. Finally, the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem in 587 B.C., killing or deporting most of the Jews.

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