We’ve wrapped up our look at Hezekiah. Now let’s see who’s next: “His son Manasseh became the next king” (II Kings 20:21b, NLT).
“Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, following the detestable practices of the pagan nations that the Lord had driven from the land ahead of the Israelites. He rebuilt the pagan shrines his father, Hezekiah, had broken down. He constructed altars for the images of Baal and set up Asherah poles. He also bowed before all the powers of the heavens and worshiped them” (II Chronicles 33:1-3).
Let’s look at Manasseh realistically. On his own, I don’t think any twelve-year-old would be that dead set on destroying everything his father had established regarding worship of the One True God. However, if he was surrounded by those who wanted to see Judah return to pagan worship, I can see how easily he could have been swayed to their way of thinking. Whatever the case, Manasseh went to great lengths to be completely unlike his father.
“He built pagan altars in the Temple of the Lord... Manasseh also sacrificed his own sons in the fire in the valley of Ben-Hinnom. He practiced sorcery, divination, and witchcraft, and he consulted with mediums and psychics. He did much that was evil in the Lord’s sight, arousing His anger” (II Chronicles 33:4a, 5-6).
The evil Manasseh led the people of Judah in is nothing short of mindboggling! “He built pagan altars in the Temple of the Lord.” He threw his own living, breathing sons into the sacrificial fires of pagan deities. “He practiced sorcery, divination, and witchcraft, and he consulted with mediums and psychics.”
As leader of God’s people in Judah, Manasseh had an enormous responsibility and accountability for his own life and that of the people over whom he ruled. Yet even as the Lord stayed His hand and gave Manasseh time to mend his ways and turn the people back to God, he continued to do nothing but evil.
Manasseh had clearly forgotten the words of the Lord: “God had told David and his son Solomon: ‘My Name will be honored forever in this Temple and in Jerusalem – the city I have chosen from among all the tribes of Israel. If the Israelites will be careful to obey My commands – all the laws, decrees, and regulations given through Moses – I will not send them into exile from this land that I set aside for your ancestors’” (II Chronicles 33:7b-8).
It’s impossible for us to wrap our heads around the love and patience of God. The apostle Paul gives about as clear an explanation as is possible: “Even though God has the right to show His anger and His power, He is very patient with those on whom His anger falls, who are destined for destruction” (Romans 9:22).
The Lord gives us humans chance after chance to turn to Him and repent, but unless we do so, we “are destined for destruction.” Manasseh was setting up himself and the entire kingdom of Judah for a terrible fall.
”Manasseh led the people of Judah and Jerusalem to do even more evil than the pagan nations that the Lord had destroyed when the people of Israel entered the land” (II Chronicles 33:9).
“Manasseh led...” Manasseh’s influence encouraged God’s own people to become “more evil than the pagan nations.”
Just as “Manasseh led,” you and I also lead. Someone is watching and learning from your example. It may your spouse, your kids, your grandkids, your parents, your other relatives, your friends, your coworkers, or even your neighbors – it could even be your fellow churchgoers or every single one of the aforementioned. What are you showing them about your faith in Jesus?
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates