manasseh

2 Chronicles 33, Revelation 19, Malachi 1, John 18

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 2 Chronicles 33, Revelation 19, Malachi 1, John 18. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read 2 Chronicles 33.

Some human governments move back and forth like a pendulum and that’s what Judah’s leadership was like at times during the divided kingdom. After all the good that Hezekiah did during his lifetime, his son Manasseh came in and reversed it all. Verse 2 declared that, “He did evil in the eyes of the Lord” and verses 3-6 catalog his sins which included idolatry (of course), desecration of the temple, child sacrifice, divination, witchcraft, and spiritism. His actions were so evil that verse 9 said, “Manasseh led Judah and the people of Jerusalem astray, so that they did more evil than the nations the Lord had destroyed before the Israelites.”

God graciously sent his word to Judah (v. 10), then imposed punishment on him personally (v. 11). At his lowest point, however, “he humbled himself greatly” (v. 12b), “sought the Lord’s favor” (v. 12a) and God heard and delivered him (v. 13). This was genuine repentance, too, because verse 13c said, “Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God.” He also “restored the altar of the the Lord” and “told Judah to serve the Lord, the God of Israel.”

So, if he was truly repentant and showed genuine fruit of repentance, why did verse 2 include him among the evil kings of Judah? The answer is that the phrases, “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord” or “He did evil in the eyes of the Lord” describes the king’s leadership more than it does his personal walk with God. Of course, those two things are deeply linked and an ungodly leader is, of course, almost always an ungodly man. Manasseh is an unusual edge case. Although he repented, his repentance came after many years of ungodly living and ungodly leadership. His soul may have been saved after his repentance, but that did not erase the influence of his ungodly life and leadership. Despite his repentance, Manasseh was an unqualified evil influence as king of Judah, so that’s why he’ll always be considered an ungodly king, despite his repentance.

Here is a lesson for us about the foolishness of sin. I don’t know if anyone sins thinking, “I’ll just ask forgiveness for this later.” Our sinful choices usually involve more kind of self-deception and justification than that. But if anyone does think that way, they are missing a very important truth: your sin and mine leaves its mark on others. It gives them a way to justify their own sinful actions, a sort of “moral permission” that really isn’t moral at all but quiets their conscience enough to let them choose evil. If you have influence over many people, many more of those people will try out your sin for themselves. May God help us say no to sin not only for our own spiritual health but also to prevent sin from spreading to those who follow our lead.

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.

2 Kings 21, Hebrews 3, Hosea 14, Psalm 139

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 2 Kings 21, Hebrews 3, Hosea 14, Psalm 139. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read 2 Kings 21.

Hezekiah and his son Manasseh lived on opposite poles of the worship globe. Hezekiah was devoted to the Lord with all his heart and even did the hard work of rooting out the private places of idol worship in the hills and mountains around Jerusalem. That was great during the twenty-nine years he reigned, but then it all ended. Manasseh his son devoted himself to the worship of every kind of god other than the God of Israel. He rebuilt all those shrines of idolatry that Hezekiah had torn down in the hills (v. 3a) and introduced the worship of Baal and Asherah to Judah (v. 3b). He began to worship the stars and planets in space (v. 3c) and even built idol altars in Solomon’s magnificent temple to the Lord (v. 5). He burned his son alive as a human sacrifice to pagan gods (v. 6a) and practiced every kind of witchcraft (v. 6). Later he added Asherah worship to the temple along with the altars he had built there to the celestial bodies (v. 7). God had forewarned Hezekiah that his judgment would come to Jerusalem for sins like this (20:16-19) and he sent prophets again to warn Manasseh and the people of Judah (vv. 10-15). When God sends messages of judgment through is prophets, the goal is always repentance but Manasseh was unrepentant for his idolatry. In addition to being an idolator, Manasseh was a killer, executing people in bulk who had not committed crimes worthy of execution (v. 16). This should not be a surprise. Worship is about far more than who receives your prayers and sacrifices; it also determines your morals, ethics, and your actions. Find an ungodly ruler, one obsessed with idol worship and you will see unjust ruler, one oblivious to justice or the value of human life. If a man is so hardened that he is willing to offer his infant son as a burnt offering to a false god, why would he grant justice to adults or show compassion to those who oppose his will?

Manasseh was his own man. Like every person, he was responsible for his choices. But I can’t read his story without wondering: Did he not see how God delivered Hezekiah from Sennacherib when all Hezekiah did was pray (2 Kings 18-19)? Was he not informed about Hezekiah’s fatal illness and how God extended his life after he prayed (2 Kings 20)? Hezekiah tore down those idol altars in the hills because he believed God. He worshipped one God and one alone. He gravitated toward the Lord’s temple (see 2 Kings 19:14, 20:8) suggesting that he spent much time there learning God’s law and observing the worship ceremonies devoted to the Lord. Did Manasseh fail or just refuse to see the depth of his father’s devotion and how God honored Hezekiah’s faith and obedience to the Lord’s word? Or did Hezekiah neglect to instruct his son to follow the Lord? Hezekiah is implicated in any of Manasseh’s idolatry of disobedience. But recall 2 Kings 20:19, which we read yesterday: “‘The word of the Lord you have spoken is good,’” Hezekiah replied. For he thought, ‘Will there not be peace and security in my lifetime?’” For all his virtues, Hezekiah may have spent too much time thinking about himself, his lifetime, his walk with the Lord and not enough time preparing and passing on what he knew about God to others, particularly his own son, his successor. 

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.