Hezekiah is gone the way of his fathers. His son Manasseh takes the throne. He is NOTHING like his father when it comes to faith in God.
The first thing I notice in our reading is the age of Manasseh when he became king. This means that Manasseh was born AFTER Hezekiah’s illness. He grew up during the time when Hezekiah was struggling with his own pride. During the time when Hezekiah showed the envoy from Babylon everything he had. But also during the time when Hezekiah was sharing the amazing sign the Lord had given him regarding his healing and extended life.
Hezekiah was still serving the Lord during Manasseh’s early years but not with as much zeal as he did in the beginning. Could it be that Manasseh was angry with God for putting a ‘time limit’ on his father? Did Hezekiah make it known how long the Lord had promised he would live for following his illness? Imagine knowing from an early age that you father would certainly die at a specified age. And imagine knowing that the God of your father had set this date and would not change it, even for you. Would this be enough to build up resentment towards that same God in the heart of a child?
The second thing, and the most important, about Manasseh’s reign is his relationship to God. I already prepared you for what we are told about his reign. He did MUCH evil in the eyes of the Lord. EVERYTHING his father had restored he reversed. He rebuilt all the altars and high places. He put idols back into the Temple. He returned to human sacrifice. If it was evil, Manasseh did it. No matter what his reasons, his actions were evil.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Manasseh didn’t start out ‘full blown’ evil the day he took the throne. He worked his way up to the point of human sacrifice and necromancy. He probably started out small, listening to a few ‘advisors’ who were less than desirable. One step at a time he walked as far away from God as any other king had ever gone. He walked in all the ways of his grandfather, even though he has never met him. Is it possible that some of his grandfather’s advisors made it through Hezekiah’s reign and shared stories of glory with Manasseh? I don’t see how but I’m not ruling it out.
Maybe he was looking around at all the other nations and felt restricted by the Laws his people lived by. He decided to try some of their ways for himself. He felt a rush of excitement with each new thing so he kept searching for the next exciting thing. Chasing a high.
What was it that Satan whispered in Manasseh’s ear that led him so far down this road? Did he promise power or fame? Did he promise riches? Was it immortality? ALL these claims were false. What Manasseh got for his ‘loyalty’ to Satan was captivity. His captivity was more than spiritual. It was physical too. God didn’t stand idly by as Manasseh led the people of Judah into idolatry. He sent judgment against them in the form of captivity. We will see more on this in our next time together.
Manasseh didn’t take this ‘spiritual journey’ alone. He brought the people of Judah along with him. The kingdom of Judah followed along so well with Manasseh’s sins that God told them He would remove them just as surely as He did the northern kingdom of Israel. It will take a while before God completes this judgment and there will be one more godly king before it happens, but happen it did. The sins of Manasseh and the peoples’ sins while under his rule set a promise in motion that God had to go through with.
Manasseh’s story reminds us of one thing for certain; great sin is built step by step just as surely as great righteousness is. Manasseh didn’t start out day one with human sacrifices. He probably justified one small sin in the beginning. With each move away from the Lord the next one came a little easier. He silenced his conscience a day at a time.
David didn’t start out facing giants the day he believed on the Lord. He trusted the Lord for all the little things first; finding a lost sheep, favor with friends, protection against natural enemies, even finding the choicest watering holes. I can imagine David turning to the Lord for any number of every day issues before facing the lion or bear in the field. And before facing Goliath in the valley. He brightened his spirit and honed his relationship with God one day at a time.
This reminds me of an old Native American story I once heard. A grandfather is instructing his grandson after he misbehaved. Grandfather tells his grandson that we all have two hungry wolves living in us. One good and the other bad. They are constantly at war. The grandson asks him which one will win. Grandfather wisely replies, “The one you feed the most.”
We each hold the ‘food’ for both ‘wolves’ in our hands. Which will we feed?
Father God, keep my feet from Manasseh’s path. Keep me searching Your word and seeking Your face so that I have no time to ‘feed’ the sinful flesh. THANK YOU for waking me from my spiritual slumber during the times I was ‘feeding the flesh’ and not walking with You. I know there will still be days when I ‘feed the wrong wolf’ in my life but put up brick walls if necessary to stop me from walking down Manasseh’s path. I want to choose YOU always!