2 Kings 21

Who was Manasseh?
Manasseh was the son of good King Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:21). He became king over Judah at the age of twelve and reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem (2 Kings 21:1), longer than any other king of Judah. (Uzziah’s reign lasted fifty-two years – 2 Kings 15:2). His mother’s name was Hephzibah.

What characterized the reign of Manasseh?
Manasseh’s reign was characterized by unbridled evil. According to the Scripture, “he did evil in the sight of the Lord” (2 Kings 21:2). Manasseh’s evil was not only “according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord dispossessed before the sons of Israel” (2 Kings 21:2), but in fact surpassed the wickedness of “the nations whom the Lord destroyed before the sons of Israel” (2 Kings 21:9 and 2 Chronicles 33:9) and the wickedness of the Amorites (2 Kings 21:11). Note the evil things that characterized his reign:

[A] “For he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed” (2 Kings 21:3). He undid all of the religious reforms of his father. He reintroduced the very things that had caused the nation to stumble for generations.

[B] “and he erected altars for Baal and made an Asherah, as Ahab king of Israel had done, and worshiped all the host of heaven and served them” (2 Kings 21:3). Manasseh obviously did not learn anything from the destruction of the Northern Kingdom. He did not take into consideration the fact that the house of Ahab experienced the judgment of God (2 Kings 9:6-10) for doing the very things he was doing in Judah. Manasseh desecrated the house of the Lord with altars and Asherah (2 Kings 21:4-5 and 2 Chronicles 33:7-8).

[C] Manasseh violated the law of God at every turn (see Leviticus 20:1-6). He “made his sons pass through the fire, practiced witchcraft and used divination, and dealt with mediums and spiritists” (2 Kings 21:6 and 2 Chronicles 33:6). Manasseh failed to learn from the judgment Ahaz suffered for doing the same things he was doing (see 2 Kings 16:1-4 and 2 Chronicles 28:1-4 for similar information on Ahaz).

[D] Manasseh “seduced” (2 Kings 21:9) and “misled Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem” (2 Chronicles 33:9) to sin against God (see also 2 Kings 21:11).

[E] In addition to leading the nation astray, “Manasseh shed very much innocent blood until he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another” (2 Kings 21:16). It is believed that among those killed by Manasseh were many of the prophets of God. Tradition says that Manasseh had Isaiah the prophet sawn in two with a woodcutting saw (see Hebrews 11:37).

Practical Consideration: God is not an indifferent spectator.
Manasseh sinned as though God were an indifferent spectator. He brazenly committed sins that had brought the judgment of God upon others who had committed the same sins. He acted as though he would not be held accountable for his sin. He was wrong! God not only took note of Manasseh’s sin, but held both him and the nation accountable. Paul reminds us, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7).

What would result from the apostasy of Manasseh and Judah?
The apostasy of Manasseh and Judah marked the Southern Kingdom for destruction (2 Kings 21:10-15). Two analogies are used to describe the extent of the coming judgment. First, Judah had been measured and found crooked. It would have to be destroyed (2 Kings 21:13a). Second, Judah was like to a dirty dish and would therefore be wiped clean and turned upside down (2 Kings 21:13b). God had had His fill and would turn the nation over to her enemies (2 Kings 21:14-15).

What event changed Manasseh’s life?
Because Manasseh and the people of Judah turned a deaf ear to the Lord (2 Chronicles 33:10), God allowed the nation to be invaded by the Assyrians. Manasseh was captured and led away like an animal (the Assyrians put hooks through his nose and thus led him away) to Babylon (see also Psalm 32:9).

While in captivity, Manasseh did not entreat Baal or any of the host of heaven or any mediums or spiritists. Instead, “he entreated the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers” (2 Chronicles 33:12). God finally had Manasseh’s attention. The proud, rebellious, stiff-necked king was brought to his knees. Perhaps he acknowledged the attitude of the Psalmist (119:75), “I know, O Lord, that Thy judgments are righteous, And that in faithfulness Thou hast afflicted me.”

The Lord “was moved by his entreaty and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem to his kingdom” (2 Chronicles 33:13). All of this served to convince Manasseh that “the Lord was God” (2 Chronicles 33:13).

Practical Consideration: Adversity has a way of changing some people’s theology.
Manasseh zealously advanced his idolatrous agenda while he sat on his throne. He worshiped and served strange gods and misled the people of Judah to do the same. When Manasseh found himself in captivity however, he did not entreat any of the false gods he had so zealously served. Instead, Manasseh humbled himself and called upon the God of his fathers. God graciously and mercifully heard his prayer and allowed him to return to Jerusalem. Manasseh returned home with a new theology and understanding of God.

What reforms did Manasseh institute after his repentance?
Upon returning to Jerusalem, Manasseh strengthened Jerusalem and Judah militarily (2 Chronicles 33:14). He also destroyed all of the idolatrous things he had instituted and tried to restore religious order to Judah (2 Chronicles 33:16), although the people continued to worship on the high places (2 Chronicles 33:17).

Practical Consideration: It is not always possible to undo the damage we have done.
When Humpty Dumpty was broken, not even all the king’s horses and men could put him back together again! When Manasseh returned to Jerusalem from Babylon, he tried to undo the damage he had done. Unfortunately, he could not. We should be careful about the decisions we make and actions we take lest we find ourselves unable to repair any resulting damage.

Who was Amon?
Amon was the son of Manasseh. He became king over Judah at the age of twenty-two, after the death of his father (2 Kings 21:19). His “mother’s name was Meshullemeth the daughter of Haruz of Jotbah” (2 Kings 21:19). His two-year reign was characterized by evil (2 Kings 21:20). He continued serving and worshiping the idols that Manasseh had served and worshiped (2 Kings 21:21 and 2 Chronicles 33:22). Amon forsook the Lord, did not walk in His ways, and did not humble himself before the Lord as his father had done (2 Kings 21:22 and 2 Chronicles 33:23). His servants assassinated him (2 Kings 21:23 and 2 Chronicles 33:24). The people of the land, in turn, killed them (2 Kings 21:24 and 2 Chronicles 33:25).

Practical Consideration: Some people never learn!
Manasseh’s son Amon repeated the sins of his father, in spite of the fact that his father suffered God’s judgment for those sins. Some people never learn! Some people engage in the same behavior that they have seen destroy others. Go figure!

Who was Josiah?
Josiah was the son of Amon (2 Kings 21:26). He became king over Judah at the age of eight and reigned thirty-one years (2 Kings 22:1). His “mother’s name was Jedidah the daughter of Adaiah of Bozkath” (2 Kings 22:1). Josiah “did what was right in the sight of the Lord” (2 Kings 22:2 and 2 Chronicles 34:2). He began to seek the Lord “while he was still a youth” (2 Chronicles 34:3). He is remembered as a king among kings because of his zeal for the Lord (2 Kings 23:25).

Practical Consideration: We should be concerned about what God thinks.
Josiah “did right in the sight of the Lord” (2 Kings 22:2). Too often we are not concerned about what God thinks but about what others think. Too often we are concerned about doing what others think is right rather than what God says is right. The Scripture records that Josiah did not “turn aside to the right or to the left” (2 Kings 22:2). He was consistent in his obedience to God and did not allow himself to be swayed from following God and doing what was right in His sight.

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