FOLLOW THE LEADER

Manasseh is the son of Hezekiah, and he has a tough act to follow.  He has seen his father live as unto the Lord, with a few exceptions.  His father’s life was prosperous and his son will make a choice not to follow this good example.

Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem:  But did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, like unto the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel.  For he built again the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down, and he reared up altars for Baalim, and made groves, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them.  Also he built altars in the house of the LORD, whereof the LORD had said, In Jerusalem shall my name be for ever.  2 Chronicles 33:1-4

Previously we read that evil would not come in the days of Hezekiah, but we knew that it was coming.  Manasseh didn’t miss in a small way; he defiled the temple and made idolatry the way of Judah I his time.

And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD.  And he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.  And he set a carved image, the idol which he had made, in the house of God, of which God had said to David and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen before all the tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever:  Neither will I any more remove the foot of Israel from out of the land which I have appointed for your fathers; so that they will take heed to do all that I have commanded them, according to the whole law and the statutes and the ordinances by the hand of Moses.  So Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen, whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel.  2 Chronicles 33:5-9

A clear violation earned Judah and their king warnings from God.  As in our own time, people did not listen to God even when he let them see changes that were clear warnings.  They had seen conflict with the Assyrians before, and the same storm was gathering again.  Manasseh himself was captured in the war that god brought to him.

And the LORD spake to Manasseh, and to his people: but they would not hearken.  Wherefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon.  And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers,  And prayed unto him: and he was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD he was God.  Now after this he built a wall without the city of David, on the west side of Gihon, in the valley, even to the entering in at the fish gate, and compassed about Ophel, and raised it up a very great height, and put captains of war in all the fenced cities of Judah.  2 Chronicles 33:10-14

Now Manasseh is low enough to consider looking up.  No idol had saved him, and he turned to the God of his father in desperation.  God does accept humility, and he does not despise anyone who will turn from error.  The scriptures don’t tell us how, but God allows him to return to Jerusalem and to reinforce its defenses.  He also rebuilds its spiritual defenses.

And he took away the strange gods, and the idol out of the house of the LORD, and all the altars that he had built in the mount of the house of the LORD, and in Jerusalem, and cast them out of the city.  And he repaired the altar of the LORD, and sacrificed thereon peace offerings and thank offerings, and commanded Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel.  Nevertheless the people did sacrifice still in the high places, yet unto the LORD their God only.  Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh, and his prayer unto his God, and the words of the seers that spake to him in the name of the LORD God of Israel, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Israel.  His prayer also, and how God was intreated of him, and all his sins, and his trespass, and the places wherein he built high places, and set up groves and graven images, before he was humbled: behold, they are written among the sayings of the seers. 2 Chronicles 33:15-19

The details of how God will solve our problems is unimportant.  Conditions that overwhelm our strength and wisdom are no barrier to obedient service.  Our children may stray far from the truth, but prayer can snatch them out of the very pit of hell.  We should never lose hope and faith in the face of apparent defeat.  This deliverance was great enough to earn a place among the scriptures for all generations.  It testifies of the good example of a parent and the grace of God that can come to their descendants.  When a son remains rebellious though, the end may come hard and fast.

So Manasseh slept with his fathers, and they buried him in his own house: and Amon his son reigned in his stead.  Amon was two and twenty years old when he began to reign, and reigned two years in Jerusalem.  But he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, as did Manasseh his father: for Amon sacrificed unto all the carved images which Manasseh his father had made, and served them;  And humbled not himself before the LORD, as Manasseh his father had humbled himself; but Amon trespassed more and more.  And his servants conspired against him, and slew him in his own house.  But the people of the land slew all them that had conspired against king Amon; and the people of the land made Josiah his son king in his stead. 2 Chronicles 33:20-25

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