Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hephzibah. And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to the despicable practices of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel. For he rebuilt the high places that Hezekiah his father had destroyed, 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. And he built altars in the house of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, “In Jerusalem will I put my name.” And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord. And he burned his son as an offering and used fortune-telling and omens and dealt with mediums and with necromancers. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger. (2 Kings 21:1-6 ESV)
Manasseh is one of those kings that fits the stereotype our culture has of the ancient world. His evil practices and ruthless arrogance goes beyond our experiences as he goes so far as to sacrifice his own son in the flames to idols. Frightening! There are a couple of observations that strike me as I read about Manasseh. One, we realize that as the king goes, so goes the nation. The nation is often judged on the basis of the faithfulness (or lack thereof) of their king. Consequent to Manasseh’s evil deeds Judah will be wiped away. Before you cry foul and say that it is not fair that the nation be judged (that had a large contingent that remained true to the Lord) on the basis of the king’s actions, remember that it is this very principle that allows King Jesus’ righteousness to be the basis of rue judgment.
Two, Manasseh’s father was a king that did right in the eyes of God, the most faithulf king since David. It is remarkable that the best king can have a son who is the worst king. That is quite a shift! But then we remember that Hezekiah was quite old when Manasseh was born and Manasseh became king at the age of 12. There was perhaps little influence of the father upon the son. It goes to show how important it is for parents to be diligent in passing on their faith and not take it for granted. The good news is that we read abut Hezekiah’s great grandson becoming a faithful king. God does not forget his promises that flow through the family.
What do you think about Manasseh’s reign? How would you like to have been a citizen under him?
Thank the Lord for our nation’s leaders and especially for our ultimate king, Jesus.
McCheyne’s reading plan: 2 Ki 21, He 3, Ho 14, Ps 75