Those who ignore the Bible warnings about sin are bound to repeat the same mistakes1
Introduction: Manasseh was the beginning of the final seven kings of Judah. His reign and the reign of his son Amon spelled the end of the kingdom. Manasseh and Amon engaged in evil acts that exceeded any prior king of Northern Israel or Judah. Their evil acts even exceeded the Canaanite nations that God had previously judged. Although Manasseh’s grandson Josiah would bring about a revival, his reforms could not undo the evil that Manasseh and Amon inflicted. Even though Manasseh repented of his evil ways at the end of his life, his repentance came too late to influence either his son Amon or the people (2 Chron. 33:12-23). When King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon later invaded Judah and exiled its people into captivity, the Bible makes clear that it was because of the actions of Manasseh (2 Kgs. 24:3-4). One of the many things that makes these events so hard to believe is that they followed immediately after the reign of Hezekiah, the most faithful and obedient king since David. How could the kings of Judah and its people backslide so quickly into darkness? From the mistakes of Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amon, and the people of Judah, God reveals seven lessons on how to avoid backsliding. They include the importance of: (1) family worship, (2) vigilance, (3) reading and obeying God’s Word, (4) fearing God, (5) repentance, (6) being a holy example, and (7) accountability.
First, Hezekiah failed to raise Manasseh to fear God or to follow His laws. As a result, Manasseh did what seemed right in his own eyes and embraced evil. From Hezekiah’s mistake, God warns that you should raise your children in God’s Word or they will sin. Second, because the priesthood was not vigilant, Manasseh was able to undo all of Hezekiah’s reforms and adopt practices that were even worse than the Canaanites. From the failures of the priesthood, God warns that you must be vigilant about sin or Satan will undo your spiritual growth. Third, through His prophets, God tried to warn both Manasseh and the people to repent of their ways. Yet, the people did not listen to God’s Word. Today, God uses the Holy Spirit and His Word to convict and guide you. But, if you don’t read God’s Word you make it harder for the Holy Spirit to convict you of your sins and correct you in your walk. Fourth, because neither Manasseh nor the people would listen to God’s Word, God used His prophets to warn that He would judge Judah as He did with Northern Israel. But, the people did not believe these warnings because they did not fear God. Through their mistake, God warns that if you fail to fear Him by hating evil you may embrace what He calls evil. Fifth, Manasseh’s unchecked sins grew worse over time until he began killing God’s prophets and others who opposed his evil reign. From Manasseh’s mistakes, God warns that unrepentant sin grows progressively worse over time. Sixth, Manasseh failed to live as a holy example for his son Amon. Thus, Amon embraced evil. From Manasseh’s mistake, God warns that failing to live a holy life can lead others astray. Finally, because Manasseh killed off God’s prophets, neither Manasseh nor Amon were accountable to Spirit-led counsel. This led to Manasseh’s captivity and Amon’s murder. From their mistakes, God warns that you should be accountable to Spirit-led counsel to avoid evil.
Manasseh fails to follow his father’s example and does evil in God’s eyes. While Hezekiah was the most faithful and obedient King of Judah since David, his son Manasseh was tragically Judah’s most wicked king: “1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Hephzibah. 2 He did evil in the sight of the Lord, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord dispossessed before the sons of Israel.” (2 Kgs. 21:1-2). Manasseh did whatever felt right in his own eyes. Instead of following his father’s example, Manasseh followed after the evil practices of the Canaanite nations.
Manasseh took for granted God’s many blessings in his life. Manasseh would never have been born without God’s miraculous intervention in Hezekiah’s life. Hezekiah was mortally ill. Isaiah told him to prepare for his death. Yet, Hezekiah cried out in faith for God to heal him. Because Hezekiah had been Judah’s most faithful and obedient king since David, God supernaturally gave Hezekiah a 15-year extension on his life (2 Kgs. 20:6). Three years into this extended period of life, Hezekiah’s wife Hephzibah gave birth to Manasseh. As a young boy, Manasseh would have learned of God’s miracle. He also would have also witnessed God’s angel supernaturally kill 185,000 Assyrian soldiers after they had defeated Northern Israel and had surrounded Jerusalem (2 Kgs. 19:35). In addition to being blessed with a life and a kingdom that should have ended before he was born, God blessed him with the longest reign of any king of either Judah or Northern Israel. Including a possible time when he served as a co-regent, he reigned from age 12 to 67, a total of 55 years, from 695-642 B.C. (2 Chron. 33:1-20). Yet, despite these many blessings, Manasseh holds the dubious distinction as the most evil King of Judah (2 Chron. 33:1-9). He rejected the reforms that his father Hezekiah had instituted. Instead, in the beginning, he emulated his evil grandfather Ahaz. He then engaged in evil acts that exceeded King Ahab. This included the adoption of all the detestable practices of the condemned Canaanites and the now extinct nation of Northern Israel (2 Kgs. 16:3; 21:2; Dt. 18:9-12). Following these practices expressly violated God’s law (Dt. 12:29-31).
Hezekiah’s failure to raise Manasseh to respect God’s laws. Hezekiah was the most righteous king since David. But his righteousness did not automatically make Manasseh a God-fearing king. Hezekiah should have learned from David’s mistakes in raising a God-fearing successor. Despite David’s great faith, his son Amnon was so wicked that he raped his half-sister Tamar (2 Sam 13:1-14). Another son named Absalom then murdered Amnon to avenge Tamar (2 Sam. 13:28-39). Absalom then staged a coup against David (2 Sam. 13:1-16). He then slept with his father’s concubines (2 Sam. 13:20-23). Just before David’s death and with his health failing, another son named Adonijah tried to seize the throne to prevent Solomon from becoming king (1 Kgs. 1:1-6). God commands all parents: “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” (Dt. 6:7). “You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up.” (Dt. 11:19; 31:12-13). “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Prov. 22:6; Ps. 78:4-6). Like David, Hezekiah made the mistake of assuming that his son would follow his example. Do you make time to teach your children God’s Word?
Hezekiah’s discipline would have shown his true love for Manasseh. To prevent Manasseh from sinning, Hezekiah needed to discipline him to correct his wayward behavior. God uses His leaders as His “avengers” to administer His justice (Rom. 13:4). This includes parents. As our example, God the Father administers spiritual discipline out of love to correct wayward behavior: “For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son who He receives. It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?” ” (Heb. 12:6-7). “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.” (Rev. 3:19). “For whom the LORD loves He reproves, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights . . . He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently.” (Prov. 3:12, 24). “It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?” (Heb. 12:7). “Thus you are to know in your heart that the LORD your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son.” (Dt. 8:5). “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Eph. 6:4). Although no one likes to be disciplined, you can draw comfort when you receive discipline because it shows that God is trying to mold your behavior out of love for you to conform to His will: “I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Ps. 23:4). Are you disciplining your children for God?
Without Spirit-led leadership, children will do what feels right to them. God warns that without leaders who will teach and administer God’s law, people will embrace their own morality: “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Jdgs. 21:25; 17:6). Manasseh did not think highly of God’s laws. Thus, he did what seemed right in his own eyes, and he embraced evil. “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.” (Prov. 12:15). If you fail to teach your children God’s laws, they may also do what feels right in their own eyes.
Manasseh exceeds the evil acts of Ahab. Manasseh’s evil acts went far beyond the idolatry and Baal worship that Ahab introduced into Northern Israel: “3 For he rebuilt the high places which 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. 4 He built altars in the house of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, ‘In Jerusalem I will put My name.’ 5 For he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord. 6 He made his son pass through the fire, practiced witchcraft and used divination, and dealt with mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord provoking Him to anger. 7 Then he set the carved image of Asherah that he had made, in the house of which the Lord said to David and to his son Solomon, ‘In this house and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen from all the tribes of Israel, I will put My name forever.’” (2 Kgs. 21:3-7). Jehu killed the Baal priests in Northern Israel and turned the largest Baal temple into a latrine (2 Kgs. 10:21-27). After making a covenant with God, King Jehoiada destroyed the Baal worship centers in Judah that his evil mother Athaliah tried to preserve (2 Kgs. 11:18). Hezekiah then went further than any king since David in complying with God’s laws by destroying all of the pagan altars of worship in Judah (2 Kgs. 18:3-4). Sennacherib king of Assyria then tried to turn the Jews against Hezekiah because he destroyed the pagan altars: “But if you say to me, ‘We trust in the LORD our God,’ is it not He whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah has taken away and has said to Judah and to Jerusalem, ‘You shall worship before this altar’?” (Is. 36:7). Manasseh restored the pagan temples that Hezekiah courageously removed. He then restored the Baal temples that Jehoiada destroyed. He then adopted evil pagan religious practices that no king of Israel or Judah ever followed.
Asherah sexual worship polls that Manasseh installed in God’s Temple2
Small example of a Baal idol that Manasseh installed in God’s Temple3
Manasseh’s seven deadly sins. Manasseh engaged in at least seven deadly sins. First, he reinstituted Ahab’s practices of Baal and Asherah worship (2 Kgs. 21:3). This violated God’s First Commandment against worshipping other gods (Ex. 20:3; Dt. 5:7). Because Asherah worship involved ritual sex, he turned the Temple into a brothel. Second, he rebuilt the pagan altars that Hezekiah faithfully destroyed (2 Kgs. 21:3). God ordered the Jews to destroy these altars (Dt. 12:2-3; Jer. 2:20). This also violated God’s Second Commandment against idolatry (Ex. 20:4-6; Dt. 5:8-10). Third, he went beyond Ahab’s idolatry by following Babylonian worship of the sun, moon, and stars through astrology (2 Kgs. 21:3). In addition to again violating the First Commandment, God separately prohibited astrology because of the demonic influences that it involved: “And beware not to lift up your eyes to heaven and see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, and be drawn away and worship them and serve them, those which the LORD your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.” (Dt. 4:19; 17:2-5). Fourth, he desecrated God’s Temple with pagan altars (2 Kgs. 21:4, 7). God “put [His] name forever in the Temple (1 Kgs. 8:29; 9:3; 21:7). Thus, his actions also blasphemed God’s holy name. This in turn violated the Third Commandment (Ex. 20:7; Dt. 5:11). Fifth, he practiced witchcraft and divination, and he dealt with mediums and spiritists (2 Kgs. 21:6). This was also expressly prohibited under God’s law (Lev. 19:31; Dt. 18:9-12). This placed him in direct communion with demonic forces. Indeed, God condemned Saul to death for speaking with a medium (1 Sam. 28:16-19). Sixth, he sacrificed his own son through fire to the pagan god Molech (2 Kgs. 21:6). This also directly violated God’s law: “'You shall not give any of your offspring to offer them to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God; I am the LORD.” (Lev. 18:21; Dt. 18:10-12). Ahaz was the only other king in Judah to do this (2 Kgs. 16:3) This practice was so offensive to God that it was a reason for His judgment on the Ammonites (Gen. 15:16; Dt. 20:17). Finally, he murdered God’s prophets and people (2 Kgs. 21:16). This violated the Sixth Commandment against murder (Ex. 20:13; Dt. 5:17). It was only out of mercy and grace and God’s covenant with David that he did not die (2 Sam. 7:11-13).
Without vigilance, reform can easily be undone. Jehoiada’s reforms in destroying the Baal altars would have felt permanent at the time. Likewise, Hezekiah’s reforms in demolishing the pagan altars might have also felt permanent at the time of his reign. Yet, Manasseh was able to quickly reverse both of these reforms. Thus, you should never allow your spiritual progress and successes to allow you to become complacent in your walk. If you do, Satan will try to take advantage of you. “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. 10 After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” (1 Pet. 5:8-10).
The Church must be the salt and light of society. The sad story of Manasseh’s decline is notable for what it fails to mention. In the beginning, there is no mention of the priesthood resisting his actions. There is no mention of the people rising up against him either. The Church was either too weak or too corrupt to speak out. Later, some members did speak out, and Manasseh executed them (2 Kgs. 21:16). Yet, by that time, Manasseh’s evil ways had infected the people. Even when he eventually repented, his son and the people would not follow in his example in repenting (2 Chron. 33:17). These events carry an important lesson for the Church. The Church was meant to be God’s salt and light (Matt. 5:14-17). But if the Church loses its ability to sting in the wound of sin like salt it becomes worthless: “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.” (Matt. 5:13). Thus, the Church must be vigilant and speak out when either leaders or society embraces what the Bible calls evil.
The people refused to listen to God and embraced Manasseh’s evil. Because the people took God’s promises for granted, Manasseh was able to seduce them with his evil practices: “8 And I will not make the feet of Israel wander anymore from the land which I gave their fathers, if only they will observe to do according to all that I have commanded them, and according to all the law that My servant Moses commanded them. 9 But they did not listen, and Manasseh seduced them to do evil more than the nations whom the Lord destroyed before the sons of Israel.” (2 Kgs. 21:8-9). As part of God’s Covenant with David, He promised to provide a home for His people: “I will also appoint a place for My people Israel and will plant them, that they may live in their own place and not be disturbed again, nor will the wicked afflict them any more as formerly,” (2 Sam. 7:10). Yet, the people took God’s blessings for granted. Thus, they no longer feared Him. Nor did they feel the need to follow His law. For this reason, Manasseh was able to seduce them. He might have started off by calling for greater “tolerance” of the Canaanite religions. This might have included calls to celebrate the diversity of the Canaanite religions. Those who advocated strict adherence to the laws of the Torah might have been branded as intolerant bigots. Yet, soon the idolatry of the Jews exceeded the Canaanites. Thus, it is not hard to imagine how the people reached this dark place.
Manasseh caused the entire nation to stumble. Manasseh set the tone for his ministers and the people. They followed his wicked ways: “If a ruler pays attention to falsehood, all his ministers become wicked.” (Prov. 29:12). “Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.” (Ecc. 9:18). Thus, the Church should never accept the claim that it should stay out of politics. When it stays out of politics, Satan has a free hand to select ungodly leaders who will bring down a nation.
Both Manasseh and the people ignored God’s warnings. In 2 Chronicles, God makes clear that He attempted to warn both Manasseh and the people to repent and turn back to Him. Yet, they would not listen: “The LORD spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention.” (2 Chron. 33:10). Through His prophets, God warned both Northern Israel and Judah before sending them into exile: “Yet the LORD warned Israel and Judah through all His prophets and every seer, saying, ‘Turn from your evil ways and keep My commandments, My statutes according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you through My servants the prophets.”’ (2 Kgs. 17:13). The people, however, would not listen to God’s prophets because they were stiff necked and unwilling to listen: “But they, our fathers, acted arrogantly; they became stubborn and would not listen to Your commandments. . . . And admonished them in order to turn them back to Your law. Yet they acted arrogantly and did not listen to Your commandments but sinned against Your ordinances, by which if a man observes them he shall live. And they turned a stubborn shoulder and stiffened their neck, and would not listen.” (Neh. 9:16, 29). “So now then, speak to the men of Judah and against the inhabitants of Jerusalem saying, ‘Thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I am fashioning calamity against you and devising a plan against you. Oh turn back, each of you from his evil way, and reform your ways and your deeds.’’ But they will say, ‘It's hopeless! For we are going to follow our own plans, and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.’” (Jer. 18:11). “So I will choose their punishments and will bring on them what they dread. Because I called, but no one answered; I spoke, but they did not listen. And they did evil in My sight and chose that in which I did not delight.” (Is. 66:4). Because God is just, He gives many warnings to sinners before He is forced to judge unrepentant sin.
A hardened heart will keep you from listening to the Holy Spirit. Because the people’s hearts were hard, they disregarded the warnings of God’s prophets. “It shall be when he hears the words of this curse, that he will boast, saying, ‘I have peace though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart in order to destroy the watered land with the dry.”’ (Dt. 29:19). Today, the Holy Spirit is the one who speaks to you to correct you when you sin. He does this by causing you to remember Jesus’ Word: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” (Jo. 14:26). “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me,” (Jo. 15:26). Yet, if you don’t know God’s Word, you have not given the Holy Spirit much to “remind” you about His Word. This can lead to a hardened heart. When the Holy Spirit tries to speak to you, you may not understand His voice.
Let God’s Word guide your footsteps. If you read God’s Word, the Holy Spirit will guide your path: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Ps. 119:105). When you memorize God’s Word, you also make it easier for the Holy Spirit to convict you and redirect you from sin: “Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You.” (Ps. 119:11). How much of God’s Word have you memorized?
Obey God’s Word, and He will bless you. God expects you to obey His Word. Obedience is not a test for salvation. Yet, for those who obey God’s Word, He promises many kinds of blessings: “So be careful to do what the Lord your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. Walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.” (Dt. 5:32-33). “O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it, that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, just as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.” (Dt. 6:3). “But if you truly obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.” (Ex. 23:22). Throughout the Bible, God reminds His people that vows of obedience must be followed by action: “And the LORD said to me, ‘Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, saying, Hear the words of this covenant and do them.’” (Jer. 11:6). Because Manasseh failed to obey God’s Word, he could not benefit from all of God’s blessings.
God pronounces judgment on all of Judah. Because neither Manasseh nor the people would listen to God’s prophets and change their ways, God sent His prophets to warn that God would judge all of Judah by sending them into exile: “10 Now the Lord spoke through His servants the prophets, saying, 11 ‘Because Manasseh king of Judah has done these abominations, having done wickedly more than all the Amorites did who were before him, and has also made Judah sin with his idols; 12 therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Behold, I am bringing such calamity on Jerusalem and Judah, that whoever hears of it, both his ears will tingle. 13 I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria and the plummet of the house of Ahab, and I will wipe Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down. 14 I will abandon the remnant of My inheritance and deliver them into the hand of their enemies, and they will become as plunder and spoil to all their enemies; 15 because they have done evil in My sight, and have been provoking Me to anger since the day their fathers came from Egypt, even to this day.’” (2 Kgs. 21:10-15). The people in Manasseh’s day imagined that God would not judge sin. But because God is just He must judge unrepentant sin. He promised to “wipe” Jerusalem clean of its inhabitants as He did to Northern Israel (2 Kgs. 21:13). “I will make them an object of horror among all the kingdoms of the earth because of Manasseh, the son of Hezekiah, the king of Judah, for what he did in Jerusalem.” (Jer. 15:4). God, however, delayed this judgment to allow His people time to repent.
Manasseh ignored God’s warning to Solomon. Dating back to Solomon, God warned that open disobedience would bring His judgment upon His peoples: ‘“6 But if you or your sons indeed turn away from following Me, and do not keep My commandments and My statutes which I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, 7 then I will cut off Israel from the land which I have given them, and the house which I have consecrated for My name, I will cast out of My sight. So Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples. 8 And this house will become a heap of ruins; everyone who passes by will be astonished and hiss and say, ‘Why has the Lord done thus to this land and to this house?’ 9 And they will say, ‘Because they forsook the Lord their God, who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and adopted other gods and worshiped them and served them, therefore the Lord has brought all this adversity on them.’” (1 Kgs. 9:6-9). The people, however, no longer feared God’s Word. Thus, they believed that God would never judge them, even when He warned that He would do so.
God can temporarily forsake an unrepentant sinner. The people most likely knew God’s promise that He would never leave nor forsake His people (Dt. 31:6). Yet, in the same chapter of Deuteronomy where God gave this promise to Moses, He also warned that He would temporarily forsake His people when they forsook Him: “Then My anger will be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them and hide My face from them, and they will be consumed, and many evils and troubles will come upon them; so that they will say in that day, ‘Is it not because our God is not among us that these evils have come upon us?”’ (Dt. 31:17). Through His prophets, God repeated this warning to Manasseh: “14 I will abandon the remnant of My inheritance and deliver them into the hand of their enemies,” (2 Kgs. 21:14). These warnings are also recorded in the books of the prophets: “I have forsaken My house, I have abandoned My inheritance; I have given the beloved of My soul Into the hand of her enemies.” (Jer. 12:7). “Then they will cry out to the LORD, but He will not answer them. Instead, He will hide His face from them at that time Because they have practiced evil deeds.” (Micah 3:4). “For You have abandoned Your people, the house of Jacob, because they are filled with influences from the east, and they are soothsayers like the Philistines, and they strike bargains with the children of foreigners.” (Is. 2:6). God also gives warnings of judgment in the book of Revelation. It is only out of the hardness of our hearts that we ignore them.
Fear God by hating evil to avoid his discipline and rebuke. God used his prophets like Isaiah to give God’s warnings of judgment. The people did not listen because they no longer feared God. The fear of the Lord would have brought them wisdom. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Prov. 9:10). “And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.”’ (Job 28:28). The fear of the Lord is defined as hating evil. “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; . . .” (Prov. 8:13). If society embraces what the Bible calls evil, it no longer fears God. God is then forced to resort to discipline and judgment to bring His people back to Him.
Manasseh persecutes and murders God’s people. When God’s prophets and some courageous people objected to Manasseh’s sins, Manasseh responded by persecuting and murdering God’s people: “16 Moreover, Manasseh shed very much innocent blood until he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another; besides his sin with which he made Judah sin, in doing evil in the sight of the Lord. 17 Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh and all that he did and his sin which he committed, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? 18 And Manasseh slept with his fathers and was buried in the garden of his own house, in the garden of Uzza, and Amon his son became king in his place.” (2 Kgs. 21:16-18). Manasseh’s descent into evil was gradual. Manasseh at first preached tolerance and acceptance of all pagan religions. Yet, he could not tolerate those who advocated that the Jews follow God’s Word because God did not tolerate other pagan religions. Thus, he persecuted Yahweh’s followers for not adopting his beliefs. Although he ruled longer than any other king, the Jews eventually realized the evil he inflicted. Thus, they denied him the honor of being buried in the caves with King David. Every king of Judah sinned. Yet, he is the only king with the dubious distinction that the book of Kings could not list all his sins. Thus, the book of Chronicles recorded further “sin which he committed,” (2 Kgs. 21:17). The book of Chronicles does record his repentance, which saved his life. Yet, it was too late to influence either Amon or Judah.
God showed Manasseh mercy by giving him the chance to repent (2 Chr. 13:33)4
Manasseh murdered those who disagreed with him, including Isaiah. Manasseh’s descent into evil culminated in his murdering God’s people. By both Jewish and Christian tradition, he was the one who placed Isaiah into an empty log and sawed him into two: “They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated” (Heb. 11:37). God also warned that His people would be persecuted during the end times. Today, most civil leaders do not have a real walk with Jesus. Many mock Christians when they try to follow God’s Word. Some believers are even fined, fired, or sued for following God’s Word. Thus, in many ways, we live in a time like Manasseh.
An unrepentant sinner’s sins grow worse over time. Although every person is different, Manasseh’s sins followed a familiar pattern amongst unrepentant sinners. The longer he allowed his sins to continue, the worse they became over time. One commentator observes: “We see the tragic progression in Manasseh’s sin. · First, idolatry is tolerated among God’s people. · Then idolatry is promoted. · Then idolatry is supported and funded. · Then the worship of the true God is undermined. · Then the worshippers of the true God are persecuted and murdered. · Then the judgment of God soon comes.” (David Guzik on 2 Kgs. 21).5 If you leave your sins unaddressed, they will grow worse.
Manasseh repented after he experienced the captivity that he inflicted upon God’s people. Toward the end of his reign, God removed His hand of protection on Manasseh. As a result, the Assyrians at one point captured him. Many believe that King Ashurbanipal brought him to Babylon (648-647 B.C.). In his distress, Manasseh prayed and repented. After God released him from prison, he removed the pagan altars from God’s Temple: “11 Therefore the Lord brought the commanders of the army of the king of Assyria against them, and they captured Manasseh with hooks, bound him with bronze chains and took him to Babylon. 12 When he was in distress, he entreated the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. 13 When he prayed to Him, He was moved by his entreaty and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God . . . 15 He also removed the foreign gods and the idol from the house of the Lord, as well as all the altars which he had built on the mountain of the house of the Lord and in Jerusalem, and he threw them outside the city. 16 He set up the altar of the Lord and sacrificed peace offerings and thank offerings on it; and he ordered Judah to serve the Lord God of Israel.” (2 Chron. 33:11-16). Without this repentance, God would have likely struck him down. Yet, even though God spared his life, his reforms came too late to influence either his son Amon or the people of Judah. They instead clung to the sins that he introduced.
God later fulfilled His promise to judge Judah for Manasseh’s sins. The people refused to follow Manasseh’s example in repenting: “17 Nevertheless the people still sacrificed in the high places, although only to the Lord their God.” (2 Chron. 33:17). Because the people did not follow Manasseh’s example in repenting and because Manasseh did not atone for murdering God’s people, God sent the Jews into exile: “However, the LORD did not turn from the fierceness of His great wrath with which His anger burned against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked Him.” (2 Kgs. 23:26). “Surely at the command of the LORD it came upon Judah, to remove them from His sight because of the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he had done, and also for the innocent blood which he shed, for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood; and the LORD would not forgive.” (2 Kgs. 24:3-4). In the end times, God will again judge the sinful nations. Believers ignore God’s warning of judgment at their own peril.
Amon becomes king and follows Manasseh’s evil example as king. Manasseh’s late repentance in life was not only too late for his people to emulate, it was also too late for his son Amon. Amon followed after the evil practices that his father followed before his captivity: “19 Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned two years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Meshullemeth the daughter of Haruz of Jotbah. 20 He did evil in the sight of the Lord, as Manasseh his father had done. 21 For he walked in all the way that his father had walked, and served the idols that his father had served and worshiped them. 22 So he forsook the Lord, the God of his fathers, and did not walk in the way of the Lord.” (2 Kgs. 21:19-21). After his father’s evil practices, God’s mercy and grace had run out. Amon followed every evil practice of his father. God therefore limited Amon to a mere two-year reign, from 642 to 640 B.C.
A leader should pursue God’s righteousness as an example for others to follow. As an example to his son, God required Manasseh to pursue: “Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue, that you may live and possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” (Dt. 16:20). God appointed all kings to “do justice and righteousness.” (1 Kgs. 10:9). A king is also supposed to sit “on the throne of justice.” (Prov. 20:8). This means that a Spirit-led leader must care about addressing wrongs and the plight of those in need: “The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.” (Prov. 31:9). “Vindicate the weak and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and destitute.” (Ps. 82:3). “He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing.” (Dt. 10:18). Manasseh failed to pursue the mantle of justice that God called him to pursue. Instead, he pursued after evil things. Without the right example to follow, Amon followed down his father’s dark path.
Amon refused to learn from his father’s repentance. Amon observed his father repent and institute reforms after being released from captivity. But Amon did not find his father’s repentance to be something worthy of emulating. Instead, he saw it as a sign of weakness. Thus, Amon refused to repent. Even worse, he exceeded his father’s sins: “Moreover, he did not humble himself before the LORD as his father Manasseh had done, but Amon multiplied guilt.” (2 Chron. 33:23). Like his father, he worshiped pagan idols including Baal, Asherah, Ashtoreth, and Moloch. The Bible does not say what additional sins he engaged in. Whatever they were, nothing was hidden from God. Thus, he shared with his father in being the two worst kings to ever rule over Judah.
Amon’s servants conspire against him and murder him. Amon did not seek out God-fearing servants to guide him. Thus, he embraced evil, and his disgruntled servants rose up against him to kill him: “23 The servants of Amon conspired against him and killed the king in his own house. 24 Then the people of the land killed all those who had conspired against King Amon, and the people of the land made Josiah his son king in his place. 25 Now the rest of the acts of Amon which he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? 26 He was buried in his grave in the garden of Uzza, and Josiah his son became king in his place.” (2 Kgs. 21:23-26). Amon embraced evil in every form. This no doubt led him to be a cruel master over those who served him. Because he only reigned for two years, he was most likely cruel to the people who served him from the moment he began to reign. It did not take long before the victims of his cruelty rose up to depose him as king. Some speculate that the coup may have been related to a power struggle between those who wanted to be free from Babylon’s influence and those who wanted to follow Amon in living as a servant state of Babylon. Yet, there was no evidence of that. The better comparison is to Northern Israel. When the kings of Northern Israel tried to live without God, they regularly suffered coup attempts. Manasseh also died without the honor of being buried with King David. He was instead buried with his father in a field.
Be accountable to others to stay on your walk. Amon did not have Spirit-led counsel to guide him as king. Near the end of his reign, Manasseh killed God’s prophets and most likely the priests who spoke out against him. Neither Manasseh nor Amon were accountable to any godly influence. They did not pray or consult God through His prophets, priests, or His Word. This led to Manaseh’s captivity and Amon’s murder at the hands of his servants. God wants you to be accountable to keep you from backsliding in your walk. Whenever two or more are gathered in His name, Jesus is present to guide you: “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” (Matt. 18:20). To keep His disciples accountable, Jesus also sent them out in twos: “And He summoned the twelve and began to send them out in pairs, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits;” (Mk. 6:7; Lk. 10:1). Other believers can help you to renew your mind and stay pure when you fail (Ro. 12:1-2; Jam. 1:27). Thus, believers are urged not to forsake the fellowship and growth that comes from being accountable to other believers (Heb. 10:25). Are you accountable to others in your walk?
Amon’s servants conspire against him and murder him6
God’s mercy and grace in giving Josiah to Judah as their next king. After the coup plotters were killed, the national leaders made Amon’s then 8-year-old son Josiah king. This was through God’s providence to honor His promise to maintain His Covenant with David (2 Sam. 7:12-13). It was also out of God’s mercy and grace to Judah. Josiah would be one of the two greatest kings along with Hezekiah to rule after David’s death.
Respond to God’s mercy and grace by repenting of your sins. Jesus called upon the people He met to repent and return to Him before they would experience His mercy and grace: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 3:2; 4:17; Mk. 1:15). “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;” (Acts 3:19). Although David frequently sinned, he showed himself to be a man after God’s own heart by repenting when confronted with his sins. For example, he repented when the prophet Nathan confronted him regarding his adultery and murder: “Then David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the LORD..”’ (2 Sam. 12:13). He also acknowledged his sins in his psalms for the entire country to sing: “I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide . . .” (Ps. 32:5). “ . . . Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.” (Ps. 51:1). But what made David different from other sinful kings was his willingness to repent when he sinned. Will you repent of your sins?
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