As we continue to look at examples in the bible, we can’t help but think of what kind of example are we? Of course we have this desire to be a good example, to be desirable by others, but we also know the shortcomings of our own lives. We know where we have done wrong. Where we have been very good examples of what not to do.
Regardless of our past or even where we may be today, God can use us as good examples.
We know that all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into his plans. – Romans 8:28 TLB
We might have some very dramatic examples of what not to do, but when we abide in Christ, allow ourselves to be transformed to be more like Jesus, for God’s glory, our example can be priceless. God desires for us to be the hope for those that have done horrible things and think there is no hope. Today, we get an example a man that was one of the worst characters in the bible, yet he repented and God turned his mess into a message.
Manasseh was the only son and successor of King Hezekiah, over the tribes of Judah. He became King when he was 12 years old and he reigned for 55 years, which is recorded as the longest in the history of Judah. The first ten years (697-687 BC) he reigned alongside of his father, King Hezekiah; then he went on to reign independently (687-643 BC). Manasseh was the first king of Judah who did not have a direct experience with the Kingdom of Israel, which had been destroyed by the Assyrians in c. 720 BC and much of its population deported. He was married to Meshullemeth, daughter of Haruz of Jotbah, and they had a son Amon, who succeeded him as king of Judah upon his death.
One thing we will find out as we study the character of Manasseh, there are a variety of locations where he is mentioned. Specifically we will notice that 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles actually introduce Manasseh very similarly.
Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. – 2 Chronicles 33:1 ESV
Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hephzibah. – 2 Kings 21:1 ESV
This can get a bit confusing if it is not clarified. Just like the synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John tell of the story of Jesus; 2 Chronicles overlaps the books of Kings. Note that 1 Chronicles actually goes back and chronicles genealogies to the book of Genesis.
According to Jewish tradition, Jeremiah wrote the book of Kings and Ezra wrote Chronicles. The main difference or perspective that we need to understand is that Jeremiah wrote the book of Kings before the Babylonian captivity (~586 BC) and Ezra wrote the book of Chronicles afterwards (~516 BC). The book of Kings does not describe Manasseh’s imprisonment in Bablylon and his religious reforms or where he is condemned as a the cause of the exile. The reason for the difference lies in their respective aims: Kings presents Manasseh as the worst of the Judah’s kings who’s sins make the exile inevitable, while Chronicles uses him to illustrate the possibility of forgiveness and restoration, even for the “foremost of sinners”. For that reason of hope, we will use 2 Chronicles for our study.
Each of us have done some bad things in our life, and Manasseh was no different. Well, when we read what he did, we will hope that he was different. Manasseh was an evil ruler who erected pagan alters in God’s temple and led the nation of Judah into idolatry. In rabbinic literature and non-biblical Christian resources it’s claimed that Manesseh was the one responsible for the prophet Isaiah to be sawed in half.
2 And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel. 3 For he rebuilt the high places that his father Hezekiah had broken down, and he erected altars to the Baals, and made Asheroth, and worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. 4 And he built altars in the house of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, “In Jerusalem shall my name be forever.” 5 And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord. 6 And he burned his sons as an offering in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, and used fortune-telling and omens and sorcery, and dealt with mediums and with necromancers. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger. 7 And the carved image of the idol that he had made he set in the house of God, of which God said to David and to Solomon his son, “In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my name forever, 8 and I will no more remove the foot of Israel from the land that I appointed for your fathers, if only they will be careful to do all that I have commanded them, all the law, the statutes, and the rules given through Moses.” 9 Manasseh led Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem astray, to do more evil than the nations whom the Lord destroyed before the people of Israel. – 2 Chronicles 33:2-9 ESV
Manasseh actually begins reversing all of the good things that his father, King Hezekiah had instituted. Manesseh promoted idolatry and gave into evil of child sacrifices and sorcery.
The “Valley of the son of Hinnon” was where the worship Molech involved burning children to death.
They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons. – Psalm 106:37 NASB
I know for myself, that I have caused a lot of pain in my parents and family’s lives. From wrecking their cars, stealing from them, not paying back money loaned and I am sure a longer list than I can remember. I can attest that I have never sacrificed anybody to demons, knowingly or intentionally.
As we face the history of our past and become honest with ourselves, we have to fully understand that what we have done or experienced does not define who we are going to be. Most of us have faced that question of “if you could, would you go back and change certain things in your life?”, and I am sure there are some things we are ashamed of or would have done differently. The fact of the matter is that we would not be the person we are today if God did not bring us through our yesterdays. Just think of the things you know from the mistakes and heartaches of your past. Our decisions and actions now are not the end of our story.
What went wrong with this young ruler? Many times we look to a rebel’s family to see what might have been wrong or caused such issues. As indicated, Manasseh’s father was Hezekiah. Hezekiah groomed his son as a youth to succeed him as king; however, Manasseh turned out to be the worst king in Judah’s history.
Hezekiah removed pagan worship from the kingdom and kept God’s commandments. While Hezekiah was ruler the Levites cleansed the temple and worship was restored. Hezekiah was ruler and had the prophet Isaiah intercede for him with God many times. From the scriptures, it seems like King Hezekiah was a good example for Manasseh to follow, he was good in God’s eyes.
Did you have good role models when you were growing up?
If so, how did you do in following their lead?
If not, how old were you when you acknowledged and broke away on your own?
Pain and Tragedy can lead to Repentance
10 The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention. 11 So the Lord brought against them the army commanders of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh prisoner, put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon. 12 In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his ancestors. 13 And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God. – 2 Chronicles 33:10-13
Apparently he displeased the king of Assyria in some way and God allowed the Assyrian officers to come to Judah and capture the king of Judah. This was no respectable act of taking somebody into custody, because they put a hook in his nose and bound him with chains. He was treated like a steer being led to the slaughter, and he deserved it. The city of Babylon was a second capital for Assyria at that time, and there they imprisoned him.
The whole experience was one of great humiliation for this wicked king, but the Lord used it to chasten him, break his pride, and bring him to his knees.
Until our pain exceeds our pride, we will continue to do what we think is right.
Has there been a time in your life when God has taken you to a point where your pain exceeded your pride and you turned to Him in humility?
After repentance, our integrity is to walk out our repentance, our changed ways. Manasseh is no different. He takes action and begins to make right the things he destroyed.
14 Afterward he built an outer wall for the city of David west of Gihon, in the valley, and for the entrance into the Fish Gate, and carried it around Ophel, and raised it to a very great height. He also put commanders of the army in all the fortified cities in Judah. 15 And he took away the foreign gods and the idol from the house of the Lord, and all the altars that he had built on the mountain of the house of the Lord and in Jerusalem, and he threw them outside of the city. 16 He also restored the altar of the Lord and offered on it sacrifices of peace offerings and of thanksgiving, and he commanded Judah to serve the Lord, the God of Israel. 17 Nevertheless, the people still sacrificed at the high places, but only to the Lord their God. – 2 Chronicles 33:14-17 ESV
One of the biggest challenges we face and frustrate us the most is the time between confession/repentance and restoration. We can honestly come clean and turn from our evil ways but many times it seems like our actions and efforts are not immediately received or acknowledged. Like a person that has been caught in lies, just because he does not lie anymore does not mean that he does not have to face the consequences of his destruction and it does take time for people to begin to trust him again.
God’s retribution was swift. Manasseh apparently repented, but the spiritual damage was not easily reversed.
God will allow and create challenges in our life to give us opportunities to learn and grow. Just like a child learns little life lessons, God takes us through eternity lessons.
Do you have any examples in your life where God moved first and created a situation in your life for you to respond to?
Evil does Exist
Many times we meet people mad and upset with church, religion and even God himself. They have been hurt, evil has been apparent in their lives. The person actually proclaims they are mad at God or disappointed in God. “How can God if exist if such horrible things happen?”, “If he loved us, He would have done something!”. We have all heard such sayings, and we even have our own list of proclamations.
What is your response when you sit across from such a person today?
There are many humanly solutions and ideas that God should consider:
- God should prevent us from sinning
- God should intervene when sin happens
- God should remove those that do evil acts
In summary, we live in a real world where our good and evil actions have direct consequences and indirect consequences upon us and those around us. God’s desire is that for all of our sakes we would obey Him that it might be well with us.
Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever! – Deuteronomy 5:29 NKJV
Instead, what happens is that we choose our own way, and then we blame God for not doing anything about it. Such is the heart of sinful man. But Jesus came to change men’s hearts through the power of the Holy Spirit, and He does this for those who will turn from evil and call on Him to save them from their sin and its consequences.
When someone becomes a Christian, he becomes a brand new person inside. He is not the same anymore. A new life has begun! – 2 Corinthians 5:17 TLB
God does prevent and restrain some acts of evil. This world would be MUCH WORSE were not God restraining evil. At the same time, God has given us the ability to choose good and evil, and when we choose evil, He allows us, and those around us, to suffer the consequences of evil. Rather than blaming God and questioning God on why He does not prevent all evil, we should be about the business of proclaiming the cure for evil and its consequences—Jesus Christ!
The Wiersbe Bible Commentary
MacArthur Bible Commentary