From Good to Worst.
“King Manasseh of Judah has done many detestable things. He is even more wicked than the Amorites, who lived in this land before Israel. He has caused the people of Judah to sin with his idols.” – 2 Kings 21:11 NLT
He was only 12 years old when he took the throne. But he reigned for 55 years. And they would prove to be five of the worst decades Judah had ever seen. While Manasseh’s father Hezekiah had been one of the few good kings Judah had seen since the kingdom of Israel split in two, Manasseh didn’t follow in his footsteps. In fact, he reverse engineered most of the reforms Hezekiah brought about. We’re told that Hezekiah “removed the pagan shrines, smashed the sacred pillars, and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke up the bronze serpent that Moses had made, because the people of Israel had been offering sacrifices to it” (2 Kings 18:4 NLT). Yet Manasseh “rebuilt the pagan shrines hsi father, Hezekiah, had destroyed” (2 Kings 21:3 NLT). Not only that, he constructed altars for Baal, the god of the Canaanites, and worshiped Asherah, the mistress of Baal. He went so far as to make a carved image of Asherah and have it set up right in the Temple. He practiced sorcery and divination. He offered up his own son as a human sacrifice to the false gods he worshiped. While Hezekiah had been faithful and obedient, Manasseh proved to be unfaithful and extremely rebellious. He was the antithesis of his father, leading the people of Judah into a lifestyle of sin that didn’t just rival that of the pagan nations, it surpassed them.
And the result of his sin? The judgment of God. God would treat Judah with the same standard He had used on Israel. They had already been taken into captivity by the Assyrians. Now Judah, the slightly more faithful southern nation, would suffer the same consequences for their sinfulness as Israel had. God warned, “I will judge Jerusalem by the same standard I used for Samaria and the same measurec I used for the family of Ahab. I will wipe away the people of Jerusalem as one wipes a dish and turns it upside down” (2 Kings 21:13 NLT). But this was not a knee-jerk reaction on the part of God. He was not responding rashly or impetuously. He had been putting up with this kind of behavior for a long, long time. He makes that point painfully clear. “For they have done great evil in my sight and have angered me ever since their ancestors came out of Egypt” (2 Kings 21:15 NLT). This had been going on since the day He delivered the descendants of Jacob from Egypt. All throughout the wilderness the people had whined, complained, bickered, rebelled, disobeyed, and proven themselves to be highly capable of spiritual adultery. When they arrived at the Promised Land, they refused to go in, failing to trust God and suffering the results of their disobedience: 40 years of wandering in the wilderness until that generation died off. When the second generation finally did enter the land, they proved to be disobedient and unfaithful again. Theirs was a history of disobedience and unfaithfulness. And God had had enough. Manasseh was the final straw. And his son, Amon, would follow in his footsteps. Like father, like son.
Had Hezekiah proven to be a bad father? We don’t know. Had he been so busy instituting reforms in the nation that he forgot about reforming his son at home? The Bible doesn’t tell us. But it is a reminder that each of us has a responsibility to make sure that our efforts on behalf of God cannot overlook or overshadow the responsibilities He has given us as parents, spouses, employees and citizens. What good does it do if we reform the nation, but lose our kids in the process? What good does it do if we travel thousands of miles across the world to witness to a people group who speak a language we don’t know, but we fail to share the gospel with our own children? What’s the point in impacting the culture if we have no impact on our own families? You see this pattern over and over again in the Scriptures. Good, godly parents leaving behind less-than-faithful children. The task of reforming the culture begins at home. Our children are the future of this culture. Before we get busy removing the idols from the culture, we have to work at removing the idols from our childrens’ hearts. Over in Psalm 78 we read these sobering words, “What we have heard and learnedthat which our ancestors have told us – we will not hide from theirdescendants. We will tell the next generation about the Lord’s praiseworthy acts,about his strength and the amazing things he has done” (Psalm 78:3-4 NET). We have a job to do. We have a generation to influence. Let it begin at home.
Father, in my zeal to serve You, never let me forget that You have given me children to raise, nurture, and teach. Sometimes I feel so inadequate for the task. I feel unqualified and overwhelmed. But don’t let me get side-tracked and spend all my time making a difference in the world, while I neglect the ones who live in my home. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men