King Manasseh of Judah
(2 Kings 21.1-9,17,18)
1Manasseh was 12 years old when he became king of Judah, and he ruled 55 years from Jerusalem. 2 Manasseh disobeyed the Lord by following the disgusting customs of the nations that the Lord had forced out of Israel. 3He rebuilt the local shrines that his father Hezekiah had torn down. He built altars for the god Baal and set up sacred poles for worshiping the goddess Asherah. And he continued to worship the stars.
4In the temple, where only the Lord was supposed to be worshiped, Manasseh built altars for the worship of pagan gods 5and the stars. He placed these altars in both courtyards of the temple 6-7 and even set up a stone image of a foreign god. Manasseh practiced magic and witchcraft; he asked fortunetellers for advice and sacrificed his own sons in Hinnom Valley. He did many other sinful things and made the Lord very angry.
Years ago, God had told David and Solomon:
Jerusalem is the place I prefer above all others in Israel. It belongs to me, and there in the temple I will be worshiped forever. 8If my people will faithfully obey all the laws and teaching I gave to my servant Moses, I will never again force them to leave the land I gave to their ancestors.
9But the people of Judah and Jerusalem listened to Manasseh and did even more sinful things than the nations the Lord had wiped out.
10The Lord tried to warn Manasseh and the people about their sins, but they ignored the warning. 11So he let Assyrian army commanders invade Judah and capture Manasseh. They put a hook in his nose and tied him up in chains, and they took him to Babylon. 12While Manasseh was held captive there, he asked the Lord God to forgive him and to help him. 13The Lord listened to Manasseh's prayer and saw how sorry he was, and so he let him go back to Jerusalem and rule as king. Manasseh knew from then on that the Lord was God.
14Later, Manasseh rebuilt the eastern section of Jerusalem's outer wall and made it taller. This section went from Gihon Valley north to Fish Gate and around the part of the city called Mount Ophel. He also assigned army officers to each of the fortified cities in Judah.
15Manasseh also removed the idols and the stone image of the foreign god from the temple, and he gathered the altars he had built near the temple and in other parts of Jerusalem. He threw all these things outside the city. 16Then he repaired the Lord's altar and offered sacrifices to thank him and sacrifices to ask his blessing. He gave orders that everyone in Judah must worship the Lord God of Israel. 17The people obeyed Manasseh, but they worshiped the Lord at their own shrines.
18Everything else Manasseh did while he was king, including his prayer to the Lord God and the warnings from his prophets, is written in The History of the Kings of Israel. 19Hozai wrote a lot about Manasseh, including his prayer and God's answer. But Hozai also recorded the evil things Manasseh did before turning back to God, as well as a list of places where Manasseh set up idols, and where he built local shrines and places to worship Asherah. 20Manasseh died and was buried near the palace, and his son Amon became king.
King Amon of Judah
(2 Kings 21.19-26)
21Amon was 22 years old when he became king of Judah, and he ruled from Jerusalem for 2 years. 22Amon disobeyed the Lord, just as his father Manasseh had done, and he worshiped and offered sacrifices to the idols his father had made. 23Manasseh had turned back to the Lord, but Amon refused to do that. Instead, he sinned even more than his father.
24Some of Amon's officials plotted against him and killed him in his palace. 25But the people of Judah killed the murderers of Amon and made his son Josiah king.
Hailing from a subregion of the world that has had its share of horrible political upheavals and
atrocious civil wars, I recall my shock when one local missionary I was traveling with, upon hearing me cursorily mentioning the name of a particular military dictator, actually say something to this effect: “I hope he never gets to repent and receive salvation in Jesus so he’s forgiven and doesn’t end up in hell as he deserves!” These were the words of the missionary leading our team!
But as for God, his ways beat my imagination. This chapter chronicles how Manasseh had done untold evil to spite God (vv 1-8), sticking his finger in the eyes of the Lord and leading his nation to do the same. But when he was captured by a hook in the nose he humbled himself greatly in repentance before the Lord. God was moved by his prayer and listened to his plea. And as if merely sparing his life was not good enough, he actually restored him as king!
Perhaps Manasseh had stumbled across the writings of his forefather King David about the mercies of God: “If you kept record of our sins, no one could last long. But you forgive us, and so we will worship you.” (Psalm 130:3-4)
Enter the litmus test of true repentance: “Do something to show that you have really given up your sins.” (Matthew 3:8 CEV) Manasseh passed. He responded to God’s indescribable mercy by taking drastic measures in keeping with repentance (read verses 15-16 again). He even became a ‘standard’ of repentance such that his son Amon, although as wicked as Manasseh, is actually considered even more sinful because he wouldn’t repent (v. 22-23) Sin is a big deal; repentance is an even bigger deal.
Merciful God, in your abundant grace and mercy no sin is too great or too late for you to forgive if I will truly repent. Today, I refuse to go on in this [ name it ] sin and repent. Thank you for forgiveness and restoration. In Jesus’ name, Amen!
Dr. Yaw Perbi is a physician, pastor and president of International Student Ministries Canada (ISMC). He is the founder and Global CEO of The HuD Group and has ministered in 45 countries on five continents. Yaw is a Fellow of the Africa Leadership Initiative and a Lausanne Movement Catalyst. Dr. Perbi currently resides in Montreal, Canada with his dear wife Anyele and six delightful children. He owes all this to Christ Jesus.