178 - A Very Wicked King Is Forgiven
JUNE 27 - Nº 178 2 Kings 21:1 – 22:2; 2 Chronicles 33:1 – 34:2
Although Hezekiah was one of the best kings that ever ruled in Judah, his son Manasseh was one of the worst. He became king when he was 12 years old and ruled for 55 years. He rebuilt the pagan altars that his father had torn down and encouraged the people of Judah to worship false gods. He reintroduced the detestable practices of Baal worship, and even sacrificed his own children by throwing them into the fire that burned constantly in the Valley of Ben Hinnom! He bowed down to the moon and stars and worshiped them. He even dedicated altars to them in the courtyard of the Temple of God. He practiced witchcraft and asked for advice from mediums and evil spirits rather than consulting with God. God sent many prophets to warn Manasseh and the people of Judah, but no one would listen. So, God became very angry. His own people were participating in religious rituals even more evil than the ones the Canaanite nations had practiced before they had been driven out of the land! Because of his great sins, God allowed the military commanders of Assyria to invade Jerusalem and capture Manasseh.They put a hook in his nose, bronze shackles on his legs, and led him in shame all the way to Babylon. When he arrived, they threw him in prison. Manasseh was in terrible pain and distress. He knew that God was punishing him for all the evil things he had done. He humbled himself and called out to God for forgiveness. God was touched by Manasseh’s humility and showed mercy to him. We don’t know the details, but before long, God allowed Manasseh to go back to Jerusalem and become the king of Judah again. Manasseh was grateful for all that God had done for him. He began to make things right. He removed all the false idols and tore apart the fake altars that were in the Temple courtyard. He restored the real altar and used it to make sacrifices to God. He encouraged the people to worship only the God of Israel. In addition, Manasseh built up the walls of Jerusalem and strengthened Judah’s military. When Manasseh died, his son Amon became king of Judah. He was 22 years old, and he ruled for only two years. Unfortunately, he was as evil as his father had been before his imprisonment in Babylon. But he never humbled himself or turned back to God. Instead, he grew even more wicked. His own servants finally plotted against him and killed him. Then an angry mob of people hunted Amon’s killers down and murdered them. It was a bloody, sinful time in Judah’s history. However, Amon’s son Josiah loved God and turned the people’s hearts back to Him. He was only eight years old when he became the new king. He learned God’s commandments and enforced them as he led the people of Judah for 31 years.
Because of stories like Manasseh’s, we know that God can (and will) rescue anyone no matter how bad they are! If they are willing to humble themselves and confess their sin, He is eager to forgive them. This gives us a reckless, beautiful hope as we pray for friends and loved ones who seem too lost to ever be found. Is there someone you know who seems desperately lost? Smile as you think about Manasseh. Then begin praying for them regularly!