When Hezekiah died, his son Manasseh became king in his place. As good as Hezekiah was, his son was evil. All the good Hezekiah did for Judah, Manasseh undid and did worse. Verses 1-3 read,
“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 And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to the despicable practices of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel. 3 For he rebuilt the high places that 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.”
How did he become so evil, how could he disregard the Lord and The Law so completely? It does not say, but there are some clues. Hezekiah may have been a faithful king but at some point pride had filled him. When he was told what would happen to his sons because of his arrogance, he did not care (2 Kings 16-19). Hezekiah cared more about himself than his own children. Manasseh was not even born yet when Hezekiah found out that some of his sons would be eunuchs in the king of Babylon’s palace. He was already prideful and perhaps he didn’t give his sons enough attention to ensure they knew the way of The Lord. Another clue is Manasseh’s young age when he became king. He was twelve, just shy of manhood and it doesn’t say that he had an agent or guardian to help him with his kingship until he reached adulthood. When one gives a child an adult’s responsibilities especially is he has not been taught, he cannot expect him to do the job as an adult.
Manasseh did even worse things than rebuilding the high places and building new altars for Baal and Asherah. He worshipped angels. Baal and Asherah are imaginary gods but angels are real and they are not meant to be worshipped, they are ministers to The Lord. But Manasseh worshipped them and he had Judah worship them. And he went even further in leading Judah into unimaginable evil. Verses 4-8 reads,
“And he built altars in the house of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, “In Jerusalem will I put my name.” 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 son as an offering and used fortune-telling and omens 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 Asherah that he had made he set in the house of which the Lord 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 not cause the feet of Israel to wander anymore out of the land that I gave to their fathers, if only they will be careful to do according to all that I have commanded them, and according to all the Law that my servant Moses commanded them.”
He did what no king before him had done and desecrated the Temple with altars to false gods. That act is so vile that it is one of the evil acts the antichrist will commit before Jesus returns (Daniel 9:27). Manasseh’s acts led to God’s anger against Judah, their idolatry (and that of Israel) led to their eventual captivity in Babylon (2 Kings 24:3). The Babylonian captivity reflects the tribulation in many ways as well as indicating our sin state to us. They turned to false gods and away from The Lord and so they had to face the consequence of being without the way to worship The Lord. Hosea 3:4 reads,
“For the children of Israel shall dwell many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or household gods”
God gave them the Law, He made a covenant with the wonderful promise that they would not have to be without a home or without Him. He sent them prophets to warn them. He sent them disciplines to teach them. Did they listen? Do we? Verse 9 reads,
“But they did not listen, and Manasseh led them astray to do more evil than the nations had done whom the Lord destroyed before the people of Israel.”
So The Lord could not let things stay as they were. He warned them again and He condemned Manasseh’s evil. Verses 10-15 read,
“And the Lord said by his servants the prophets, 11 “Because Manasseh king of Judah has committed these abominations and has done things more evil than all that the Amorites did, who were before him, and has made Judah also to sin with his idols, 12 therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Behold, I am bringing upon Jerusalem and Judah such disaster that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. 13 And I will stretch over Jerusalem the measuring line of Samaria, and the plumb line of the house of Ahab, and I will wipe Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down. 14 And I will forsake the remnant of my heritage and give them into the hand of their enemies, and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies, 15 because they have done what is evil in my sight and have provoked me to anger, since the day their fathers came out of Egypt, even to this day.”
The punishment that came on Samaria (the capitol of Israel during that time) and the desolation that fell on Ahab’s descendants would also happen to Judah. They would be wiped out, all the sin completely eradicated so that they could be made new again. They would be handed over to the enemy so that eventually they could be saved. That punishment is not because The Lord does not love His people, but because He loves them so much. He wants them to be saved. He wants them to experience life without Him and so realize their need for Him. He wants to limit their destruction and the effects they will have on others.
Paul wrote to the church in Corinth regarding a man who was committing vile acts of sexual immorality and told them to do the same to him. 1 Corinthians 5:4-5 reads,
“When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.”
It is not easy to let the ones we love face the consequences of their actions. It is not easy to see them suffer, but real love wants them to be saved. God had to punish Judah in order to save her. The people would eventually return to The Lord and to Jerusalem, Judah and Israel. Hosea 3:5 says,
“Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king, and they shall come in fear to the Lord and to his goodness in the latter days.”
Did Manasseh listen to the Lord? Verses 16-18 reads,
“Moreover, Manasseh shed very much innocent blood, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another, besides the sin that he made Judah to sin so that they did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.
17 Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh and all that he did, and the sin that 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 house, in the garden of Uzza, and Amon his son reigned in his place.”
He kept right on sinning in the vilest ways. He sacrificed people, he killed the people of Judah and he led the people to sin with him. But God loved Manasseh! So He allowed him to be taken in captivity. 2 Chronicles 33:10-13 tells us what happened.
“The Lord spoke to Manasseh and to his people, but they paid no attention.11 Therefore the Lord brought upon them the commanders of the army of the king of Assyria, who captured Manasseh with hooks and bound him with chains of bronze and brought him to Babylon. 12 And when he was in distress, he entreated the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. 13 He prayed to him, and God was moved by his entreaty and heard his plea and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God.”
And he really did know that The Lord was God, he showed the fruit of repentance. 2 Chronicles 33:14-17 reads,
“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.”
He was handed over to the enemy and repented. He took down all the altars, he restored The Temple and led Judah to repent. Manasseh’s captivity and repentance was a forecasting, a prophesying of Judah’s eventual captivity, the lessons they would learn and the repentance required to end it. If we will just listen to The Lord, obey Him, and pay attention to His warnings and discipline, we could save ourselves a great deal of suffering.