Summary: Mannaseh pushed Judah to the point of no return. Right at the end of his life, he experienced God's great grace and forgiveness when he repented. However it was too little, too late. The damage has been done. That's the legacy he left behind.
We’ve come to the reign of Manasseh in 2 Kings 21, the son of Hezekiah.
• 6 more kings after him and that will be the end of JUDAH.
• Manasseh is the longest reigning King of Judah (and Israel), 55 years in all.
• He did great evil in the sight of the Lord, probably the greatest (evil) of all the kings of Judah.
Read 2 Kings 21:1-9
Manasseh reversed everything that his father did. He wiped out all of Hezekiah’s reforms. The author itemises Manasseh’s apostasy one by one.
• He rebuilt the high places that his father had destroyed.
• He erected altars to Baal and worshipped all the starry hosts.
He desecrated the Temple of the Lord when he carved out an Asherah pole (Canaanite fertility goddess) and placed it inside the Temple (21:7).
• He had the audacity to put an idol before the face of God.
• And in the Temple courts he built altars of worship to all the starry hosts.
• The author said it twice (21:4 and 21:7) that this is the Temple of the Lord, that the Lord has said He would put His Name, to King David and Solomon.
• It is the sacred place of worship of Yahweh, the God of Israel but Manasseh brought everything in.
And he also sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced sorcery and divination, consulted mediums and spiritists (21:6).
• 21:2 He followed the detestable practices, not just of the kings before him, but the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites.
• 21:9 Manasseh led the people astray, so that they did MORE evil than the nations the Lord had destroyed before the Israelites.
• 21:11 The Lord says Manasseh has done MORE evil than the Amorites (the Canaanites) who preceded him, who were here in this land before them.
Let’s flash back to what the Lord said, before they enter Canaan:
• Num 33:50-52 50On the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho the LORD said to Moses, 51"Speak to the Israelites and say to them: `When you cross the Jordan into Canaan, 52drive out all the inhabitants of the land before you. Destroy all their carved images and their cast idols, and demolish all their high places.
• Deut 18:9-13 9When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there.10Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft,11or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. 12Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you. 13You must be blameless before the LORD your God.
• So if God judges Judah here, He is not springing any surprises.
But now, not only did Manasseh led Judah into bringing all the idols and detestable practices back, they surpassed them.
• Manasseh wasn’t compared to his predecessors, the evil kings before him in Judah or Israel, but with the Amorites, the Canaanites. And he did more evil than them!
• In other words, the generation of Manasseh did more evil than anyone else in all history, both inside the Promised Land and outside.
• It’s like the consolidation of everything that’s idolatrous that we have seen in Israel and Judah, and over the generations, and cumulating in one reign under this one man.
Scary, right? Manasseh has completely no regard for God nor for man.
• And he has the longest reign, among the kings in Judah and Israel combined.
We don’t know why. Our finite and logical mind would want God to remove him quickly. Send some enemies and kill him in a war, or inflict a sickness, or let someone from within assassinate him, like what we have read before in Israel.
• But God did not say anything. Some felt God might be punishing them already, by given them a wicked king to torment them. But we can only guess.
• God did not say WHY the most wicked of kings was allowed to reign the longest.
• But we do have a shocking twist at the very end, something we don’t expect.
God will judge, ultimately. He always does. Just not always in the way we like.
Read 2 Kings 21:10-18
Again we see God’s mercy preceding His judgement. God warns through His servants the prophets (21:10).
• We have little record of the words of prophets in Manasseh’s reign, even though it’s the longest. We believe they have been silenced or martyred by the King.
• But again we see God’s warnings to the sinful before He judges. God warns because He wants to redeem and not condemn.