2 Kings 21:11-12 (NIV) 11 “Manasseh king of Judah has committed these detestable sins. He has done more evil than the Amorites who preceded him and has led Judah into sin with his idols. 12 Therefore this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I am going to bring such disaster on Jerusalem and Judah that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle.
On verses 1-18: Manasseh replaces his father Hezekiah as the king of Judah. But rather than following the Lord like his father Hezekiah did, Manasseh goes headlong into worshiping idols, committing violent crimes and even sacrificing his own son in the fire as part of idol worship. Manasseh leads the rest of Judah to commit the same sins such that the nation of Judah ends up committing more evil than any nation that had previously occupied their land. God’s response to Manasseh’s sins and Judah’s sins is clear and stern: Judah would be looted, plundered and handed over to their enemies, thereby following in the footsteps of Samaria and the house of Ahab, who had also persistently sinned against Him.
But there’s an important part to King Manasseh’s story which is not found in 2 Kings 21 and which you can read about in 2 Chronicles 33:12-16. That part goes like this: Just as 2 Kings 21:14 predicted, the nation of Judah is indeed looted, plundered and handed over to Assyria because of Manasseh’s and Judah’s sins. Manasseh is also taken captive by Assyria. But while imprisoned in Assyria, Manasseh repents of his sin and mercifully God restores Manasseh’s kingdom to him. Manasseh then gets rid of the idols and sinful practices that got him and his nation of Judah into so much trouble in the first place.
What can we learn from this?
1. God takes sin and idolatry very seriously. If we persist in sinning and worshiping idols, we will lose much of the inheritance God has planned for us. Sin always comes at a high cost.
2. Even when you’ve lost everything, there is still hope. God showed amazing grace and mercy to Manasseh: when Manasseh lost everything — his faith, his kingdom, his identity — all because of sin, God restored it all to Manasseh when Manasseh humbled himself. Likewise, God has shown us amazing mercy and grace when He sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins. At the cross where Jesus died, God showed that He is stern and clear about punishing our sin. Yet at that same cross, God showed that He is merciful when we confess our sins and repent. Just as God restored Manasseh’s kingdom to Manasseh, through the cross God restored us to Himself. And even today God is able to restore to us that which we have lost when we humbly turn to Him. So if you are suffering because of sin, know that because of the cross of Jesus Christ there is still hope. God is eager to show compassion to and restore those who turn back to Him.
2 Kings 21:20 (NIV) 20 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, as his father Manasseh had done.
On verses 19-26: Amon replaces his father Manasseh as king of Judah. Unfortunately, Amon chose to imitate the evil that his father did, rather than the good that his father did. As verse 21 says, “He walked in all the ways of his father; he worshiped the idols his father had worshiped, and bowed down to them.” Eventually, Amon is assassinated by his own officials and is replaced on the throne by his son Josiah.
What can we learn from this? The Bible calls us to love and honour our parents. But we must be wise and discerning about what we learn from our parents. No parent is perfect. Every parent is a collection of strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures. May God give you wisdom to learn the positive qualities, habits, values and attributes that your parents and others before you have demonstrated, and to avoid the flaws and negative traits that your parents and others before you may have exhibited.
Heavenly Father, thank You that You are holy, righteous and just, and at the same time you are merciful, compassionate and forgiving. We see both these sides of You at the cross, where our sins were both punished and forgiven, and where Christ was condemned and separated from Your presence so that we could be justified and brought back to You. Thank You for being willing to restore me no matter how many times I fail. Thank You that the amazing grace that You showed at the cross gives me hope every moment of my life. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!