Questions, Chains, And Commands
2 Chronicles 33:9 (ESV)
9 Manasseh led Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem astray, to do more evil than the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the people of Israel.
2 Chronicles 33:16 (ESV)
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.
I believe Manasseh was sincere in his repentance, I truly too. My concern was what he did after he repented. That’s where I think an issue occurred.
For those unfamiliar, he was a King Of Judah. The son of one of the greatest kings of Judah, Hezekiah. King Hezekiah believed in God passionately.
The Lord did some mighty things in the life of Hezekiah, but Manasseh’s Dad died when he was just twelve years old. Manasseh, for whatever reason, did not continue in his Dad’s footsteps. Instead of following God, he chose everything that wasn’t of God.
Verse nine of 2 Chronicles 33 says he led Judah astray. I could not help in looking at his life, and the lives of other kings, but wonder, why he didn’t follow what his Dad had held too? Before we judge him, which I’m not here to do, let’s look at his situation.
He’s a twelve year old boy. Yes, that is when boys began the journey towards manhood in the Jewish culture, but he was just starting that journey. Now, he didn’t just have to be the man of the family, he had to be the king of the country.
Can you imagine the swirls of insecurity? The heart ache of losing his Dad? The questions he must have had?
You see, what is so amazing was, his Dad’s life had been spared by God. Hezekiah, three years before Manasseh’s birth, was told to put his house in order, that he was going to die. Yet Hezekiah prayed, God heard, and saw Hezekiah’s tears.
He was granted fifteen years longer to live. Three years into that fifteen, he had a son, Manasseh. I’m sure that growing up, his Dad told him the story of their family’s miracle. Perhaps his faith was forming around that miracle, and then at twelve years old, his Dad did die.
A lot of people, when their lives enter a trial, think that discontinues their last miracle, or blessing, which isn’t true. Hezekiah was gone, but he had produced a son three years after he was supposed to have been dead.
Perhaps Hezekiah’s death was what Manasseh struggled with, when it came to his faith? The old lie the enemy has used to this day is, what if God isn’t real? If only someone had been there to point out to Manasseh, yes your Dad is gone, but had he not received his miracle, you would never have been born.
You were given birth to, as a result of that miracle. The line of David continues, because you were born, three years after your Dad was scheduled to leave. All is not lost, you are here. If you are struggling to believe God because of a tragedy in your life, I would encourage you today, not only that He is real, but He has kept you through it all, you are still here.
The pain is real, the hurt, but so is the victory that has brought you to a new day. 2020 has been a mind boggling year, events have astounded every age group, rocked every level of society, and affected every nation on earth, but we are still here, for a purpose. Also, through it all, God has not been silent. He was not silent when Manasseh was asking questions.
2 Chronicles 33:10-13 (ESV)
10 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.
The Bible says in verse ten, God spoke to Manasseh and to his people, but they paid no attention. For those who ask where God is in the midst of the whirlwind they’re going through, I would encourage them to look to the center of the storm. There is peace, even in the harshest tempest, if we listen closely, and know where to look.
Whatever caused Manasseh to ignore God’s call, The Lord still loved him. He loved Judah also, too much to give up on either of them. God handpicked Manasseh’s tutor in learning to listen. It wasn’t the first time Judah had faced Assyria.
Manasseh’s Dad, had also been threatened by the King of Assyria, yet God sent the wicked king packing, and killed his army in the process. This same kingdom of Assyria, the one which had lost to Hezekiah, put Manasseh in bronze chains.
I believe it was no accident that the same nation that had lost to Hezekiah, carried Manasseh to Babylon, in bronze chains. Bronze is symbolic in Scripture of Judgement by the way. When he was desperate, a prisoner to his own faults, Manasseh prayed. He called to The God who had answered his Dad’s tears, when he faced impending death.
Perhaps Manasseh was crying when he prayed. After all, he was quite possibly facing the same thing, and if not death, at least life long imprisonment in a foreign dungeon. Wouldn’t we be sobbing at that point? I suspect he was still that twelve year old scared boy inside. God had compassion, answered his plea, and restored him to Jerusalem.
It was then, The Bible says, that Manasseh knew that The Lord was God. Here, I believe, is the root of the problem. He had heard about God all his life. He had heard about his Dad’s Miracle, and his Daddy’s walk with God, but he didn’t believe.
As a new Father, that terrifies me. You see, I believe that, like the Apostle John would write, there is no greater joy, than for your children to walk in truth. I want my son to love God, not just when he is eight, twelve, or under our roof. I want him to love God with all his heart, and lead his son to do the same.
What concerns me beyond Manasseh’s initial doubts, was his zeal after his repentance. The Bible says he led Judah astray in verse ten, but verse sixteen says he commanded Judah to serve The Lord. People may obey your commands for a while, but they’ll hold to where you have led them.
Like Hezekiah, Manasseh would have a son. His name was Amon. Amon means master craftsman. Manasseh had all kinds of idols, I’m sure he hired a lot of master craftsman to produce them. These were the things his son grew up around.
Like Hezekiah, Manasseh’s son wouldn’t continue to serve The Lord. Unlike Hezekiah’s son, Manasseh’s boy wouldn’t find a place of repentance. I would ask, is it possible that Manasseh served God, while sincerely, with less passion than he had followed idols? His conduct before repentance sure had made an impression on Amon, did his conduct after repentance have the same impact?
As Christians, are we as zealous for God, as we were passionate for the things unlike God before we repented? I’m not questioning Manasseh, or anyone’s conversion. I am wondering if all of us, myself included, whether we are doing enough for The Kingdom?
It’s not just about us, or a lost and dying world, it’s about the next generation. If we were gone tomorrow, would our Christian walk have made enough of an impression on our children for them to hold deeply to God? I pray the answer is yes, but if The Lord gives me another tomorrow, with His help, I intend to insure that answer, as much as possible.
Our Pastor, Pastor Denny Livingston, has taught us that we are not only called to impact our today, but to pave the way for a better tomorrow for the next generation. Our children must have a passion for God, and not just a memory of our parent’s passion.
I’m not writing this as someone who has achieved this. My little boy is only eighteen months old this month. I’m writing it as someone who wants to make sure I have a heart sold out to God, and that my son will fall in love with The God of his Dad. Baby Boy, if you learn nothing else, learn from Daddy that Jesus is both Real, and Worth It All!
One more thing, I mentioned that Manasseh was carried to Babylon in bronze chains in verse eleven. In verse sixteen, he restored the altar of The Lord and offered sacrifices of peace offerings, and thanksgiving. This altar was a bronze altar.
Like Manasseh, the altar was restored. Because God had mercy, the judgement passed from Manasseh, and he was thankful. It mentions peace offerings and thanksgiving, but no sin offerings by Manasseh.
We should be so thankful that we have been sparred from our sins, but we must be more than thankful. No, we can’t rescue ourselves, but we can lead others. Manasseh led them astray, but he only commanded them to serve God. We must not only say it to our loved ones, we must show it.
Our passion for God, and the things of God, must go beyond our words, into our actions. We must share what God has done in our lives. For, as Pastor Denny Livingston preached so beautifully this Wednesday, our testimony isn’t only for us, it’s to rescue others from the questions we have faced.