(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
Why is Manasseh called the most evil king? Judge for yourself by the following Scripture, II Kings 21:1, 2, 6, 16:
Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty five years in Jerusalem....And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the abomin- ations of the nations whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel. For he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; he raised up altars for Baal, and made a wooden image, as Ahab king of Israel had done; and he worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. He also built altars in the house of the LORD....Also he made his son pass through the fire, practiced soothsaying, used witchcraft, and consulted spiritists and mediums. He did much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke Him to anger....More- over Manasseh shed very much innocent blood, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another, besides his sin by which he made Judah sin, in doing evil in the sight of the LORD.
Yes, it is a long passage. But it includes Manasseh’s record of evil which is quite extensive! Here are several things that can be highlighted:
- First notice his age when he began to reign. He was twelve. Why is this significant? Because, according to II Kings 20:1, Manasseh’s father King Hezekiah was sick, and God told him through the prophet Isaiah that he was going to die! But Hezekiah pleaded with God amid many tears (see II Kings 20:2). So God sent Isaiah back to tell him, “Thus says the LORD…‘I have seen your tears; surely I will heal you….And I will add to your days fifteen years.’ ” It was within those fifteen years that Hezekiah’s son Manasseh was born! Would not it have been better for him to accept God’s first will and so spare the kingdom of Judah about five decades of overwhelming evil?
- “…according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel.” In Genesis 15:16 God told Abraham, “…the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.”
✞ Amorites is a representative term for the several Canaanite nations inhabiting the land at that time. ✞ God promised He would give the whole land of Canaan to Abraham’s descendants (see Genesis 15:18-20). ✞ But God, according to Genesis 15:13, was giving the ‘Amorite’ nations 400 more years to repent of their abominable ways! II Peter 3:9 sheds light on why God gave them four more centuries: “The Lord...is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
- According to our featured Scripture, the abominations that Manasseh reinstituted after his father Hezekiah’s righteous reforms included…
✞ “...he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed...” The high places were where the Israelites worshiped pagan gods! ✞ “...he raised up altars for Baal, and made a wooden image [of Baal]...” According to The Encyclopedia Brittanica, “...especially among the Canaanites... [Baal was] designated the universal god of fertility, and in that capacity his title was Prince, Lord of the Earth.” Compare this with Abraham’s declaration concerning the true Almighty God in Genesis 14:22: “I have lifted up my hand to the LORD, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth.” God brooks no rivals! (See Isaiah 48:11). ✞ “...he worshiped all the host of heaven and served them.” According to one count, 13 Canaanite gods are mentioned in the Old Testament. But there were many more! Also, thirteen generations before, King Solomon had married many foreign wives who brought the worship of their gods into Israel! (See I Kings 11:1-8). ✞ “He also built altars in the house of the LORD....” The house of the LORD is the place “...of which the LORD had said, ‘In Jerusalem I will put my name.’” (II Chronicles 21:4). It is further recorded in II Chronicles 21:5 and 7, “...he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD.... even...a carved image of Asherah that he had made....” Asherah, a fertil- ity goddess, was considered the wife of Baal, and the mother of the pantheon of Canaanite gods. Some scholars have suggested that the Hebrews even wor- shiped her as the consort of their national supreme God Yahwey! ✞ “Also he made his son pass through the fire...” This horrible practice was dedicated to Molech, the fertility god of womb and field. Worship of Molech is known to involve child sacrifice! A large metal stature of the god, with a head of a bull, was heat- ed red hot by a fire within its hollow core. A baby or young child was placed in its extended arms and consumed by the flames! God said such worship was punishable by death! (See Leviticus 20:2). Of this practice He also said in Jeremiah 22:35 (Easy-to- Read Version): In the Valley of Ben Hinnom, they built high places to the false god Baal...so that they could burn their sons and daughters as sacri- fices. I never commanded them...I never even thought the people of Judah would do such a terrible thing. ✞ “...he...practiced soothsaying, used witchcraft, and consulted spiritists and mediums.” These practices are forbidden by God in Deuteronomy 18:10 through 12. In Exodus 22:18 the LORD commanded, “You shall not permit a sorceress to live.” ✞ “Manasseh shed very much innocent blood, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another.” This refers not only to child sacrifice, but it was also a fatal mistake to get on the wrong side of Manessah!
From the evidence, it sure seems like King Manasseh’s fate was sealed – eternity in the fires of Hell!
But there is more to the story…
…in II Chronicles 33:10 through 13, 15 and 16:
And the LORD spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they would not listen. Therefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the army of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh with hooks, bound him with bronze fetters, and carried him off to Babylon. Now when he was in affliction, he implored the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed to Him; and He received his entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God....He took away the foreign gods and the idol from the house of the LORD, and all the altars that he had built in...the house of the LORD and in Jerusa- lem; and he cast them out of the city. He also repaired the altar of the LORD, sacrificed peace offerings and thank offerings on it, and commanded Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel.
Another long passage, but it shows that Manasseh truly repented, changed his wicked ways, and sought forgiveness through faith in the LORD GOD !
In the previous Gem I called attention to Ezekiel 18. Let’s consider what verse 27 of that chapter says concerning Manasseh:
...when a wicked man turns from the wickedness which he committed, and does what is lawful and right, he preserves himself alive. Because he considers and turns away from all the transgressions which he com- mitted, he shall live; he shall not die.
The Bible record tells us, Manasseh is forgiven of his many sins! And…
…he is in heaven!
What an encouragement for us! No matter how wicked and sinful a person has been, when he truly turns to Jesus Christ, repents of his sins, and askes the LORD into his heart and life, as said of King Manasseh above, he shall live! This confirms what God spoke in Ezekiel 33:11:
Say to them: “as I live,” says the LORD GOD, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his ways and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die...?
Turn, turn to Jesus the Savior and LORD now! “…the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.” (John 6:37).
A WARNING! Manasseh was forgiven! But sin has consequences! We will look at the consequences in the next Gem.