II Chronicles 33:1, 2, 9
(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
That is disturbing picture! Represented is Manasseh, king of Judah (697-642 BC); his 55 year reign was the longest of any king of either the united kingdom or the later split kingdoms (Israel to the north, Judah to the south). He was also the most wicked king in the Jews’ Old Testament history! In the twenty-second year of his reign, he was taken prisoner by the Assyrians, and carried off to Babylon! The Contemporary English Version in II Chronicles 33:10 and 11 describes what the picture represents this way:
The LORD tried to warn Manasseh and the people about their sins, but they ignored the warning. So he let Assyrian army commanders invade Judah and capture Manasseh. They put a hook in his nose and tied him up in chains, and they took him to Babylon.
Manasseh’s godly father, King Hezekiah was granted a fifteen-year extension to his life (see II Kings 20:1-6). Since Manasseh was only twelve years old when he began his reign, he must have been born during this fifteen-year extension!
Here are some of the highlights (or should we say, lowlights) from II Kings 21 of Manasseh’s reign:
- Verse 2 – “…he did evil in the sight of the LORD according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel.” God gave the Israelites strict laws, such as in Leviticus chapters 17 through 20, concerning what they must never do! Here is what He said in Leviticus 18:3 through 5:
...according to the doing of the land of Canaan...you shall not do; nor shall you walk in their ordinances ....You shall...keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the LORD.
- Verse 3 – “…he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed….” The high places were where apostate Jews worshiped the false and degrading gods of other pagan nations.
- Verse 3 – “…he…made a wooden image, as Ahab king of Israel had done…” (see I Kings 16:33). The second of the Ten Commandments says in Exodus 20:4 and 5:
You shall not make for yourself any carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above or that is the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them....
- Verse 3 – “…he worshiped all the host of heaven and served them.” The LORD had told the Israelites in Exodus 20:3 (the first of the Ten Commandments): “You shall have no other gods before Me.”
- Verses 4 and 5 – “He also built altars in the house of the LORD, of which the LORD had said, ‘In Jerusalem I will put My name.’ And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD.”
- Verse 6 (English Standard Version) – “He burned his son as an offering….” But God explicitly said in Deuteronomy 12:31, “…every abomination to which the LORD hates…[the Canaanite nations] have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods.”
- Verse 6 (International Standard Version) – “He…practiced witchcraft, used divination, and consorted with mediums and spirit-channelers. He practiced many things that the LORD considered to be evil and provoked him.” In Deuteronomy 18:10 through 12, God said this:
There shall not be found among you anyone...who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who con- jures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD....
- Verse 7 – “He even set a carved image of Asherah that he had made, in the house of which the LORD had said…‘In this house…which I have chosen…I will put My name forever….” Yet in Isaiah 48:11 He said, “…how shall My name be profaned? …I will not give My glory to another.”
It does not look good for King Manasseh!
…part of our featured Scripture is verses 12 and 13 of II Chronicles 33: “Now when he [Manasseh] was in affliction* [in Babylon], he implored the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and he prayed to Him….” We are told in Isaiah 55:6 and 7:
Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.
It may sound unfair after all that Manasseh had done, but God is faithful to save the repentant sinner! Consider the man on the cross next to Jesus, the one who rebuked his fellow, and cried out, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” (Luke 23:42).
- He was a thief, and insurrectionist, and most likely a murderer!
- He only had hours to live!
- He could do nothing physically, for he was nailed to his cross!
- He could only cry out to King Jesus to remember him!
And he is in heaven, rejoicing in his Savior and Lord Jesus Christ!
So it is with Manasseh! And if his humiliation at the hands of the Assyrians did happen in the twenty-second year of his reign, he had another 33 years to show he meant business when he turned back to God! Is there any proof he was serious in his repentance?
- II Chronicles 33:13 – God “…received his entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God.”
- II Chronicles 33:15 and 16 (English Standard Version):
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. 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.
Yes, his many years of sinning still affected his people! (see II Kings 21:11-17). Sin does that! But no one has sinned so much that God will not receive into His arms upon sincere repentance and faith! So from the evidence in Scripture, especially from II Chronicles 33:13 through 20…
Manasseh, a bad king, is in heaven!
*According to the Haggadah (Jewish rabbinic legendary traditions), Manasseh was taken prisoner to Babylon and tortured in a heated oven! It was in the oven that he made supplication to the gods he worshiped in Judah. When none helped him in his misery, he cried out to the One God Jehovah who delivered him!