“So Manasseh came to know that Yahweh is God.” (2 Chronicles 33:13b)
King Hezekiah was Manasseh’s father. He was one of the greatest kings of Judah, one whose heart was right with God, and he did a lot of good. He walked with God and provided a godly model for his children, and undoubtedly his children were instructed in the ways of the Lord.
Enter Manasseh. What was said about Hezekiah above could not at all be said of Manasseh. Following the death of his father, Manasseh became king at age 12. He became king just as he was entering “those years” we all know about. And it showed. He undid everything Hezekiah did and took Judah to a new low. It was worse than even when the Canaanites had been there.
Consider: Manasseh rebuilt the high places, rebuilt the altars of Baal, made Asherah poles, worshiped and served the whole heavenly host of “gods,” built altars in both courtyards of the temple, set up idols in God’s temple, practiced witchcraft, divination, sorcery, consulted mediums, and even sacrificed his sons by fire in the Valley of Hinnom.
The result: God brought the king of Assyria against Manasseh, who entered Jerusalem, bound Manasseh, put a hook in his nose, and dragged him off to Babylon where he put him in prison.
Then in verse 12 we read, “When he was in distress, he sought the favor of Yahweh his God and earnestly humbled himself before the God of his ancestors. He prayed to Him, so He heard his petition and granted his request, and brought him back to Jerusalem, to his kingdom.” Then, Manasseh had some work to do. For the rest of his days he sought to clean up the mess he had made, to right all the wrongs he had done, as much as possible.
This rather fearful story is at the same time one of hope, particularly for the parents of children who turn from the Lord and move into destructive directions. It is a reminder to us that sometimes God may take actions that rebuke and may even injure, or put people into situations that are extremely uncomfortable and even painful, with the purpose of bringing about repentance, reconciliation, and restoration. As difficult as it may be to watch, we simply have to trust God to do what is right.
Lord, We recognize that You see far more than we do, and that You have a plan for each of us. Help us to follow Your plan, and in those times when we fail or refuse to, lead us in the way that is everlasting. Amen.