Lesson 12 — December 17, 2000
The Scriptures tells us that Manasseh began ruling when he was twelve years old and ruled fifty-five years (697-642 BC; cf. 2 Kings 21:1). Students of Bible chronology inform us that Manasseh began ruling as a co-regent with his father, whose reign ended in 686 BC. This is very interesting given the fact that Hezekiah knew the year he would die, for the Lord at one point promised him an additional fifteen years of life (cf. 2 Kings 20:6). Perhaps in part it was because his heir was only a lad of nine years that Hezekiah pleaded all the more for an extension of his life (cf. 2 Kings 20:2-5). Unfortunately, as we shall observe the piety of Hezekiah was not repeated in the life of his son, nor in that of his grandson. It is said of Manasseh—"He has acted more wickedly than all the Amorites who were before him" (2 Kings 21:11). Amon, who succeeded his father and ruled for only two years before being assassinated, "forsook the LORD God of his fathers, and did not walk in the way of the LORD" (2 Kings 21:22).
It was the reigns of these two kings, which hardened God’s resolve to punish the Kingdom of Judah by allowing them to be taken into captivity. Although Josiah followed them and provided godly leadership once again (cf. Lesson 13), the people did not return to faithfulness. While this lesson will not be an happy one in terms of its subject matter, the unfaithfulness of men does point out the need for and meaning of God’s Christmas gift to us in the person of His Son, Jesus!
Manasseh’s Wickedness: Read 2 Kings 21:2-7a
- Note the extent of the false religious practices embraced by Manasseh—
- He rebuilt the high places;
- He raised up altars to Baal;
- He made a wooden image;
- He worshipped and served the host of heaven;
- He built altars to idols and placed them in the temple courts;
- He built an image of Asherah and placed it in the temple sanctuary;
- He caused his son to "pass through fire";
- He practiced soothsaying, witchcraft, and consulted mediums.
The LORD’s response: Read 2 Kings 21:7b-15
- Note the condition of God’s continued blessing and the extent of His condemnation of Judah’s unfaithfulness—
- He would continue to bless them "if they (were) careful to do according to all that I have commanded them";
- He promised a judgment, which would make anyone’s ears who heard of it tingle;
- He would wipe Jerusalem "as one wipes a dish…turning it upside down";
- He would "deliver them into the hand of their enemies."
- Note the stark description of Manasseh’s end in 1 Kings—
- He died and his wickedness was recounted in the book of the kings.
- Note the factors surrounding Manasseh’s spiritual restoration—
- God permits Manasseh to be taken into captivity, during which time he humbled himself before God;
- God heard Manasseh’s prayer and restored him to power;
- He removed the idols and their altars from the temple sanctuary and entire temple area;
- He reestablished the one, true worship and urged his people to follow the LORD.
- Note the lack of impact Manasseh’s repentance had on the people of Judah—
- The people still sacrificed on the high places, although to the LORD.
Amon’s History: Read 2 Chronicles 33:21-25
- Note the sad state of Amon’s spiritual life and its result—
- He reigned only two years;
- He reestablished much of the idol worship of his father;
- He was assassinated by his servants.
The Bible tells us that it is written for our learning (cf. Romans 15:4). What can we learn from the lives and experiences of these two kings of Judah? What can we learn about the effect of their lives on those of others and upon the national life of God’s people as a whole? What insight do their lives offer to our consideration and celebration of Christmas?