Wednesday, June 5, 2013

CLVI - II Kings 21

Hezekiah, although not perfect, was a righteous king who devoted his reign to restoring the nation of Judah to a nation as God intended it to be.  During his twenty-nine year reign in Jeusalem he destoyed pagan worship images, cut down the groves that had been dedicated to Baal and Ashteroth, and purified the Temple.  He definately placed Judah and its citizens on the right path, after generations of apostacy.  In addition to that he built back Judah's military and economy to respectful levels.  Historic records indicate that Hezekiah personally chose his son Manasseh to succeed him on the throne of Judah.  In stark contrast to his Godly father, Menasseh was wicked to the core.  He gained the reputation of being among the worst kings in Judah, rivaling his grandfather Ahaz.  And he had plenty of time to corrupt the nation Judah.  He was the longest reigning king of Judah or Israel:  Fifty-five years.  As Hezekiah destroyed the pagan worship centers, Manasseh rebuilt them.  He reestablished "Baalism" in the entire nation, and he was aggressive in doing it.  He was bound and determined to turn Judah away from God.  Much of this chapter 21 is dedicated to describing just how evil Manasseh was.

Chapter 21:1-9  -  Manasseh was only twelve years old when he became king, and started his fifty-five year reign of wickedness.  {He must have had advisors that led him away from his father's ways.}  Manasseh's sins ran the gamut of the gross pagan perversions of his day.  The gravity of his sin was heightened by the fact that not only did he sin, but he "seduced" the people of God to follow him in sin.  Verse 2 uses the term "detestable practices" (NIV).  {The King James Version uses the oft used term "abominations".  The definition of the Hebrew word abomination is "something to be abhorred (hated)".  Throughout the Old Testiment, this word is referred to God's perception of a practice, which was usually pertaining to either idolatry or lewd human sexual behavior.  In using this word to describe an activity, God indicates it should be hated because He hates it.  As I've mentioned before, and will get into more in-depth later, God forbids all sins, transgressions, and iniquities.  But different language terms are used for different specific sins.  This tells me that there are levels of sins in God's eyes.  None of them are so severe that they cannot be covered by the blood of Christ, but in our study of God's written Word, we are made aware of His attitudes about different activities.  More on this in future posts.}  Verse 3 tells us that Manasseh turned Judah right back to Baal worship.  {Baal and Asheroth were the male and female fertility gods.  Worshiping other gods is strictly forbidden in the Ten Commandments and God has constantly warned against this thus far in our studies, and He will continue His stern warnings about this.  But what makes this especially bad was the way people worshiped these fertility gods.  Worship activities were little more than sexual orgies.}  This passage tells us that Manasseh wasn't satisfied with just rebuilding the pagan worship centers throughout the nation, but he brought it into the Temple itself (vss 4-5).  He defiled this holy Temple of worship:  One of the most defiant and disrespectful acts someone could perform against God.  The Temple is where God said "He would put His Name in it".  This act tells us that Manasseh was telling the nation that the God of Israel was nothing and He did not exist, and even if He did exist, He was not as important as the pagan gods Baal and Ashteroth.  {God must have feelings and this act must have hurt them.}  This evil of this man Manasseh is beyond measure or description.  Look at verse 6.  He burned his own son alive in his worship of the pagan god Molech.  Try to imagine that if you can.  This is evil practice.  And the Scripture says Manasseh led the entire nation to pagan worship.  This tells me that probably thousands of Judah's citizens did the same thing to one or more of their children.  {Weak minded people will follow leaders, right or wrong.  Manasseh was an evil "pied piper", blindly followed by people who did not have minds of their own.  I believe God expects better from us.  This means we need to scrutinize all adjustments in our activities and attitudes concerning our "walk".  Let's not be deceived.  We are warned not to be "tossed to and fro by the winds of doctrine".  Plant your feet firmly on solid ground and stay put.  More on that in future posts.  I'm getting too preachy.  Back to the Scripture.}
Verses 10-11  -  God Pronounces Judgement on Manasseh and Judah

The Amorites were a Caananite people who had taken perversion in idol worship to a record level.  They are mentioned in verse 11, which indicates that Manasseh led the Israelites in Judah to a lifestyle of apostacy beyond that of the Amorites.  God spoke to Manasseh and the people of Judah through His prophets.  (The specific prophets were not mentioned, but they were probably Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, and/or Hosea.  We'll see in our study of the major and minor prophets that all of the people, including the kings, were warned frequently and with appropriate sense of urgency about their behavior.)  Simply put, because of Manasseh's acts and the peoples following him, God will cause the same thing to happen to Judah that happened to Israel.  But in verse 12 He adds that whoever hears about it, "their ears will tingle".  This expression means that the truth would be so terrible that the hearer would experience a ringing sensation in his ears, similar to the effect of a sharp, piercing sound.  {Ever hear news that seemed to have that effect?  The words are so unpleasant that you don't want to repeat them in your mind.}  Verse 14 and similar verses in the Bible indicate the ultimate punishment:  God will "FORSAKE" them.  This simply means that God will turn His back on them and no longer be involved in their lives.  {This should be taken very seriously.  I fear God will forsake this great nation we live in.  Sometimes I fear He already has.  I'm not convinced of that yet, but I am convinced that we are following similar paths of those He has forsaken in the past.  I can make a strong case for it.}

Believe it or not, Manasseh repents and attempts to gain favor with the true God.  This chapter in II Kings does not give the account of Manasseh's repentance.  That can be found in II Chronicles 33:10-20.  We'll take a close look at that when we get there.

Verses 19-26  -  After fifty-five long years of Manasseh's evil reign, he died and his son Amon became king of Judah.  {Doesn't it seem fitting that Manasseh named his son "Amon"?, which might indicate some strange admiration of the Godless Amonites.  Just a thought.}  Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king of Judah.  He was evil just like his father.  After just two years, Amon's reign ended in violence.  His court officials conspired together and killed him.  I'm sure these "officials" planned on placing one of their own on the throne to replace Amon, but God made a promise to David:  One of David's descendants would always sit on the throne in Jersusalem.  When the people of Jerusalem heard that these officials killed King Amon, they rose up against the conspirators, killed them and made Amon's son Josiah the king.  (You're going to like Josiah.)
Just one last word before I end this post:  We need to be vigilant in monitoring our leaders to stop them when they try to lead us away from God.  Is this happening in our lifetime here in the United States?  You bet it is.  God, Christmas, prayer, theTen Commandments, religious holidays, the Bible.  They have all been under attack or tivialized in the last few decades.  When Christians raise objections, we are hollered down as Neanderthals and ungodliness seems to be further strengthened.  We must remain in prayer about this.  We must not allow this nation's candle to be extinguished.

Next post:  Josiah

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