Lent 2022 Day 25
Wed 30 Mar
2 Kings 21:1-6 Abominable practices
21 Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. His mother’s name was Hephzibah. 2 He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, following the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites.
3 He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had destroyed; he also erected altars to Baal and made an Asherah pole, as Ahab king of Israel had done. He bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshiped them. 4 He built altars in the temple of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, “In Jerusalem I will put my Name.”
5 In the two courts of the temple of the Lord, he built altars to all the starry hosts. 6 He sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced divination, sought omens, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord, arousing his anger.
The Northern kings were largely a bad lot, and the kingdom met its end sooner than the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Manasseh is one example from the South. The phrase “He did evil …” is used of many of the northern and southern kings during this period.
It is amazing that God is still holding on to these people. This bad king continued to do detestable things for fifty-five years! God had cleared the space for them to live in, and it is as if Manasseh is replacing things back to the way they were before they entered the land. You can guess that Manasseh’s father Hezekiah was good, and it may be because of the good father that God stayed his hand of punishment on the son. After all, he was only 12 when he took the throne.
In the end he proved to be worse than some of the nations that had previously inhabited the land. It is one thing to set up shrines and structures to old gods; it is another to bring them back in place them inside God’s Temple in Jerusalem, built for God by king Solomon. It is difficult to comprehend what has happened over the 250 years since the Temple was built. Was true worship going on there? What had happened to the priestly families and the Levites?
The prophets were still around, because God speaks through them, and issues dire warnings to Manasseh and his crew. They are worth reading (2 Kings 21:10-15), and they do come to pass, but Manasseh seems to have got away with it.
The eagle-eyed among you will know that there is another pair of books that tells similar stories to 1 and 2 Kings– that’s 1 and 2 Chronicles. They have a different approach, and re-tell their stories from differing perspectives. You might like to compare the above with the corresponding extract from 2 Chronicles 33:1-13, in which a little more humanity is revealed.
Here is a list of the kings (and one queen) of the Northern and Southern kingdoms. Each monarch is assessed as good or evil, both at the start and at the end of their reign:
If you were God, would you have put Manasseh down sooner?
What are the merits and disadvantages of being slow to anger (part of God’s name, if you recall)?
So, how slow to anger is God, in your experience?
Father God, there are times when perhaps I’m thinking that you’re not noticing the way I am living my life, but you not only know my actions, you also know my innermost thoughts. Make me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Amen.
Slow to anger