by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
Text: II Kings 21:1-9
I. There is a simple fact, which so many people have a hard time accepting - Ezekiel 18:20-24
A. Do people really change?
B. Can they really be forgiven?
C. Oh, you don’t understand, I’ve done such terrible things that God would never forgive me of them.
II. Manasseh was the son of one of the crowning kings of Israel
A. Hezekiah, his father, was given great praise by God - II Kings 18:3
B. He was born in the later years of his father’s reign, born three years after Hezekiah nearly died from an illness - II Kings 20:5-6
C. It was in Hezekiah’s later years that we see a flaw in his character, he was more focused on himself than those who came after - II Kings 20:16-19; II Chronicles 32:25-26
D. Hezekiah died just before Manasseh’s adolescence - II Kings 21:1
1. Like many fatherless teenagers, Manasseh turn rebellious, but by being king, his rebellion took on dangerous levels of violence.
III. The Evil of Manasseh
A. He restored the idolatrous religions of Baal and Asherah - II Kings 21:2-3a
1. Religions his father had worked hard to remove
2. There were actually multiple Baals, and the word here is in the plural. Manasseh sought out many types of Baals.
3. Since these were fertility gods, worshiped with sex, perhaps we can understand the appeal to a teenage king
4. He did it in imitation of Ahab
B. He introduced astrology, worshiping the host of heaven - II Kings 21:3b
1. Most likely copying the worship of the Babylonians, whom his father had contact with
C. Worse, he brought his idolatry into God’s temple - II Kings 21:4-5
D. As often happens, once you start down the slippery slop of sin there is little to stop you - II Kings 21:6
1. As he got older, he sacrificed his own son, probably following after the worship of Molech. (More than one - II Chronicles 33:6). Such sacrifices come from the idea that greater something costs you, the more likely a god will listen. Manasseh was trying hard to change something looming on the horizon.
a. That valley where he did these atrocities served as Jesus’ symbol of hell. Gehenna is the valley of Hinnom.
2. He sought out fortune tellers, sought omens, consulted mediums and wizards. By this we see he is troubled about the future and wanted to know what was in store.
E. It was not confined to just Manasseh, like most people, he spread his beliefs - II Kings 21:9
F. Ironically, in his troubles he did more to bring those troubles down on himself - II Kings 21:10-15
G. His was a reign of terror - II Kings 21:16
1. Jewish tradition is that Manasseh killed Isaiah by sawing him in half.
IV. The turning of Manasseh
A. What Manasseh apparently feared showed up in Assyria’s commanders - II Chronicles 33:11
1. This is the nation that had wiped out Israel during his father’s day and had threaten to do the same to Judah before God intervened.
2. Assyrian records state that Manasseh was a vassal of Esarhaddon, Sennacherib's son and successor. He supplied building materials for Esarhaddon’s projects. He also helped with Ashurbanipal, Esarhaddon’s son, in his campaign against Egypt.
3. But something happened to that relationship
B. Assyrians didn’t treat their captives well.
1. In II Kings 19:28, God taunts that He would do to the Assyrians what they had done to others
C. Imprisoned and with amble proof of the uselessness of his idolatry, Manasseh returned to the one true God - II Chronicles 33:12
D. And God heard his prayers - II Chronicles 33:13
1. Unlike his idols, God brought him out of his prison. Manasseh realized that only God was real.
2. Now think how evil Manasseh was and all the crimes he committed, and yet God accepted his change.
3. Now tell me again what crime have you done that God can’t forgive you? - Ezekiel 18:21-23
V. Manasseh’s attempts to reform
A. On his return, Manasseh did a complete about face - II Chronicles 33:15-16
B. But there is another lesson to be learned. You can’t erase your past sins – not completely.
1. You see, Manasseh changed, but the people he lead astray didn’t - II Chronicles 33:17
a. They still practiced their idolatry, they just changed the name of whom they claimed to be worshiping.
2. His own son, raised in his idolatrous ways didn’t change - II Chronicles 33:21-23
C. Ever hear people say, “I’ll serve God later?” Manasseh faced the hard truth that you can’t do it successfully.
1. Sin creates wounds that are not easily healed and scars that won’t go away.
2. Better to never cause the wound - Ecclesiastes 11:9-12:1
D. Despite his great change, Manasseh’s legacy was his evil - II Chronicles 33:2
E. His change wasn’t able to stop the evil he set in motion - Jeremiah 15:4-6
1. And which is sadder, the evil done or realizing your error and seeing yourself helpless to stop evil from spreading out of control?
2. But at least he tried.
VI. Even while we were sinners - Romans 5:6-8
A. So do we remain in our sins, keeping the tide of sin growing, or do we change and start battling the evil we once were a part of?
B. Acts 2:38-41 - Won’t you join with those who have left sin to take up arms against it?