King Manasseh is a conundrum. He was the most evil king Judah ever had and yet he was the longest reigning king. (cf. 2 Chronicles 33) In the Old Testament books of Kings and Chronicles every king’s life is summed up either by, “he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord” or “he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.” No matter what the king’s military gains, political accomplishments, feats of bravery or economic successes, in the end it boiled down to this one thing.
In the eyes of the Lord
To do what’ right in the eyes of the Lord meant to admit your great sin, submit to God as King and live life God’s way in obedience to his word. To do evil in God’s sight was to ignore or reject God’s right to rule over you, to live life your own way in rebellion to God and in disobedience to his word.
I met a young Italian man and his girlfriend while on holiday. They were a lovely couple, were very successful and flourishing in the world eyes. I shared the gospel with him, but he refused Christ. He said, like many people today, that he knew Christ demanded that Christians keep sex for marriage and he was not willing to stop sleeping with his girlfriend. His problem with Christianity was not intellectual, but moral. He was living life his way and what was evil in the sight of the Lord. Most people live like this today. Outwardly people might seem poite, respectable, and even moral, but deep inside they reject Christ. In the end, no matter their great achievements, the great book of life will say: He or she did evil in the sight of the Lord. It’s the Lord’s opinion that ultimately counts, not Facebook’s.
Note that Manasseh’s sins are the same sins that many commit today:
Worship of sex
v3 For he rebuilt the high places that his father Hezekiah had broken down, and he erected altars to the Baals, and made Asheroth…
Baal was the most prominent and powerful male deity of the Canaanites with Asheroth his female counterpart. These two deities were the gods of fertility that guaranteed children, a good harvest, a growing flock of sheep, or good rains, if worshipped correctly. The worship of these fertility gods often involved sexual intercourse with temple prostitutes and this is probably why Baal worship was so popular.
Today, many might not know the name “Baal,” but many still worship him. People today love sexual immorality more than God and worship at Baal’s new temples called Teasers, Mavericks and freeporn.com. Many worship Baal hoping that he will bring joy, happiness and meaning to life – but he, a false god, can do none of those things.
v3 ….and worshiped all the host of heaven and served them.
The Assyrians worshipped the astral deities of the sun-god, moon-god, Jupiter and Venus. The Bible tells us we should worship the creator not created things, but this did not stop Manasseh. He bowed down and gave allegiance not to God, but to the works of God’s hands. You might say that’s crazy, but think for a moment how many people in South Africa make decisions based on the Zodiac? Capetalk radio has a phone in programme where an astrologer who advises listeners about love, finances and the future. Many people today are giving the stars the allegiance they should give God.
Angels are also considered as part of the heavenly host in the Bible. Today there are thousands of people who claim to receive guidance from guardian angels and spirit guides. They write books about it. Little do knowing that they are dealing with demons. If you’re not communicating to God with Jesus, you are by default communicating to and opening yourself to satanic powers.
v5 And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord.
Syncretism is the combining of different, often contradictory beliefs, into one. He took the altars for moon worship and put them into God’s temple in Jerusalem. “Why not?”, thought Manasseh, “We all worship the same God anyway.” What was happening here was not an inter-denominational service, but an inter-faith service. Two weeks ago there was, for the first time, official Muslims prayers at the National Cathedral in Washington, where US Presidents have their funerals. Syncretism is here to stay. Of course, the God of the Bible will not be worshipped except in the way he has ordained
v6 And he burned his sons as an offering in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom
The pagan God Molech demanded child sacrifice. Babies were placed in the smouldering bronze belly of the statue of Molech where they slowly burnt to death. Manasseh was willing to sacrifice his own sons at the altar of a false god. Today we call it abortion. Parents sacrifice their babies on the altars of career, personal dreams and convenience.
v6 …and used fortune-telling and omens and sorcery, and dealt with mediums and with necromancers.
Today many people consult sangomas, psychics and mediums thinking that they can truly help them. In today’s world Manasseh would be honoured and esteemed as a forward thinker, Nobel Peace Prize winner and a model spiritual leader. However, v6 and v9 gives us the real picture:
V6 …He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger.
V9 Manasseh led Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem astray, to do more evil than the nations whom the Lord destroyed before the people of Israel.
Never too late
Yet even evil king Manasseh was humbled by God, turned from sin and submitted to the one true God – and found forgiveness. No sin is too small or too big for God to forgive. The astounding news of the Bible is that Jesus died to bear God’s just anger (cf. v6) for all the sins of all God’s people through all ages. Jesus died for Manasseh’s sin. If God can forgive Manasseh, he can certainly forgive you. Will you cast yourself on the mercy of Christ?