Morning Light – September 15th, 2015

MLToday: [2 Kings Chapter Twenty-One] Hezekiah’s Evil Son Mannasseh. Hezekiah was good and godly king whose father was notoriously evil. When Hezekiah dies his 12 year old son Mannasseh reigns in his stead and unfortunately does not follow in the example of his father. Mannasseh reigns in Judah for 55 years and commits every form of idolatry previously stamped out by Hezekiah and institutes new forms of sin and Satanism before the people. As a result God speaks through many prophets that the city of Jerusalem will be wiped clean as a man would wipe a dish.

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[2Ki 21:1-26 KJV] 1 Manasseh [was] twelve years old when he began to reign, and reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name [was] Hephzibah. 2 And he did [that which was] evil in the sight of the LORD, after the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out before the children of Israel. 3 For he built up again the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; and he reared up altars for Baal, and made a grove, as did Ahab king of Israel; and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them. 4 And he built altars in the house of the LORD, of which the LORD said, In Jerusalem will I put my name. 5 And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. 6 And he made his son pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards: he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the LORD, to provoke [him] to anger. 7 And he set a graven image of the grove that he had made in the house, of which the LORD said to David, and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever: 8 Neither will I make the feet of Israel move any more out of the land which I gave their fathers; only if they will observe to do according to all that I have commanded them, and according to all the law that my servant Moses commanded them. 9 But they hearkened not: and Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than did the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the children of Israel.

Hezekiah is now dead and his son Manasseh reigns in his place. Hezekiah’s father was Ahaz. Ahaz was notorious as the most wicked king in the line of David up to his time. He was the son of Jotham who was the son of Uzziah who presumed on the preist’s office and was struck with leprosy as the result. Jotham was a good king after Uzziah but his son Ahaz was wicked. Ahaz dies and his son Hezekiah became the only king in Judah from the time of Solomon to remove the high places and destroy the idols. Hezekiah’s life was at times marked with great struggle. He dealt with the Assyrians who sought to destroy the city of Jerusalem. In order to buy off Sennecherib he not only stripped the temple of all it’s gold but also stripped his own royal palace of its treasures in order to maintain peace. In the midst of this upheaval he also faced a deadly and unsightly disease. All of this calamity and chaos took place as Hezekiah’s son Mannaseh looks on and forms a judgment in his heart against God. Perhaps he heard the words of Rabshekah who accused Hezekiah of wrongfully destroying the groves and the idols. Whatever may be the case – when Mannasseh comes to power he puts the godly policies of Hezekiah into full reverse and returns to the idolatrous practices of his grandfather Ahaz.

10 And the LORD spake by his servants the prophets, saying, 11 Because Manasseh king of Judah hath done these abominations, [and] hath done wickedly above all that the Amorites did, which [were] before him, and hath made Judah also to sin with his idols: 12 Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Behold, I [am] bringing [such] evil upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever heareth of it, both his ears shall tingle. 13 And I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria, and the plummet of the house of Ahab: and I will wipe Jerusalem as [a man] wipeth a dish, wiping [it], and turning [it] upside down. 14 And I will forsake the remnant of mine inheritance, and deliver them into the hand of their enemies; and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies; 15 Because they have done [that which was] evil in my sight, and have provoked me to anger, since the day their fathers came forth out of Egypt, even unto this day. 16 Moreover Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another; beside his sin wherewith he made Judah to sin, in doing [that which was] evil in the sight of the LORD. 17 Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh, and all that he did, and his sin that he sinned, [are] they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? 18 And Manasseh slept with his fathers, and was buried in the garden of his own house, in the garden of Uzza: and Amon his son reigned in his stead.

Who were the prophets who spoke during the reign of Manneseh? Mannesseh was only 12 years old when he came to power and he reigned 55 years in Jerusalem. Longevity is not always a sign of blessing from God. He had a good and godly father but Mannesseh despised his godly upbringing from his youth. One commentator remarked with shock that so “degenerate a plant could grow from such a noble vine” (as Hezekiah). He rebuilt the high places that Hezekiah tore down. He reinstituted Baal worship that had been stamped out for 6 generations since the days that Jehu assassinated Jezebel and destroyed Ahab’s line. He not only brought back old forms of idolatry but instituted new practices from the Babylonians. He sacrificed his own son by fire to the god Molech, a despicable and hateful practice. He surrounded himself with occult practitioners and set an image of Asherah – goddess of fertility in the house of the Lord itself. Not only did he choose all of these practices but he openly and with enthusiasm seduced the people of Israel to follow after his horrible example. Thus the Lord sent the prophets Hosea, and Nahum, Habukuk and Isaiah to prophesy to the city but they were fully bent during the reign of Mannaseh to do evil and would not hearken. Thus the judgment of God was that he would wipe clean the city of Jerusalem and turn it upside down as a man who does dishes would clean a dirty dish.

To consider this sins of Mannaseh and look at our own religious culture would be a feat of transparency and brutal honesty that most people would not be capable of. The one thing that stands out is the image of Ashteroth that he put in the temple of Solomon itself. The worship of Ashteroth and Asherah were sex cults that worshipped the stars of the heavens through ritual prostitution. They mirror the cult of celebrity in the entertainment industry today. In light of that comparison we might be sobered to look at the degree to which the cult of celebrity and the mimicry of the entertainment values of the world that have crept into the church. The slick presentations, sexually influenced performances, and rock star status of speakers and singers in the church speak of the church following the example of the world and not the other way around. In all of that we must look at the fruit of our leadership culture and the total failure of the church to impact modern culture and question if we have not allowed the sins of Mannasseh to influence church culture to a very sad degree. We cannot change this as one individual but we can seek and ask God what our personal accountability is in the midst of this state of affairs.

19 Amon [was] twenty and two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned two years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name [was] Meshullemeth, the daughter of Haruz of Jotbah. 20 And he did [that which was] evil in the sight of the LORD, as his father Manasseh did. 21 And he walked in all the way that his father walked in, and served the idols that his father served, and worshipped them: 22 And he forsook the LORD God of his fathers, and walked not in the way of the LORD. 23 And the servants of Amon conspired against him, and slew the king in his own house. 24 And the people of the land slew all them that had conspired against king Amon; and the people of the land made Josiah his son king in his stead. 25 Now the rest of the acts of Amon which he did, [are] they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? 26 And he was buried in his sepulchre in the garden of Uzza: and Josiah his son reigned in his stead.

In this chapter Mannasseh’s mother’s name is mention and the name of his successor Amon was named as well. Amon was possibly named after the oldest son of David who was murdered by Absalom. The fact that these men’s mothers were mentioned must point to the fact that these women no doubt influenced their wicked reigns to a great degree. The servants of Amon rose up and assassinated Amon and the people of the city caught and killed them. Amon no doubt was much beloved as was his father Mannasseh. Ungodly leaders are often much supported by their people and those who speak against them or move against the will not be thanked for exposing their sin. I remember a cousin of mine whose family attended an Assemblies of God church in a nearby city for many decades. The church had a much loved pastor who was supported and remained pastor for a very long time. My cousin married a girl in the church and the pastor began to show undue attention to the girl which went unchecked by the leaders and deacons. Things came to a head when returning from work one day my cousin’s wife found the Assemblies of God pastor having broken into to their home and was standing naked in the living room. The family reported the whole matter to the authorities and to the church elders. To their shock the pastor was in the pulpit the following Sunday as though nothing had happened. They approached the deacon board and demanded an answer – “we love him… he is our pastor!” they declared and that was the end of the scandal as the swept the whole matter under the rug. This pastor was compromising leader who no doubt told his people what the wanted to hear and they were going to support him no matter what. Yet at the same time I’ve seen godly leaders who speak the truth commit the smallest of infractions and their lives were destroyed by their supporters on the pretense of “we won’t stand for this in our church…” The reality of it was in those cases that the people were looking for an opportunity to remove a leader who made them feel uncomfortable in their lukewarmness.

When Amon the son of Mannasseh was buried they put him in the garden of Uzziah his great, grandfather. This is an indication that the presumption of Uzziah to intrude upon the priest’s office was a generational offense to the kings of Judah. Ahaz purposefully and openly repeated the sins of Uzziah, even setting up his own personal altar in places of the brazen altar of Solomon in the temple itself. Hezekiah stood up for what was good and right but again his son Mannesseh and his son Amoz after him openly challenged the standards of God’s word and ran rough shod over the prophets and the priests to establish the primacy of their own rule. Those in power are often very reticent to share their influence or their platform with other leaders. Many times guest speakers and ministers are only allowed insofar as they buttress and prop up the leadership who bring them in without any component of accountability or acknowledgement of shared responsibility as leaders before God. For us in reading these chapters we must find out what accountability you and I have before God in regard to our own relationship to our leaders. To respect and honor them when they are godly but to use discernment when they make wrong choice is a personal responsibility we must exercise in order to put God first in our lives.

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