King Manasseh reigned fifty-five years in Judah, and during his reign he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel. He reversed the religious reforms of his father King Hezekiah, having a lust for idolatry that rivaled King Ahab (2 Kings 21:3). He led the people to defile the land in the same way that the nations that had occupied the land before Israel had done. God had commanded the nation of Israel to not partake in the sins for which these nations were punished, for if they chose to walk in disobedience they would suffer the same fate.
Leviticus 18:21-28 (ESV)
21 You shall not give any of your children to offer them[a] to Molech, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord. 22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. 23 And you shall not lie with any animal and so make yourself unclean with it, neither shall any woman give herself to an animal to lie with it: it is perversion.
24 “Do not make yourselves unclean by any of these things, for by all these the nations I am driving out before you have become unclean, 25 and the land became unclean, so that I punished its iniquity, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. 26 But you shall keep my statutes and my rules and do none of these abominations, either the native or the stranger who sojourns among you 27 (for the people of the land, who were before you, did all of these abominations, so that the land became unclean),28 lest the land vomit you out when you make it unclean, as it vomited out the nation that was before you.
God’s warnings against idolatry are very clear (Deut. 12:29-31), yet Manasseh led the nation of Judah “…to do more evil than the nations whom the Lord destroyed” (2 Chron. 33:9). He erected altars to Baal, made Asherahs and even placed the carved image of an idol in the house of God. And as deplorable as all of these acts were, Manasseh’s most heinous sin was the sacrifice of his own sons to Molech in the Valley of Hinnom.
2 Chronicles 33:6 (ESV)
6 And he burned his sons as an offering in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, and used fortune-telling and omens and sorcery, and dealt with mediums and with necromancers. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger.
Much innocent blood was shed during his reign (2 Kings 21:16), causing Judah to walk down the same path of judgment as Israel (2 Kings 17:17-18). The word of the Lord by his prophets was disregarded by Manasseh, and finally damning judgment was pronounced on the nation.
2 Kings 21:11-15 (ESV)
11 “Because Manasseh king of Judah has committed these abominations and has done things more evil than all that the Amorites did, who were before him, and has made Judah also to sin with his idols, 12 therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Behold, I am bringing upon Jerusalem and Judah such disaster[a] that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. 13 And I will stretch over Jerusalem the measuring line of Samaria, and the plumb line of the house of Ahab, and I will wipe Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down. 14 And I will forsake the remnant of my heritage and give 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 what is evil in my sight and have provoked me to anger, since the day their fathers came out of Egypt, even to this day.”
2 Chronicles 33:10-11 (ESV)
10 The Lord spoke to Manasseh and to his people, but they paid no attention. 11 Therefore the Lord brought upon them the commanders of the army of the king of Assyria, who captured Manasseh with hooks and bound him with chains of bronze and brought him to Babylon.
This would seem like a fitting ending to the reign of King Manasseh. He was a wicked king who received the judgment he deserved. However, even the most vile and profane of sinners God will forgive when they truly humble themselves and repent.
2 Chronicles 33:12-13 (ESV)
12 And when he was in distress, he entreated the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. 13 He prayed to him, and God was moved by his entreaty and heard his plea and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God.
Manasseh killed his sons and shed the blood of many innocents during his reign. Jewish and Christian tradition both state that during his reign the prophet Isaiah was sawn in half. Before his conversion on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-9), Paul had persecuted Christians and was complicit of the stoning of Stephen. He even referred to himself as the “foremost of sinners.” You could also insert your name here and recite the worst sin that you have ever committed. The truth is that even the vilest and most wicked of sins can be overcome by God’s steadfast love.
So come to Him as you are, for you are the reason why Christ came.
1 Timothy 1:15 (ESV)
15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners …