This study, taught by pastor Barry Forder at our Sunday morning service on Sunday 11th October 2015 is part of our series of studies through the book of Second Kings – the 12th book in the Bible.
In this verse by verse study of chapters 21-23 we begin by looking at the life of Judah’s worst kings, Manasseh. Here is a king that had a godly father (Hezekiah), yet from the time he became king, at just 12 years old, he seemed intent on doing anything and everything that would offend God. He reintroduced pagan worship to the land, put alters for pagan deities in the Temple, and even put a pagan image in the Temple. However, rather than just looking at these things as merely Jewish history, we need to remember that “whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4) – in other words, there are lessons for us here! Firstly, how often are we guilty of setting up alters of idolatry within our own hearts, allowing things that are displeasing to God into our lives, which we are told 7x in the New Testament are to be the ‘Temple of the Holy Spirit’? How often do we allow an image of self to be more important to us than God is? Manasseh also tried to silence the voice of God in his life by putting to death godly men and prophets. Sometimes we try to block out the voice of the LORD if it interferes with what we want to do!
Yet for all his sin, when God stripped everything away from him and he found himself a captive in Babylon, he came to his senses and realised the best the world has is as rubbish compared to the ‘excellency of knowing God’ (Philippians 3:8).
We read that at the end of his life Manasseh ‘humbled himself greatly’ (2 Chronicles 33:12), and finally came to know that ‘that the LORD he was God’ (2 Chronicles 33:13).
Manasseh’s son, Amon, sadly did not learn from his father’s mistakes, and only had a dismal 2-year reign, but then Manasseh’s grandson comes to the throne, at just 8 years old! Josiah then becomes one of the best kings Israel or Judah had. We read “And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left” (2 Kings 22:2), and despite dying in a battle with Pharaoh Neco that God had not called him to fight, we still read of Josiah that “like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him” (2 Kings 23:25). Notably, Josiah led sweeping reforms and went through the land seeking to get rid of anything that was an offense to God, including desecrating the alter in Bethel and thereby fulfilling an incredible 300+ year old prophecy that had been given to Jeroboam (the first king of the Northern kingdom), that had not only foretold what Josiah would do, but had also named him as the one who would do it! If this doesn’t impress you, try naming who will be the Prime Minister of the UK in 300 years time! Or telling who will be the US president in 300 years from now! This is only possible if you are outside of time, and that is one of God’s unique attributes by which we can know the scriptures really are His word! (see Isaiah 46:9-10).
May you be blessed and challenged as you listen to this study.
You can listen to the audio on this web page, or save it for later listening. The PowerPoint slides in PDF format are also available for download.