II Kin. 21:1-22:20; II Chron. 33:1-34:28
Manasseh was only twelve years old when he became king of Judah. His fifty-five-year reign was the longest of the kings of Judah. During that time, he became the most wicked of the Judean kings. He rebuilt and restored idols and altars that his father had destroyed. The message that God sent to him through the prophets was, “…Behold, I am bringing such calamity upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whoever hears of it, both his ears will tingle…I will forsake the remnant of My inheritance and deliver them into the hand of their enemies…because they have done evil in My sight…”
It has been said that he had the prophet, Isaiah placed inside a log and sawed in two. Upon being imprisoned in Babylon, Manasseh repented and was returned to his throne. He removed the idols and altars that he had rebuilt and restored worship back to God.
Following Manasseh’s death, his son, Amon reigned as king for two years before being assassinated. During his reign, he continued the evil practices that had been put into place by Manasseh instead of continuing the reforms that his father had restored in his later years.
When one reads of the righteousness of King Hezekiah and the wickedness of his son and grandson, Manasseh and Amon, anger arises over how persons who saw the results of righteous living would turn completely from such a godly example. We need to look into the mirror and judge ourselves according to those two standards. If we see Manasseh and Amon in our lives, now is the time to repent as Manasseh did AFTER God had brought him low during his Babylonian imprisonment by Assyria.
Assyria had become strong and had maintained control of several nations around them. During the reign of Hezekiah, Judah had begun to pay tribute to the Assyrians. That practice continued throughout the reigns of Manasseh, Amon and the early years of Amon’s successor, Josiah. As the Judean kings were somewhat subjected to Assyria’s rule, they had adopted Assyria’s religious practices.
Josiah, in an attempt to assert his independence began to restore once again the worship to the true God. He destroyed idols and altars that had been erected to the false gods of the Assyrians and to restore the house of God. During the course of events, Hilkiah, the high priest found the Book of the Law (probably Deuteronomy) amid the construction. Upon hearing the words of the law read, Josiah was so horrified that his nation had been so unfaithful to the Lord that he tore his clothes in anguish.
The prophetess, Huldah responding to the king’s request to hear from the Lord spoke, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel…‘Behold, I will bring calamity on this place and on its inhabitants—all the words of the book which the king of Judah has read…Therefore My wrath shall be aroused against this place and shall not be quenched.’” However, because of Josiah’s zeal to do His will, God promised to allow him to reign in peace and that the destruction would not occur during his lifetime.