II Kin. 21:1-26; II Chron. 33:1-25
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 sawn 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.
There are numerous occasions in which God’s children sang praises to Him. Many of those events were upon their deliverance from some type of affliction or oppression. Isaiah composed this song of joy for those who had been rescued from the lofty city of the enemy. Various lands and cities were synonymous with sin. God, through His city/kingdom/church would appoint salvation to all who would obey, both Jews and Gentiles. Sin’s lofty city would be destroyed and leveled. “The way of the just is uprightness…” However, even if grace is “shown to the wicked, Yet he will not learn righteousness…” The sins that man commits will eventually be uncovered and brought to justice.
God often compared His people to a vineyard. No one would be allowed to completely hinder the care of His vineyard. They would eventually prosper as red wine that would be produced. Even God’s enemies would be accepted if they made peace with Him by turning from their evil ways. As Isaiah prophesied regarding the Babylonian captivity of Judah, he also saw a time when God would bring His scattered people back to Jerusalem. The future King was destined to emerge from that people.
Isaiah painted a bleak picture of the impending destruction that would come upon Judah. They would not escape God’s judgment. Those whom one would think of as superior in rank would become as empty of possessions and status as those of lower class. The land would become “entirely emptied and utterly plundered.” Where joy and happiness had been, only desolation would remain. As olives and grapes are overlooked in the harvest and are found by the gleaners, a remnant of godly people would escape the wrath of destruction. They would praise the saving hand of God as He reigned on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem.
Jerusalem was often referred to as the city of God. Eventually, the Lord’s church was established in that city as the family of God. Those who would submit to God’s rule would rejoice and praise Him. Death would be destroyed in God’s salvation as Jesus the Son of God would conquer death through His resurrection. His justice, however, would administer the proper punishment for sin.
Isaiah presented a very vivid description of the destruction that would come upon Jerusalem. Instead of viewing the prophet’s warning with horror and turning to God in repentance, the people partied in defiance of the Lord saying in ridicule, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!” Shebna, who had been King Hezekiah’s steward, was singled out because of his haughtiness. He would be cast into a foreign land where he would die. He would be succeeded by Eliakim who would “be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem And to the house of Judah.”
The prophet turned his attention to the Phoenician seaport city of Tyre. It would be laid waste and the merchants who depended upon it in their trades would be distressed over the loss of their port. Isaiah asked why this crowning city would be destroyed and answered his own question. “The Lord of hosts has purposed it, To bring to dishonor the pride of all glory…” Tyre would be a wasteland for seventy years and would then be rebuilt to regain its former glory.
One person plus God equals a majority. Isaiah again emphasized the woe that would come upon Judah if they trusted in Egypt and their army. God’s strength and tenacity in protecting His people are described as the fearless lion facing a multitude of shepherds and the birds protecting their nests. If Judah would put their idol gods away, God would deliver them from the hands of Assyria.
The prophet pronounced the coming of a true leader who would rein in righteousness and justice allowing peace and calmness within the land. Judah had enjoyed a period of time with Hezekiah as such a leader. There would continue to be times when foolishness and complacency would cause the people to lament and mourn. Those times would, however, be followed by a return to God with ensuing periods of peace and rejoicing. The world needs true leaders today who will seek to do God’s will as they serve their people.
Isaiah continued to point out the folly of Judah depending upon Egypt for defense against Assyria. He had previously stated the perilous condition of the Egyptians and further warned of the impending doom of that nation. God stated through the prophet that woe would be upon those who would go to Egypt instead of depending upon Him for advice. Even in the face of those warnings, there were those who turned deaf ears to Isaiah and called for smooth words and deceitful prophecies. Their end would be sudden and swift destruction.
However, even in His anger, God is patient and not willing for any to perish. He continued to wait for Judah in order that He would be exalted. God also made a series of promises for those who would wait upon Him instead of trusting in others for deliverance.
As stated earlier, God’s tools for carrying out His plan were also subject to punishment for their refusal to follow Him. Isaiah turned to Assyria and described how they would be beaten down through the wrath of God.
Moabites were descendants of Moab, the son of Lot from an incestuous relationship with his first-born daughter after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Ammon, from whom the Ammonites descended was also an incestuous son of Lot’s younger daughter. There was a long-time history of bitter relationships between Israel/Judah and each of those nations.
Isaiah spoke the word of the Lord to Moab regarding their impending destruction. Moab’s destruction would be so great that the river would flow with their blood. The pride of a proud and haughty nation would turn into wailing. Their fields would be barren and there would be no harvest. Praying to Moab’s false gods would be a futile exercise. The Lord had spoken.