May 09

Read 2 Kings 21 -- 23:20

In Today's Reading:

Evil reigns of Manasseh and Amon; Josiah's good reign; Book of the Law discovered resulting in restoration of true worship; idolatry destroyed.

Verses for Today:

Manasseh. . . . did . . . evil in the sight of the Lord, after the abominations of the heathen (2 Kings 21:1-2).

Hezekiah was one of the best kings in the history of Judah; but his son Manasseh was even more wicked than his grandfather Ahaz, who had closed the Temple (2 Chronicles 28:24). (Manasseh) 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 worshiped all the host of heaven, and served them. . . . he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger (2 Kings 21:3-6).

Manasseh was defeated by the fierce Assyrians, bound in chains, and taken as a prisoner to Babylon. However, while he was in prison, he humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers; and the Lord in mercy delivered him and permitted him to return to Jerusalem as king (2 Chronicles 33:10-13). Without a doubt, this was a miraculous answer to Manasseh's prayers for forgiveness, as well as an answer to the prayers of his godly father Hezekiah many years earlier. God forgives the most evil sinner who truly repents and prays for forgiveness. Upon being reinstated as king, Manasseh immediately destroyed the false gods and altars he had previously built and restored the altar and the true worship of the Lord in the Temple, for now he knew that the Lord He was God (33:13,15-16).

Manasseh could not relive the wasted years of his wicked rule nor restore the moral and spiritual values he had destroyed. We are deeply saddened that he couldn't even convince his own son to reject idols and worship the Lord. After Manasseh's death, his son Amon reinstated all the wicked, idolatrous practices of his father's earlier reign. Still more evil, he included the worship of Baal within the very Temple of God (33:7,22). He served the idols that his father served, and worshiped them (2 Kings 21:21). After a two-year reign, the servants of Amon conspired against him, and slew the king in his own house (21:23).

Amon's son Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty and one years in Jerusalem (22:1). His name and godly mission had been foretold almost 300 years before: Behold, a child shall be born [to] the House of David, Josiah by name (1 Kings 13:2). In the eighteenth year of (the reign of) King Josiah. . . . Hilkiah the high priest said . . . I have found the Book of the Law in the House of the Lord (2 Kings 22:3).

After hearing the Book read by Shaphan the scribe (22:10), Josiah realized that: Great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not [obeyed] the words of this Book (22:13). Josiah was greatly moved as he listened intently to the Lord's promised judgments for His people's disobedience. He was determined to do what he could to restore worship of the One True God.

We face much the same moral and spiritual distortion of truth as did Josiah. Truth is not what a majority agrees on in any given generation because a majority is permitted to redefine its values. God's truth is absolute.

God still calls us today to be obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation (behavior or conduct) (1 Peter 1:14-15).

Christ Revealed:

Through the prophets (2 Kings 21:10). God, Who . . . [spoke] in time past [to] the fathers by the prophets, [has] in these last days spoken unto us by His Son (Hebrews 1:1-2).

Word Studies:

21:3 the host of heaven = the whole array of heavenly bodies the gods of the Assyrians; 21:6 observed times and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits = practiced witchcraft, fortune-telling, devil worship, black magic; 21:12 ears shall tingle = will be astonished with horror; 23:17 title = monument, grave marker.

Prayer Needs:

Government Officials: Attorney General John Ashcroft (Department of Justice) and Rep. Scott McInnis (CO) · Pray for your Sunday School teacher · Country: Czech Republic (10 million) in central Europe · Major languages: Czech and Slovak · Religious freedom · 63% Catholic; 7% Protestant; 4% Eastern Orthodox · Prayer Suggestion: Pray and depend upon the Lord when in need for He will not forsake you (Isaiah 41:17).

Optional Reading: Romans 12

Memory Verse for the Week: 1 Peter 1:23