Highlights In Today's Reading:
Judah's good king Hezekiah was followed by his evil son and then his evil grandson (21:1-2,19-22). But, how about his great-grandson Josiah (22:1-2)? His priests discover the Law, a lost treasure (22:8). The king follows it and institutes religious reforms reversing apostasy dating back to Solomon's time (23:13).
Manasseh was more evil than his grandfather King Ahaz. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, after the abominations of the heathen (II Kin. 21:2). As a result, Manasseh was conquered and bound in chains by the cruel Assyrians. They often put a hook in the nose of the captive king and led him like an animal into captivity where he would experience extreme humiliation and intense suffering.
After his captivity, he humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers (II Chr. 33:10-12). Surely, it was an answer to his father Hezekiah's prayers. Manasseh experienced the forgiving love of God toward all repentant sinners.
The amazing miracle was that Manasseh was released from the Assyrian prison and returned to Jerusalem. This answer to his prayer removed all doubt and Manasseh knew that the Lord He was God (33:13). Another amazing miracle was that he was restored as king of the Southern Kingdom. He immediately destroyed all the false gods and altars he had built, repaired the altar of the Lord, and re-established worship of the One True God (33:15-16). But he could not undo his many years of wicked rule nor restore life to the men of God whom he had executed (II Kings 21:16). Think of the thousands whom he had taught to worship Baal, Molech, and Ashtaroth, the false gods and goddesses with their immoral practices of prostitution and human sacrifice.
We should be deeply grateful that God will forgive everyone who truly repents of their sins and lives to please Him, regardless of their past. There are just as many false gods today to lure us away from allowing Christ to be supreme Lord in every decision, regardless of all else. Baal has been replaced by anything or anyone that becomes our foremost interest in life.
Finally, Nebuchadnezzar became the instrument of God to execute His judgment by devastating Jerusalem, its Temple, and the land of Judah. Thus, the prophecies of the Lord were fulfilled (25:1-17; Jer. 52:12-23).
The destruction of the once-glorious Kingdom of Judah reminds us that even the greatest present-day nation on earth, with its wealth, military might, and nuclear defense, cannot survive when its people repeatedly reject the Word of God. Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people (Prov. 14:34).
Thought for Today:
Though God will forgive and restore us, it does not mean there will be no ill effects of our sinful living.
By the prophets (II Kin. 21:10). God, who . . . spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son (Heb. 1:1-2).
21:3 the host of heaven =b> the whole array of heavenly bodies — the gods of the Assyrians; 21:6 observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits =b> practiced witchcraft, fortune-telling, devil worship, black magic; 21:12 ears shall tingle =b> will be astonished with horror; 23:17 title =b> monument, grave marker.
Pray for International Shortwave Broadcasts in honor of Bonnie Wilhite • Country: Lithuania (4 million) eastern coast of Baltic Sea in northeastern Europe • Major languages: Lithuanian and Russian • Limited religious freedom • 80% Roman Catholic; 5% Russian Orthodox; 1% Protestant • Prayer Suggestion: Ask the Lord to give you contentment in your circumstances, whether in plenty or in want (Phil. 4:11-12).
Optional Reading: Romans 12
Memory Verse for the Week: Matthew 6:15