Manasseh Succeeds Hezekiah
21 Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Hephzibah. 2 He did evil in the sight of the Lord, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord dispossessed before the sons of Israel. 3 For he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; and he erected altars for Baal and made an [a]Asherah, as Ahab king of Israel had done, and worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. 4 He built altars in the house of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, “In Jerusalem I will put My name.” 5 For he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord. 6 He made his son pass through the fire, practiced witchcraft and used divination, and dealt with mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord provoking Him to anger. 7 Then he set the carved image of Asherah that he had made, in the house of which the Lord said to David and to his son Solomon, “In this house and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen from all the tribes of Israel, I will put My name forever. 8 And I will not make the feet of Israel wander anymore from the land which I gave their fathers, if only they will observe to do according to all that I have commanded them, and according to all the law that My servant Moses commanded them.” 9 But they did not listen, and Manasseh seduced them to do evil more than the nations whom the Lord destroyed before the sons of Israel.
Verse 9 is quite the indictment, that Manasseh seduced the people to go further from God’s commands than even the people that lived in Israel previously. And these were people who never knew God’s commands that never sank to the lows where Israel found themselves now.
Now, it’s a bit strange that Manasseh was only twelve, because Hezekiah was 54 when he died and handed down the throne. Further, God told him that fifteen years would be added to Hezekiah’s life after his severe illness. Thus Manasseh was born after the illness. So either Hezekiah had no heirs at that time, and had children very late, or one of the younger sons, possibly one who got a bit “spoiled”, took the throne “out of order” by coup.
Whatever the case may be, we certainly see that Manasseh did not follow God like his father, and went in the complete opposite direction. It’s a stern reminder of the importance of raising our children to know who God is. Of course, the decision is always up to them, but we as parents must take the responsibility very seriously, for future generations depend on us handing down our faith and living out our relationship with God for them to see clearly.
Without a strong example to follow, it is easy for a child, or even an adult, to be swept away by the evil influence of this world. There is no shortage of debauchery to be found today, or in Manasseh’s time, and one without a solid foundation, built on Christ Jesus, will easily give way to what is “popular” in worldly circles.
Solomon’s wisdom, though he did it poorly, still stands, “Train up a child in the way that he (or she) should go, so that when they are old, they will not depart from it.” It is weighty, and needs courage and strength, but God has given us all the tools necessary, including His own spirit to live in us and guide our steps. “Fear not, for I am with you!” God said it to Joshua, and it is just as true, maybe even more so, for us today.