Ultimate Power at Twelve
Can you imagine having the power of life and death over people at age twelve? Manasseh, King of Judah, was twelve years old when he became king. He had been heir to the throne his whole life. His father, King Hezekiah had great wealth, but he also returned his people to worshiping the one god, Jehovah. Manasseh led a life of wealth, privilege, and worship. However, after his father died, Manasseh became the most wicked and longest reigning king that Judah ever had.
Who Were the Boy King's Counselors?
After his father died, who were his counselors? Was an elderly, bent Isaiah there? Hezekiah had listened to Isaiah. The boy wouldn't want to listen to an old prophet. In fact, traditional accounts say that Manasseh had Isaiah sawn asunder with a wood saw while trying to get him to refuse God. Isaiah died a martyr's death. Did the boy listen to the smooth flattery of counselors who only wanted to keep the boy king occupied, keep him filled with self-importance, and keep Assyria happy? Manasseh had to contend with his kingdom being under the rule of Assyria. Did the people of Judah return to worshipping God under King Hezekiah to make the king happy? Was the return to God only for appearances by the people of Judah? I have so many question about this story.
Today, our equivalent would be a twelve year child star or a child of wealth and privilege. Think about the child stars and young social celebrities that we see on TV, watch in movies, and read about online. Many have had trouble with drugs, drinking, and promiscuity. Can you imagine what it would be like for one of these young people to be in a position where no one could refuse their wishes?
Baal Worship and Assyria
After Hezekiah died, it would have been easy for a close friend or counselor to sway twelve year old Manasseh back toward Baal worship and Asherah rites. What twelve year old wants to be like their parents? Following the way of the world doesn't require any effort because man's natural desires love to be indulged. Baal worship was physical, lustful, and carnal. Who wouldn't want to indulge all the desires of a sensual nature and worship at the same time? Also, the Assyrian rulers would be happier to see a conquered people following the gods of their culture. Assyrians were cruel. Keeping them happy would have been foremost in many Judean minds. Manasseh desecrated God's temple with Asherah poles and Baal worship, he had Isaiah sawn apart, he practiced sorcery, divination, and witchcraft. He consulted with mediums and spiritists. He filled Jerusalem with blood. His evil was without equal. The Bible says," Manasseh led Judah and the people of Jerusalem astray, so that they did more evil than the nations the LORD had destroyed before the Israelites." (2 Chron. 33:9)
A Complete Surrender
Following God requires effort and fortitude. Living according to God is walking a path that goes against the desires of a physical body. However, when you have truly submitted to God, all of those desires will fall away. The struggle is the complete surrender to being a servant of God. The surrender is what sets a Christian free from the struggle.
A Shackled King
Manasseh learned about complete surrender to God while Assyrian soldiers lead him with a hook through his nose. Bronze shackles and chains rattled on his wrists and ankles as he walked toward Babylon.(2 Chron. 33:11) A slave. He and his people ran afoul of Assyrian army commanders and were being punished for it. The wicked king of Judah was being marched to Babylon as a shackled slave. Did the soldiers taunt him or prod him with spears? Did they place a thorny crown on his head? Were his fine garments taken away and divided between his captors? Somewhere during that journey, Manasseh found a seed of faith leftover from his childhood worship of God with his father, Hezekiah. He found Jehovah at the bottom of a personal pit in Babylon. Alone. Captive.
Psalm 40:1-3 says it best:
...he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit,out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth,a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.
God is a God of Repenters
God Forgave A Wicked King - He Will Forgive You
Do not let your sins stop you from turning to God. You have not done anything evil enough to turn God from you. You do not have to "fix" yourself before becoming a follower of God. Repentance is the only thing that God wants from you. He forgave Manasseh. He will forgive you.
Manasseh's story can be read in 2 Chronicles 33 and 2 Kings 21.