So, I was reading in Chronicles yesterday morning and I realized something I had never noticed before, which is pretty amazing since I’ve read those history books so many times.
Here’s Hezekiah, one of Judah’s most righteous kings. There’s a great revival. He tears down high places and brings the people back to a worship of the Lord. God decides He’s done with Hezekiah, who then gets sick. Isaiah tells him, “Get ready. It’s time for you to die.” Hezekiah, of course does not want to die, so he reminds God of all the good things he’s done and begs for more time. God, being a gracious and merciful God, grants his request and Hezekiah is given FIFTEEN (15) more years (in 2 Kings and in Isaiah).
In 2 Chronicles 32, the historian writes “25 But Hezekiah’s heart was proud and he did not respond to the kindness shown him; therefore the LORD’s wrath was on him and on Judah and Jerusalem. 26 Then Hezekiah repented of the pride of his heart, as did the people of Jerusalem; therefore the LORD’s wrath did not come upon them during the days of Hezekiah.”
The second thing the historian reports is that during this grace period, Hezekiah shows all the wealth of Israel to the Babylonian emissary. Then finally, he dies and his TWELVE year old son, Manasseh takes the throne. This means the boy was born during the extra 15 years, if you are keeping track of the math.
According to 2 Kings 21, the Lord said “11 “Manasseh king of Judah has committed these detestable sins. He has done more evil than the Amorites who preceded him and has led Judah into sin with his idols. 12 Therefore this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I am going to bring such disaster on Jerusalem and Judah that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle.”
I don’t know how such a young boy (aged 12) was crowned king when Hezekiah had been king for long enough to surely have older offspring. It doesn’t matter. The consequences of Hezekiah’s refusal to accept that God knew best were far reaching for the entire nation.
In 2 Chronicles when it talks about Manasseh’s reign, there is a record that “12 In his distress he sought the favor of the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. 13 And when he prayed to him, the LORD was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD is God.” Manasseh turned back to the Lord in his old age (he was king for 55 years). He “restored the altar of the LORD and sacrificed fellowship offerings and thank offerings on it, and told Judah to serve the LORD, the God of Israel (2 Chr. 33:16)”
So, Manasseh dies, his son Amon rules for two years, and then Manasseh’s 8-year-old grandson Josiah takes the throne. Math again here, folks, so Josiah was born six years before Manasseh’s death and probably during the time after Manasseh’s repentance. This young boy, the record says, was one of the most zealous for the Lord than any king of Judah since David’s reign, “not turning aside to the right or to the left,” and he even tore down all the high places of Israel as his great-grandfather Hezekiah had done.
By this time, though, the heart of the people had turned away from their God and the king could not make a difference. As long as he was alive, they followed God, but as soon as he died, they turned. I heard Steve Fry point out once that it was during this last period of “great revival” that Jeremiah the prophet was ministering and prophesying judgment for those who performed outwardly, but did not have their hearts right.
I find it interesting that, in Ezekiel 18, the Lord emphasizes the fact that each person is judged for his own sins. The son is not punished for the father’s sins, nor is the father punished for the son’s sins. In fact, it specifies that if a wicked man turns to God, God will have mercy on him and forget his sins; and if a righteous man turns away, then God will judge him. Let’s not get into the “eternal security” debate here. I’m just quoting Ezekiel. This is amply demonstrated in the lives of Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amon (who was a wicked guy and his servants murdered him), and Josiah.
CHOICES MATTER! When God sends us suffering or blessing, our choice should be to accept what God sends and glorify His name, regardless of what the outcome is for us, instead of waffling around and complaining and asking the Lord to change our personal situation every single time. The book of James specifies that we should pray GOD’s will, not our own.
Hezekiah’s selfishness, in the end, brought judgment on the nation of Judah. Josiah’s son Jehoahaz was captured by the king of Egypt after only three months’ reign, and the kingdom was conquered by Babylon during the 11th year of the reign of his second son Jehoiakim. (Nebuchadnezzar set Josiah’s brother Zedekiah in power.)
But Manasseh’s repentance delayed the judgment. God is merciful. He gave Judah another opportunity to turn back to him during the reign of Manasseh’s grandson Josiah.
EVERY CHOICE COUNTS, EVERY TIME.
Think about what’s in your heart when you make a request of the Lord, or make a decision today.
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