young lady steering a canoe July 23 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): 2Kings 20:20-21; 2Kings 21; 2Chronicles 32:32-33; 2Chronicles 33; Psalm 82

Turning Away From or Toward God

Most parents try to raise their children right. They give them love, attention, and good moral guidance. Many realize the value of taking their children to church so they may be taught about God and have good influences from caring Christian people. It is, therefore, upsetting when they later see them rebel against everything they have been taught in the home and at church. What are they thinking? Don't they know their “friends” could lead them into destructive ways? What are parents to do?

In today's Bible reading we return from the prophecies of Isaiah to the record of the kings of Judah. It is one hundred years before Babylon attacks and conquers them, exiling them from the land. When good King Hezekiah dies, his twelve-year-old son, Manasseh, reigns. Immediately, he undoes the reforms of his father. One might wonder if he is bitter against God for taking away his dad, for the very first thing he does is to lead the nation of Judah into idolatry, and that with perceived vengeance.

[Manasseh] did evil in the eyes of the LORD, following the detestable practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites. He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had demolished; he also erected altars to the Baals and made Asherah poles. He bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshiped them. He built altars in the temple of the LORD, of which the LORD had said, “My Name will remain in Jerusalem forever.” In both courts of the temple of the LORD, he built altars to all the starry hosts. He sacrificed his sons in the fire in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, practiced sorcery, divination and witchcraft, and consulted mediums and spiritists.

He did much evil in the eyes of the LORD, provoking him to anger. He took the carved image he had made and put it in God's temple, of which God had said to David and to his son Solomon,

“In this temple and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my Name forever. I will not again make the feet of the Israelites leave the land I assigned to your forefathers, if only they will be careful to do everything I commanded them concerning all the laws, decrees and ordinances given through Moses.”

But 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. The LORD spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention (2Chronicles 31:2-10, NIV).

How do we deal with strong-willed children and stubborn adults? Counseling does little good—they need to be humbled. We have to allow life's harsh realities to smack them against the head so they wake up and learn not to be so foolish. Stubborn people usually have to learn life lessons the hard way. Manasseh does not listen to God, so He takes strong measures.

The LORD brought against them [the Israelites in Judah] the army commanders of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh prisoner, put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon (2Chronicles 31:11, NIV).

Does rough treatment get Manasseh’s attention? Yes.

In his distress he [Manasseh] sought the favor of the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. 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…. He got rid of the foreign gods and removed the image from the temple of the LORD, as well as all the altars he had built on the temple hill and in Jerusalem; and he threw them out of the city.

Then 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” (2Chronicles 33:12-16, NIV).

What a radical change! Perhaps your obstinate loved ones will also experience a radical change in their lives. Keep praying for them; God may yet turn them around (James 5:16-20, NIV). The LORD is merciful and gracious, especially to those who have a personal relationship with Him. After life’s discipline, some obstinate children and adults come to their senses.

Despite his repentance, however, Manasseh's bad example carries on to the people and his son Ammon. After fifty years of wicked living, the damage is done. Although the people now “worship the LORD” (at least ceremonially), they worship Him on the high places instead of Jerusalem. Manasseh's son, Ammon, succeeds him and is just as wicked as his father. After just two years, Ammon is officials assassinate him.

Because of the sins of Manasseh, God will eventually destroy and expel the people of Judah from the Promised Land—their sins are worse than the Amorites (another name for Canaanites). 2Kings 21:13 describes the expelling of evil in Judah as wiping out a dish with a rag after cleaning it, both wiping it and turning it upside down. This will happen in 586 B.C. when Babylon destroys Jerusalem. Like the results of Manasseh's sins, we cannot predict how our sins might affect future generations. It is best to turn away from our sins to God while He is merciful and gracious.

Lessons to Live By

concerning turning away from or toward God

  • Let's rejoice that God is merciful and gracious. Even if we or our loved ones make irrevocable mistakes, He is often merciful to us in succeeding generations.
  • Pray that the times of obstinacy will be short and lessons will be learned quickly and well.
  • If we are the ones who are obstinate, let's turn to the living and true God from our sinful lives of idolatry. He will lead us in the right ways which bring peace and prosperity (more...)

Focus Verses

2Chronicles 33:12-13 (NIV)

In his distress he sought the favor of the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. 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.

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A Look Ahead: When we mess up and repent, God is merciful and defends us. See how He brings Vengeance and Comfort in our Next Lesson.

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