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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
2 Chronicles 33

 

 

Verses 1-19

2 Chronicles 33:1-2. Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem: but did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord,

Yet who could have had a better father than Manasseh had? He was given to Hezekiah during those fifteen years which God graciously added to that good king’s life. Manasseh was, therefore, doubtless carefully trained, and looked upon as being one who would maintain God’s worship, and the honour of his father’s name. But grace does not run in the blood; and the best of parents may have the worst of children. Thus Manasseh, though he was the son of Hezekiah, “did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord,” —

2 Chronicles 33:2. Like unto the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel.

It often happens that, when the sons of good men become bad, they are among the worst of men. They who pervert a good example generally run headlong to destruction.

2 Chronicles 33:3. For he built again the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down, and he reared up altars for Baalim, and made groves, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them.

One form of idolatry was not enough for him; he must have all forms of it, even rearing altars to Baal, and making the stars also to be his gods.

2 Chronicles 33:4. Also he built altars in the house of the LORD, whereof the LORD had said, In Jerusalem shall my name be for ever.

Manasseh was worse than an ordinary idolater, for he polluted the very place which was dedicated to the service of the only living and true God.

2 Chronicles 33:5-6. And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. And he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom:

Perhaps he gave some of them actually to be burned in honour of his false gods; or if not some of his children were made to pass through the fire and were thus dedicated to the idol deities.

2 Chronicles 33:6. Also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.

You cannot imagine, I think, a worse character than this Manasseh was. He seems to have raked the foulest kennels of superstition to find all manner of abominations. Like false-hearted Saul, he had dealings with a familiar spirit, he had entered into a covenant with Satan himself, and made a league with hell, and yet, marvel of grace! this very Manasseh was saved, and is now singing the new song before the throne of God in glory.

2 Chronicles 33:7-9. And he set a carved image, the idol which he had made, in the house of God, of which God had said to David and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen before all the tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever: neither will I any more remove the foot of Israel from out of the land which I have appointed for your fathers; so that they will take heed to do all that I have commanded them, according to the whole law and the statutes and the ordinances by the hand of Moses. So Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen, whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel.

You see, dear friends, that he was not only a monster in iniquity himself, but he led a whole nation astray. Some people who, under the gracious rule of his father Hezekiah, had kept the passover in so joyous a manner, now, under this false son of so good a father, turned aside.

2 Chronicles 33:10. And the LORD spake to Manasseh, and to his people: but they would not hearken.

This was all that was necessary to fill up the measure of his guilt. He and his people were warned of God, but they would not hearken.

2 Chronicles 33:11. Wherefore-

Since words were not sufficient, and God intended to save him, he came to blows: “Wherefore” —

2 Chronicles 33:11. The LORD brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon.

They very likely chastened him with thorns, for the kings of Babylon were very cruel; and it may be that, when his back was lacerated by thorny scourges, he was put in prison with heavy fetters upon him.

2 Chronicles 33:12-13. And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed unto him: and he was entreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD he was God.

There surely can be no person in this assembly who can say that he has sinned worse than Manasseh did. He seems to have gone as far as any human being could go; and yet, you see, when he humbled himself before the Lord, and lifted up his heart in supplication, God forgave his sin, and restored him to his former position in Jerusalem.

2 Chronicles 33:14. Now after this he built a wall without the city of David, on the west side of Gihon, in the valley, even to the entering in at the fish gate, and compassed about Ophel, and raised it up a very great height, and put captains of war in all the fenced cities of Judah.

This is not of very much importance, but what else did he do?

2 Chronicles 33:16. And he took away the strange gods,-

When grace comes into any man’s heart, there is sure to be a change in his action. Manasseh “took away the strange gods,” —

2 Chronicles 33:16. And the idol out of the house of the LORD, and all the altars that he had built in the mount of the house of the LORD, and in Jerusalem, and cast them out of the city.

Sins which were before so pleasing to him are now abominations in his sight, and he flings them over the city wall like unclean things. In the very valley of the son of Hinnom where he had dedicated his sons to idols he now consumes his idol gods as foul and offensive things, to be cast away with all the refuse of the city.

2 Chronicles 33:16. And he repaired the altar of the LORD, and sacrificed thereon peace offerings and thank offerings, and commanded Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel.

It was not possible for him to undo all the evil which he had wrought, as he soon found out.

2 Chronicles 33:17. Nevertheless the people did sacrifice still in the high places, yet unto the Lord their God only.

The work of reformation is slow; you can lead men to sin as rapidly as you like, that is down-hill work; but to get them to toil with you up-hill toward the right is not so easy.

2 Chronicles 33:18-19. Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh, and his prayer unto his God, and the words of the seers that spake to him in the name of the LORD God of Israel, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Israel. His prayer also, and how God was entreated of him, and all his sins, and his trespass, and the places wherein he built high places, and set up groves and graven images, before he was humbled; behold, they are written among the sayings of the seers.

So we must remember that all the deeds that we have done, both good and evil, are written in God’s Book of Remembrance.


Verses 1-20

2 Chronicles 33:1. Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign,

He was, therefore, born after the time when Hezekiah was raised up from the bed of sickness. That prolongation of life was not all mercy: I am not sure that we should be so eager for such an extension of earthly existence either for ourselves or for others. Had Hezekiah been able to foresee what would be the abominations of the first part of Manasseh’s reign, should he come to the throne of Judah, methinks that the godly king might have been content to die at once rather than live any longer to become the father of such a sinner, and one who would prove to be such an enemy of the true faith. “Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign.” It was too early for a youth to reign over any nation. It is a great temptation, and a serious peril, when an individual has too much power before he reaches his manhood. It would have been far better for Manasseh if his accession to the throne had been postponed for a good while. You who are very young, and are entrusted with wealth and position, may God keep you from going wrong! It will need great grace to preserve you in the right path.

2 Chronicles 33:1. And he reigned fifty and five years, in Jerusalem:

Manasseh’s was a long reign, a varied reign, and at first a wicked reign of the very worst kind. Sometimes men are spared notwithstanding their sin. Manasseh’s was one of the longest reigns on record: “He reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem.”

2 Chronicles 33:2. But did that which was evil in the light of the LORD, like unto the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD, had cast out before the children of Israel.

The Lord drove out the Canaanites for the very sins that Manasseh committed. If we follow in the sins of others, we must not wonder if we share in their doom. It is a sad thing, however, when the child of such a father as Hezekiah does evil in the sight of the Lord, “like unto the abominations of the heathen, whom Jehovah had cast out before the children of Israel.”

2 Chronicles 33:3. For he built again the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down,

These high places were at first built for the worship of God, the true God; but then the law of Jehovah was that there should be only one altar, namely, that at Jerusalem. This was not Popery, but Ritualism; it was adding something to the simple worship of God, and therefore it was wrong. He who goes a little way in sin will soon go a long way. It is always a mercy to stop where you ought to stop, and not begin going down. Hezekiah had broken down the high places, and his son Manasseh rebuilt them.

2 Chronicles 33:3. And he reared up altars for Baalim, and made groves, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them.

He not only worshipped them, but he served them; he threw his whole strength into the propagation of this form of idolatry. They who build altars to God, contrary to the Lord’s law, will soon have false gods. First, men set up images to remind them of the true God; and then they go off to the worship of the idols, or false gods. Oh, that we may have grace to make no similitude of the Lord, and to set up nothing contrary to the simple teaching of the Word of God!

2 Chronicles 33:4-5. Also he built altars in the house of the LORD, whereof the LORD had said, In Jerusalem shall my name be for ever. And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD.

There was plenty of room elsewhere for them if Manasseh wanted them; but; nothing would do for him but that in the house of God itself must be built altars for the worship of the sun and all the host of stars.

2 Chronicles 33:6. And he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards:

All which is imitated, nowadays, by certain persons who try to break through the vail which parts us from the spiritual world. Manasseh did this on a large scale.

2 Chronicles 33:6-11. He wrought much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger. And he set a carved image, the idol which he had made, in the house of God, of which God had said to David and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen before all the tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever: neither will I any more remove the foot of Israel from out of the land which I have appointed for your fathers; so that they will take heed to do all that I have commanded them, according to the whole law and the statutes and the ordinances by the hand of Moses. So Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen, whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel. And the LORD spake to Manasseh, and to his people: but they would not hearken. Wherefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon.

If you will not learn anywhere else, you will have to be taught among thorns, and in chains, and in exile. There are some men who will never go to heaven except through a sea of affliction and trial. Oh, for wisdom to yield to almighty grace at once!

2 Chronicles 33:12-13. And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed unto him: and he was entreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD he was God.

He had set up Baal and Ashtaroth; but now he knows who is the true God, and he bows before Jehovah.

2 Chronicles 33:14-17. Now after this he built a wall without the city of David, on the west side of Gihon, in the valley, even to the entering in at the fish gate, and compassed about Ophel, and raised it up a very great height, and put captains of war in all the fenced cities of Judah. And he took away the strange gods, and the idol out of the house of the LORD, and all the altars that he had built in the mount of the house of the LORD, and in Jerusalem, and cast them out of the city. And he repaired the altar of the Lord, and sacrificed thereon peace offerings and thank offerings, and commanded Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel. Nevertheless the people did sacrifice still in the high places,

They do the same today, and we cannot get them away from them. Even some who love the gospel yet cling to the old Romish rites and ceremonies. Ah, men do love to multiply outward performances instead of spiritual worship! The one altar of Calvary is not enough for them; they must have many altars: “Nevertheless the people did sacrifice still in the high places.”

2 Chronicles 33:17. Yet unto the LORD their God only.

So far, it was well; but it would have been better if they had given up all those altars.

2 Chronicles 33:18-20. Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh, and his prayer unto his God, and the words of the seers that spake to him in the name of the LORD God of Israel, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Israel, His prayer also, and how God was entreated of him, and all his sins, and his trespass, and the places wherein he built high places, and set up groves and graven images, before he was humbled: behold, they are written among the sayings of the seers. So Manasseh slept with his fathers, and they buried him in his own house: and Amon his son reigned in his stead.

The short passage, which I am going to read from the first chapter of Isaiah, seems to get a fine illustration in this story of Manasseh.

This exposition consisted of readings from 2 Chronicles 33:1-20; And Isaiah 1:2-19.

 


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 33:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/2-chronicles-33.html. 2011.

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