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Bible Commentaries

The Biblical Illustrator
2 Chronicles 33

 

 

Verse 1

2 Chronicles 33:1

Manasseh was twelve years old.

Manasseh; or, the material and the moral in human life

There are two great mistakes prevalent amongst men, one is an over-estimation of the secular, the other a depreciation of the spiritual. Man is one, and all his duties and interests are concurrent and harmonious; the end of Christianity is to make men happy body and soul, here and hereafter.

I. The elevation of the secular and the degradation of the spiritual. Here is a man at the height of secular elevation. He is raised to a throne, called to sway his sceptre over a people the most enlightened, and in a country the most fertile and lovely on the face of the earth. In the person of this Manasseh, you have secular greatness in its highest altitude and most attractive position. But in connection with this you have spiritual degradation. Penetrate the gaudy trappings of royalty, look within, and what see you? A low, wretched, infamous spirit, a spirit debased almost to the lowest point in morals.

1. Look at him socially. How acted he as a son? His father, Hezekiah, was a man of undoubted piety--a monarch of distinguished worth. His sire was scarcely cold in his grave, before the son commenced undoing in the kingdom all that his pious father had for years endeavoured to accomplish. “He built up again the high place which Hezekiah his father had destroyed,” etc. How did he act as a parent? Was he anxious for the virtue and happiness of his children? No, “he caused his children to pass through the fire of the son of Hinnom.”

2. Look at him religiously--dupe of the most stupid imposture. “He observed times and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards.”

3. Look at him politically ruining his country, provoking the indignation of heaven.” 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.” This elevation of the secular, and the degradation of the spiritual, so manifest in the life of this monarch, and so manifest, alas, in all times and lands, is not destitute of many grave and startling suggestions. First: It shows the moral disorganisation of the human world. This state of things can never be, according to the original plan of the creation. A terrible convulsion has happened to the human world; a convulsion that has thrown every part in disorder. “All the foundations of the earth are out of course.” The social world is in a moral chaos. The Bible traces the cause, and propounds the remedy of this terrible disorganisation. Secondly: It shows the perverting capability of the soul. The greater the amount of worldly good a man possesses, the stronger is the appeal of the Creator for his gratitude and devotion. Moreover, the larger the amount of worldly wealth and power, the greater the facilities as well as the obligations to a life of spiritual intelligence, holiness, and piety. The perverting capability of the soul within us, may well fill us with amazement and alarm. Thirdly: It shows the high probability of a judgment. Under the government of a righteous monarch, will vice always have its banquets, its purple, and its crown? Will the great Lord allow His stewards to misappropriate His substance, and never call them to account?

II. The degradation of the secular, and the elevation of the spiritual. The judgment of God, which must ever follow sin, at length overtook the wicked monarch. The Assyrian army, under the direction of Esarhaddon, invaded the country, and carried all before it. The miserable monarch quits his palace and his throne, flies in terror of his life, and conceals himself in a thorn brake. Here he is discovered. He is bound in chains, transported to Babylon, and there cast into prison. Here is secular degradation. First: That man’s circumstances are no necessary hindrances to conversion. If the question were asked, What circumstances are the most inimical to the cultivation of piety? I should unhesitatingly answer--Adversity. I am well aware indeed that adversity, as in the case before us, often succeeds in inducing religious thoughtfulness and penitence when prosperity has failed. But, notwithstanding this, I cannot regard adversity itself as the most suited to the cultivation of the religious character. Sufferings are inimical to that grateful feeling and spiritual effort which religious culture requires. It is when the system bounds with health, when Providence smiles on the path, that men are in the best position to discipline themselves into a godly life. But here we find a man in the most unfavourable circumstances--away from religions institutions, and friends, and books, an ironbound exile in a pagan land--beginning to think of his ways, and directing his feet into the paths of holiness. Such a case as this meets all the excuses which men offer for their want of religion. It is often said, “Were we in such and such circumstances, we would be religious.” The rich man says, “Were I in humble life, more free from the anxieties, cares, responsibilities, and associations of my position, I would live a godly life; whilst the poor, on the other hand, says, with far more reason, “Were my spirit not pressed down by the crushing forces of poverty; had I sufficient of worldly goods to remove me from all necessary anxiety, I would give my mind to religion, and serve my God.” The man in the midst of excitement and bustle of commercial life, says, “Were I in a more retired situation, in some moral region away from the eternal din of business--away in quiet fields, and under clear skies, amidst the music of birds and brooks, I would serve my Maker.” The fact, after all, is that circumstances are no necessary hindrances or helps to a religious life. Secondly: That heaven’s mercy is greater than man’s iniquities.

III. The concurrent elevation both of the spiritual and the secular. The Almighty hears his prayer. He is emancipated from his bondage, brought back to his own country, and restored to the throne of Israel. There he is now with a true heart, in a noble position--a real great man occupying a great office. This is a rare scene; and yet the only scene in accordance with the real constitution of things and the will of God. It seems to me that if man had remained in innocence, his outward position would always have been the product and type of his inner soul. Manasseh’s restoration to the throne, and the work of reformation to which he sets himself, suggests two subjects for thought. First: The tendency of godliness to promote man’s secular elevation. The monarch comes back in spirit to God, and God brings him back to his throne. As the material condition of men depends upon their moral, improve the latter, and you improve the former. As the world gets spiritually holier, it will get secularly happier. Secondly: The tendency of penitence to make restitution. Concerning Manasseh it is thus written: “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,” etc. Here is restitution, and an earnest endeavour to undo the mischief which he had wrought. Thus Zaceheus acted, and thus all true penitents have ever acted and will ever act. True penitence has a restitutionary instinct. But how little, alas! of the mischief done can be undone! (Homilist.)


Verses 1-25

Verse 10-11

2 Chronicles 33:10-11

And bound him with fetters.

Divine discipline

The proper way for a sinner to be brought to God is for God to speak to him, and for him to hear. Manasseh would not come that way, so God fetched him back by a rougher road.

I. The Lord often allows temporal trials to take men captive.

1. Business disasters.

2. Want of employment.

3. Extraordinary troubles.

4. Bodily affliction.

5. The loss of dear friends.

II. The lord sometimes allows men to be bound by mental trials; “ bound with fetters.” Such as--

1. When sin ceases to afford pleasure. The very things that once made him all aglow with delight do not affect him now, nor cast a single ray of light on his path.

2. The daily avocation becomes distasteful.

3. There is great inability in prayer.

4. Your old sins come out of their hiding-places.

5. A great want of power to grasp the promises.

6. A fear of death and dread of judgment.

Conclusion: In order to your comfort and peace--

1. Know that the Lord is God.

2. Humble yourself before Him.

3. Begin to pray.

4. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. (C. H. Spurgeon.)


Verse 12

2 Chronicles 33:12; 2 Chronicles 33:18

And when he was in affliction, he besought the Lord his God.

Manasseh’s wickedness and penitence

I. Manssseh’s career in crime.

II. His return to and acceptance of God.

III. The gracious results of his penitence. Improvement.

1. The lamentable wickedness and duplicity of the human heart.

2. The freeness, fulness, and efficacy of Divine grace.

3. The consequences of salvation are reformation and obedience. (T.B. Baker.)

Manasseh

Manasseh is an eminent instance of the power, richness, and freeness of the Divine mercy. Observe--

I. The sins which he committed.

1. Their contributory cause. His early freedom from restraint, his coming to supreme power when only twelve years of age.

2. Their special nature. The catalogue is appalling.

3. Their aggravated nature.

II. The repentance which he exercised.

1. Its cause.

2. Its nature.

III. The mercies which manasseh received.

1. Temporal nature.

2. Spiritual He was brought to the spiritual knowledge of the God of his salvation. “Then Manasseh knew that the Lord He was God.” This knowledge led him to fear, trust, love, and obey. This obedience was accompanied by the deepest self-renunciation and abasement to the end of his life. Lessons.

1. To those who are insensible of their sinfulness.

2. To those who are ready to sink into despair under the weight of their sinfulness.

3. To those who are disposed to presume on the mercy of God. Manasseh’s son Amon was quickly cut off in the midst of his sins (verses 21-28). He seems to be a beacon set up close by the side of his penitent and accepted father, to warn all persons against presuming on the mercy manifested to Manasseh. (Homilist.)

Manasseh’s repentance

I. His character as a sinner.

1. He was a notorious sinner.

2. He was not a hopeless sinner.

II. His conduct as a penitent.

1. The period of his repentance is specified. “When he was in affliction.”

2. The nature of his repentance is described.

III. His salvation as a believer.

1. He obtained the pardoning mercy of God.

2. He received a saving knowledge of God (Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.)

Manasseh humbled

I. The benefit of afflictions in bringing the sinner to a true sense of his condition and converting him to God.

II. The mercy of God in so bringing and receiving him.

III. The remaining and lasting portion of the evil of sin, even after the individual is pardoned. In the Second Book of Kings it is repeatedly declared that Judah was destroyed on account of the sons of Manasseh.

1. A man looks back with sorrow and contrite concern upon the follies and sins of his youth; but what of his companions in guilt? Some, perhaps, whom he seduced into sin, and many whom he encouraged and confirmed in sin.

2. Some writers have employed their pens in the odious cause of immorality and irreligion. Such persons have lamented their errors; but the publication has done its work; the poison has been circulated, and the corruption is incurable. (J. Slade, M. A.)

The conversion of Manasseh

I. That early advantages may be succeeded by complicated sin.

II. That sin is frequently the cause of severe affliction.

III. That affliction, when sanctified, exalts to prayer, and promotes humiliation.

IV. That prayer and humiliation are always attended with distinguished blessings, and produce valuable effects.

V. From the whole.

1. The patience of God.

2. The sovereignty of God.

3. The wisdom of God in adapting means to the conversion of men.

4. The mercy of God in saving the chief of sinners. (S. Kidd.)

The repentance of Manasseh

We will connect the important change which took place in the mind of Manasseh--

I. With his early advantages. John Newton states somewhere, “When I was in the deepest misery, and when I was committing the most atrocious sin, I always seemed to feel the hand of my sainted mother pressing my head.”

II. With the afflictions by which it was produced.

III. With the effects which it unfolded.

IV. With the sovereignty of Divine Grace. (A. E. Farrar.)

Manasseh brought to repentance

I. His life of sin.

1. It was in direct contrast to the good reign of his father.

2. His sin involved many in guilt. He “made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err.”

3. He was not moved by the sight of the same wickedness in those whom he despised (2 Kings 21:9).

4. His sin was not checked by God’s punishment of others. The heathen had been driven out from the land because of their wickedness. Judah occupied their place and adopted their vice.

II. The life of manasseh under God’s chastisement. We learn from recently discovered Assyrian inscriptions what is meant by “among the thorns.” The word thus translated means a hook, which was put through the under lips of captives. The depths of Manasseh’s degradation may be imagined. Yet it was sent in mercy to turn him to God.

III. His repentance and restoration.

IV. His re-establishment of the worship of God. Lessons.

1. Never to be ashamed of repentance.

2. We see the meaning of God’s chastisements.

3. The power of a single man when he has turned from sin to God.

4. The necessity of solitary communion with God.

5. The patient love of God. (Monday Club Sermons.)

The conversion of an aged transgressor

I. Let us attend to the circumstances which by the grace of God led to the conversion of Manasseh.

1. Affliction.

2. Solitary reflection.

3. Prayer.

II. Consider next how the grace of God operated in Manasseh.

1. He humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers.

2. He was made to know that the Lord was God.

3. He brought forth fruits meet for repentance.

III. The circumstances which made his conversion peculiarly striking.

1. It was the conversion of an atrocious sinner.

2. Of an aged sinner.

3. It took place at a distance from the ordinary means of grace. (H. Belfrage, D.D.)

Manasseh

God contents not Himself to have left on record in His word declarations and promises of grace as beacons of hope to the sinner. We have examples also of His acts of grace. Abounding iniquity, and more abounding grace, are the special features presented to us in this history of Manasseh.

I. Abounding iniquity marked Manasseh’s course.

1. He was the son of Hezekiah the servant of the Lord. We place this foremost as an aggravation of his sin, that in spite of a father’s example he cast off the fear of the Lord and sinned with a high hand against his God. That father, indeed, was early taken from him, for Manasseh was but twelve years old when he began to reign; still, the memory of Hezekiah’s piety could not have been utterly forgotten. Too marked had been the interposition of Jehovah in that father’s deliverance from Assyria and in his recovery from sickness for the report to have passed away. But Manasseh heeded not these things; “he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the Lord to provoke Him to anger.”

2. Manasseh added to his disregard of a godly parent this iniquity also, that he led his children unto sin,” he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom.” . . . Some godless parents have shown a happy inconsistency, in that whilst pursuing themselves that path “whose end is destruction,” they have desired for their offspring that they should seek the Lord. The force of example, indeed, meeting as it does with “the evil that is bound up in the heart of a child,” will in such eases often prove too powerful to be withstood. But Manasseh took no such course, but dedicated his children as well as himself to the service of the false gods. Alas, the reproducing power of evil! Thou that art a citizen of the world, intent on gain or pleasure, can it be expected but that thy children should walk after thee in the same destructive road?

3. Manasseh bade defiance to Jehovah in His own sanctuary. Not only did he build again the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed, but “he set a carved image,” the idol which he had made, “in the house of God.” It was not enough that he himself should bow down to idols, and that his children should also do them homage, but with yet more prsumptuous sin he declared himself, in the face of all Israel, an idolater, and desecrated to this base end the very temple, of which the Lord had said, “My Name shall be there.” It is the very character of Jehovah that He is “a jealous God,” “His glory will He not give to another.”

4. But further, Manasseh “shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another.” The faithful who warned him were doubtless the ones especially sacrificed to his vengeance, and it is supposed that Isaiah suffered death under this fearful persecutor of the Church of God. For the wickedness of Manasseh could not plead this even in palliation that he was unrebuked: “The Lord spoke to Manasseh and to his people, but they would not hearken.” What depth of malignity is there in the unchanged soul! what pollutions! what ingratitude! what rebellion! Were it not for the restraining grace of God, what a scene of bloodshed and of all enormity would this earth be!

II. More abounding still the grace of God.

1. In chastisement the first faint streak of mercy manifested itself. The voice of plenty had spoken to him in vain, the voice of warning had been treated with neglect, but now the voice of correction speaks in tones not to be gainsaid. The alarm of war is heard in that guilty court.

2. His deep penitence bore witness to the workings of grace. He humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers That word “greatly” speaks much as recorded by the Spirit of truth. As with the gospel itself, so with the chastenings of the Lord, they are either “a savour of life unto life, or of death unto death.”

3. The voice of prayer went up from that prison-house, “He besought the Lord . . . and prayed unto Him.” Tears, many it may be, fell before one prayer was uttered.

4. Abounding grace, shone forth, too, in the answer granted to prayer. “God was intreated of him.” He heard his cry, and hope sprung up in his downcast soul.

5. The workings of God’s grace were further evidenced by the fruits of faith in life according to godliness. Manasseh restored to his kingdom, has now but one object in view, the glory of God, and that object he consistently pursued. The idol is east out from the temple, and the altars of the false gods out of the city, and the people are commanded “to serve the Lord God of Israel.” He turned not aside from his purpose to bring back to Jehovah those whom formerly he had led away to sin; and this godly course he pursued unto the end.

Lessons.

1. The first is, that there is a fulness of grace in God as our reconciled Father in Christ Jesus beyond the power of heart to conceive, or of tongue to utter.

2. But this history also reminds us of the dreadful nature of sin. Deep are its furrows, lasting its effects. Manasseh is pardoned, but,could he repair the evil he had done? (F. Storr, M.A.)

Manasseh

We shall consider Manasseh--

I. As a sinner.

1. He sinned against light, against a pious education and early training. It is a notorious fact that when men do go wrong after a good training they are the worst men in the world. The murder of John Williams at Erromanga was brought about by the evil doings of a trader who had gone to the island, and who was also the son of a missionary. He had become reckless in his habits, and treated the islanders with such barbarity and cruelty that they revenged his conduct upon the next white man who put his foot upon their shore.

2. He was a very bold sinner.

3. He had the power of leading others to a very large extent astray.

II. As an unbeliever. He did not believe that Jehovah was God alone.

1. The unlimited power that Manasseh possessed had a great tendency to make him a disbeliever.

2. His pride was another cause.

3. Another cause was his love for sin.

III. As a convert. He believed in God--

1. Because God had answered his prayer.

2. Because He had forgiven his sin. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Manasseh’s repentance

Manasseh is unique alike in extreme wickedness, sincere penitence, and thorough reformation. The reformation of Julius Caesar or of our own Henry V, or to take a different class of instance, the conversion of Paul, was nothing compared to the conversion of Manasseh. It was as though Herod the Great or Caesar Borgia had been checked midway in a career of cruelty and vice, and had thenceforward lived pure and holy lives, glorifying God by ministering to their fellow-men. (W. H. Bennett, M.A.)

He was intreated of him.

Pardon for the greatest guilt

The story of Manasseh is a very valuable one. I feel sure of this, because you meet with it twice in the Word of God. God would have us again and again dwell upon such wonders of sovereign grace as Manasseh presents to us.

I. Let us examine the case before us.

1. Manasseh was the son of a good father.

2. He undid all his father’s actions.

3. He served false gods.

4. He desecrated the Lord’s courts. There are some to-day who do this; for they make even their attendance at the house of God to be an occasion for evil.

5. He dedicated his children to the devil. Nobody here will dedicate his children to the devil, surely; yet many do. Have I not seen a father dedicate his boy to the devil, as he has encouraged him to drink? And do not many in this great city, dedicate their children to the devil by allowing them to go into all kinds of licentiousness, until they become the victims of vice?

6. He fraternised with the devil, by seeking after all kinds of supernatural witcheries and wizardries.

7. He led others astray.

8. He persecuted the people of God. It is said,--we do not know whether it was so or not,--but it is highly probable, that he caused Isaiah to be cut asunder with a wooden saw.

9. In short, Manasseh was a compound of every sort of wickedness.

10. Notwithstanding all this Manasseh was pardoned. How it came about?

II. Let us consider why there should be others like Manasseh. Judging from many probabilities, that God will save other great sinners as He saved Manasseh.

1. Because He speaks to such great sinners and commands them to repent (Isaiah 1:16-18). Because of the great promises God has given to great sinners.

3. Because of the nature of God.

4. From what I know of the value of the blood of Jesus. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Then Manasseh knew that the Lord He was God.--

Forgiveness and the knowledge of God

Men first begin to know God when they are forgiven. What did the prodigal know about his father when he asked for the portion of goods that fell to him, or while he was wasting his substance in riotous living? Because love and forgiveness are more strange and unearthly than rebuke and chastisement, the sinner is humbled by pardon far more than by punishment; and his trembling submission to the righteous Judge deepens into profounder reverence and awe for the God who can forgive, who is superior to all vindictiveness, whose infinite resources enable Him to blot out the guilt, to cancel the penalty, and annul the consequences of sin. (W. H. Bennett, M.A.)


Verse 18

2 Chronicles 33:12; 2 Chronicles 33:18

And when he was in affliction, he besought the Lord his God.

Manasseh’s wickedness and penitence

I. Manssseh’s career in crime.

II. His return to and acceptance of God.

III. The gracious results of his penitence. Improvement.

1. The lamentable wickedness and duplicity of the human heart.

2. The freeness, fulness, and efficacy of Divine grace.

3. The consequences of salvation are reformation and obedience. (T.B. Baker.)

Manasseh

Manasseh is an eminent instance of the power, richness, and freeness of the Divine mercy. Observe--

I. The sins which he committed.

1. Their contributory cause. His early freedom from restraint, his coming to supreme power when only twelve years of age.

2. Their special nature. The catalogue is appalling.

3. Their aggravated nature.

II. The repentance which he exercised.

1. Its cause.

2. Its nature.

III. The mercies which manasseh received.

1. Temporal nature.

2. Spiritual He was brought to the spiritual knowledge of the God of his salvation. “Then Manasseh knew that the Lord He was God.” This knowledge led him to fear, trust, love, and obey. This obedience was accompanied by the deepest self-renunciation and abasement to the end of his life. Lessons.

1. To those who are insensible of their sinfulness.

2. To those who are ready to sink into despair under the weight of their sinfulness.

3. To those who are disposed to presume on the mercy of God. Manasseh’s son Amon was quickly cut off in the midst of his sins (verses 21-28). He seems to be a beacon set up close by the side of his penitent and accepted father, to warn all persons against presuming on the mercy manifested to Manasseh. (Homilist.)

Manasseh’s repentance

I. His character as a sinner.

1. He was a notorious sinner.

2. He was not a hopeless sinner.

II. His conduct as a penitent.

1. The period of his repentance is specified. “When he was in affliction.”

2. The nature of his repentance is described.

III. His salvation as a believer.

1. He obtained the pardoning mercy of God.

2. He received a saving knowledge of God (Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.)

Manasseh humbled

I. The benefit of afflictions in bringing the sinner to a true sense of his condition and converting him to God.

II. The mercy of God in so bringing and receiving him.

III. The remaining and lasting portion of the evil of sin, even after the individual is pardoned. In the Second Book of Kings it is repeatedly declared that Judah was destroyed on account of the sons of Manasseh.

1. A man looks back with sorrow and contrite concern upon the follies and sins of his youth; but what of his companions in guilt? Some, perhaps, whom he seduced into sin, and many whom he encouraged and confirmed in sin.

2. Some writers have employed their pens in the odious cause of immorality and irreligion. Such persons have lamented their errors; but the publication has done its work; the poison has been circulated, and the corruption is incurable. (J. Slade, M. A.)

The conversion of Manasseh

I. That early advantages may be succeeded by complicated sin.

II. That sin is frequently the cause of severe affliction.

III. That affliction, when sanctified, exalts to prayer, and promotes humiliation.

IV. That prayer and humiliation are always attended with distinguished blessings, and produce valuable effects.

V. From the whole.

1. The patience of God.

2. The sovereignty of God.

3. The wisdom of God in adapting means to the conversion of men.

4. The mercy of God in saving the chief of sinners. (S. Kidd.)

The repentance of Manasseh

We will connect the important change which took place in the mind of Manasseh--

I. With his early advantages. John Newton states somewhere, “When I was in the deepest misery, and when I was committing the most atrocious sin, I always seemed to feel the hand of my sainted mother pressing my head.”

II. With the afflictions by which it was produced.

III. With the effects which it unfolded.

IV. With the sovereignty of Divine Grace. (A. E. Farrar.)

Manasseh brought to repentance

I. His life of sin.

1. It was in direct contrast to the good reign of his father.

2. His sin involved many in guilt. He “made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err.”

3. He was not moved by the sight of the same wickedness in those whom he despised (2 Kings 21:9).

4. His sin was not checked by God’s punishment of others. The heathen had been driven out from the land because of their wickedness. Judah occupied their place and adopted their vice.

II. The life of manasseh under God’s chastisement. We learn from recently discovered Assyrian inscriptions what is meant by “among the thorns.” The word thus translated means a hook, which was put through the under lips of captives. The depths of Manasseh’s degradation may be imagined. Yet it was sent in mercy to turn him to God.

III. His repentance and restoration.

IV. His re-establishment of the worship of God. Lessons.

1. Never to be ashamed of repentance.

2. We see the meaning of God’s chastisements.

3. The power of a single man when he has turned from sin to God.

4. The necessity of solitary communion with God.

5. The patient love of God. (Monday Club Sermons.)

The conversion of an aged transgressor

I. Let us attend to the circumstances which by the grace of God led to the conversion of Manasseh.

1. Affliction.

2. Solitary reflection.

3. Prayer.

II. Consider next how the grace of God operated in Manasseh.

1. He humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers.

2. He was made to know that the Lord was God.

3. He brought forth fruits meet for repentance.

III. The circumstances which made his conversion peculiarly striking.

1. It was the conversion of an atrocious sinner.

2. Of an aged sinner.

3. It took place at a distance from the ordinary means of grace. (H. Belfrage, D.D.)

Manasseh

God contents not Himself to have left on record in His word declarations and promises of grace as beacons of hope to the sinner. We have examples also of His acts of grace. Abounding iniquity, and more abounding grace, are the special features presented to us in this history of Manasseh.

I. Abounding iniquity marked Manasseh’s course.

1. He was the son of Hezekiah the servant of the Lord. We place this foremost as an aggravation of his sin, that in spite of a father’s example he cast off the fear of the Lord and sinned with a high hand against his God. That father, indeed, was early taken from him, for Manasseh was but twelve years old when he began to reign; still, the memory of Hezekiah’s piety could not have been utterly forgotten. Too marked had been the interposition of Jehovah in that father’s deliverance from Assyria and in his recovery from sickness for the report to have passed away. But Manasseh heeded not these things; “he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the Lord to provoke Him to anger.”

2. Manasseh added to his disregard of a godly parent this iniquity also, that he led his children unto sin,” he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom.” . . . Some godless parents have shown a happy inconsistency, in that whilst pursuing themselves that path “whose end is destruction,” they have desired for their offspring that they should seek the Lord. The force of example, indeed, meeting as it does with “the evil that is bound up in the heart of a child,” will in such eases often prove too powerful to be withstood. But Manasseh took no such course, but dedicated his children as well as himself to the service of the false gods. Alas, the reproducing power of evil! Thou that art a citizen of the world, intent on gain or pleasure, can it be expected but that thy children should walk after thee in the same destructive road?

3. Manasseh bade defiance to Jehovah in His own sanctuary. Not only did he build again the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed, but “he set a carved image,” the idol which he had made, “in the house of God.” It was not enough that he himself should bow down to idols, and that his children should also do them homage, but with yet more prsumptuous sin he declared himself, in the face of all Israel, an idolater, and desecrated to this base end the very temple, of which the Lord had said, “My Name shall be there.” It is the very character of Jehovah that He is “a jealous God,” “His glory will He not give to another.”

4. But further, Manasseh “shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another.” The faithful who warned him were doubtless the ones especially sacrificed to his vengeance, and it is supposed that Isaiah suffered death under this fearful persecutor of the Church of God. For the wickedness of Manasseh could not plead this even in palliation that he was unrebuked: “The Lord spoke to Manasseh and to his people, but they would not hearken.” What depth of malignity is there in the unchanged soul! what pollutions! what ingratitude! what rebellion! Were it not for the restraining grace of God, what a scene of bloodshed and of all enormity would this earth be!

II. More abounding still the grace of God.

1. In chastisement the first faint streak of mercy manifested itself. The voice of plenty had spoken to him in vain, the voice of warning had been treated with neglect, but now the voice of correction speaks in tones not to be gainsaid. The alarm of war is heard in that guilty court.

2. His deep penitence bore witness to the workings of grace. He humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers That word “greatly” speaks much as recorded by the Spirit of truth. As with the gospel itself, so with the chastenings of the Lord, they are either “a savour of life unto life, or of death unto death.”

3. The voice of prayer went up from that prison-house, “He besought the Lord . . . and prayed unto Him.” Tears, many it may be, fell before one prayer was uttered.

4. Abounding grace, shone forth, too, in the answer granted to prayer. “God was intreated of him.” He heard his cry, and hope sprung up in his downcast soul.

5. The workings of God’s grace were further evidenced by the fruits of faith in life according to godliness. Manasseh restored to his kingdom, has now but one object in view, the glory of God, and that object he consistently pursued. The idol is east out from the temple, and the altars of the false gods out of the city, and the people are commanded “to serve the Lord God of Israel.” He turned not aside from his purpose to bring back to Jehovah those whom formerly he had led away to sin; and this godly course he pursued unto the end.

Lessons.

1. The first is, that there is a fulness of grace in God as our reconciled Father in Christ Jesus beyond the power of heart to conceive, or of tongue to utter.

2. But this history also reminds us of the dreadful nature of sin. Deep are its furrows, lasting its effects. Manasseh is pardoned, but,could he repair the evil he had done? (F. Storr, M.A.)

Manasseh

We shall consider Manasseh--

I. As a sinner.

1. He sinned against light, against a pious education and early training. It is a notorious fact that when men do go wrong after a good training they are the worst men in the world. The murder of John Williams at Erromanga was brought about by the evil doings of a trader who had gone to the island, and who was also the son of a missionary. He had become reckless in his habits, and treated the islanders with such barbarity and cruelty that they revenged his conduct upon the next white man who put his foot upon their shore.

2. He was a very bold sinner.

3. He had the power of leading others to a very large extent astray.

II. As an unbeliever. He did not believe that Jehovah was God alone.

1. The unlimited power that Manasseh possessed had a great tendency to make him a disbeliever.

2. His pride was another cause.

3. Another cause was his love for sin.

III. As a convert. He believed in God--

1. Because God had answered his prayer.

2. Because He had forgiven his sin. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Manasseh’s repentance

Manasseh is unique alike in extreme wickedness, sincere penitence, and thorough reformation. The reformation of Julius Caesar or of our own Henry V, or to take a different class of instance, the conversion of Paul, was nothing compared to the conversion of Manasseh. It was as though Herod the Great or Caesar Borgia had been checked midway in a career of cruelty and vice, and had thenceforward lived pure and holy lives, glorifying God by ministering to their fellow-men. (W. H. Bennett, M.A.)

He was intreated of him.

Pardon for the greatest guilt

The story of Manasseh is a very valuable one. I feel sure of this, because you meet with it twice in the Word of God. God would have us again and again dwell upon such wonders of sovereign grace as Manasseh presents to us.

I. Let us examine the case before us.

1. Manasseh was the son of a good father.

2. He undid all his father’s actions.

3. He served false gods.

4. He desecrated the Lord’s courts. There are some to-day who do this; for they make even their attendance at the house of God to be an occasion for evil.

5. He dedicated his children to the devil. Nobody here will dedicate his children to the devil, surely; yet many do. Have I not seen a father dedicate his boy to the devil, as he has encouraged him to drink? And do not many in this great city, dedicate their children to the devil by allowing them to go into all kinds of licentiousness, until they become the victims of vice?

6. He fraternised with the devil, by seeking after all kinds of supernatural witcheries and wizardries.

7. He led others astray.

8. He persecuted the people of God. It is said,--we do not know whether it was so or not,--but it is highly probable, that he caused Isaiah to be cut asunder with a wooden saw.

9. In short, Manasseh was a compound of every sort of wickedness.

10. Notwithstanding all this Manasseh was pardoned. How it came about?

II. Let us consider why there should be others like Manasseh. Judging from many probabilities, that God will save other great sinners as He saved Manasseh.

1. Because He speaks to such great sinners and commands them to repent (Isaiah 1:16-18). Because of the great promises God has given to great sinners.

3. Because of the nature of God.

4. From what I know of the value of the blood of Jesus. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Then Manasseh knew that the Lord He was God.--

Forgiveness and the knowledge of God

Men first begin to know God when they are forgiven. What did the prodigal know about his father when he asked for the portion of goods that fell to him, or while he was wasting his substance in riotous living? Because love and forgiveness are more strange and unearthly than rebuke and chastisement, the sinner is humbled by pardon far more than by punishment; and his trembling submission to the righteous Judge deepens into profounder reverence and awe for the God who can forgive, who is superior to all vindictiveness, whose infinite resources enable Him to blot out the guilt, to cancel the penalty, and annul the consequences of sin. (W. H. Bennett, M.A.)


Verse 23

2 Chronicles 33:23

But Amon transgressed more and more.

Consolidation in the forces of evil

It is wonderful what evil can be done with a profession of religion. Amen was sacrificing unto all the carved images; he was so religious as to be irreligious; he reached the point of exaggeration, and that point is blasphemy. When there is mere ignorance, God in His lovingkindness and tender mercy often closes His eyes as if He could not see what is being done: but when it is not ignorance but violence, determination, real obstinacy in the way of evil, and utter recklessness as to what it may cost--what if God should be compelled to open His eyes, and look the evil man full in the face, and condemn him by silent observation? It is wonderful, too, how much evil can be done in a little time. Nothing is so easy as evil. A man could almost fell a forest before he could grow one tree. Every blow tells: every bad word becomes a great blot: there is an infinite contagion in evil; it affects every one, it poisons quickly, it makes a harvest in the night-time. To do good how much time is required! How few people will believe that we are doing good! We have to encounter suspicion, criticism, distrust; men say, “We must wait to see the end; we cannot believe in the possibility of all this earnestness and sacrifice”; they ask questions about its possible permanence; even good men are apt to hinder other good men in endeavouring to do good. But evil has no such disadvantages to contend with. There is a consolidation in the forces of evil that is not known among the forces of good. It would seem as if the poet’s description were right--“Devil with devil damned, firm concord holds.” It may be that in that energetic expression Milton has stated the reality of the case. (J. Parker, D.D.)


Verse 25

2 Chronicles 33:25

Josiah his son king in his stead.

Far-reaching heredity

Josiah was the son of Amon--which is equal to saying that the greatest sinner of his day was the progenitor of one of the finest saints that ever prayed. If that is not a miracle, what is meant by the term miracle? Read the account and say if it be not the reading of music:--“And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the ways of David his father” (2 Chronicles 34:2) “and declined neither to the right hand, nor to the left.” Then he had more fathers than one. That is the explanation. You are not the son of the man that went immediately before you; you are only his son in a very incidental manner. Josiah was the son of “David his father”--the larger father, the deeper root, the elect of God; a sun fouled by many a black spot, but a shining orb notwithstanding. We must enlarge our view if we would come to right conclusions regarding many mysteries. Amen was but a link in the chain. The bad man here, or the good man there, taken in his solitariness, is but a comparatively trivial incident in life’s tragedy. Heredity is not from one to two; it is from one to the last; from the beginning to the ending. In every man there lives all the humanity that ever lived. We are fearfully and wonderfully made--not physically only, but morally, religiously, temperamentally. All the kings live in the last king or the reigning monarch. We are one humanity. Solidarity has its lessons as well as individuality. We know not which of our ancestors comes up in us at this moment or that--now the tiger, now the eagle; now the praying mother, now the daring sire; now some mean soul that got into the current by a mystery never to be explained; now the cunning, watchful, patient deceiver, who can wait for nights at a time and never complain of the dark or the cold, and now the hero that never had a fear, the philanthropist that loved the world, the mother that never looked otherwise than God Himself would have her look. We can never tell which of our ancestors is really thinking in us, speaking through us; we cannot tell the accent of the immediate consciousness;--these are mysteries, and when the judgment comes it will be based upon all the ground, and not upon incidental points here and there (J. Parker, D. D.)
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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "2 Chronicles 33:4". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/2-chronicles-33.html. 1905-1909. New York.

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