2 Chronicles 33 brings Judah into a difficult spot. Manasseh became king after his father Hezekiah passed away, but he did not follow in the great tradition that his father had established.
2Ch 33:9 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.
It is definitely something to say that the people were worse than all of the idolatrous nations that Israel had destroyed in the past. It must have gotten pretty bad.
Like God seems to do quite a bit, He brought a storm into Manasseh’s life to make him realize what he was doing and to understand that he needed God.
2Ch 33:11 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.
2Ch 33:12 And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers,
2Ch 33:13 And prayed unto him: and he was intreated 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 a life-changing experience. He was no longer interested in ignoring God. It took a difficult time to make him realize that, but God does that from time to time.
He loves people, and He wants to bring people into a relationship with Him. Manasseh must have had solid Biblical teaching as a child given who his father was, but he went away from it for some reason.
God brought him back though. He didn’t just forget about him. While he was in captivity, something changed for Manasseh. He suddenly realized what he had been doing wrong, and after his time in chains was done, he came back as a better leader who brought the people of Israel in the right direction.
It must not have been pleasant to be in a Babylonian prison, but that is what he needed to realize his problems. God will allow things to come into our lives to help us grow as well as correct us if we start to wander.
The Israelites finally got themselves in some pretty big trouble. In 2 Kings 24, Babylon marches in and conquers Judah. Nebuchadnezzar brought his armies and captured the entire city to bring back to Babylon except for the poorest people.
Of course this was kind of the final straw. Jerusalem had been attacked by numerous people throughout the course of this chapter, and there is really no doubt as to the reason that God was allowing this series of trials to happen even though this particular verse does come at the beginning of the chapter.
2Ki 24:3 Surely at the commandment of the LORD came this upon Judah, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he did;
We are still hearing about Manasseh. You remember how wicked he was, right? Even this many generations down the line, the repercussions of his evil actions were being felt.
I think that this is a very cautionary tale for all of us. It is not that God holds a grudge, but people are ultimately responsible for their actions. If you wander too far away from God, He very well might use some type of trial to get you back to where you need to be.
The best example of this is probably Jonah. He was trying to run away from God, but the terrible weather and the giant fish had other plans. It wasn’t that God was holding a grudge about Jonah running away from the Nineveh, but He was going to allow problems to come into Jonah’s life to bring him back to where he really needed to be which was indeed in Nineveh.
Judah was in a rough spot. There were some great kings, but the evil ones seemed to come about a little more often. They needed to be brought back to God, and sometimes a hard time is the best way to do that.
As we have been going through the Bible, it is not hard to realize that Israel had its share of bad kings. However, in 2 Kings 21, it sounds like Manasseh was the worst one yet.
2Ki 21:11 Because Manasseh king of Judah hath done these abominations, and hath done wickedly above all that the Amorites did, which were before him, and hath made Judah also to sin with his idols:
That is really something. The king who was supposed to be ruling God’s chosen people was doing things that were worse than even all of the pagan kings before him. That is a pretty sad commentary. It makes me think of a parable told by Jesus.
This story is in Matthew 25. The concept is that a very rich man gave talents to his three servants to use. Two of them took the money that they were given and used it to generate a profit. The third buried his money and refused to do anything.
The main moral of the story is that we need to do a lot if we have been given a lot. We can’t just disappear and hide what we have been given; we need to use it.
The problem is that Manasseh had been given a lot in theory. He had a good upbringing from a family that followed God, and he certainly had God’s law. He knew how to be a Godly leader, but he didn’t do it.
I think this is why God was so angry at him near the end of the chapter. Obviously there have been plenty of wicked kings in the history of the world. They are still wicked kings today.
However, Manasseh had been blessed in so many ways that he should have done a lot more for God. I am not talking about any type of work-based salvation, but I am saying that God does expect us to work for Him. We are supposed to use what we have been given to reflect the glory of God.
I really liked chapter 22 in the book of Joshua. Let me get right into the story.
Jos 22:4 And now the LORD your God hath given rest unto your brethren, as he promised them: therefore now return ye, and get you unto your tents, and unto the land of your possession, which Moses the servant of the LORD gave you on the other side Jordan.
Jos 22:5 But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the LORD charged you, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.
The tribes of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh had been given their inheritance on the other side of the Jordan River. However, they had to help out the rest of Israel get their land before they could retire to their own. Now that had been done, so they were going home, and Joshua told them not to leave God. There is something to be said that about a relationship with God being over a lifetime rather than just one little moment, but let me continue with this story.
Jos 22:10 And when they came unto the borders of Jordan, that are in the land of Canaan, the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh built there an altar by Jordan, a great altar to see to.
Jos 22:11 And the children of Israel heard say, Behold, the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh have built an altar over against the land of Canaan, in the borders of Jordan, at the passage of the children of Israel.
Jos 22:12 And when the children of Israel heard of it, the whole congregation of the children of Israel gathered themselves together at Shiloh, to go up to war against them.
Now, these three tribes decided to build a giant altar. Immediately, the rest of Israel assumed the worst and were going to go to war. After all, they remembered that several times while they were in the wilderness that the sins of part of them affected the entire nation.
The three tribes were fortunately given a chance to respond before war broke out, and here is what they said.
Jos 22:22 The LORD God of gods, the LORD God of gods, he knoweth, and Israel he shall know; if it be in rebellion, or if in transgression against the LORD, (save us not this day,)
Jos 22:23 That we have built us an altar to turn from following the LORD, or if to offer thereon burnt offering or meat offering, or if to offer peace offerings thereon, let the LORD himself require it;
Jos 22:24 And if we have not rather done it for fear of this thing, saying, In time to come your children might speak unto our children, saying, What have ye to do with the LORD God of Israel?
Jos 22:25 For the LORD hath made Jordan a border between us and you, ye children of Reuben and children of Gad; ye have no part in the LORD: so shall your children make our children cease from fearing the LORD.
Jos 22:26 Therefore we said, Let us now prepare to build us an altar, not for burnt offering, nor for sacrifice:
Jos 22:27 But that it may be a witness between us, and you, and our generations after us, that we might do the service of the LORD before him with our burnt offerings, and with our sacrifices, and with our peace offerings; that your children may not say to our children in time to come, Ye have no part in the LORD.
Jos 22:28 Therefore said we, that it shall be, when they should so say to us or to our generations in time to come, that we may say again, Behold the pattern of the altar of the LORD, which our fathers made, not for burnt offerings, nor for sacrifices; but it is a witness between us and you.
Jos 22:29 God forbid that we should rebel against the LORD, and turn this day from following the LORD, to build an altar for burnt offerings, for meat offerings, or for sacrifices, beside the altar of the LORD our God that is before his tabernacle.
Basically, this altar was meant to demonstrate that there was a shared commitment to following God regardless of what side of the Jordan River the people lived on.
I think that it can also be a powerful statement about the current state of Christianity. The church in North America is different than the church in Africa which is different than the church in Asia which is different than the church in Europe which is different than the church in South America which is different than the church in Australia.
We may have different cultural practices, and it may seem that the differences are huge. However, just like the three tribes built an altar to demonstrate a shared commitment, churches around the world today have the same Bible as that shared commitment.
We have brothers and sisters around the world who are following God, and even if we don’t understand everything about their worship, kind of like the rest of Israel did not understand what the altar was for, they still can be following God.
I know that this was an incredibly long post for me, but I really like this story. Love for God is demonstrated in a variety of ways, but if they are sincere and truly honor God, that is okay.
Joshua chapter 17 requires a little bit of Biblical history knowledge.
Joseph did not technically receive an inheritance like the rest of the tribes of Israel. Instead, the inheritance went through his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim.
That is who we are talking about in this chapter. They are technically two tribes, but they are being told that they need to share one piece of land.
Jos 17:14 And the children of Joseph spake unto Joshua, saying, Why hast thou given me but one lot and one portion to inherit, seeing I am a great people, forasmuch as the LORD hath blessed me hitherto?
While it does logically make sense that they should want more land, Joshua told them exactly how they could get more land if they really wanted it.
Jos 17:15 And Joshua answered them, If thou be a great people, then get thee up to the wood country, and cut down for thyself there in the land of the Perizzites and of the giants, if mount Ephraim be too narrow for thee.
Basically, Joshua is telling the people that if they want more land, they have to go fight for it.
Unfortunately, the people were not as confident as Joshua was, and they started to explain why they couldn’t do it.
Jos 17:16 And the children of Joseph said, The hill is not enough for us: and all the Canaanites that dwell in the land of the valley have chariots of iron, both they who are of Bethshean and her towns, and they who are of the valley of Jezreel.
Joshua however did not accept this. He knew that the people of Israel had God blessing them, so they should be able to overcome anything.
Jos 17:17 And Joshua spake unto the house of Joseph, even to Ephraim and to Manasseh, saying, Thou art a great people, and hast great power: thou shalt not have one lot only:
Jos 17:18 But the mountain shall be thine; for it is a wood, and thou shalt cut it down: and the outgoings of it shall be thine: for thou shalt drive out the Canaanites, though they have iron chariots, and though they be strong.,
Notice that there is no doubt in that final statement. By using the word “shall,” there is a sense that this is inevitable. If it was not, perhaps the word “might” or “should” would have been used.
I think that this is a good illustration of how we tend to lead our lives. We are worried about things all the time. Some of these things are relatively major, and some of them are not big deals whatsoever. However, we shouldn’t worry at all.
God has promised that He will always be with us. He will always give us the strength we need.
Mat 28:18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
Mat 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Mat 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
In Genesis 48, something very interesting happened that didn’t normally happen in ancient cultures. Jacob/Israel was about to pass away, and before he did, Joseph wanted to go visit him with his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh.
Gen 48:3 And Jacob said unto Joseph, God Almighty appeared unto me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and blessed me,
Gen 48:4 And said unto me, Behold, I will make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, and I will make of thee a multitude of people; and will give this land to thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession.
Gen 48:5 And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee into Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine.
Gen 48:6 And thy issue, which thou begettest after them, shall be thine, and shall be called after the name of their brethren in their inheritance.
Israel essentially said that he was going to include Joseph’s two sons in his inheritance. I can’t imagine that this type of thing happened a lot in ancient cultures. Being included in the inheritance was a huge deal back then although I guess it still is today.
As we can see the future, these two rounded out the twelve tribes of Israel because Joseph and Levi did not receive land. However, Ephraim and Manasseh were both considered half tribes because Levi was still technically a tribe.
Regardless, these two half tribes made up the tribe that Joseph would have been. This wasn’t a punishment for Joseph, but it was more of a privilege for his children.
Israel was doing something that must not have been very common for the benefit of all two of his grandchildren.
While I have written before about the dangers of playing favorites, I think that this situation is a little bit different. He wasn’t playing favorites, but he was completing what should have been in place originally. Joseph should have received an inheritance just like his brothers did, and by giving an inheritance to his two sons instead, the puzzle was still complete so to speak.
I think that this shows something about the character of who God is. Even if things don’t seem to be adding up, God is a God of completeness. He doesn’t leave loose ends, and everything will always end up working out like He intended it to.
For example, when Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, God didn’t just say that He was going to have to alter his entire plan for the history of Israel. He doesn’t need to react to humans. He knows what humans will do before they do it. Since He is in control of both history and the future, He knew that He would complete everything that He had put in place from the beginning.
While it may seem strange that grandchildren were put on the same level as immediate children, the story does illustrate the concept of completion.