2 Kings 21:1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years.
Manasseh was the king of Judah from 696 to 642 BC. His reign of fifty-five years likely included several years of co-regency with his godly father Hezekiah. But unlike his father, Manasseh did evil in the eyes of the Lord (2 Kings 21:2). This included worshipping false gods, desecrating the temple, killing innocent people, sacrificing his children, practicing witchcraft, consulting mediums, and leading the nation astray (2 Kings 21:1-9, 2 Chronicles 33:1-9). Manasseh was an extremely wicked person.
Children of godly parents often grow up to be godly adults (Proverbs 22:6), but the opposite may also occur. Instead of following God, some do everything he forbids. By pursuing freedom from God, they become Satan’s slaves. That is what happened to Manasseh. The commanders of the king of Assyria . . . took Manasseh prisoner, put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon (2 Chronicles 33:11).
Manasseh deserved nothing less, but the long journey to Babylon gave him time to think. He rejected the God of his father, to do whatever he pleased. Now he had a hook in his nose, and was being led to a foreign land. Once he sat on a throne, now he was a beast. Once he was in charge, now he was enslaved. Perhaps his dad was right about God after all.
(2 Chronicles 33:12) In his distress [Manasseh] sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his ancestors.
When Manasseh’s road of rebellion came to a dead end, he turned to the Lord. 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 (2 Chronicles 33:13).
Children raised in a godly home might reject their parents’ faith, because they are not sure it is true. Many put it to the test by breaking God’s commands and living for themselves. As long as things go well they may never change. When things go badly, however, some return to the God of their parents. It is better to start badly and finish well, than to start well and finish badly.
Manasseh is one of the best examples of God’s grace in the Bible. He not only ruined his own life but the lives of many others. There was little he was not guilty of, and God was under no obligation to save him. But God heard his prayer and made him a trophy of grace. For it is by grace you have been saved . . . not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9), wrote Paul. Manasseh proves that no one is too bad to be saved, if they are willing to repent.
(2 Chronicles 33:15-16) [Manasseh] 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.
Manasseh was a changed man. We do not become good in order to be saved, but once we are saved we will want to be good. I will show you my faith by my deeds (James 2:18), wrote James. Having served the devil for many years, Manasseh spent the rest of his life serving God.
Godly parents ought to be encouraged by this, and trust the long arm of God’s grace for their wayward children. At his worst, Manasseh seemed out of God’s reach. But he never forgot his father’s faith, and he found his way back to his father’s God. Many others have done the same.
The story is told of a Spanish father, and his teenage son, whose relationship was strained. The son ran away from home, and his father went searching far and wide. Then he put an ad in the paper that read: Dear Paco, meet me in front of the newspaper office at noon. All is forgiven. I love you. At noon, the following day, eight hundred Pacos showed up (Ernest Hemingway, paraphrased). The world is filled with wayward children who want to return to their heavenly Father; and God is so gracious that he longs to receive them back.
Reflection and Review
What are the advantages of being raised in a godly home?
What are the disadvantages of being raised in a godly home?
How can godly parents help their wayward children?