Wednesday, January 11, 2012

more evil

But they did not listen, and Manasseh led them astray to do more evil than the nations had done whom the LORD destroyed before the people of Israel.
2 Kings 21:9

Manasseh is the worst of leaders. He did not build on the heritage of faithfulness left by his father Hezekiah. Instead, he was enamored with all the evil idolatry around him. He went so far as to erect idols all throughout the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem (2 Kings 21:4-7). His worship is unspeakably wicked. He offered his own son as a burnt offering sacrifice, bent on being evil in his worship.

God's assessment of Manasseh is not a good one. His final pronouncement was that the king had led Judah to be more pagan than the pagans God had ordered Israel to drive from the Promised Land. Now the Jews were worse than the Canaanites in God's moral assessment. And in one man's leadership all this evil turned out. The king was set against all worship of God and the reality was that this was more than a culture war. This was rejection of God and His covenant with the Jews.

God sent His prophets with a message of judgment. The Lord would bring disaster to Jerusalem in direct response to Judah's rejection of Him and the Law. This was a continuous pattern with the Israelites. The cycle of sin, suffering, supplication, and salvation would end in the exile. And Manasseh's acts were the "last straw" that sealed Judah's fate. God does not say exactly when the judgment would fall, but He is firm in the fact that it will occur.

When God's people have a reputation for evil, God will act to defend His own holiness. And that is exactly what this text is chronicling. The remaining moments of Judah's history will simply be a countdown toward justice. It is the inevitable consequence of the negative elements of the Covenant. God gave His people blessings in obedience, and cursings in their sin. Now, in sinful idolatry, the cursings of the Law will fall on the nation.

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