Jump Start # 2940
2 Chronicles 33:1 “Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem.”
Families are interesting. We love our families and our families can be our greatest concerns and the source of our greatest stress and heartache. Manasseh became king in Jerusalem, our verse tells us. He would reign longer than any of the kings, fifty-five years. Manasseh wasn’t among the good ones. Manasseh built idols for Baal and according the 2 Kings, he “worshiped all the host of Heaven and served them.” He sacrificed his own child, practiced witchcraft, used mediums and spiritists. It seems that he was a spoiled child that became a spoiled adult and everything that was wrong, he did. God spoke to Manasseh but he paid no attention.
And, what makes the story of Manasseh so strange to us is to realize that his father was the great Hezekiah. Hezekiah, the reformer. Hezekiah, the one who walked in the shadow of King David. How could one who had such a godly and great example turn out to be so rotten and wicked?
There are some lessons here for us:
First, some throw away the great opportunities and advantages that they are given. How many people would have loved to have Hezekiah as their father. How many would have loved to have a parent that walked with the Lord, set the rules and showed powerful leadership. Is it any different today? Growing up in the home of Christian parents, where prayers are the norm, going to worship is understood, and where kindness, grace and forgiveness is a way of life. Yet, rebellious, ungrateful, and indifferent, a child grows up in that home only to declare that they are gay or atheistic. The parents are filled with guilt as to what they did wrong. They are at a loss as to what to do. The truth is, some waste every wonderful opportunity ever given to them.
Second, our course of life is built upon the choices that we make. We are influenced by the environment of friends, social media, books and movies, but the way we turn out is what we have chosen. Some want nothing to do with God. Given the choice of worshipping with Hezekiah in God’s temple or bowing down with Manasseh and his idols, some would choose the idols. A life of misery, dead-ends, and hopelessness is what comes with idols. Yet that was the choice of the king and that’s the choice of many today.
Some think that they are missing out if they are not drinking, staying out all night and pushing the edges of wrong. And, the time this really explodes is when a young person heads off to the university. On his own for the first time, not having a mom telling him to get up and get ready for church, he now sees so many enjoying things he was never allowed to engage in. And, for so many, after four years in a university, they come out with a degree and the loss of their faith. Alcohol has replaced God. Sleeping in has replaced Sunday worship. Idle talk has replaced godly conversations. Selfishness and materialism has replaced character, hope and love.
For all the good that Hezekiah did, Manasseh did just the opposite. That story is true today. Preacher’s kids who turned out rotten and lost. The children of elders who, when on their own, never worshipped the Lord again. Known only to Heaven is why God allowed Manasseh to reign so long. It seems that the good one, Hezekiah, should have been the one to reign for decades and decades. But that’s not what happened. Wicked Manasseh reign for five decades. Maybe God was giving him time to repent. Maybe this is an example of God’s patience. Maybe God saw things that we don’t see.
Third, do we recognize the wonderful advantages we have in our congregations today? Godly shepherds, not only watching and guiding us, but there to talk to, learn from and be like. Resources every week such as podcasts, videos, blogs and sermons, sermons, sermons. They are there. And, not just from our home congregation, but all across this country there are similar things. Every day of the week we could listen to sermons. Every day of the week we could be encouraged, taught and made better. There has never been a time like this. Forget the pandemic, look what we have available to us. Twenty years ago, it wasn’t this good. Overseas, it’s not like this. But now, on our phones and tablets we have so much. We can look at videos from the Bible lands. We have class material every week. We can read the Bible in just about every translation conceivable, right there on our phones. It reminds us of the Lord’s passage, “to whom much is given, much is required.” But, are we stronger today? Are we closer to the Lord today? Are we doing more today? Are we better today?
Like Manasseh, we look to our Hezekiah’s. So much opportunity. So many blessings. So much good. I was reading about the number one high school football superstar. Colleges are beating down his door to get him. His name is Arch. He had two uncles that played, Peyton Manning and Eli Manning. His grandfather, whom he is named after, also played pro football, Archie Manning. So much talent. So much insight into the game. So much help all around him. Can you imagine the table talk about football? Or, how about sitting down and watching a game with that family? So much insight and experience. Now, suppose this young Manning declared to his family that he wasn’t going to go to college. Supposed he told them that he had a job at an ice cream shop and that was what he was going to do with his life. Talent, opportunity, experience, choices—all swirling around him and he’d not pursue it. Is that any different than Manasseh turning to idols? Any different than you and I being spiritually starved and stuck in a world with so much talent, opportunity and experience around us?
We ought to be the brightest, strongest, most knowledgeable, most courageous believers of all time. Are we?
Opportunity…Manasseh wasted his. What are you doing with yours?