Part 5 Manasseh
This is the fifth in a series that examines references to prisons and prisoners in the Bible. This time we will look at Manasseh, King of Judah whose life we can read about in 2 Kings 21:1-18 and 2 Chronicles 33:1-20.
Manasseh was the son of Hezekiah, one of the few righteous kings to rule Judah after the nation was divided. Manasseh did not follow in his father’s footsteps in the first years that he ruled over God’s people. We are told that he did evil in the sight of the Lord and he engaged in detestable practices, including idolatry, witchcraft and child sacrifice among many other evil activities. We are told that Manasseh led the people of Judah and Jerusalem astray. What’s more, God tried to get Manasseh to change his ways but he refused. 2 Chronicles 33:10 says, “And the LORD spake to Manasseh, and to his people: but they would not hearken.”
This passage goes on to describe what happened to Manasseh:
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.
And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers,
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 wasGod. 2 Chronicles 33:11-13
It took the personal tragedy of being captured, taken away from his home and becoming a prisoner to get him to look to God. This is not uncommon today as many people live their lives in reckless and ungodly ways, all the time ignoring the call of God. Perhaps they have heard the gospel from people the Lord has brought their way but, like Manasseh, they would not listen. However, when a person’s foolish and selfish behavior ends them up in a prison cell they find themselves calling on God and giving attention to Him in a way that they never had in the past.
We can read later in 2 Chronicles 33 that although Manasseh tried very hard to get the people of Judah to return to the proper worship of God they refused and continued offering sacrifices to foreign gods from the altars built on the high places. So although Manasseh, the king, had turned to the true and living God, the wrong influence he had on the people of the kingdom could not be reversed. Thus we see that if Manasseh had obeyed God from the very beginning, as the Lord had willed, it may have protected the nation from sinking to the low levels depravity they reached. Therefore we see that it is far better for an individual to turn to the Lord sooner than later. While God is always willing to accept any one back to His arms, the impact one might have on others to cause them to stray away from the truth of God might not be able to be undone.