Detestable Practices

2 Chronicles 33-34

I have two dramatically different directions I’d like to go with today’s reading, and decided I’d share them both.

In 2 Chronicles 33:1-2, 6, we find, “Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years.  He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, following the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites. … He sacrificed his sons in the fire in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, practiced sorcery, divination, and witchcraft, and consulted mediums and spiritists.  He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord, provoking him to anger.”

Did you catch that, he sacrificed his sons in the fire.  As repulsive as everything else is that he did, in my mind, nothing can compare with that.  That sounds horrible, and in my mind, he deserved a horrible punishment.

2 Kings 24: 1-4 tells the end of that story.  It goes like this, “During Jehoiakim’s reign, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon invaded the land, and Jehoiakim became his vassal for three years. But then he turned against Nebuchadnezzar and rebelled. The Lord sent Babylonian, Aramean, Moabite and Ammonite raiders against him to destroy Judah, in accordance with the word of the Lord proclaimed by his servants the prophets. Surely these things happened to Judah according to the Lord’s command, in order to remove them from his presence because of the sins of Manasseh and all he had done, including the shedding of innocent blood. For he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the Lord was not willing to forgive.”

God annihilated the nation of Judah because of all the innocent blood Manasseh had shed.  God wasn’t willing to forgive.   As I read this, I have to agree that God was right in his judgement against Judah.  They deserved everything they got.

But this makes me wonder, how are we different from Judah?  We may not sacrifice our children in the fire, but we do have rampant abortion in our nation.  I wonder, in God’s eyes, how do those two ways of shedding innocent blood differ?  Which makes me wonder how much we are provoking God to anger, and what will be the end of our story as a nation.  I see parallels, and they concern me. 

The second thing that jumps out at me from today’s reading is that Manasseh was born during the additional 15 years that God had extended Hezekiah’s life.  If Hezekiah had died when he was originally very sick, Manasseh would not have been born, and someone else would have been king.  It may have been that Judah would have existed as a nation far longer.  In this case, I think we can agree that for the greater good, it probably would have been better if Hezekiah had died young, so Manasseh would not have been born.

I know probably more than most, how we long to have life extended, and how we may plead with God to spare life.  But I’m reminded of Isaiah 57:1-2, “The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart, devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil.  Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.”

We don’t often think that sometimes the righteous die, basically for their own good.  We view death as the enemy, and rightly so, but this life isn’t our final reward.  This life is the test to see which eternal reward we will receive, life or death.  It’s easy to say, but hard to put into practice that we should live so sold out for God, that we shouldn’t be concerned about our life or our death.  We need to seek first God’s kingdom, and God will take care of everything else.


–Steve Mattison

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at Bible Gateway here – 2 Chronicles 33-34 and Romans 16

Following Evil

2 Chronicles 21-22

Even though King Jehoshaphat “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.”  He was sure stupid when it came to raising his kids.  He had arranged a marriage between his son, Jehoram, and  Athaliah, Israel’s evil king Ahab’s daughter.  This was a stupid arrangement for two reasons.  First, this would virtually guarantee Jehoram would be evil and lead Judah into evil.  Second, the future of God’s plan of salvation depended on the continuation of David’s dynasty through Jehoram, and as we will see, that came into peril.

Anyway, 2 Chronicles 21 starts with Jehoshaphat’s death, and Jehoram’s ascension to the throne.  Once he established himself as king, Jehoram killed all of his brothers and some of the princes of the land – basically, anyone who may challenge his authority.  (Presumably, he wanted them out of the way so they couldn’t oppose his promoting the worship of Baal.)  Then he proceeded to follow the evil ways of the evil King Ahab, because he had married Ahab’s daughter.  

Jehoram received an astounding warning.  He received a letter from Elijah pronouncing judgment on him because of his sins.  This is astounding, because this is several years after Elijah was caught up to heaven in a whirlwind (as recorded in 2 Kings 2:11).  This passage in 2 Chronicles 21 corresponds to events recorded in 2 Kings 8.  Elijah had obviously written this prophetic letter and had directed it to be delivered at a particular future date.  Anyway, this letter declared a curse on Jehoram because of all of his sins and the sins he caused Judah to commit.  According to the letter, he was going to be inflicted with a disease of his bowels until his bowels came out.  And two years later, that’s exactly what happened, and how he died.

As the story continues, Jehoram’s son, Ahaziah, became king but only reigned one year.  After his death, Athaliah (remember her from the first paragraph?) killed all her kids and grandkids so she could rule the nation.  (Remember my comment in the first paragraph about David’s dynasty being in peril?).  Athaliah was no descendant of David!  As it turned out, her infant grandson, Joash, was whisked away while everybody else was being killed.

The main thing that jumps out at me from today’s reading is the importance of not only following the Lord ourselves wholeheartedly, but also how imperative it is to pass along a love for the Lord to our children (both physical and spiritual children).  I’m convinced Jehoram could have been a great king, who loved the Lord, and had a blessed reign, if only Jehoshaphat had stressed the importance of following the Lord, and if Jehoshaphat had chosen a godly wife for Jehoram.

The second thing that jumps out to me is the importance of choosing a godly spouse.  This is literally the second most important decision any of us can ever make (after the decision to follow the Lord).  And this will either make it easier to live for God, or will make it harder – and the implications are eternal.

The third thing that strikes me is how God alerted Elijah in advance, so he could write a letter to be delivered to Jehoram years later, declaring his downfall.  And then Elijah had to have someone deliver this letter on a specific future date, at just the right time.  God really does know everything.  (Maybe He knows a thing or two about how we should live, and maybe I should read His word to find that out, and maybe I should live for Him.)

The final thing that I see is that God saved exactly one descendant of David – and that was a baby – so he could continue David’s line, and fulfill His promise to David.  Despite everything seeming to go wrong, God was still in control.  And much later, He would ultimately fulfill His promise to David through another baby, Jesus.

I want to be on God’s side – since God can still be in control, even when everything seems to be falling apart.  How about you?


–Steve Mattison

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at Bible Gateway here – 2 Chronicles 21-22 and Romans 10