Read: 2 Chronicles 33-36
Today we read the closing chapters in 2 Chronicles, the last of the kings of Judah. Here’s a quick outline:
- Manasseh: 2 Chronicles 33:1-20, age: 12, term: 55 years, result: evil, then humbles himself and the Lord receives him back — don’t miss this one!
- Amon: 2 Chronicles 33:1-20, age: 22, term: 2 years, result: evil
- Josiah: 2 Chronicles 34-35, age: 8, term: 31 years, result: good
- Jehoahaz: 2 Chronicles 36:2-4, age: 33, term: 3 months, result: captured and carried off to Egypt
- Jehoiakim: 2 Chronicles 36:5-8, age: 18, term: 3 months and 10 days, result: evil
- Zedekiah: 2 Chronicles 36:9-14, age: 21, term: 11 years, result: evil
- Conclusion: 2 Chronicles 36:15-23
The story of Manasseh has a terrible beginning. Unlike his father:
He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had demolished; he also erected altars to the Baals and made Asherah poles. He bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshiped them. 2 Chronicles 33:3
A month ago, when reading through 2 Kings 21, I summarized King Manasseh’s life in a simple sentence. Just a few weeks ago Brett Andrew provided great insight into Manasseh by including references to this passage in 2 Chronicles 33:12-13. The sermon focused on this amazing thought: if God can forgive Manasseh, he can forgive anyone.
This is incredible and so significant for us to hear today. I hope you’ll listen to the sermon, especially where Manasseh:
In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his ancestors. 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 33:12-13
For those who are holding onto guilt for past mistakes, this is the ultimate message for healing; permission to let go of the past. The God of Creation loves you more than you can imagine! Lord, help us to humble ourselves and turn to you completely.
From this amazing story, we move on to the brief account of Amon. Not much to say here. He did evil and did not humble himself.
The narrative here and in the parallel account in 2 Kings 22-23 provide a great example of how a generation can change. Josiah was only 8 when they made him king, but by his 16th birthday, he began transforming Judah:
he began to seek the God of his father David. In his twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of high places, Asherah poles and idols. 2 Chronicles 34:3
When he was 26, in his eighteenth year as king, they found the Book of the Law. When King Josiah was told he tore his robes and re-committed himself to ways of the Lord. He lead Judah by great example and read the entire book to the remnant of Israel and Judah, all who were eager to hear what the Lord wanted.
Then he had everyone in Jerusalem and Benjamin pledge themselves to it; the people of Jerusalem did this in accordance with the covenant of God, the God of their ancestors. 2 Chronicles 34:32
Josiah was so moved by the words he reestablished the Passover like none of the kings of Israel had ever celebrated such a Passover as did Josiah (2 Chronicles 35:18). This was a great time in the history of God’s chosen people. As the prophet foretold, disaster did not come during his lifetime.
Josiah ruled well, but died in battle when the king of Egypt attacked a neighboring kingdom. He was moved to join the battle, but that proved to be a fatal mistake for him and his son.
Chapter 36 quickly wraps up the narrative of the remaining kings outlined above. Few details are listed here as the kings of Judah come to an end and the people are swept away into captivity by the Babylonians. The story is not over by a longshot, but we find the people have once again moved away from God:
The Lord, the God of their ancestors, sent word to them through his messengers again and again, because he had pity on his people and on his dwelling place. But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the Lord was aroused against his people and there was no remedy. 2 Chronicles 36:15-16
And there was no remedy until the ultimate sacrifice by Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary.
The rest of the chosen are swept away, yet some of these, the remnant, remain faithful even without the temple and freedom to worship God openly. The whole idea of the remnant permeates Frank Peretti’s early books, This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness. I remember reading about the concept of “the remnant” so many times and wondering, are we the remnant? Which side of the coin are we?
Lord I pray that we would lead well, that we would humble ourselves and hear your voice above all the noise and commotion of this day and age. Awaken your remnant, Lord. Help us to be strong and courageous as we intentionally build your church and create spaces that invite people into fellowship with Christ.