God had commanded Moses to write a song about apostasy and said train them to children teach them this song because in this song about apostasy are the consequences for being an apostate and an apostate is someone who is once in the faith and then steps out of it.
God's backslider, although backsliding can lead to apostasy, but the apostate turns his back on the religion, on the faith, goes a complete another direction. This is Cross-Reference Radio with our pastor and teacher Rick Gaston. Rick is the pastor of Calvary Chapel Mechanicsville. Pastor Rick is currently teaching through the Book of 2 Kings.
Please stay with us after today's message to hear more information about Cross-Reference Radio, specifically how you can get a free copy of this teaching. And now here's Pastor Rick with part one of his message called Persons of Interest as he teaches in 2 Kings chapter 21. Second Kings chapter 21, Persons of Interest, well that's the title of this consideration. Each of the 3 Kings in this chapter are men of interest, two especially, for I think unbelievers to tell unbelievers about, this contrast in the two men. We are going to consider, and I'll give an overview about Manasseh before we start hitting the verses, but first is King Manasseh. He is the son of that righteous King Hezekiah who has died and Manasseh now reigns in Judah. His idolatry and it's being denounced by God, we'll come across that, and Ammon his son who is also wicked, and then King Josiah is introduced. He's named and we'll get him next chapter. And of course he is of very much interest to the believers, but the other two unbelievers could benefit I think from hearing their stories.
They are Persons of Interest, there go the title. Now the miracles that surrounded the life of King Hezekiah, the father of Manasseh, apparently meant nothing to him. Perhaps when Isaiah was told by God take a lump of figs and put it on the boil, the ailment of the king and he was miraculously healed, perhaps the son said, ah the figs did it not God.
That's a common mistake, unfortunately. All the vile practices of the Canaanites, even the Sodomites, were revived in him in Judah after his father worked so hard to get him out of the land. And in fact we'll get to that where verse 9, I'll quote it in a minute, he was worse than the pagans.
Molech worship flourished, that includes child sacrifice, human sacrifice, sorcery, the occult. Verse 9 it says Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than the nations whom Yahweh had destroyed before the children of Israel. That's a pretty heavy duty comment to say that this man in the line of King David was worse than people who never heard of David or Yahweh.
And he was king for 55 years. God had commanded Moses to write a song about apostasy and said, train the children, teach them this song, because in this song about apostasy are the consequences for being an apostate and an apostate is someone who is once in the faith and then steps out of it. Not backslider, although backsliding can lead to apostasy, but the apostate turns his back on the religion, on the faith, goes a complete other direction. And that's Deuteronomy 31 through 32, 43, verse 43. So if you want to look up the song of Moses that is given to instill in the people the severity of apostasy. Well Manasseh is an apostate and he's a wretched apostate.
There are degrees and he is the worst. Apparently later he involves Judah in rebellion with Moab and Edom against Assyria, that world power, certainly in the region. And he's taken prisoner to Babylon, not Assyria, he's taken prisoner to Babylon.
Well Babylon was just a little conquered state itself at this time, it wasn't anything to talk about. There in Babylon Manasseh humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers were told. He repented.
There in his agony, Assyrians had put hooks in his mouth and led him away a prisoner. And there he meditated on his transgressions before Yahweh, the Yahweh he hated and fought against and he repented. And he was returned to Jerusalem by the Assyrians.
And he was likely a king a long time after that also. And if we read in 2 Chronicles 33, which is the parallel passages or section of scripture, then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God and he did so much damage before he got there. And so when we say only one sin is unpardonable, he is proof.
That sin that finally tells God, I'm not interested in your salvation, get out of my face and don't come back, it reaches a point where God honors that and that person has committed the blasphemous sin of telling the Holy Spirit, I'm not interested, and I'll come back to that. Manasseh is an example of someone who didn't go that far. As far as he went into sin, he gets saved for all that he did against Yahweh. After his release, the repentant king attempted to institute reforms, say, you know, I goofed and I need to fix this, I'm king, I'm going to do whatever I can. And he did a lot, it's there in 2 Chronicles 33, which indicates he had to have been king for a while to do some of the things he did after his conversion. And yet, God will say, you know, he was so wicked, even his conversion could not undo the damage that he caused in the kingdom. Well, he was forgiven that, but the people who enjoyed his seductions, well, they are accountable to God for it. I'm going to take two passages from 2 Chronicles 33. He took away the foreign gods, this is after his conversion, and the idol from the house of the Lord, which he incidentally brought in, and all the altars that he had built in the mount of the house of Yahweh and in Jerusalem, and he cast them out of the city. He also repaired the altar of Yahweh, sacrificed peace offerings and thank offerings on it, and commanded Judah to serve Yahweh, God of Israel.
Full-blown recovery. This is why he's an interesting character for unbelievers. You can say to an unbeliever, listen, maybe you know them well or not, either way you can say, look, I know you're all messed up, I can look at you and tell, you're just a train wreck, and maybe you think you're not, but before God, you are. Maybe you think you've done so much evil, you can't be forgiven, you are a person of interest to God. He can save you, but you've got to come, just like Manasseh, or Ammon, his son, who was just as wicked, didn't live long enough to execute a lot of his evil, he did not repent.
He is not having a good day right now. Verse 1 now in 2 Kings 21, Manasseh was 12 years old when he became king, and he reigned 55 years in Jerusalem, his mother's name was Hephzibah. The statesmen would oversee his reign, the reign of the child kings, they wouldn't just, you know, at 12 years old, here's the scepter, what do you want us to do?
They wouldn't do that, we'll find that out with Josiah, but there would be this gradual development until they were old enough to take control. It's difficult, as mentioned last session, to determine if Manasseh was actually born before Hezekiah's illness or after. If he was born after, then you've got to say, you know, Hezekiah maybe would have been good for everybody if you just died when you were supposed to die. But you know, you cannot be dogmatic, you just don't have the information. Where it gets sticky is you try to reconcile the dates of the kings, which is, it's not possible, you can get close, I don't think it's possible.
Some commentators are pretty like, well he reigned from this year to that, and it's like, you know what, you've got half information, that's not 100%. Anyway, and he reigned 55 years in Jerusalem, the longest reigning king of all the Israelites in the northern and southern kingdom. And during this, much of this time, it is as though Yahweh withdrew himself and allowed the filth of the idolatry to pour out of the people's hearts, because this king didn't sin alone. The people got with him, they were a righteous remnant, there's always a righteous remnant, but when these kings were evil, the people were evil too.
If you have a church where the pastor is a blasphemer and doesn't believe in the Bible, and people attend that church nonetheless and tithe and support it, well he's not the only guilty one. They are also, his mother's name, Hepzibah, the wife of Hezekiah, her name is in there just to give us a difficult time pronouncing names like that. Verse 2, and he did evil in the sight of Yahweh according to the abominations of the nations whom Yahweh had cast out before the children of Israel. Remember the writer is writing to future generations, and he's saying, you need to learn this, you need to understand God's relationship to us, and here's the record, and we are coming along years later, we have more information than they have about God, and we are supposed to pay attention, also take heed to the scripture. Well, this is the counter-reformation, Ahab the wicked king dies and Hezekiah comes to the throne, his grandson, he institutes a reformation, he reshapes the nation closer to what it was supposed to be, as best he could. Well now when he dies and his son Manasseh comes, there's a counter-reformation to get it back to the way Ahab's had it and worse. And so here's Manasseh systematically, that's deliberate, that is, there's an energy involved, he is purposefully trying to undo what his father achieved for the God of Israel. I mean you would say, I'd like to go up to him and say, well how did you Jews get here to this Canaanite land? I mean the only answer is Moses and the emancipation from Egypt.
You would think they would say, well Yahweh is God, all the rest are fake, but it goes the other way. He became a satanic vessel, preferring other people's gods over the proven God of his father and fathers. Words underestimate or understate, they understate the evil and the suffering he caused.
Well that's nothing new about that. Stalin, what he did to his own people. Words can't capture how evil he was, it gets us close to a point, but to have lived through, to have survived Stalin, you'd have a better understanding of what any history book could give you.
Well it's the truth, the man's evil is what we would say off the chart. Verse 3, for he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed. He raised up altars for Baal and made a wounded image as Ahab king of Israel had done and he worshipped all the host of heaven and served them.
It just repeats itself, you can't allow yourself to get discouraged, driven by bitterness. I don't, how else would you try to get your head around what this man is doing against all his father, his beloved father Hezekiah had done. He's determined to stick it to his father's memory and the loyal followers of Yahweh such as Isaiah at this time. All of this evil that he does and he's not demon possessed, we have no indication that while he's possessed by a demon, he's influenced by demons, we're not possessed by them, he's in control of his faculties, the capacity for evil in man is astounding. A human being can, what we learned in Christ when he throws 2,000 pigs stampede off a hill filled with the demons that one man was strutting around with. The man was in better control of the demons than the pigs could handle.
So yeah, the capacity for man to do evil is quite remarkable and it's not uncommon unfortunately in children, some of them raised in Christian homes to be determined to spite their parents through religion. Well he worshiped the host of heaven and served them. Well that's the sun, the moon, the stars, the planets. Deuteronomy 4, God says take heed lest you lift your eyes to heaven and when you see the sun, the moon, and the stars and all the host of heaven, you feel driven to worship them and serve them, which the Lord your God has given to all the peoples under the whole heaven as a heritage.
Paul says they worship the creature, not the creator. And it's interesting, God says you know I've given the stars and the moons to humanity, to people, to human beings, not to worship. I mean just if you've ever been in a place where you could see the night sky without the washing of man-made light, it is astounding. You would think somebody painted it. It is so remarkable. We can't see it here.
There's so much light from everything around us that you just don't see a few stars. Anyhow, back to this, that's where he went in defiance of the law of Moses, verse 4. He also built altars in the house of Yahweh, of which Yahweh had said, in Jerusalem I will put my name, verse 5, and he built altars for all the hosts of heaven in the two courts of the house of Yahweh. He hated, he hated the God of Israel, and it is announced by him by putting his beloved demon representations above Yahweh in Jerusalem, the city of God, in the temple, the house of God.
He's defiant. About 100 years later, a little more, Ezekiel will come along, and he will address this kind of behavior, and he will say, you know, the day is coming when our kings won't be like this. Ezekiel 43, and he said to me, Son of man, God speaking to Ezekiel, this is the place of my throne and the place of the soles of my feet where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel forever. No more shall the house of Israel defile my holy name, they nor their kings by their harlotry or by the carcasses of their kings on their high places.
The carcasses of their kings, likely the dead animals that they offered to God in their various worship sites. Well Ezekiel is saying, God has seen all this, and he's not done, and you need to, you're being warned, and you know, many of them would say, well you got to come see Ezekiel, you got to hear this guy preach, and they were just fake. They wanted entertainment, many of them. They weren't real, and it comes out in his writings. Anyway, he expended a lot of energy defying Yahweh, this Manasseh, hoping to remake Judah.
We're living now in a time where people want to remake America into some, you know, into Oakland or San Francisco, and it's just diabolical. They hate the freedom that people have to preach Christ. That's what Satan really is steamed by.
He loves to suppress freedom. Anyway, verse 6, also he made his sons pass through the fire, practicing soothsaying, used witchcraft, and consulted spiritists and mediums. He did much evil in the sight of Yahweh to provoke him to anger. When it says he made his son pass through the fire, of course he's talking about the sacrifice, said again in, here it's plural, it's plural in 2 Chronicles 33, verse 6. But that is, you know, he offered them up to a cruel death by fire. Of course, I smirk at practicing soothsaying, you know, you stand in front of the mirror and you keep saying, sooth, sooth, what are you doing, I'm practicing soothsaying.
It's kind of goofy, right? He consulted mediums, he's out in the middle of the road and talking to the medium. What should I do?
Get out of the traffic. Anyway, just a little humor there, very little, and we'll move on. Well, a person's religion influences their behavior, either good or bad, and we see what this one is doing. Why does God need to prohibit human sacrifice? I mean, isn't that something you would think somebody would figure out on their own? Look, you know, I wouldn't want that to happen to me.
In fact, it didn't happen to me. I'm not going to do it to anybody else, but I really, really want that car, and maybe if I please some fictitious God somebody made up, he'll get me that car. Murder. Does God have to say, thou shall not kill? I mean, did Cain think that this was, you know, pretty soon everybody's going to be doing it.
It's so vogue. Lying. Do you have to tell people, stop lying. Stop stealing.
Well, you do. Cain has made a mess of everything, but again, men know they do not want to be victims of these things, and so you don't always have to use scripture to convict the guilty. Reason sometimes works, but scripture hits the hardest because it cuts the conscience. Anyway, of course, all this is in the Old Testament and new. All that Hezekiah had torn down, Manasseh rebuilds, and he picked fights with Yahweh because he hated him, and this is made evident by the defacement of sacred things.
Imagine, imagine if, you know, you're married to someone and you want to bring in a picture of somebody else and put that on the night table. That's what they're doing to God. That's why God referred to them as, you know, unfaithful, and has a whole book, the book of Hosea presents God's case just that way to try to char them into a reality that many of them were not interested then, but at death they became very interested, but it was too late.
Verse 7, he even set a carved image of Ashtoreh, and he had made in the house of which Yahweh had said to David and Solomon his son in this house and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my name forever. So this is blatant blasphemy widespread throughout history. It made Lucifer a Satan or a devil, both really. What an awful portrait to paint of any human being, especially a king of Judah as a child of righteous Hezekiah.
It seems too bad to be true, but it is true, and it makes the heart almost sick to read of the list of abominations that he stacked up, his rap sheet, his spiritual rap sheet. The Bible means nothing to people in such a state of darkness. In fact, the Bible can serve to provoke them to more evil.
They want to fight God and stick it to Him to do more evil. Verse 8, and I will not make the feet of Israel wander anymore from the land which I gave their fathers, only if they are careful to do according to all that I have commanded them and according to all the law that my servant Moses commanded. Well, verse 8 is of course fragmented from 7 as I've read it, but it recovers because it explains itself again. Not even Israel was entitled to sin without consequence, and that's what God has been telling them. There has to be the checks and balances of repentance and accountability, and all of Israel's woes throughout history to this day are because they are not careful to obey. Verse 9, but they paid no attention, and Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than the nations whom Yahweh had destroyed before the children of Israel, and that destruction was judgment. It wasn't just, you know what, I'm just going to make room for you and I'll wipe those other people out because I love you that much.
That is not what happened. Those people were so wicked, God said they've got to go. They're not good for humanity, and the long-term plan of their influence is not something I'm going to permit, and so God raised up the Jews and said, I've got a place for you, and you're going to be my instrument of judgment, and it worked both ways because when the Jews became wicked, God used other peoples to get them out of the land, but of course the Lord brings them back. And so, verse 29 where it says, but they paid no attention, and Manasseh seduced them.
This is so common. How many times have we watched this movie, were we hoping for a different ending when we see this kind of behavior? He got them to do evil and feel good about it without hesitation because the shame was stolen. When you take the shame out of sin, then why not sin? Shame is a powerful tool when it's properly played. Unfortunately, you get good people ashamed of things that they don't always have to be ashamed of.
It's misplaced. Verse 10, and Yahweh spoke to his servants, the prophets saying, verse 11, because Manasseh king of Judah has done these abominations, he has acted more wickedly than all the Amorites who were before him, and has also made Judah sin with his idols. Is there a worse comparison? He embraced known abominations, and you just want to say, what were you thinking?
Well, you're going to find out the hard way. This is justifying the judgment that's coming their way. Verse 12, therefore, thus says Yahweh God of Israel, behold, I am bringing such calamity on Jerusalem and Judah that whoever hears of it, both his ears will tingle.
Sort of an idiom there. So this image here, God uses four images of his judgment in verses 12 and 13. He uses the tingling, which in its root is a tambourine or a bell or a symbol.
He will use a ruler, a plumb line, and the kitchen sink. Thanks for joining us for today's edition on Cross-Reference Radio. This is the daily radio ministry of Pastor Rick Gaston of Calvary Chapel Mechanicsville in Virginia.
We trust that what you've heard today in the book of 2 Kings has been something to remember. If you'd like to listen to more teachings from this series, go to crossreferenceradio.com. Once more, that's crossreferenceradio.com. We encourage you to subscribe to our podcast too, so you'll never miss another edition. Just go to your favorite podcast app to subscribe. Our time is about up, but we hope you'll tune in again next time as we continue on in the book of 2 Kings. We look forward to that time with you, so make a note in your calendar to join Pastor Rick as he teaches from the Bible right here on Cross-Reference Radio.
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