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Moreover Manasseh shed very much innocent blood, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another, besides his sin by which he made Judah sin, in doing evil in the sight of the LORD. (2 Kings 21:16)
Manasseh was one of the worst kings in the Bible, and his evil reign made judgment upon God’s people certain. Here in 2 Kings 21:16 we read of one of his worst sins – he persecuted the godly people of Judah.
The description, Manasseh shed very much innocent blood puts Manasseh in the same spiritual family as Ahab, king of Israel. Under both of these kings the people of God were persecuted by the false religion of state-sponsored idolatry. The extent of it was so great that it could be metaphorically said, he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another with the blood of his victims.
We see the tragic progression in Manasseh’s sin.
First, idolatry is tolerated among God’s people. 2 Kings 21 tells us the people of God didn’t care about Manasseh’s wickedness and they were seduced by him.
Then idolatry is promoted. Manasseh did that by allowing forbidden altars and places of worship to the idol gods of the neighboring people.
Then idolatry is supported and funded. Manasseh paid for those forbidden altars and even honored pagan gods at the Lord’s temple.
Then the worship of the true God is undermined. When the leaders of a culture reject and replace the worship of the true God, most people follow their example. Faithfulness to the Lord becomes unpopular.
Then the worshippers of the true God are persecuted and murdered. Their godliness and faithfulness are offensive to those who have rejected God. Many in the culture find even the presence of godly people to be unbearable.
Finally, the judgment of God soon comes. God answers from heaven, zealously guarding His glory and avenging the blood of His martyred people. All the evil Manasseh did, he did it in the sight of the LORD. God saw it all and He would not forget.
It’s true – Manasseh did much evil in the sight of the LORD. By tradition, one of the evils done by Manasseh was the murder of Isaiah the prophet. Many people think that Hebrews 11:37 (they were sawn in two) is a reference to the martyrdom of Isaiah.
Reading how bad it was in the days of Manasseh makes us think of our persecuted brothers and sisters all around the world who face terrible persecution. It seems that there is not a week that goes by without reading about believers being murdered just because they were Christians. In the western world, we are grateful that we don’t face the same – but we recognize that it could come.
Today, remember to pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters all around the world. Remember that whatever evil is done to the people of God is done in the sight of the LORD – it doesn’t escape His view.