“Good King, Bad King?” (2 Kings 18-21, 2 Chronicles 29-33)
Hezekiah was a good king, tearing down idols and the high places set up by past kings of Judah, trusting in God and keeping his commands, and reopening the temple. Yet in 2 Kings 19, pride takes over and he shows off the wealth of the kingdom to the Babylonians. In response, God declares that all that the Babylonians saw they will one day take away for themselves, even some of Hezekiah’s descendants. His response to the censure of the Lord through Isaiah is startling: “OK. At least it won’t happen in my lifetime.” What happened to his fear of the Lord and concern for Judah? Hezekiah started his reign well, but he didn’t continue to guard his heart and he was ensnared by pride.
His son Manasseh, however, began his reign as a horrible king. He rebuilt the high places and reinstated idol worship, sorcery, and human sacrifice. When the Lord, as judgment, sent the king of Assyria to take him into captivity, Manasseh repented and called upon the Lord. When God later restored him to his kingdom, Manasseh purged the land once again of false gods and restored the altar of the Lord, though the people did not follow his lead completely.
Like Hezekiah, we, too may find ourselves struggling with things that hadn’t been a struggle before. As age and enter into different life situations, we change. Like Hezekiah at first and Manasseh later on, we should be vigilant and concerned about the future effects of sin. What if Hezekiah had continued to pour himself into pointing the people, including his son Manasseh, to the Lord? Perhaps Manasseh would have built on the foundation of his father instead of tearing it down.
Though the stories of Hezekiah and Manasseh are warnings to us to keep our eyes on the Lord, we may also find hope in God’s forgiveness of their sin.