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Thursday, July 23, 2020

Rebellion Against God - A Lesson For Rebels

by A.M. Kisly

I can’t tell you how many times I have seen the anguish of godly parents over the state of their rebellious children. The depth of the love of parents for their children cannot be measured, and the grief of a parent over a rebellious child is almost inconsolable. Is it possible for a child to be raised in a godly home only to turn to wickedness, opposing God in every aspect of life?

Yes, it is absolutely possible….

In 2 Chronicles chapter 33, we read of one of the kings of Judah. King Manasseh was king of the southern kingdom of Judah and the details of his life are recorded in 2 Kings 21:1–18 and 2 Chronicles 33:1–20, and also mentioned in Jeremiah 15:4.

Manasseh was the longest reigning king of Judah. Scripture tells us that he began his reign at the age of twelve; and reigned for a total of fifty-five years. He stands out among all the other kings of Judah as the most wicked of them all. Manasseh "did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the despicable practices of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel" (2 Kings 21:2).

His record of wickedness was a staggering one.

In fact, the Bible describes for us that this king was the one who most bore responsibility for the seventy-years of captivity that the people of Judah suffered in Babylon. Reading on in the book of kings, we find out later the good things that Manasseh’s godly grandson, King Josiah did for his people (See also: The Josiah Mandate - by James Fire); but once Josiah’s reign was over, 2 Kings 23:26-27 tells us,
Nevertheless the LORD did not turn from the fierceness of His great wrath, with which His anger was aroused against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked Him. And the LORD said, “I will also remove Judah from My sight, as I have removed Israel, and will cast off this city Jerusalem which I have chosen, and the house of which I said, ‘My name shall be there’” ( 2 Kings 23:26-27 ).
And once the Babylonians began to conquer Judah and take it away into captivity, the Bible tells us;
Surely at the commandment of the LORD this came upon Judah, to remove them from His sight because of the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he had done, and also because of the innocent blood that he had shed; for he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, which the LORD would not pardon (2 Kings 24:3-4).
Even Jeremiah—the great prophet of the Babylonian captivity—spoke of this. In Jeremiah 15, he wrote;
Then the LORD said to me, “Even if Moses and Samuel stood before Me, My mind would not be favorable toward this people. Cast them out of My sight, and let them go forth. And it shall be, if they say to you, ‘Where should we go?’ then you shall tell them, ‘Thus says the LORD:
“Such as are for death, to death; 
And such as are for the sword, to the sword; 
And such as are for the famine, to the famine; 
And such as are for the captivity, to the captivity.”’ 
“And I will appoint over them four forms of destruction,” says the LORD: “the sword to slay, the dogs to drag, the birds of the heavens and the beasts of the earth to devour and destroy. I will hand them over to trouble, to all kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah, king of Judah, for what he did in Jerusalem” (Jeremiah 15:1-4).
Manasseh was a rebel. He was the worst juvenile delinquent in all the history of Judah. And there are great lessons for us to learn from his life. Let’s open our Bibles to 2 Chronicles 33, and learn some of these lessons.

Judging from his upbringing, no one would have ever expected him to become the wicked man he proved to be. Manasseh was the son of Hezekiah, one of the great godly kings of Judah.

The bible says that he repaired the Jewish temple and restored the work of the Jewish priests, the sacrifices and the celebration of the Passover (2 Chron 29-31). In 2 Kings 18:3 it says, "And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that David his father had done." Verses 5-6 further explain, that Hezekiah "trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him. For he held fast to the LORD. He did not depart from following him, but kept the commandments that the LORD commanded Moses."

Hezekiah removed the false gods from the land and destroyed the high places of pagan worship in Judah (2 Kings 18:4).

Because of his godliness, the Lord was with him and that he prospered (2 Kings 18:7).

During a time of sickness, Hezekiah was told by the prophet Isaiah, “Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live” (Isaiah 38:1)? As he wept cried out to God in prayer; God sent Isaiah back to him to say, “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will add to your days fifteen years” (v. 5). At this time Hezekiah had no heir to the throne. And so, Hezekiah was healed.

And finally having a son, and knowing that he only had fifteen years from the time that God healed him, he made his son a co-regent with him as soon as was possible. Historians tell us that Manasseh reigned with his godly father for at least ten years before Hezekiah died. And just imagine the stories Hezekiah would have told his son! He would have told him about the great spiritual reforms that he made for the people—how he tore down the altars and high places of Manassah’s grandfather Ahaz, and restored the people to a faithful worship of God. He would have told him of how he cried out to God at the time when the Assyrian armies surrounded the people of Jerusalem; and how God sent an angel in the middle of the night to slay 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in the defense of God’s people. He would have told him about the pride that he had allowed to rise up in his heart; and how God humbled him through illness and gave him the additional fifteen years of life—and also gave him a son to take his place.

It is highly likely that Hezekiah even told Manasseh about how he had pridefully shown the Babylonian ambassadors all of the treasures of his house; and also how God sent the prophet Isaiah to rebuke the king for this, and that the Babylonians would one day come and carry all those treasures away. I suspect that Hezekiah told his young son Manasseh how much he regretted what he had done; but that he resolved that “there will be peace and truth in my days” (Isaiah 39:8). I even suspect that the prophet Isaiah was very much involved in young Manasseh’s life. What a godly upbringing he must have had! What great lessons he could have learned!

Hezekiah eventually died, and Manasseh became the sole king of Judah. And given all the advantages he had, what a shock those first two verses of 2 Chronicles 33 are! It says;
Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. But he did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel (2 Chronicles 33:1-2).
Manasseh was not a man who was ignorant of the right way of life. He knew the right way; but as soon as he could, he rejected it and rebelled against it. And do you notice how truly wicked in his rebellion he proved to be? We’re not told that he merely imitated the bad habits of some of the kings of the past. Rather, we’re told that he did evil according to the abominations of the nations that God had cast out of the land before the people of Israel came there! He went back and revived the ancient paganisms of the past!

Proverbs 16:18 tells us that pride leads to destruction. Proverbs 16:5, says, “Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord.” Pride was the first great sin of Satan, when he thought that he could be like God and incited one third of the angels to attempt a coup in heaven (Ezekiel 28:17). For this reason, Satan was cast from heaven. Satan also tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden by appealing to her ego. He said, “For God knows that when you eat from [the forbidden tree] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Eve desired to be as wise as God, so she capitulated to Satan’s advice to eat of the fruit of the tree. Pride was, therefore, the downfall of man, as well. Satan did not want man to obey God but to become his own god—determining for himself reality, meaning, and ethics.

REBELLION ROBS US OF THE BENEFITS OF A GODLY UPBRINGING (vv. 1-2).

We can have the most advantageous upbringing possible. We can have grown up in a Christian home with Godly parents who raised us to love and follow Jesus Christ. We could have been given all the benefits of godly examples, godly teaching, Christian homeschooling…the works, but none of it will do us any good if we do not take hold of it and live it for ourselves.

That seems to be an oft-repeated lesson from the stories of the kings. The godly influences and examples of others will not do you any good if you do not then rise up, take personal responsibility for what you’ve been given, and live out that godly life for yourself.

How do you live out that godly life? Like Paul taught young Timothy, he said,
But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:14-15).
If you have had godly influences in your life, then thank God for them, “continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of " don’t rebel against them. And if you have rebelled, then repent and take them up again.

We know that Manasseh did not do this. As soon as he was able to, he turned away from the godly influences and teachings that had been given to him. And what a terrible slide downward it was! The verses that follow reveal his story, and the shocking depths of moral depravity he was willing to go.

1. We’re told that he rebuilt the places of pagan worship that his godly father had destroyed from the land. Verse three says, “For he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down; he raised up altars for the Baals, and made wooden images; and he worshiped all the host of heaven and served them.” The high places were places of pagan worship. The Baals were the deities of the ungodly people groups of the ancient near east. The wooden images were monuments to pagan gods that were very immoral in nature. And in Deuteronomy 17:3, the “host of heaven” was a reference to the stars in the sky. This was an act of defiant rebellion against what his father had taught him; and there’s no other way to describe it! It was a deliberate rejection of God, and a restoration of the wicked ways of the people groups that God had driven out of the land.

2. We’re told that he not only restored the wicked things that his father had torn down, but he built new ones. Verses 4-5 says, “He also built altars in the house of the LORD, of which the LORD had said, “In Jerusalem shall My name be forever.” And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD.” “The house of the LORD” is the temple—the very temple that King Solomon built and dedicated to the Lord. Manasseh went so far as to actually build altars to false gods in the temple!

3. We’re told that his decline into paganism took an unspeakably evil turn. Verse six says, “Also he caused his sons to pass through the fire in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom . . .” The Valley of Hinnom was a deep and narrow ravine on the southerly side of Jerusalem; and this wicked practice involved erecting a monstrous brass idol that was heated red-hot from the inside, and placing children onto the glowing arms of the idol as human sacrifices. This may be what was meant when the Bible says that Manasseh “shed very much innocent blood, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another . . .” (2 Kings 21:16).

4. We’re told in verse six that he practiced soothsaying, used witchcraft and sorcery, and consulted mediums and spiritists. Way back in the law that God gave through Moses, these things were strictly forbidden. In Deuteronomy 18:12, such practices of the pagan nations are said to be “an abomination to the LORD”, and that “because of these abominations the LORD your God drives them out from before you”. But knowing what God said about such things, Manasseh practiced them anyway. No wonder verse six says, “He did much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke Him to anger.”

5. In verses 7-8, we’re told that “He even set a carved image, the idol which he had made, in the house of God, of which God had said to David and to 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; and I will not again remove the foot of Israel from the land which I have appointed for your fathers—only if they are careful to do all that I have commanded them, according to the whole law and the statutes and the ordinances by the hand of Moses.’” It seems that all that he had done previously, in restoring the ancient paganisms of the past, was not enough. He even went so far as to design his own idol, and to place it in the very temple of God!

Now that is rebellion!

6. In verse 9, the thing that I believe became the final straw for God with respect to His people: “So Manasseh seduced Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to do more evil than the nations whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel.”

Manasseh wasn’t alone in his rebellion. The people followed his wicked example. In fact, if you look at verse 10, you see that “the LORD spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they would not listen.”

REBELLION HAS A DESTRUCTIVE INFLUENCE ON OTHERS (vv. 3-9).Manasseh’s influence certainly put the entire nation at risk, and certainly under the judgment of God.

What is rebellion?

The word rebellion is commonly defined as (1): “An act of violent or open resistance to an established government or ruler; the action or process of resisting authority, control, or convention.” Synonyms of the word rebellion are defiance, disobedience, and insubordination. Simply stated rebellion is the defiance or disobedience against authority.

Rebellion is basically self-serving. It is about indulging in sinfulness, and refusing authority. It puffs up pride, and inflates the ego. Rebellion is lonely, and needs and audience….and like the king of rebellion (Satan) rebellion wants others to follow along.

What does the Bible say about rebellion?
  • Rebellion against authority is rebellion against God: Deuteronomy 31:27; Joshua 22:22; Ezra 4:17-24; Nehemiah 9:17
  • Rebellion is sin personified in Satan: Genesis 3:1-13
  • Rebellion is comparable to witchcraft: 1 Samuel 15:16-23
  • Rebellion is a practice of evil people: Proverbs 17:11; Isaiah 65:2
  • Rebellion results in the loss of blessings from God: Numbers 20:10-24; Joshua 2:1-15; Jeremiah 28:2-17
  • Rebellion angers God: Isaiah 65:1-7; 1 Peter 3:18-22
  • Rebellion results in death: Romans 5:12-19; 1 Peter 2:4-8

Whether you are aware of it or not, others are watching us. They’re paying attention to the way we speak and the kinds of words we use, how we talk to our family members, and pay attention to our marriages. They pay attention to the things we are engaging in, the behaviors that we exhibit, the habits we are picking up, and the ideologies we are embracing. They hear us when we claim to be Christians, and are confused by the things we do that are contradictory to our faith.

Our liberty in Christ is not a license to satisfy our sinful flesh. Our goals as Christians should be to glorify God, build up the church, and draw others to Christ. Our exercise of our freedom must support these goals. As Christians, we have been given a powerful influence in this world as followers of Jesus Christ, we must constantly be thinking about how our behavior has an impact on others! As Paul says;
But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols? And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble (1 Corinthians 8:9-13).
The people of ancient Judah certainly were responsible for their own sins. But how much of the guilt of it all would have been proper to lay at the feet of King Manasseh—who rebelled fiercely against God’s way for him, and then dragged an entire nation down into sin by his own wicked example? How much would he have to give an account for on the day of judgment?

May God help us to think about how our own times of rebellion bring a destructive influence on others!

In verse ten, it goes on to tell us about how God kept sending warnings to the king and to his people; but they would not listen.

What was it that He said to them? I believe that 2 Kings 21:10-15 gives us the answer. There, we find these words;
And the LORD spoke by His servants the prophets, saying, “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), therefore thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘Behold, I am bringing such calamity upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whoever hears of it, both his ears will tingle. And I will stretch over Jerusalem the measuring line of Samaria and the plummet of the house of Ahab; I will wipe Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down. So I will forsake the remnant of My inheritance and deliver them into the hand of their enemies; and they shall become victims of plunder to all their enemies, because they have done evil in My sight, and have provoked Me to anger since the day their fathers came out of Egypt, even to this day’” (2 Kings 21:10-15).
It hadn’t been but just a few decades before Manasseh’s time that God had punished the people of the northern kingdom of Israel by allowing the Assyrian army to come upon them and take them all away into captivity. Manasseh’s father had most likely been living at that time; and he would certainly have told his son Manasseh about the terrible judgment of God that fell upon them for their sin. And now, God was telling Manasseh that He was going to do the same things to Judah—that He would “stretch over Jerusalem the measuring line of Samaria and the plummet of the house of Ahab”.

But Manasseh and the people wouldn’t listen to the prophets that God was sending them. And so, the time finally came; and in verse 11, we read; “Therefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the army of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh with hooks, bound him with bronze fetters, and carried him off to Babylon.”

He literally put “a hook” through Manasseh’s “nose”. Ancient artwork has shown that that was how the king of Assyria would often humiliate the kings he captured. He would put a hook through their lips or their noses; and pull them around on a leash like a dog.

REBELS SUFFER CONSEQUENCES FROM A HOLY GOD (vv. 10-11).

I suppose we could say that Manasseh was a living illustration of what his great ancestor Solomon once wrote in Proverbs 29:1; “He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” As the apostle Paul tells us;
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life (Galatians 6:7-8).
Now; there’s a sense in which Manasseh was an illustration of how God would one day punish his rebellious people with seventy-years of captivity in Babylon. But he was also an illustration of the mercy God would show to His rebellious people once they repented; and of how He would restore them to the land when their captivity was over.

The Bible goes on to tell us;
Now when he was in affliction, he implored the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed to Him (v. 12).
How long it had been that he suffered in captivity is something we’re not told. But however long it took, his rebellious heart was finally broken. He had sinned greatly against God; but now, we’re told that he humbled himself greatly before the God of mercy. And, as the Bible goes on to tell us, God heard his cry;
and He received his entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God (v. 13).
The evil he committed is almost unfathomable. He had been a remarkable sinner. But he underwent a remarkable humbling before God. And as a result, he experienced a remarkable deliverance. Again, how long it was before God restored him—or just how it all happened—we’re not told. But he was once again back in his land and back on the throne. It may be that he always bore an ugly piercing on the outside where a hook had once been; but he was a changed man on the inside from that day forward. The Bible goes on to tell us;
After this he built a wall outside the City of David on the west side of Gihon, in the valley, as far as the entrance of the Fish Gate; and it enclosed Ophel, and he raised it to a very great height. Then he put military captains in all the fortified cities of Judah. He took away the foreign gods and the idol from the house of the LORD, and all the altars that he had built in the mount of the house of the LORD and in Jerusalem; and he cast them out of the city. He also repaired the altar of the LORD, sacrificed peace offerings and thank offerings on it, and commanded Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel. Nevertheless the people still sacrificed on the high places, but only to the LORD their God (vv. 14-17).

GOD HEARS THE REPENTANT CRY OF EVEN THE WORST REBELS (vv. 12-17).

If you have rebelled and turned away from the Lord, God is imploring you to repent and turn back to Him. No one need ever fear that their sins are so bad that, if they truly humbled their heart before God, He would not hear them. If God would have mercy on someone like Manasseh, He’d have mercy on anyone!

Second Kings 21:16 records that "Manasseh shed very much innocent blood, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another." The consistency and volume of violence he carried out in Jerusalem literally filled the streets with blood. He sacrificed his own sons on fiery altars in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom. He desecrated God's holy temple with foreign idols and caused an entire nation to turn away from God. And yet, when Manasseh cried out to God with a humble and repentant heart from the distress he rightfully deserved to suffer, God not only forgave him but also restored him to power.

God is, indeed, "good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon [Him]" (Psalm 86:5). May each person feel encouraged to call upon the LORD to seek forgiveness knowing "if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).

A good passage to close with would be the one in which the Lord Jesus told a story to some people who might have looked down their noses at someone like Manasseh—some “who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others” He said;
“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:10-14).
Surely, there is no rebel so bad that God is not willing to show them mercy, forgive their sins, and restore them in fellowship with Him - if they would but humble themselves before Him, confess their sins and repent of their ways.

See also: Are You Too Bad To Be Saved And Loved By God - by Sonny Islas

It is so important to keep an eternal perspective. The things we do today will affect our eternity. If you are a Christian, yes, you will get to Heaven if you are born again, but what will you have when you get there? Will you have treasures laid up in Heaven (Mt 6:19-21)(Mt 19:21)(Mk 10:21)(Lk 12:33-34)(Lk 18:22) from your works on this planet, or will you simply get there as one escaping through the flames (1 Cor 3:15)?

Run the race here on Earth so you may obtain the prize (1 Cor 9:24-27)(Heb 12:1). God has so much awaiting each of us, if we will stay on the narrow way that leads to life (Mt 7:13-14), and not turn to the right or the left (Josh 23:6). Die to what you want (Gal 5:24)(Col 3:5)(Eph 4:22), and live completely for the Lord.

Satan is looking to devour you (1 Pet 5:8). Do NOT let him win! God is patient (Rom 15:5), longsuffering (2 Pet 3:9-15)(1 Tim 1:6)(Ex 34:6), and slow to anger (Neh 9:17)(Ps 103:8)(Joel 2:13). He loves you so much and is waiting for you. Turn back to Him TODAY!






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