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steering a canoe July 23 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: 2Kings 20:20-21; 2Kings 21; 2Chronicles 32:32-33; 2Chronicles 33; Psalm 82

Turning Away From or Toward God

Most parents try to raise their children right. It is disconcerting and a great grief to godly parents that they may take their children to church every Sunday and to all the church youth activities, just to see them rebel against their upbringing and everything they have been taught. Some teens even quit church before they are done with high school. Others run away, not just from church but from home. What are they thinking? Don't they realize the potential trouble that is waiting for them ? Don’t they know their “friends” could lead them into destructive ways? What are parents to do with their rebellious teens?

King Hezekiah died when his son Manasseh was just twelve years old. In the early part of his reign Manasseh made a mess of his life, and not only his life but also the entire kingdom. One might wonder if he was bitter against God for taking away his father, for the very first thing he did was to lead the nation of Judah into idolatry, and that with perceived vengeance.

[Manasseh] did evil in the eyes of the LORD, following the detestable practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites. 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. He built altars in the temple of the LORD, of which the LORD had said, “My Name will remain in Jerusalem forever.” In both courts of the temple of the LORD, he built altars to all the starry hosts. He sacrificed his sons in the fire in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, practiced sorcery, divination and witchcraft, and consulted mediums and spiritists.

He did much evil in the eyes of the LORD, provoking him to anger. He took the carved image he had made and put it in God's temple, of which God had said to David and to his son Solomon, “In this temple and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my Name forever. I will not again make the feet of the Israelites leave the land I assigned to your forefathers, if only they will be careful to do everything I commanded them concerning all the laws, decrees and ordinances given through Moses.” But Manasseh led Judah and the people of Jerusalem astray, so that they did more evil than the nations the LORD had destroyed before the Israelites. The LORD spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention, (2Chronicles 31:2-10, NIV).

How do we deal with strong-willed children and stubborn adults? Counseling does little good. Strong-willed children and adults need to be humbled. We usually have to allow life’s harsh realities smack them against the head so they wake up and learn not to be so foolish. Stubborn people usually have to learn life lessons the hard way. Manasseh did not listen to God so he took strong measures. “The LORD brought against them [the Israelites in Judah] the army commanders of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh prisoner, put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon,” (2Chronicles 31:11, NIV). For obstinate people tough measures must be taken to get their attention. Did rough treatment get Manasseh’s attention? Yes. God glorifies himself by turning a sinner away from his sin to serve the living and true God. God is also merciful and gracious, especially to those who are his. After life’s discipline, some obstinate children and adults come to their senses.

In his distress he [Manasseh] sought the favor of the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. 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…. He got rid of the foreign gods and removed the image from the temple of the LORD, as well as all the altars he had built on the temple hill and in Jerusalem; and he threw them out of the city. Then he restored the altar of the LORD and sacrificed fellowship offerings and thank offerings on it, and told Judah to serve the LORD, the God of Israel,” (2Chronicles 33:12-16, NIV).

What a change! Perhaps your obstinate loved ones will also experience a radical change in their lives. Keep praying for them; God may yet turn them around (James 5:16-20, NIV).

Despite his repentance, however, Manasseh’s bad example carried on to the people and his son Ammon. After fifty years of wicked living the damage was done. Though the people now “worshipped the LORD” (at least ceremonially), the people worshipped God on the high places instead of Jerusalem. Manasseh’s son, Ammon, succeeded him and was just as wicked as his father. After just two years, Ammon was assassinated by his officials. Unfortunately, because of the sins of Manasseh, God would eventually destroy and expel the people of Judah from the Promised Land - their sins became worse than the Amorites (another name for Canaanites) which he had previously expelled. 2Kings 21:13 describes the expelling of evil in Judah as wiping out a dish with a rag when one is cleaning dishes, both wiping it and turning it upside down. This would happen in 586 B.C. when Babylon would destroy Jerusalem. Like the results of Manasseh’s sins, we cannot predict how our sins might affect future generations. It is best to repent now while God is merciful and gracious.

Lessons to live by: (concerning turning away from or toward God)

  • Let us rejoice that God is merciful and gracious. Even if we or our loved ones make irrevocable mistakes, God is often merciful to us in succeeding generations.
  • Let us pray that the times of obstinacy will be short and lessons will be learned quickly and well.
  • If we are the ones who are obstinate, let us turn to the living and true God from our sinful lives of idolatry. God will lead us in the right ways that bring peace and prosperity (more...)

Today’s Bible memory verses: 2Chronicles 33:12-13

In his distress he sought the favor of the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. 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. (NIV)

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