Scripture reading – 2 Chronicles 32; 2 Chronicles 33

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An Introduction to Today’s Study 

The question of a leader’s character made headlines in 1992 when it was raised regarding the Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton. It was not the first time the man who became the 42nd President of the United States was haunted and hounded by questions of his fitness for public office. The election of a man who ran on a platform that questioned, “Does character matter?” paved the way for the United States to resign its moral authority among the world’s nations.

As we recall the past, remember that character reflects one’s moral compass and values. A “bad character” is morally weak, dishonest, and lacks sound convictions. A “good character” abides by principles that shape one’s values and worldview and is sincere, honest, and morally upright. For Bible believers, the Word of God is the basis for defining one’s character. The Law and Commandments were given as God’s immutable standard for living, and Jesus Christ modeled them perfectly with integrity and character (Hebrews 4:14-15).

We have considered the reign of Hezekiah, king of Judah, in several earlier passages (2 Kings 18:17-36; 19:35-37; 20:1-21; Isaiah 16:1-22; 17:21-38; 38:1-8; 39:1-8). Today’s Scripture reading assignment is a condensed version of the lives and times of King Hezekiah, his son Manasseh, and his grandson Amon.

An Enemy at the Ga

2 Chronicles 32

 

An Enemy at the Gate (2 Chronicles 32:1-6)

Assyria’s defeat of Israel opened the way for Sennacherib, king of Assyria, to invade Judah and lay siege to Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 32:1). After consulting with his leaders, Hezekiah, king of Judah, determined to re-enforce Jerusalem’s walls. By stopping the streams of water without the city, Hezekiah pooled the water in the city and deprived the Assyrian army of water (2 Chronicles 32:2-5).

 

Demonstrating Faith in the LORD, Hezekiah Challenged Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 32:7-8)

Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more [lit. greater] with us than with him: 8 With him [Sennacherib] is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah” (2 Chronicles 32:7-8).

Sennacherib’s Insolent Letters to Hezekiah and Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 32:9-19)

Addressing letters to be read by couriers to the citizens of Jerusalem, Sennacherib spoke against Hezekiah and challenged the people’s confidence in their king. The king of Assyria spoke against the God of Israel and asserted that Judah’s God was no more significant than the gods of other nations he had defeated (2 Chronicles 32:9-14). Sennacherib asserted that Hezekiah deceived the people and led them to believe their God was greater than the gods of Assyria (2 Chronicles 32:15-19).

Hezekiah’s Response to the Attacks on his and the LORD’s Character

What was Hezekiah’s Response to the Attacks on his and the LORD’s Character? (2 Chronicles 32:20-33)

King Hezekiah determined that he would not focus on his enemy’s threats. Instead, “the king, and the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz, prayed and cried to heaven” (2 Chronicles 32:20; Isaiah 37:14-17). The LORD heard the king’s prayer, and sent “an angel, which cut off all the mighty men of valour, and the leaders and captains in the camp of the king of Assyria…22  Thus the LORD saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem” (2 Chronicles 32:21-22).

Failing to render to the LORD the glory He was due for Judah’s victory over Assyria (2 Chronicles 32:25), Hezekiah became ill and “sick to the death” (2 Chronicles 32:24; 2 Kings 20:1a). Yet, the LORD in His grace heard Hezekiah’s prayer, and because the king “humbled himself,” his health was restored, and he lived another 15 years (2 Chronicles 32:26; 2 Kings 20:6).

2 Chronicles 33 – God is Sovereign, and the Most Powerful Monarch Bows to His Will.

 

The Wickedness of Manasseh (2 Chronicles 33 33:1-10)

Judah experienced a spiritual revival during Hezekiah’s reign (2 Chronicles 30:1-9; 31). When he died, his twelve-year-old son Manasseh ascended the throne and reigned for fifty-five years (2 Chronicles 33:1). Unlike his father, he “did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD” (2 Chronicles 33:2).

Stooping to boundless and endless depths of depravity, Manasseh rebuilt the groves of prostitution, desecrated the Temple, and sacrificed his children to idols (2 Chronicles 33:6). He “made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen, whom the Lord had destroyed before the children of Israel” (2 Chronicles 33:9).

What a horrific commentary on decadence and depravity for a king who should have followed his father’s righteous ways! Despite the king’s wickedness, “the LORD spake to Manasseh, and to his people: but they would not hearken” (2 Chronicles 33:10).

 

Manasseh’s Humiliation (2 Chronicles 33:11-13)

Because He is just, the LORD sovereignly moved the hearts of “the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, “which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon” (2 Chronicles 33:11).

In the throes of his suffering and humiliation, Manasseh “besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, 13 And prayed unto him: and he was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD he wasGod” (2 Chronicles 33:12-13).

The Restoration and Death of Manasseh

The Restoration and Death of Manasseh (2 Chronicles 33 33:14-20)

After Manasseh repented of his sins, the LORD restored him to the throne in Jerusalem. The king began a crusade to fortify the walls of the city (2 Chronicles 33:14) and remove the traces of his wickedness, tearing down “the altars that he had built in the mount of the house of the LORD…and cast them out of the city” (2 Chronicles 33:15). He repaired the Temple altar, and commanded “Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel” (33:14-16). 

Though he led Judah as a nation to turn to the LORD, Manasseh could not reverse the effect of his sins on his son Amon. When Amon became king, he did “evil in the sight of the LORD, as did Manasseh his father…And humbled not himself before the LORD” (2 Chronicles 33:21-23). Tragically, Amnon’s “servants conspired against him, and slew him in his own house” (2 Chronicles 33:24-25; 2 Kings 21:24).

Closing thoughtsA leader’s character does matter!   

A leader’s character can leave an indelible mark on families, institutions, and nations. By word and example, leaders may call upon a nation to repent and turn to the LORD, or they can spawn a movement of prejudice and hatred. The author of Proverbs 29 observed, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn” (Proverbs 29:2).

Wicked leaders inevitably bring a people and nation to sorrow and ruin. 

Copyright © 2024 – Travis D. Smith 

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