The Bible does not tell us whether or not the prophet Isaiah lived during the reign of King Hezekiah’s son, Manasseh. There are some extra-biblical accounts which suggest that he did and was ultimately put to death by that evil king. But the Bible does not say either way.
Recall that King Hezekiah had asked for an extension to his life from the Lord after being told through Isaiah that he was dying from an incurable disease. God heard Hezekiah’s prayer and granted him an additional fifteen years to live. It was during this extra time that Hezekiah’s successor to the throne, Manasseh, was born.
Unfortunately, Manasseh ended up doing more spiritual harm to Judah than any king before him. We are told that he seduced the nation away from God towards the practice of evil and undid many of the good things that Hezekiah had done.
Scripture tells us that Manasseh:
- Rebuilt the idol worship centers that Hezekiah had torn down.
- Worshiped the same false gods that the fallen Northern Kingdom had followed after, including Baal and the host of heaven.
- Introduced carved idols and false gods for worship within God’s temple.
- Sacrificed his own sons to a false god.
- Practiced soothsaying, witchcraft, sorcery and consulted mediums and spiritists.
- Led all the people of Judah in these practices that had been expressly forbidden by the Lord.
All of these acts provoked the Lord to anger. God reached out to try to turn Manasseh and his people around.
10 And the Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they would not listen. 11 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. 12 Now when he was in affliction, he implored the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, 13 and prayed to Him; 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. 2 Chronicles 33:10-13 NKJV
Due to his hour of trial and affliction, Manasseh repented, and turned to God from his evil ways. It was more than just a “foxhole” prayer – Manasseh meant it and followed it up with action. As a result, God restored him to the throne of Judah.
How bad is too bad before the Lord gives up on someone? Manasseh was certainly bad, and the “medicine” that God used to bring him to repentance was strong, but it took what it took, and God forgave him for his evil deeds and restored him to his position of favor. He also remained in the genealogy of Jesus Christ – God did not go around him.
One thing I have observed from the prison ministry is that when any heart sincerely turns towards God, the Lord will never turn them away. An individual may face the rest of their life in prison, but they can still experience freedom on the inside by turning to God and being cleansed by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Both they and Manasseh are living proof of God’s bountiful grace and mercy towards all of us sinners.
Do I have any burdens on my heart that I still need to take to the cross of Christ? His sacrifice is sufficient to cleanse any spot or blemish that we or others might have placed there. His healing balm will bring us serenity, life and peace.
Lord, we come to You like Hezekiah and Manasseh did to ask for Your grace and mercy today. Lift away the burdens of our hearts and give us complete cleansing and freedom on the inside. Help us to mean it and to follow after You with our thoughts and actions. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.