Bible Readings for November 8th

2 Kings 21 | Hebrews 3 | Hosea 14 | Psalm 139

The reign of Manasseh is the anvil that breaks the camel’s back. While Judah has enjoyed several good kings along the way—including Manasseh’s own father, Hezekiah, who sought Yahweh’s deliverance from the threat of the Assyrians—the southern kingdom has also experienced their share of wicked kings. It is not, however, as though Manasseh is another moderately evil king in Judah—rather, Manasseh exceeds even the worst of Judah’s worst kings, going so far as to burn his own son as an offering, seeking omens and fortune-telling from mediums and wizards, setting up carved images in the temple, and shedding innocent blood (2 Kgs. 21:6–7, 16). Because of all this, Yahweh evaluates Manasseh as having “done things more evil than all that the Amorites did, who were before him” (2 Kgs. 21:11).

But where Yahweh in the past has extended mercy on top of mercy, extending the longevity of Judah for the sake of David or for the handful of Judah’s kings who walk in the righteousness of David, Yahweh now pronounces that his mercy has come to an end. As he looks upon all the evil that Manasseh has done, Yahweh solemnly declares, “Behold, I am bringing upon Jerusalem and Judah such disaster that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle” (2 Kgs. 21:12). Because Yahweh’s people have consistently forsaken him since the day he led them out of Egypt, Yahweh will now bring his judgment against them (2 Kgs. 21:13–15). Even Manasseh’s grandson Josiah—one of the most godly kings Judah ever had—will only delay Yahweh’s judgment rather than averting it altogether (2 Kgs. 22:20).

At every turn, Yahweh’s people have been consistently incapable of circumcising their own hearts to love Yahweh with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. Therefore, Yahweh’s judgment must come to bring his people to nothing, where they will languish not only under the Babylonians but also under the Medes and Persians, the Greeks, and eventually the Romans. But it is there, in the midst of judgment, that Yahweh kicks off his greatest act of mercy, covenant love, and redemption, because only when things are at their absolute worst will Yahweh send his own Son to avert his wrath altogether. Jesus will do this, of course, not by reforming the people of God for a season but by bearing Yahweh’s curse, judgment, and wrath in himself so that we might go free.

At heart, you and I are no better than Manasseh. The difference between him and us lies not in some superiority in us but in the superiority of God’s mercy toward us in Jesus Christ. Repent from any sins that might lead you deeper in the path of Manasseh and turn with your whole heart in faith toward Jesus Christ, the Son of God who loved you through his own death.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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