Manasseh begins his reign at twelve years old, and he is an evil king. He rebuilds all the high places his dad tore down, he practices witchcraft, and he even places a carved image of Asherah in the house of the Lord. “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.”
The Lord tries to speak to Manasseh and the people, but they would not listen. Therefore, the Lord’s anger is provoked, and He delivers His people into the hands of the Assyrians “who took Manasseh with hooks, bound him with bronze fetters, and carried him off to Babylon. 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; 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.”
So Manasseh learns the hard way that there is only one true God. When he returns to Jerusalem, he takes away all the foreign gods and commands Judah to worship the Lord.
When Manasseh dies, his evil son, Amon, becomes king of Judah. “And he did not humble himself before the Lord, as his father Manasseh had humbled himself; but Amon trespassed more and more.” So Amon’s servants kill him. Then his son, Josiah, becomes the next king of Judah.
Josiah is only eight years old when he takes the throne. Josiah reigns for thirty-one years. “And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the ways of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.” When Josiah is sixteen years old, he begins seeking the Lord; and when he turns twenty, he begins purging the land of all the false gods.
This is when we are introduced to Jeremiah. Jeremiah is a young man who is called into ministry in the thirteenth year of Josiah’s reign. The Lord has a very specific calling on the life of Jeremiah. God is going to use him to send a message to Judah. Like Moses in the Exodus Era and Gideon in the Judges Era, Jeremiah questions if he is up to the calling. God tells Jeremiah the same thing that he told Moses and Gideon — that He, the Lord God Almighty, will be the One doing the work. Jeremiah, like the others, will simply be an instrument in the Lord’s hand.
God warns Jeremiah that the people “will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you. For I am with you.” So the Lord sends Jeremiah to Jerusalem to bring a case against His people. “For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns – broken cisterns that can hold no water.” The people have left the life-giving Lord for lifeless false gods which could never quench their thirst.
The Lord compares the people to a harlot, a weed, and a person so dirty that no amount of washing could make them clean. The people are in need of the Lord and the coming Savior who will shed His blood for the stains of our sin so that we may be clean before the Lord and have true life. And when Jesus Christ arrives on the scene, He will cry out to the people – “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37). Jesus’ invitation is open to all. Anyone who puts their trust in Him will receive the Holy Spirit who will seal your salvation and change your heart of stone to a heart that is pleasing to the Lord and will be a blessing to others.
More from Jeremiah tomorrow, so keep reading. (2 Kings 21:1-9, 2 Chronicles 33:1-9, 2 Kings 21:10-17, 2 Chronicles 33:10-19, 2 Kings 21:18, 2 Chronicles 33:20, 2 Kings 21:19-26, 2 Chronicles 33:21-25, 2 Kings 22:1-2, 2 Chronicles 34:1-7, Jeremiah 1:1-2:22)