Then the LORD said through his servants the prophets: “King Manasseh of Judah has done many detestable things. He is even more wicked than the Amorites, who lived in this land before Israel. He has caused the people of Judah to sin with his idols. So this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I will bring such disaster on Jerusalem and Judah that the ears of those who hear about it will tingle with horror. I will judge Jerusalem by the same standard I used for Samaria and the same measure I used for the family of Ahab. I will wipe away the people of Jerusalem as one wipes a dish and turns it upside down. Then I will reject even the remnant of my own people who are left, and I will hand them over as plunder for their enemies. For they have done great evil in my sight and have angered me ever since their ancestors came out of Egypt.” (2 Kings 21:10-15)

God was very patient with his people. Ever since they came out of Egypt, they had been worshiping other gods alongside their worship of Yahweh. Despite all the prophets, despite all the judgments of God designed to get their attention so that they might change their ways and do what they had promised to do in the contract that they had signed so many centuries before, they just continued doing what they wanted, worshipping false gods. The king and his family, the rich and the privileged, led the way in the idolatry. Their lack of care for God was paralleled by their lack of care for their fellow man. They oppressed the poor and disadvantaged. So finally, with Manasseh going over the top in his worship of false gods, God finally pronounced his final judgment: they would lose their land and go into exile. Their slavery to their sins would become manifest in their return to physical slavery. Metaphorically, it was back to Egypt again.

In captivity, however, many of the Israelites finally got the message and humbled themselves before God. Even Manasseh turned to God at last (2 Chronicles 33:11-17, 19). And of course, that’s what God wants more than anything; his purpose in judgment is not vengeance. His purpose in judgment is to get his people to change their minds, to reconsider. He wants to restore the relationship they have broken. Like an ideal parent, he punished his people for their own good.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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