How does a righteous father like Hezekiah, have a son who turns out as wickedly as Manasseh? Hezekiah died when Manasseh was twelve years old, and as the sickness which the LORD miraculously healed him of occurred fifteen years before his death, Manasseh did not see all of Hezekiah’s reforms, the great deliverance which the LORD wrought for Judah over the army of Sennacherib, and the miraculous healing the LORD did for Hezekiah. He was born in the latter days of his father’s reign, when peace and prosperity prevailed all around.
It is when we are living in abundant peace, prosperity, and blessing, that we have to be on the most guard against falling away from the LORD:
So it shall be, when the LORD your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn- out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant — when you have eaten and are full — then beware, lest you forget the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. Deu 6:10-12
Manasseh never knew fear, want, or lack. He inherited the peace and prosperity of his father, which he did not build, hew, dig, or plant. He was young when he lost his father, and did not beware.
The Hebrew for “beware” is the primitive root, Strong’s H8104, shamar, shin+ mem + resh. So the idea of shamar, is to closely guard (sin –> shin) that which is of first importance (resh) for the next generation (nun –> mem).
This passage teaches us that it is easier to closely guard for the next generation those things which are of first importance, when things are a bit of a struggle. We need help, so we keep our hearts and minds on Him who is our help. When things get easy and we are full to overflowing, it is human nature to get lazy. So that is when we especially need to beware.
Many of the commands of Torah are designed to internalize the remembering and the not forgetting, for example celebrating the feast days. Each feast day commemorates something in history concerning YHVH and His people, and also looks forward to the Messiah and something that is yet to be accomplished concerning YHVH and His people. By observing the feasts, and remembering on them what we are commanded to remember, we help ourselves to closely guard for the next generation those things which are of first importance.
At any rate, the days of Hezekiah’s struggles were over, by the time Manasseh was born, and perhaps he did not diligently teach the word of the LORD to his son — or perhaps he did, but Manasseh might have even blamed God or was angry with Him for allowing his father to be taken from him at a young age. At any rate, the enemy is ever ready to capitalize on these situations in our lives, and lead us into sin through whatever door comes open, such as grief or bitterness. Make no mistake, that just as Manasseh led Judah into idolatry, Manasseh himself was also led into idolatry.
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 1 Pet 5:8-9
Let us be sober and vigilant, but not live in fear. The Good Shepherd of the sheep is able to shepherd us.
But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Pet 5:10
In Him let us place our trust!