Hezekiah was another of Judah’s good kings. “And his mother’s name was Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah.” (2 Chronicles 29:1). To all eternity that record will stand, telling us of years of patient, quiet, hidden training and influence, from the nursery to the throne. And as we read of all the good that Hezekiah did to his country and his people, we know that in God’s sight, much of it was due to Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah. What an encouragement to you Mothers! His father was a wicked man.
Here is another story you should read for yourselves, and drink in the comfort with which it is filled. Hezekiah was a true father to his people. How sweet it is to hear that “he spake comfortably unto all the Levites that taught the good knowledge of the Lord.” And again, when faced with an overwhelming foe, we hear him say to his people, “Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him; for there be more with us than with him; with him is an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.”
(2 Chronicles 32:7-8).
Once again we could wish that our story might end here, but again there is more to tell. God, for some good and wise purpose, sent word to Hezekiah, while still a young man, probably only 39 or 40, that the time had come for him to die. God’s ways are best; even in such a matter as this: but Hezekiah turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the Lord, …and Hezekiah wept sore. It was a desperately earnest prayer; but I greatly fear there was no thought in it of “Thy will be done.” And God gave him what he asked, as God does at times to us, when we are determined to have it, and He added to his life fifteen years. Alas, those fifteen years did not shine as brightly, as the fourteen years that had just passed. First of all pride came in; (2 Chronicles 32:25-26). And after three years a little son came on the scene, and he called his name Manasseh-Forgetting. One would almost think from 2 Chronicles 32:25 that Hezekiah had forgotten “the benefit done unto him.” And this little son, when the fifteen years added to his father’s life were ended, was still only twelve years old, and he reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem; but did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, like unto the abominations of the heathen, whom the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel. For he built again the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down, and he reared up altars for Baalim, and made groves, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them. Also he built altars in the house of the Lord, whereof the Lord had said, “In Jerusalem shall My Name be forever. And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord….” And so the record continues, verse after verse of the terrible sins of this wicked king, son of one of the best kings of Judah, but, alas a son born from self-will and pride. The record in Kings is almost more terrible; “He filled Jerusalem with innocent blood; which the Lord would not pardon.” (2 Kings 24:2). “Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen, whom the Lord had destroyed before the children of Israel. And the Lord spake to Manasseh and to his people; but they would not hearken. Wherefore the Lord brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon. And when he was in affliction he besought the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of this fathers, and prayed unto Him: and he was entreated of him…” (2 Chronicles 22:9-13). It was “then Manasseh knew that the Lord he was God.”
And though his sin could not be pardoned in one sense, and for his sin Jerusalem was destroyed (Jeremiah 15:4), yet personally, even such a sinner as Manasseh may receive a free and full pardon from the God of Israel. And that prayer for pardon, in the prison in Babylon, God valued so highly, that He caused it to be recorded, for the encouragement of other penitent sinners who would come back again, to the same God who is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and of great kindness, and repenteth Him of the evil (Joel 2:13). And, my dear, dear ones: should it be that one of you should ever wander from the narrow path: remember, the way back is wide, wide open; with the Father’s kiss of pardon waiting for you; and not one single word of reproach. We know well what we deserve, and we cannot understand why we do not get it; indeed it is hard to believe that God is such a God, and yet it is true. Manasseh found him true to His word: Aye, he found Him more than that, as we always find; and God gave to that wicked king who humbled himself, a little grandson Josiah, who proved to be one of the very best of Judah’s long line of kings. Such is the Grace of God.