In 2 Chronicles 33:2 it says about King Manasseh, “2 But he did evil in the sight of the Lord, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel.” 3 For he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down; he raised up altars for the Baals, and made wooden images; and he worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. 4 He also built altars in the house of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, “In Jerusalem shall My name be forever.” 5 And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord. 6 Also he caused his sons to pass through the fire in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom; he practiced soothsaying, used witchcraft and sorcery, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger. 7 He even set a carved image, the idol which he had made, in the house of God, of which God had said to David and to Solomon his son, “In this house and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put My name forever; 8 and I will not again remove the foot of Israel from the land which I have appointed for your fathers—only if they are careful to do all that I have commanded them, according to the whole law and the statutes and the ordinances by the hand of Moses.” 9 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.”
He went so far as to set up idols within the temple at Jerusalem! He sacrificed his sons to Marduke (Molech). He was involved in the occult. He provoked God to anger.
There was a prophecy against Manasseh that said that he would be led away by fish hooks. When the Assyrians attacked again, they did capture Manasseh and they led him away by hooks set in his skin – they dragged him out of Jerusalem. The good news is that when that happened he repented! And let us not think we would repent before things got that bad!
In 2 Chronicles 33:10, “10 And the Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they would not listen. 11 Therefore the Lord brought upon them the captains of the army of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh with hooks, bound him with bronze fetters, and carried him off to Babylon. 12 Now when he was in affliction, he implored the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, 13 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.”
When Manasseh repented God set him free and restored him to his throne in Jerusalem. Then the king rebuilt part of the wall, tore down the places to worship idols, he removed the idols he had set up in the Temple, and yet the people were set in their idolatry, they still served false gods.
Then Manasseh died and his son Amon became king. Verse 21 says, “Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned two years in Jerusalem. 22 But he did evil in the sight of the Lord, as his father Manasseh had done; for Amon sacrificed to all the carved images which his father Manasseh had made, and served them. 23 And he did not humble himself before the Lord, as his father Manasseh had humbled himself; but Amon trespassed more and more. 24 Then his servants conspired against him, and killed him in his own house. 25 But the people of the land executed all those who had conspired against King Amon. Then the people of the land made his son Josiah king in his place.”
Eight year old Josiah became king after the people assassinated his wicked father. We read about it is 2 Chronicles 34:1, “Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem.”
As an 8 year old boy he inherits a kingdom that for 42 years had worshipped idols, was threatened by the Assyrians and the Babylonians, there was an internal struggle for control and no one knew how things were going to turn out or who they could trust. In 612 BC, just before the end of his reign in 609, near the end of his life, Babylon conquered and destroyed Nineveh, and then headed to attack Egypt – Josiah got involved, went into battle disguised so that no one would know he was the king, but he was hit with an arrow and died as a result of his wounds in the battle. Did you know by the way, Josiah is on the messianic line! He is in Matthew’s genealogy for Jesus.
However, before that, while he reigned, he set around him godly men to counsel him and help him rule. One of those men was his cousin, the prophet Zephaniah. And then in the midst of all the paganism and idolatry in the land, Zephaniah comes to the king and preaches the Word of God again and again and again. In 628 BC, 12 years into his reign as king, Josiah initiated a reform in the land. In verses 3-7 of 2 Chron. 34, “3 For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David; and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the wooden images, the carved images, and the molded images. 4 They broke down the altars of the Baals in his presence, and the incense altars which were above them he cut down; and the wooden images, the carved images, and the molded images he broke in pieces, and made dust of them and scattered it on the graves of those who had sacrificed to them. 5 He also burned the bones of the priests on their altars, and cleansed Judah and Jerusalem. 6 And so he did in the cities of Manasseh, Ephraim, and Simeon, as far as Naphtali and all around, with axes. 7 When he had broken down the altars and the wooden images, had beaten the carved images into powder, and cut down all the incense altars throughout all the land of Israel, he returned to Jerusalem.”