Today’s Verse tells us about even more of the actions of a repentant King Manasseh. He seems now to be as vigorous FOR the Lord as he earlier was AGAINST the Lord! What a difference GRACE makes, when FORGIVENESS is extended to a rebellious human heart, now broken in grief over sin.
“And he (Manasseh) took away the strange gods, and the idol out of the house of the LORD, and all the altars that he had built in the mount of the house of the LORD, and in Jerusalem, and cast them out of the city.” 2nd Chronicles 33:15
Trying to “undo” earlier mistakes!
Out go the “gods” and “idols” and “altars” dedicated to heathenism, demonism. (In some ways this dramatic “turnabout” makes me think of the Saul/Paul transition in the New Testament. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2nd Corinthians 5:17)
Now, for a few definitions from our text today.
“And he (Manasseh) took away the strange gods, and the idol out of the house of the LORD, and all the altars that he had built in the mount of the house of the LORD, and in Jerusalem, and cast them out of the city.”
The verb “took away” (in Hebrew spelled “sur”) means “removed” in a general sense, but 3 times “eschewed” (absolutely hated)! The verb is an “imperfect” as well, suggesting that King Manasseh thereafter kept constant vigil … to be sure no other gods, idols or altars were ever again installed within the Temple Mount! During his lifetime, anyway.
The adjective “strange” means “foreign.” (The God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob was Sufficient! No foreign deities were allowed. The “Ten Commandments” made this abundantly clear!)
The noun “gods” is “elohiym,” the same name used for the Real God, the Creator, just without its initial capital letter. In Hebrew grammar, only the “context” would determine such a fact.
The very rare word “idol” (Hebrew “semel”) means “image.” It’s from a root word meaning “to resemble!” All an idol is, of course, is a piece of wood or rock or silver or gold alloy … carved or shaped or twisted into some “visible idea” of a god or goddess it might represent! (“Semel” is only used 5 times in the Bible!)
This is essentially what Paul later teaches us. The “idol” is nothing, physically. A dead piece of material! But the god it stands for … therein is the evil power of idolatry! I mean “demons,” folks. “We know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.” (Paul in 1st Corinthians 8:4) But now these “idols” are invested with evil I some mystical way … “But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.” 1st Corinthians 10:20, still Paul writing.
Yes, the devil is real.
Not to be under-emphasized. He has (limited) power.
But not to be over-emphasized either! He is never going to overthrow Almighty God! He was defeated at Calvary! He will spend eternity in torment!
Then the word “altars,” (in Hebrew “mizbeach”) means “places of slaughter!” Where blood is shed, for religious purposes. Violent deaths, often rituals of unforgettable horror.
And Manasseh did what to these abominations?
“Cast them out” of Jerusalem.
The verb “cast” means “to throw,” or hurl or fling! The accompanying “out” is sometimes translated as “streets” or “highways.” (I wish he had burned them out of existence.)
Still … we have here reformation.
A king seeking to led his people in a new direction!
For which we can only say, “Praise the Lord!”
Maybe Revival is on the way!
— Dr. Mike Bagwell