Coming home from unfamiliar territory in Maryland a while back I turned on my GPS. Gradually, it led me into familiar Virginia territory, but I left it on anyway. Then, absent-mindedly, decided to change my destination. The GPS, not having been apprised of my new plans, began “recalculating.” I should have turned it off, but instead, I tuned it out. Until I finally heard it say: “giving up.”
With Manasseh, son of Hezekiah, God seems to have said: “giving up.” The Lord said: “I am going to bring such disaster on Jerusalem and Judah that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. . . I will wipe out Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down. I will forsake the remnant of my inheritance and hand them over to their enemies. . . because they have done evil in my eyes and have provoked me to anger from the day their forefathers came out of Egypt until this day” (2 Kings 21:12).
The account of Josiah’s reign informs us of how far Judah had wandered from the Lord. They had lost their Bible, and no one seemed to have missed it – for years. The temple had become an ecumenical mecca for gods of every religious persuasion and practice. Rooms had been set aside for cult prostitution. Support for the Lord’s priests was shared with priests of other religions.
Josiah moved magnificently to undo all this religious toleration, but it was not enough. The point of no return had been passed. Disaster in retribution was coming. Josiah, as a blessing for all his work, was simply not allowed live to see the dark days ahead.
Any way but the Lord’s way is the wrong way. And those who pursue the wrong way will eventually find themselves unable to return. That’s the way it works. Evil is not to be toyed with.