Should the godless govern people of faith?
Manasseh led the people of Judah and Jerusalem to do even more evil than the pagan nations that the LORD had destroyed when the people of Israel entered the land. – 2 Chronicles 33:9
2 Kings 21:1-16
1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. His mother was Hephzibah.
2 He did what was evil in the LORD’s sight, following the detestable practices of the pagan nations that the LORD had driven from the land ahead of the Israelites.
3 He rebuilt the pagan shrines his father, Hezekiah, had destroyed. He constructed altars for Baal and set up an Asherah pole, just as King Ahab of Israel had done. He also bowed before all the powers of the heavens and worshiped them.
4 He built pagan altars in the Temple of the LORD.
5 He built these altars for all the powers of the heavens in both courtyards of the LORD’s Temple.
6 Manasseh also sacrificed his own son in the fire. He did much that was evil in the LORD’s sight, arousing his anger. He practiced sorcery and divination, and he consulted with mediums and psychics.
7 Manasseh even made a carved image of Asherah and set it up in the Temple.
10 Then the LORD said through his servants the prophets:
11 “King Manasseh of Judah has done many detestable things. He is even more wicked than the Amorites, who lived in this land before Israel. He has caused the people of Judah to sin with his idols.”
12 So this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: “I will bring such disaster on Jerusalem and Judah that the ears of those who hear about it will tingle with horror.”
13 “I will judge Jerusalem by the same standard I used for Samaria and the same measure I used for the family of Ahab. I will wipe away the people of Jerusalem as one wipes a dish and turns it upside down.”
16 Manasseh also murdered many innocent people until Jerusalem was filled from one end to the other with innocent blood. This was in addition to the sin that he caused the people of Judah to commit, leading them to do evil in the LORD’s sight.
Constitutional law in the United States concerning religion can be broadly classified into two main categories. The first category deals with religious liberty cases, which center around the degree to which individuals have the freedom to practice their religion, even when such practice may clash with a law or regulation that applies to everyone.
The second category pertains to church-state cases, which establish the circumstances and level of involvement that the government can have with a specific religious group. The courts have a crucial responsibility in deciding when such associations are acceptable and when they are not.
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has warned that religious liberty is threatened by an “increasingly secular society” and its “new moral code.” Alito stated that Americans think religion “is not all that important” or worthy of “special protection.”
Alito noted that “For many today, religious liberty is not a cherished freedom. It’s often just an excuse for bigotry and can’t be tolerated, even when there is no evidence that anybody has been harmed . . .. The question we face is whether our society will be inclusive enough to tolerate people with unpopular religious beliefs.”
Alito argued that some recent Supreme Court decisions, including the landmark ruling upholding a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, fueled intolerance of those who believe marriage should be limited to unions between one man and one woman.
He wants to empower fellow believers to govern the godless. At the other end of the continuum, the godless want to empower fellow unbelievers to govern people of faith.
Considering that the population in America is neither all godless nor godly, the question becomes who should govern whom?
REFLECT & PRAY
“As the leader goes, so goes the nation” (John Maxwell).
Father you have written, “Godliness makes a nation great, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). We are to be light and salt and ever darkening and flavorless world. Strengthen and encourage the children of the King to live godly and righteous lives.
The term “godless” is not commonly used in scholarly discussions of the kings of Israel. However, several kings in the history of Israel were known for their wickedness and disregard for God’s laws.
King Manasseh, who ruled Judah in the 7th century BC, was one of the most infamous kings in Israel’s history. Despite being the son of godly Hezekiah, Manasseh is described in the Bible as having committed heinous sins and “did evil in the eyes of the Lord” (2 Kings 21:2). Manasseh was the very worst of the kings of Judah. He rebuilt the altars to false gods that Hezekiah, his father, had destroyed and introduced the worship of Baal. He even surpassed the wickedness of the Amorites, a notoriously brutal and corrupt nation.
Manasseh’s reign was marked by idolatry and bloodshed, and he was even blamed for the fall of the Southern Kingdom (2 Kings 24:3; Jeremiah 15:1-4). Despite his wickedness, he had the longest reign of any Jewish king, 55 years. Could it be that the Father had lifted His hand from the nation and allowed sin to fester unchecked? Manasseh practiced the religion of Molech and sacrificed his own sons by burning them on the altar. He consulted spiritists and mediums. He was a model of godlessness and a blight on the legacy of the kings of Judah.
However, the Father is able to do what is seemingly impossible. According to 2 Chronicles, King Manasseh was taken captive to Babylon as punishment for his sins (2 Chronicles 33:11). During his captivity, Manasseh repented, and God granted him mercy and grace by allowing him to return to Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 33:12-13; 2 Chronicles 33:18-19).
After his restoration, Manasseh took action to rid Judah of much of the idolatry that had plagued the land (2 Chronicles 33:15-17). However, the damage done by his sins was already deeply ingrained in the nation. Manasseh’s wickedness had so profoundly damaged the spiritual vitality of Judah that they never fully recovered. And even the later reforms under King Josiah were insufficient to prevent God’s judgment (2 Kings 23:26).
“Leadership ability is the lid on the success of a nation . . .. When Israel or Judah lived under good kings, things went well. Under bad kings, things went sour. The heart and skill of a leader will always tremendously affect the life of the people under his direction. This is a law, both timeless and universal” (Jack “ASLAN” Hornsby).
When the godless govern, the collateral damage is horrendous. The population is corrupted and degraded.
20 What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light, and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.
21 What sorrow for those who are wise in their own eyes and think themselves so clever.
Godless leadership undermined and eroded the spiritual and moral vitality of ancient Israel. Could it be that godless leadership in the 21st century will trigger the same horrific results?
© Dr. H 2023