Editor’s Note: The AMI QT Devotionals from September 21-23 are provided by Kate Moon who serves as a missionary in E. Asia.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
2 Kings 21:11-15:
Manasseh king of Judah has committed these detestable sins. He has done more evil than the Amorites who preceded him and has led Judah into sin with his idols. 12 Therefore this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: “I am going to bring such disaster on Jerusalem and Judah that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle . . . 14 I will forsake the remnant of my inheritance and give them into the hands of enemies. They will be looted and plundered by all their enemies; 15 they have done evil in my eyes and have aroused my anger from the day their ancestors came out of Egypt until this day.”
Leaders will be held accountable by God for the influence they exert, for good or for evil, and the direction in which they lead people; but people are also responsible for their choices. In 1 & 2 Kings, we have seen a succession of good kings and bad kings, their reigns and legacies defined by this one standard: whether or not they did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. If they did what was right, the nation flourished; if not, the nation suffered. When the nation’s history is recorded in a structure that highlights the lives of the leaders, it can be easy to start thinking that it was all the kings’ responsibility. Even in today’s passage, if we just read verses 11-14, it could seem that Manasseh was a wicked king that led a hapless people into sin, and that because of what he had done, God was going to punish the whole nation; how sad, unfortunate, and almost unfair to the people.
But in verse 15 (and even v. 9, which says, “But the people did not listen . . . ”), the author shows how God holds the people accountable. The leader did lead the people astray, but the people themselves also ignored God’s word and did what was evil, even before Manasseh was born.
Overall, I think many of us have been blessed with wonderful spiritual leaders who are earnest and sincere in seeking to do what is right in God’s eyes. Sometimes, though, we find ourselves in a position where we see something a leader does, and we have a nagging feeling that something is not quite right with this situation. Though God asks us to submit and obey the authorities He has placed over our lives, we are also expected to exercise discernment and hold on to our principles (God’s word); He will hold us accountable for whether or not we follow a leader into sin, or humbly and respectfully decline. In verses 12-14, God’s judgment falls on not just the king but all the people for the evil they have done.
Dear Lord, I thank you for good leaders and I welcome their godly, spiritual influence. At the same time, if I have sometimes chosen to follow them even though my conscience had been uneasy, help me to recognize this and repent. Help our leaders to stay right with you. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: 1 Timothy 5
Lunch Break Study
Read Ezekiel 18:19-20
19 Yet you say, ‘Why should the son not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity?’ When the son has practiced justice and righteousness and has observed all My statutes and done them, he shall surely live. 20 The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.
Questions to Consider
- Why would people say, “Why should the son not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity” (v. 19)?
- What is the emphasis of “The person who sins will die” (v. 20)?
- What do these verses say about the justice of God? When God brings judgment, are there ever any “innocent victims”?
- When someone sins, people want to hold someone accountable. If the father was not available, perhaps they would look for the son to take vengeance upon or try to exact justice.
- That God will hold the person who sins accountable for that sin (and not any other person).
- God’s justice is perfect; He does not bring judgment against the innocent. If He is provoked to anger, it is for a good reason. We need to understand OT judgments and the judgment of God in general in this light.
How did I do today in terms of taking responsibility for my own actions? Was there any tendency to blame others for circumstances I found myself in when they were actually the consequences of my own missteps? Take responsibility by repenting and then receive His peace, knowing there is grace when we come to Him.