Today’s reading: II Kings 20-22; John 6:45-71
9 But they did not listen, and Manasseh led them astray to do more evil than the nations had done whom the Lord destroyed before the people of Israel. II Kings 21:9
65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” 66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67 So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” John 6:65-67
People choose to believe or not believe, but without the work of the Spirit in a person’s heart there will be no inclination to believe.
The history of the kings of Israel and Judah is both fascinating and troubling. It is fascinating to follow the decisions of the kings and their conflicts and treaties with the neighboring nations. It is troubling because there is so much unfaithfulness to God’s covenant. Just about the time you think things are getting on a better path, a king will revert to idolatry and disobedience.
Today’s reading demonstrates these ups and downs. Hezekiah had led Judah in a period of faithfulness like none before him. We also read about Josiah who repaired the temple, rediscovered the book of the law, and led the nation to revival. But in between these two godly kings was Manasseh who had the longest and worst reign in the history of Judah. He led the people to do more evil than the Canaanite nations that God had judged and destroyed under Joshua. How do these things happen? How does a great and godly king (Hezekiah) have such a wicked son (Manasseh)? How does such a wicked king (Manasseh) father such a godly son (Josiah)?
Clearly, something is at work in these fathers and sons besides mere environmental influence. The difference, we discover, is God the Father who draws people to Himself (John 6:44). It is the Spirit who gives life (John 6:63). It is Jesus whose body and blood gives eternal life to the one who believes in Him. Those who heard Jesus either responded with disbelief and even disgust, or they drew near to Him concluding like Peter did when he said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:68-69).
To whom will you go? Jesus’ words either comfort or repel you. If you believe, you may be sure it is the drawing of the Father and the life-giving ministry of the Spirit as you consider Jesus. If you do not believe, but are troubled by your unbelief, that, too, is the work of God in you. Call to Him for faith to believe and grace to repent of your sins and come to the Bread of Life. You are not controlled by your family history and outward environment either for good or bad. Your choice reflects your heart. May God give us His Spirit so that we may believe!