During the time of the Kings of the split Kingdom, there were certain kings of Judah (Southern Kingdom) who did right in the sight of the Lord, and others who did evil. Second Chronicles follows these Kings and describes their reigns, largely focusing on their worship practices. Such is the case with King Manasseh.
King Manasseh was the son of one of the greatest Kings of Judah, Hezekiah. During Hezekiah’s reign, one of the things he did was destroy the “high places” of worship, which were elevated places used in false worship of the heathen people. As false worship spread throughout Judah, the use of high places also increased. However, various Kings sought to remove or destroy those high places as part of their restoration of true worship of Jehovah. Hezekiah was one of those kings (2 Chronicles 31:1).
When Manasseh took the throne, he immediately took the people of Judah into practices involving pagan, false worship. The Chronicler describes thirteen specific practices of false worship which Manasseh instituted, including the reinstatement of worship on the high places (2 Chronicles 33:3). There was no question at this time about the purpose and meaning of the high places. They were associated with pagan worship, and were a mechanism to practice various forms of idolatry.
Later in his reign, after experiencing the chastening of the Lord, Manasseh humbled himself before God and began to try to restore proper worship of God by removing or ceasing the false practices which he instituted before. However, an interesting statement is made in 2 Chronicles 33:17, “Nevertheless, the people still sacrificed at the high places, but only to the Lord their God.” This was a type of blended worship, combining the heathen practice of the high places with the intention of sacrificing to the Lord.
Was this high place “sanctified” by the people of Manasseh’s day in such a way that removed its offensiveness before God? Was this practice suddenly now admissible for proper worship of Jehovah because the intention of the people was noble? That is not the conclusion the scriptures lead us to.
Josiah was the next King to reign after Manasseh. It says of him in 2 Chronicles 34:3 that he began to “purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images.” Josiah knew that even though the people’s motives may have been noble in Manasseh’s day, the practice was still wicked because it did not fulfill God’s requirement for true worship. Worship was required to be given to God in the temple, not in the high places. This example of “blended worship” during the time of the kings is an important one to consider even today.
There are many attempts in churches today to take practices very clearly associated with paganism, as an attempt to “sanctify” or the offensive practice, and blend them with noble intentions of worshiping the Lord. However, God does not look favorably on that, as seen in Manasseh’s day. Our worship must be given with proper intentions of glorifying God, but it must also be done according to God’s standards and done in God’s way in order to be acceptable to Him.
This article was originally posted here and is republished by permission from the author.