What is it, fundamentally, that brings Israel down so catastrophically from being God’s chosen people to their total rejection and destruction at his decree? And what parallels may apply to America in its apparent decline only 240 years after its Declaration of Independence?
The answer is found in Chapters 21 – 25, the stories of Manasseh and Josiah.
Manasseh becomes King of Judah and he does evil in the sight of God. He restores the pagan practices that his father Hezekiah had flushed out of Judah in order to restore unity with God. He desecrates the House of the Lord in Jerusalem despite the warning God had given both David and Solomon long before:
“8 And I will not cause the feet of Israel to wander anymore out of the land that I gave to their fathers, if only they will be careful to do according to all that I have commanded them and according to all the Law that my servant Moses commanded them.”
Not only does Manasseh not listen, he does more evil in the eyes of God than the despicable acts done by the nations whom the Lord had destroyed on Israel’s behalf. Not only does Manasseh worship false gods, but he causes the entire nation to sin in the eyes of God. And worst of all, he burns his son to death as a sacrifice on an altar of the evil god Baal built inside the Lord’s house.
God’s anger is provoked so strongly that, from this point forward, he will not turn back from his warnings of ultimate judgment on Israel.
But when Josiah becomes king of Judah, he does the exact opposite. Like Hezekiah, he cleans out all the sinful practices and exhibits true repentance for Judah’s sins as a nation, which for centuries has led God to relent from judgment because of his never-ending love for his children. Josiah does everything he can to earn God’s favor, following in every respect the steps of David’s heart after God. Read of his devotion to God in Chapter 23!
But here is where the story is different: despite Josiah’s heroic efforts to save his people, God waits until Josiah dies naturally, and then inflicts overwhelming disaster on Israel.
Quite simply, God had seen enough before Josiah and even sincere repentance by a godly leader cannot dissuade God’s judgment after Manasseh's point of no return.
Jerusalem, including the Lord’s house, is burned to the ground by the King of Assyria; the people are enslaved; and a few poor people left behind flee to Egypt to avoid the same fate.
That’s right – Israel escaped Egypt on the first Passover in perfect unity with God and now returns to Egypt 1,000 years later as a tiny vagabond remnant under God’s judgment.
America was founded by a Passover of sorts, driven by a passion for religious liberty, which led to a nation dedicated to liberty and justice for all people. Today, it has forgotten its God-blessed heritage as it now brazenly performs the very same practices known to be despicable to God, including sexual perversion and killing children and banning prayer in schools.
Will we find a leader who leads the nation back to God?
Or has God already decided we have reached our point of no return?
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (2 Ki 21:8). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.