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“Edward, you know you can’t have a gun when you grow up!” Alice scolded. “Dad doesn’t.”

Edward shrugged and turned away, but Grandpa chuckled. “So Edward will just have to be like Dad?” he asked Alice. “Boys and girls don’t always turn out like their parents. Let me tell you about one little boy who didn’t.”

The Prince’s Choice

(Reference: 2 Kings 18-21.)

Manasseh was a prince. He lived in Jerusalem where his father, Hezekiah, ruled as king. “The best king in Judah since King David,” some said. When he was young he had cut down the idol groves and broken the idols in Judah. He told Manasseh, “There is only one living God. We will worship and obey Him, for His way is right and good.”

As a little boy I am sure Manasseh would sit on his father’s knee to hear about the great siege of the Assyrians. “And then when that terrible letter came, I just laid it out before the Lord,” his father would say. “How mighty He was to save us!” Father told, too, how he had been healed of a terrible sickness, when the marks on the sun dial went backwards. “We trusted in the Lord, and He delivered us when we were in trouble,” Father said. “And you, my dear son, must trust Him, too.”

But as Manasseh grew older he had different ideas. “Trusting the Lord was all right for my father,” he thought, “but I want to be a great, powerful king. I don’t like to pray to some God I can’t see.” In his little heart Manasseh dreamed of having beautiful groves and idols like other countries had. He wanted to have magic powers, too. So he went to the house of God with his father, but he thought of how he would change everything when he was king.

Manaseh’s chance came when he was only twelve. That was the year that good king Hezekiah, his father, died. And that was the beginning of a terrible reign that Judah will never forget. Young King Manasseh didn’t waste time with his plans. Soon an idol sat in the house of God and altars stood in the porches. The people trusted no more in the God who had so often helped them, and His ways were forgotten. But an idol couldn’t help, so the king tried using magic and witchcraft. Manasseh was not a kind, good king and soon everyone was afraid of him.

How sad a choice the young prince made! Manasseh turned from the right way that his father had lived and taught him. And great trouble came to his people because he didn’t follow the Lord and trust in Him.

The children were sober when Grandpa finished the story. “I wouldn’t want to do that,” Edward said. “I want to follow the Lord when I grow up.”

“Well, my boy, it all starts now,” Grandpa said. “It doesn’t just happen by accident or wishing. You have to respond to God’s dealings with you when you are young, or you could turn out just as bad as Manasseh.”

“How could he be so bad when his father was so good?” Alice asked.

“What was in his heart when he was little?” Grandpa replied.

“He wanted to have idols and be powerful.”

“Yes, and did he ever turn to God for help to do right?” said Grandpa.

“No,” Alice said slowly.

“But he went to the temple with his father,” Edward said. “Is a temple like a church?”

Grandpa nodded. “It is a place where they went to worship God and pray. But just going there and being around his father wasn’t enough. Manasseh had a choice, and in his heart he chose the evil instead of the good.”

He looked at his grandchildren and smiled kindly. “I pray for you that you will give your lives to God and love Him always. He will surely help you if you trust in Him.”