|Theme: A Prayer of Repentance
|Focus on: Manasseh
|Reading Portion(s): 2 Chronicles 33:1 to 18, 2 Kings 21:1 to 18; 23:26,27; 24:3,4 & Jeremiah 15:4.|
|– Important Background Information|
|– Helps you find strength in God|
|What this article teaches you|
|Sin destroys good things. Then it rebuilds wrong things. It defiles what is holy and sacred. Along with it, one sin attracts many other sins to it. Finally, it provides others with a powerful bad example and evil influence. This leads others astray. All this was true in the life of King Manasseh.
But there came a time in his life when he repented. He cried out to God for mercy. God heard his cry and brought him back from prison in a foreign land to his land Jerusalem. Such a dramatic turn-around can happen in your life too. All you need to do is to repent before God. His forgiveness is great. And He will restore you so that you can do good instead of evil the rest of your life.
He began to rule at the age of twelve while very young. He succeeded his father Hezekiah who was a righteous and God-fearing king. He ruled for fifty-five years; the longest reign for any King of Judah. Yet he not only did great wickedness during his reign but also encouraged the people to do wickedness.
Manasseh was more wicked than any king who preceeded him. He did evil before God. He followed the detestable practices of the nations which God had driven out from them before the Israelites. God had clearly commanded the Israelites through Moses not to imitate the detestable practices of the nations. This command Manasseh violated.
He rebuilt the worship places of other gods that his father had destroyed. This is a peculiar characteristic of sin. When it is given an occasion it rebuilds what was earlier destroyed. Thus it leads to greater evil. Manasseh thus encouraged sin and wickedness by rebuilding what was destroyed by a righteous king.
Again Manasseh did something more wicked which challenged God directly. He built altars inside the temple of God to idols and place carved images inside it. He thus desecrated the temple which God had consecrated and sanctified by His glory and presence. Sin is thus a direct challenge against God. When given an opportunity it even defiles what is sacred and solemn. Manasseh did just this.
Then he sacrificed his sons in the fire, practiced sorcery, divination and witchcraft, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He also bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshipped them. All this God had forbidden. This teaches us that when one goes ahead in sin a lot of sins flock together. Sin has a peculiarity of attracting more sins to the life of one who keeps on sinning.
The wickedness of Manasseh also teaches us that when one indulges in sin it goes increasing in degrees. A small sin opens the door to the sinner to do greater sins. This becomes a habit if not checked at the proper time through repentance.
We find that Manasseh increased in his wickedness and shed so much innocent blood in Jerusalem. This God was not willing to forgive.
Finally he was a very powerful bad example who led the people into wickedness. He not only did evil but surpassed the wickedness of the nations which God had driven out. It was not he who alone sinned but the entire nation. And it was he who led them into sin by example. When one sins there is the strong possibility of others who look up to him as an elder or leader to be led into sin. This is exemplified in the life of Manasseh.
All this time that Manasseh continued to sin and led people to sin; God was not keeping silent. He spoke to Manasseh as well as the people. But they paid on attention. So God warned of coming disaster on Jerusalem and Judah. It happened exactly as God had said. The army commanders of the king of Assyria came against Manasseh; captured him and took him prisoner. They put a hook in his nose and bound him with bronze shackles. Thus he was led to Babylon.
The story of Manasseh’s life could have ended here in total shame and infamy. From a worldly point of view there could never have been a resurrection from the depths to which he had fallen. But we often forget that there is a key that can unlock the mercy of God even in such dead ends of the journey of sin and wickedness. This key is repentance.
It happened in the life of Manasseh. It seems to be like a fairy tale; but the Bible records it as true. In his great misery in the land of Babylon Manasseh called upon God. He sought God’s favor and humbled himself greatly. Maybe he might have recalled his father’s love towards God because it is recorded that he humbled himself before the God of his fathers. It might have encouraged him to humbly seek God in prayer.
We do not have the actual words of his prayer. But it is clearly mentioned that his prayer was specially heard by God. God was moved by his plea and restored him to Jerusalem and his kingdom. It may seem amazing. It may look unbelievable. Yet God heard his prayer and restored him.
It is also recorded that when this happened Manasseh knew that the Lord is God. He came to know the difference between the idols he had served and the Living God. He came to know that His God was a loving and merciful God who forgave him when he repented of his sins. This knowledge is the fruit of repentance–a new understanding of the heart of God!
After his repentance he began to rebuild the walls of the city of David. Earlier he was rebuilding what was detestable and what was destroyed by his father. But now he was rebuilding something good. Repentance gives us the opportunity to rebuild good things in life.
He destroyed all the altars for other gods that he had built and removed the image from the temple of the Lord. He restored the altar of the Lord. He also sacrificed fellowship offerings and thank offerings on it. Repentance thus gives us the opportunity to destroy the works of sin and restore our relationship with God. It teaches us the infinite value of having fellowship with God. It also puts in our heart a spirit of gratitude to the mercy which God had shown to us.
Finally he told the people of his kingdom to serve the Lord, the God of Israel. Earlier he had led by example in leading them into sin. Here he is leading by example in worshipping the Lord. This is the amazing miracle of repentance. This is the amazing story of God’s mercy to one who repents.
Manasseh’s repentance was true, thorough and complete. Yet it was not enough to lead the people back to God. There was personal repentance in his life. But it did not lead to a nationwide repentance. The little change that occurred in the nation was superficial and not a true change of heart. In later days, after his death, the sins that Manasseh had done led to the downfall of the nation and its people being carried into captivity and exile.
Yet Manasseh stands as an example of the utter depravity of sin and the more abounding mercy of God to one who truly and wholeheartedly turns to God in repentance!