By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)
Scripture Readings: 2 Chronicles 33-36
Key Scripture Verses: 2 Chronicles 33:12-13 (NIV, Life Application Bible)
“In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his ancestors. And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God.”
Good kings, bad kings, good, bad, bad, mostly bad, some good—my study of Chronicles has revealed to me that the kings of Judah mostly didn’t regard God as God and didn’t respect or honor him as he deserved. Here and there they repented and one of the kings would declare reforms and get rid of the idols and worship of false gods and the people would renew their faith and follow God. It’s frustrating to see how often it happened, and, yet, God didn’t give up on them.
The NIV, Life Application Bible makes it clear in the commentary that among kings, Manasseh was one of the most corrupt of all of the kings of Judah. Not only did he worship false gods, he rebelled from all the good that his father Hezekiah had done, and “did evil in the eyes of the Lord.” He even sacrificed his own children to his pagan gods.
The scriptures say that God took action against the evil of Manasseh and “brought against them the army commanders of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh prisoner, put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon” (2 Chronicles 33:11).
While in Babylon and in his imprisonment, Manasseh honestly and earnestly humbled himself and asked God for forgiveness. As we see in our key scripture verses, God listened to his humble pleas and forgave him. As evil and corrupt as Manasseh was, God heard his prayers and forgave him. Manasseh learned and knew at that point that “the Lord is God.”
We might wonder how God could forgive Manasseh such evil as sacrifice of his own children, but God answers our honest prayers and God promises to forgive us. He wants more than anything that we renounce sin and love him.
This story is in the Old Testament, but it points to the New Testament and Jesus, doesn’t it? Jesus said that he came not to save the good and righteous but to the save the sinner. He said he did not come to condemn but to offer life—that we might live life more abundantly. And this is what God offered to Manasseh. He offered him forgiveness, grace, and eternal life.
We are all sinners and it is only because of God’s love and grace that we are saved, not by our own goodness—none of us would qualify on our own merit. How wonderful that God was able to forgive Manasseh and that God is able to forgive and is willing to forgive any one of us for the most heinous of sins, if we ask in honest prayer.
May we humble ourselves before God. May we know in our hearts that he is the Lord our God! May we be forever grateful for his love and compassion. Praise his holy name!