Week 45 Our Loving and Forgiving God

By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)

 Week 45

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!

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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