2 Chr 33 tells the story of King Manasseh, son of faithful King Hezekiah (see previous post). So evil was he that he overturned pretty much all the good acts of his father, acts that had brought Judah so much prosperity. It’s amazing how swiftly the people forgot the goodness of God when life was good and how similarly they lived like pagans in their disobedience to God. This happens time and time again in the Bible, and remains a valid warning for us today when we receive our heart’s desires. That they had an evil ruler also played its part.
The real beauty in this story however, is how great Manasseh’s repentance was. Because of his sins, God caused him to be taken captive by the Assyrians, who humiliated him by driving hooks through his nose, like one would an animal, and carried him off to Babylon. Remember that it was these Babylonians who had come to visit his father, Hezekiah, who had shown them all the riches of his house out of pride. Manasseh’s punishemnt is the punishment God had told Hezekiah would happen, but not in Hezekiah’s lifetime.
Anyways, in his lowest moments, in captivity, Manasseh turned to God. The text says “he implored the Lord and humbled himself greatly”. Implore means to beg someone earnestly or desperately to do something. It was this same attitude that David had after his adulterous act, by fasting and laying all night on the ground for 7 days (NB: though the child still died, God saw his repented heart and blessed him with a child, Solomon). God forgave but the consequences of their actions had been imprinted.
Despite all the evil he did, so merciful was God that he restored Manasseh to his throne. Manasseh did the best he could to overturn the idol worship, spiritualism and other apostasies that he had instituted but the people had become accustomed to the pagan ways and didn’t fully worship God in correctness. Although the king had repented and commanded the people to do same, the damage was already done.
- God ALWAYS responds to a heart that fully humbles itself and seeks for him. Always! 2 Chr 7:14 – “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.“ Also read Neh 1:8-9 & Jer 29:12-14.
No matter how far we’ve strayed, no matter how bad one may feel his condition is, God looks upon the heart and sees not as man sees. We often hear about how great a sin men of old committed but not much is said about how greatly they humbled themselves before God and repented. No sitting on the fence but full-hearted genuine repentance. Even if there is a curse or punishment already proclaimed on your life, a swift and mighty repentance, perhaps similar to that of the people of Nineveh, can turn your situation around (Jonah 3).
- Sin always leaves a mark. It could be a mark on our soul, for example, because we’ve exposed it to things which it shouldn’t have been exposed to. Often this comes back to disturb our thoughts even after we’ve repented, which is why Peter warns us strongly to beware of worldly lusts which WAR against our souls (1 Pet 2:11). That said, we can have the victory by taking captive every thought and making it obedient to Christ (2 Cor 10:5). When the thoughts come, bind them and cast them out in Jesus name! (Trust me – just try it, it works!) Sometimes the mark of our sin is on the life of others who we inadvertently hurt or led astray. We should pray for them and ask for their forgiveness also.
Hezekiah’s pride was the first step towards the eventual captivity of Manasseh and the Israelites. Though he was long dead, that moment of pride sowed a seed of jealousy in the mind of the Babylonians, who eventually came to raid the wealth of the Israelites. It’s important to note that if Manasseh had been faithful to God, God may not have visited the curse on him.