Jump Start # 3386
2 Chronicles 33:9 “Thus Manasseh misled Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to do more evil than the nations whom the Lord destroyed before the sons of Israel.”
Manasseh was one of the late kings of Judah. His name is rich in Biblical history. The first Manasseh, was the eldest son of Joseph. He got a portion of land as Israel divided up the territory among the tribes. The Manasseh of our passage today, was the son of the great Hezekiah, the faithful restorer of Judah. This Manasseh reigned for 55 years, the longest of any of the kings. And, as our passage speaks, he was terrible.
King Manasseh completely rejected the ways of his father and His God. He built idols and altars to foreign gods. He practiced child sacrifices. He practiced witchcraft and sorcery. He even put an idol in the temple. He ignored God’s ways and provoked the Lord to anger.
The following verse states that the Lord spoke to Manasseh, but he paid no attention. The Lord allowed the Assyrians to rise up against Judah and Manasseh was carried away in chains with a hook through his nose. He was taken to Babylon. The great king of Judah would have been a trophy for these foreign nations to mock, laugh at, and humiliate.
While in captivity, Manasseh humbled himself and prayed to God. He realized Jehovah was the one true God. The Lord was moved by the compassion and brokenness of Manasseh and restored him back in Jerusalem. Given a second chance, Manasseh made good with his opportunity. He torn down the idols, got rid of the foreign gods, purged the land of all these false ways and returned to the Lord.
Manasseh is a great story of finishing strong. There are great lessons here for us.
First, so many waste the wonderful opportunities that are given to them. Imagine having Hezekiah as a father. So strong spiritually. So dedicated to the Lord. But like the prodigal in Luke 15, so many want nothing to do with this. Rather that using these tools and advantages to excel in the Lord, they run towards what is wicked, false and wrong. Young people today continue to run to the world with open arms, never realizing that there are literally thousands upon thousands that would love to grow up in a home where prayers are given at every meal, where worship is normal and expected and the choices of right and wrong are defined and clearly understood. Homes where if there isn’t anything decent on TV, then the TV is turned off. Where conversations are deep, insightful and helpful. Where love, grace and forgiveness are the standard. To be taken to worship where you are surrounded with godly people and living examples of those who desire to walk with the Lord. How incredible that would be.
Yet, so many, like Manasseh, choose to go the other way. They choose to dwell among the forbidden and the wrong. They bring great heartache and pain to their parents and they shame the Lord. So much potential, lost. Such a great opportunity, wasted.
Second, with all of our choices, there are consequences that follow. Manasseh was taken captive by the Assyrians. How many citizens of Jerusalem died in that conflict? How many homes were hurt because of the foolish actions of the king. And, just where were his foreign gods? They never protected him. They never helped him. They were lifeless, worthless and useless.
And, where were the prodigal’s friends once the money was spent and the famine came? The parties. The loose living. The reckless abandonment. And, no one was giving him anything. Not even the farmer whose pigs he was feeding. The good times turned into a nightmare. Alone. Hopeless. Helpless. The passing pleasures of sin is a short season. The long winter of regret always follows.
The prodigal experienced that. Manasseh experienced that. He must have thought, “I am a king. I am in the lineage of David. Yet, here I am in chains, with a hook in my nose, in a foreign country.” I have no army that will rescue me. My wicked choices have led to this. I have no one to blame but myself.
Third, God is gracious and forgiving and heard with compassion the prayer of Manasseh. The father of the prodigal came running towards him as he journeyed home. The broken and contrite heart God will not refuse. The prodigal was accepted. Manasseh was given another chance. God allows us to turn our lives around and to finish well. Many start, stumbling through life, but they seem to get focused, get their direction right and they turn out strong. They finish strong.
Sometimes we must pray that hard prayer that our child, our friend, spends a night with pigs so it will open their hearts. For Manasseh it was chains, hooks and being a captive in a foreign land. It took that to deflate him and run the arrogance out of him. But then, he became useful to the Lord.
Finally, it’s hard for some to allow others to change. Where do we put Manasseh, among the good kings or the bad kings? Some will only see the wrong that he did. Others may only see the good that he did. Manasseh was both, as are all of us. We have a story and it’s not a pretty picture. But, we have been given a second chance. We have been forgiven.
Sometimes our attitudes and our words keep a person from being who they now are. We want to always remember the pain. We want to always focus upon the wrong. We can’t let go and we won’t let go. We won’t forgive and we will forever label the person as “Bad.”
Manasseh reminds me of the story of Jimi. Manasseh reminds me of myself.