Second Chronicles 33 recounts the story of Manasseh, one of the kings of Judah who reigned shortly before the Babylonian captivity. He was a very bad king. Verse 2 says, “He did evil in the sight of the LORD according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD had dispossessed before the sons of Israel.” The chapter goes on to list his numerous sins: he built high places and altars to idols, worshiped the hosts of heaven (even building altars to them in the Temple of God), participated in child sacrifices, practiced witchcraft, put an idol in the Temple, led his people into greater sin than the godless people who lived in the land before them, and ignored God altogether.
God allowed Manasseh to be captured by the king of Assyria and hauled away to Babylon, and that is where Manasseh’s story takes an incredible turn. This man who had blatantly disregarded God and His ways humbled himself before the Lord and cried out to Him. And the Lord heard him. Verse 13 says, “When he [Manasseh] prayed to Him [the LORD], He was moved by His entreaty and heard his supplication and brought him again to Jerusalem to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God.”
When Manasseh arrived back in Jerusalem, he was a changed man. He removed the altars to idols that he had made, set up the altar of the LORD, sacrificed peace and thank offerings, and ordered his people to serve the Lord.
What can we learn from Manasseh’s life?
Our God is merciful.
The story of Manasseh gives us hope because it shows us that God is ready and willing to forgive no matter what we’ve done. If we humble ourselves before Him like Manasseh did, acknowledging that He is right and we were wrong, He will have compassion on us and forgive us.
Our God is powerful.
If I knew someone as blatantly against God as Manasseh was, that person would be the last person I would ever expect to repent and turn to the Lord. But Manasseh’s story contradicts human logic. Our God was able to humble the most unlikely of souls and radically transform his life. And He can do the same for the people around us today-wayward loved ones, antagonistic co-workers, ungodly leaders, our worst enemies. The Lord’s power to humble and change Manasseh should give us the courage to pray boldly for these people.
We have a choice.
When the Lord brought the king of Assyria to take Manasseh captive, Manasseh had a choice. He could have chosen to continue ignoring the Lord and living his own way. But he didn’t. He chose to humble himself before God. Sometimes the Lord has to put difficult circumstances in our lives because we have forgotten or ignored Him. When we face that distress, we have a choice. We can continue on our own path of destruction or we can humble ourselves and turn toward the Lord. When we choose to humble ourselves that is when God can do amazing things in our lives.