BY REV. KURT TRUCKSESS - CROSSWINDS CHURCH
Have you blown it? Have you sinned greatly and made a mess of your life? Have you found yourself looking in the mirror wondering if your life is beyond God’s ability to repair? Many of us have faced that moment of despair. If you are at that point as you read this article, let me offer you hope.
Have you heard the true story of a man named Manasseh? His often-forgotten story is found in the Bible in 2 Chronicles 33 and 2 Kings 21. He was king over Judah from 696-642 BC.
He came from a good family. His father had done good for God's people and ruled well. But Manasseh was the ultimate problem child. When his father died, Manasseh assumed the kingship at age 12. With Manasseh's youth and unbridled power came unrestrained wickedness. As a young king, he set out to undo all the good his father had done. The Bible describes Manasseh as the most evil king to ever reign over God's people. He was an absolute terror while in power. The Bible also tells us he has the distinction of being the longest reigning king in Jerusalem, 55 years. His reign was a long and dark period of terror in the history of God's people.
The Bible catalogs his wickedness. He erected altars to foreign gods in Judah; altars his father had torn down. In an effort to to fit in with the surrounding culture, he erected altars to Baal and Asheroth in Jerusalem. These were the god and goddess of Canaanite fertility. I will let you imagine what worship to a god and goddess of fertility might entail. He became deeply involved in astrology and worshipped the stars. He built altars to worship the stars and set those altars up inside God's temple transforming God's house of prayer into a cesspool of pagan worship.
Manasseh carved an idol and put it in the temple of Jerusalem for people to worship. This would be like tearing the Bible and pulpit out of your church and replacing it with an image of a Hindu deity. He burned his own sons alive as an offering to foreign gods. Imagine burning your own children to death to worship an idol! He did this to more than one of his children. Imagine the terror of being a child in his house! Who would he burn alive next? He practiced fortune telling and witchcraft. He involved himself with mediums to try to contact the dead and worship the dead. The Bible describes him as a murderer that filled Jerusalem with the blood of innocent people. The Bible describes Manasseh as leading God's people to even greater levels of wickedness than the people God had Moses and Joshua destroy when they conquered the Promised Land.
In the face of this great wickedness, God was patient. Multiple times God sent prophets to call Manasseh and the people to repentance, but they refused to listen. As a result, God brought the Assyrians. They captured Manasseh, put hooks in his body, bound him with chains, and brought him to a Babylonian prison.
Most of us would celebrate Manasseh's capture and suffering as an appropriate end to such a wicked life. But God is different.
The Bible tells us that in prison, Manasseh greatly humbled himself before God. He confessed his sin, asked God to forgive him, and God was moved by his prayers. God forgave Manasseh and gave him another chance. God moved the heart of the king who imprisoned Manasseh to release him and restore him to his kingship over Judah. The Bible tells us Manasseh came out of prison a changed man. Now he knew the Lord was God.
When Manasseh returned to Jerusalem, he took away the altars to the foreign gods he erected. He destroyed the idols he made. He commanded the people of Judah to worship the one true God of the universe. He spent the later years of his life working to undo all the evil he had done in the younger years of his life. Manasseh has one of the most profound stories of repentance, forgiveness, and restoration found in the Bible.
I don’t know how far you have run from God. I don't know how much evil you have done, but I doubt your evil will surpass Manasseh's. If God transformed the terrible beginning of his life into a God-glorifying ending after he repented and sought the Lord, God can do the same for you.
My friends, God is in the business of forgiving sin and restoring broken lives. That is why Jesus came. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone. The new has come. Today, know that no matter how far from God you have run, when you repent of your sin and trust in Jesus to forgive your sin, God will not just forgive you, but he can restore you and use you in ways you can't imagine.