(2Kg 21; 24:3, 4; 2Chr 33)
The story of King Manasseh is very interesting. He is considered to be the most evil king who ever ruled Judah. The sins he committed publicly are the worst described in the Bible. But in the same time, we find the grace and the mercy of God prevailing at last, seen in a wonderful conversion, to the glory of God. The theologians call him ‘the prodigal son of the Old Testament’. When Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians, one of the reasons given is because of the extent of Manasseh’s sins.
His father was King Hezekiah, one of the best kings in the land of Judah. He was a humble king, man of faith, of revival, of prayer and wisdom. Manasseh’s mother was called Hephzibah, whose name means ‘My delight is in her’. From her name we can say that she was also a woman of God.
Manasseh became king at the age of twelve. He ruled the nation for fifty five years, more than his father or even king David, his ancestor. His life story reveals two extreme doctrines: The sinfulness of sin and the glory of God’s grace for man.
1-THE SINFULNESS OF SIN
The depth of the sins of Manasseh is beyond description. He betrayed his godly heritage. Immediately he became king, he reversed all his father’s reforms. He rebuilds the shrines his father has destroyed. He ‘borrowed’ idols from the pagan nations and built altars for Baal and Asherah. He worshipped the sun and the stars. He brought idols and strange altars inside the temple of the Lord, provoking Him to more anger.
He leads the whole nation into idolatry, becoming even more evil than the neighboring nations, about which God said should be destroyed. No sin is private. Sooner or later, a sinner shall influence others around him with ever-increasing wickedness.
God forbids human sacrifice (Lev 18:21; 20:1-5; Deut 18:9-13).The pagan nations around offered their children to their gods, hoping for blessings in return. Manasseh offered his own son in the fire to appease the gods.
God places such a high prize on human life that if an unborn baby in injured by another man and the child dies, the murderer should be killed too (Ex 21:22). The practice of abortion is a form of child sacrifice to the ‘god of convenience’.
God forbids the practicing of occult religions, the skill to influence events with the power of evil spirits. A witch is to be condemned to death (Lev 19:31; 20:6)
*Shedding of innocent Blood:
God said that each man who kills another should also be killed. This law of ‘life for life’ is because man is created ‘in the image of God’. Killing a man means ‘killing’ God (Gen 9:6).
Manasseh murdered anybody who told him to repent. He killed all the prophets’ of God with the sword, until ‘their blood filled Jerusalem from one end to another’. History says that Manasseh killed the great prophet Isaiah. Because so much innocent Blood was shed, God said that He ‘is not willing to forgive him anymore’.
2-THE GREATER GRACE OF GOD
It is almost impossible to imagine how God can forgive such a man like Manasseh. But this is the truth, God’s grace cannot be imagined, it has to be experienced. Like with the Prodigal Son, God finds a way to touch this rebellious man. He allows the King of Assyria to attack and capture Manasseh. He is brought to Babylon as a trophy. He is paraded naked publicly, with a hook in his nose. All people mock him. He is then imprisoned there. A historian says that he was fed with pigs’ food. It is there, face to face with death, humiliated beyond words that Manasseh repented of all his sins. God knows how to arrest his wayward son.
Against all odds, he remembered the God of his fathers and ‘he sought Him’ until God was ‘moved’ by his prayer. Miraculously, his captors showed hi mercy and allowed him to return to his throne in Jerusalem.
It is this grace, this kindness shown to him that led him to godly sorrow, repentance and salvation.
‘And Manasseh knew that the Lord is God’
Afterward he publicly proved his conversion by destroying all the idols he brought. He then, like Elijah, repaired the altar of Jehovah and offered acceptable burnt and fellowship offerings. He became a true leader, encouraging the nation to turn back to God. The people did not listen to him and continued to serve the idols. His son Amon was a wicked king and ruled just two years. But his grandson Josiah was one of the best kings of Judah.
God does not despise a truly broken hearted man!
No sinner should despair that God is not able to forgive him.
Where sin abounds, grace abounds so much more (Rom 5:20)
Each of his sins should have been punished by death. But God intervened and his mercy triumphed over judgment.
In the lives of sinners like Manasseh, we see the glory of God’s grace which is found in Christ alone. God is sovereign and He can forgive whosoever He desires. Grace seems unfair to other people. It looks like partiality. But God has the right to do what he wants to do with His resources of mercy and grace. At the Cross we find forgiveness and peace. The Blood of the Lamb speaks pardon on behalf of ‘the vilest offender who truly believes!’
Come to the Cross, O, sinner…Come home!