When we think about the most wicked king of the northern kingdom of Israel the name ‘Ahab’ would quickly come to mind. Then if we would turn our thoughts to the southern kingdom of Judah there really is only one who could match Ahab’s wickedness: Manasseh.
Manasseh should have had everything going for him. He was the son of Hezekiah, who brought about change and reform throughout Judah as he turned the people back to following God. He was such a good king that it was recorded of him: “He did what the Lord approved, just as his ancestor David had done” (2 Kings 18:3 NET). High praise indeed! But this is not the way we remember his son and successor Manasseh. Continue reading “There is hope for everyone”
Which is more impressive, a good beginning or a good ending?
Jesus told a parable about a man with two sons. They were both told to go to work in the vineyard. The first said no, but relented and went while the second said he would go and didn’t. Jesus asked which one did the will of his father (Matthew 21:28-31).
The question is important and it reminds us of another family relationship.
Manasseh was one of the most evil kings of God’s people.
“Manasseh seduced [Israel] to do more evil than the nations whom the Lord had destroyed before the children of Israel” (2 Kings 21:9, NKJV).
“Manasseh shed very much innocent blood, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another” (2 Kings 21:16).
For five decades, Manasseh promoted idolatry, human sacrifices and witchcraft throughout the land (2 Chronicles 33:1-6).
His father, Hezekiah, was the opposite of Manasseh. Hezekiah accomplished great things for God (2 Chronicles 29:1-5; 30:6-9). Yet, there was more to the story as two passionate men lost their way.
At some point, Hezekiah fell ill and begged for a recovery. Because of his petitions, God gave the king fifteen more years of life (Isaiah 38:1-5). Manasseh was born during this period.
Humble Hezekiah allowed pride to overwhelm his heart. He began to take credit for God’s work and judgment came to his house. Hezekiah’s response is one of the most chilling in all of Scripture.
Hezekiah learned that after he was gone, all he had would be carried into Babylon. Despite all of his years of righteousness, sin had consumed him.
All Hezekiah could muster was, “At least there will be peace and truth in my days” (Isaiah 39:8).
Later, when Manasseh’s evil reign had reached a breaking point, God sent judgment and Manasseh came to his senses and repented. God forgave him and restored his kingdom.
The righteous king became evil, while the evil king became righteous.
In the aforementioned parable, the son who went into the vineyard pleased the father. The end of the journey matters more than the number of steps along the way.
While grace serves a different function in the New Testament, grace did exist in the Old Covenant. Any time God shines his light on sinful man, grace is there.
Just like Paul, who went from mass murderer to minister of the Gospel, Manasseh made a profound change.
God’s grace cannot negate the necessity of righteousness and obedience (Romans 12:1-2). We would be very wise to heed that advice.