Today’s reading: 2 Chronicles 32-34 .
Manasseh was a king who did many very evil things. In fact, the Bible says he “did more evil than the nations the LORD had destroyed before the Israelites.” He also filled Jerusalem from end to end with innocent blood. His wickedness was so great that he was the ultimate, though not the only, cause of Judah’s destruction.
Therefore this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I am going to bring such disaster on Jerusalem and Judah that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. I will stretch out over Jerusalem the measuring line used against Samaria and the plumb line used against the house of Ahab. I will wipe out Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down. I will forsake the remnant of my inheritance and hand them over to their enemies. They will be looted and plundered by all their foes, because they have done evil in my eyes and have provoked me to anger from the day their forefathers came out of Egypt until this day.” 2 Kings 21:12-15
So how did God treat this most wicked of kings who led his country astray into pagan idolatry, who shed vast amounts of innocent blood, who almost single-handedly brought down God’s wrath on Jerusalem? He humbled him, showed him grace, and redeemed him.
So the LORD brought against them the army commanders of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh prisoner, put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon. In his distress he sought the favor of the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. And when he prayed to him, the LORD was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD is God. 2 Chronicles 33:11-13
Like the thief on the cross beside Jesus, God showed mercy to Manasseh when his life seemed at an end. The King was restored to his throne, and the reality of his redemption was proven by his actions. He threw out the idols and restored the altar of the LORD.
But God did not remove the consequences of Manasseh’s sins. He would soon turn Jerusalem upside down and wipe it clean like a serving dish. I have heard sin compared to nails driven into wood. God can remove our nails of sin from the wood, but the holes remain. Sin matters because our lives and the lives of those around us carry the scars of our sins. Jesus carries scars because of our sins. Our sins are so significant that Jesus had to die for them. But, praise God, his death and resurrection redeemed me from my sins, and one day God will make a new heaven and earth that will redeem our world from all the consequences of sin.
Image by theilr on Flickr, CC by-sa 2.0.