2 Chronicles 33:10-13
10 The Lord spoke to Manasseh and to his people, but they paid no attention. 11 Therefore the Lord brought upon them the commanders of the army of the king of Assyria, who captured Manasseh with hooks and bound him with chains of bronze and brought him to Babylon. 12 And when he was in distress, he entreated the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. 13 He prayed to him, and God was moved by his entreaty and heard his plea and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God.
My wife’s real name is not Mitzi—that’s a nickname—her actual name is Manassah. Her dad named her after one of Joseph’s two sons, Manasseh. The Bible says, “Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh. “For he said, ‘God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house’” (Gen 41:51). I, however, like to tease my wife that she was named after King Manasseh, the most wicked king that Judah ever knew (she thinks this less funny than I do).
Manasseh was a bad king. If you read his story in 2 Chronicles 33:1-9, you will see that this guy was just plain nasty. He worshipped idols. He sacrificed his own children to false gods. He set up idols in the temple itself, a great abomination before God. He was the kind of wicked guy that you just pray will get what’s coming to him.
Then we read what I cited above. Manasseh did not listen to God. And we say, “No kidding.” So then God sent an army to drag him off and punish him. And we say, “Yeah baby!” Then the Scripture tells us that Manasseh repented, God heard his cry, and restored him. And we say, in the words of the late Gary Coleman, “What’chu talkin’ ’bout, Willis?”
How could this be? How could God forgive a guy like Manasseh? How could God let this guy off? How could God not utterly destroy Judah’s most wicked king ever?
My answer to that question is this: God could forgive Manasseh in just the same way that he can forgive a sinner like me or like you. God has always revealed himself to us in his word as the Lord who is slow to anger and abounding in loving kindness (c. Exo 34:6). God has shown that he is always forgiving toward those who will turn from their sin and place their trust in him. Without question, God does not forgive everybody. Without question, God has specific requirements for men and women to find forgiveness. But God is very much willing to forgive anyone who will come to him on his terms.
Do you remember John 3:16? God is willing to forgive anyone who will put their trust in Jesus. That means God will forgive the socially good guy who has sinned before God in his pride and it means the socially evil guy who has committed atrocities. God will forgive anybody who will turn away from their sin and place their hope and trust in the completed work of the Lord Jesus.
We must acknowledge that we are sinful before God and without hope on our own. We must believe that Jesus paid the price for our sins in his death and resurrection. Then we put all our hope in Jesus and what he has done, ask God to forgive us, and our lives change so that we follow and worship the Lord.
(If this text intrigues you, It will be the topic of the Sunday morning message at Olney Southern Baptist Church this week—10:00 AM, 205 E Mack Ave, Olney.)