Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. But he did evil in the sight of the Lord, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel. (2 Chronicles 33:1-2)
The Power Of A Humble Heart
Manasseh ruled longer than any other king of Israel or Judah. His reign of fifty-five years was marked with worship to Baal and all the host of heaven. He put altars to the gods and a carved image of Baal in the house of the Lord where Jehovah’s name was to be holy. Manasseh sacrificed his sons as burnt offerings, practiced sorcery, divination, and witchcraft and he consulted with mediums and psychics. There is little Manasseh did not do to incur the wrath of God for his acts of immorality, wickedness, and depravity. His leadership seduced the people of Judah and Jerusalem to do even more evil than the pagan nations around them. Judah was filled with unbridled lust, immoral carnage, and unchained putridity. The heart of Manasseh was fully corrupt.
The prophets warned Manasseh of God’s wrath but he would not listen. So the Lord sent the commanders of the Assyrian armies, and they took Manasseh prisoner. They put a ring through his nose, bound him in bronze chains, and led him away to Babylon. This would be a fitting judgment against the king of Judah for his evil ways and immoral acts. The final curtain on the life of Manasseh would see him die in Babylon a disgraced and condemned man. What happens next is the remarkable and wonderful message of God’s love and grace. The chastening of the Lord changed the heart of Manasseh. In his affliction and distress, he sought the forgiveness of God. With a sincere heart, the king humbled himself before the mighty hand of the Lord and opened up his heart in prayer for mercy. How could God forgive a man guilty of all the heinous acts which characterized his rule? The Lord God Merciful heard the sincere plea of Manasseh and was moved by his humility. Through the grace of a kind Father, Manasseh was brought back to Jerusalem into his kingdom. He realized the Lord was God and there was none other.
Repentance is godly sorrow for sin. Forgiveness happens in the mind of God for those who reverently and humbly seek the favor of the Almighty. Men like Manasseh would seem to be least likely candidates for mercy but God forgave him because of his humble heart. His repentance was followed by acts of a contrite heart. Manasseh took away the foreign gods and the carved image from the Temple. He tore down all the altars he had built on the hill where the Temple stood and all the altars that were in Jerusalem, and he dumped them outside the city. Then he restored the altar of the Lord and sacrificed peace offerings and thanksgiving offerings on it. He also encouraged the people of Judah to worship the Lord, the God of Israel.
What happened with Manasseh can happen with any man who has a humble, contrite, and broken spirit seeking the mercy of God. There is no sin so small or so great the Lord will not forgive if a man comes in godly sorrow seeking the love of a compassionate Father. Jesus told the story of a young man who ruined his reputation, his family’s character, and his life in prodigal living but when he came to himself, repented, and returned to his father; he was forgiven. The power of a humble heart is the cleansing of pride and arrogance to receive from the throne of God mercy, grace, love, and above all things: forgiveness. It may not change the consequences of sin. Manasseh’s son Amon would be king after his father’s death but would be murdered two years later by his servants. Lessons learned from his father molded the life of Amon. Manasseh leaves a stark example of great evil and great mercy. As wicked a man as the king was he learned that God was the God of forgiveness. A contrite and humble heart changed the life of the king. Jesus’ blood will take away your sin – all of them!