[18APRIL2012] Eastertide Devotional Series
I will be posting this devotional series as part of my Eastertide reflections for the next three weeks (see this link for other installments in the series). Each week of this devotional series focuses on a specific theme (week one: brokenness, week two: repentance, and week three: renewal). I hope you’ll enjoy the series and I invite you to comment here on the blog or email me direct; I would love to hear your thoughts.
Repentance: Week 2 | Day 4
Scripture Reading: 2 Chronicles 33:1-20 (for comparison—also 2 Kings 21:1-18)
“But while in deep distress, Manasseh sought the LORD his God and sincerely humbled himself before the God of his ancestors. And when he prayed, the LORD listened to him…”
Manasseh was a very bad man. Really bad…unadulterated evil kind of bad. Part of the narrative of Manasseh’s life reads as follows: “But Manasseh led the people of Judah and Jerusalem to do even more evil than the pagan nations that the LORD had destroyed when the people of Israel entered the land.” (2 Chronicles 33:9)
Based on the list of things Manasseh did, I’m not sure there is a greater degree of evil a person can attain; he pretty much covered every detestable act a person could conceive. Yes, Manasseh was a very wicked man and I emphasize this for a reason. Personally, I haven’t committed the atrocities of Manasseh, but there are numerous choices I have made and things I have done which I regret. Some of these things, I wondered at the time if God would forgive me of them…or if He would forgive me, how long it might be before I received complete absolution or what I might have to do to get my sins absolved. It is for this reason that stories like Manasseh’s bring me great hope.
The story reveals the great wickedness of Manasseh and goes on to tell us “the LORD spoke to Manasseh and his people but they ignored all his warnings” (2 Chr 33:10). At this point, God was fed up with Manasseh’s evil ways and sent the Assyrian armies in to take him captive. That is what happened and Manasseh ended up in a Babylonian prison. It was here that Manasseh became despondent, “deeply distressed” the Bible says, and he “sought the LORD” and “humbled himself greatly before Him” (2 Chr 33:12). Here we are witness to the humility that comes with repentance, but Manasseh’s “change of heart” didn’t begin and end with this act of humility and contrition. The story continues with “the LORD listening to Manasseh and becoming moved by his request.” Manasseh was returned to Jerusalem where he initiated changes to clean house and restore the kingdom as a people under the LORD alone.
There were still repercussions for the wickedness of Manasseh’s actions prior to his repentance just as there are repercussions for the choices we make outside of God’s designs. If I am completely transparent, there are still elements of my past that bring me regret, but my regret is overshadowed by the joy I have received since offering my heart to God through my own repentance. And, I suppose, this is the most important aspect of this story to me. Not only has it given me hope, but whether great or small, I have experienced the same forgiveness and heart-cleansing for my sins as Manasseh did for his.
Have you ever thought there are things in your life that God could not or would not forgive? Have you ever hesitated asking God’s forgiveness because of your doubt? Do you ever feel like it’s futile to “change your mind and turn back to God” because of the things you have done?
Our Prayer: Father God, thank you for the great forgiveness you extend to those with repentant hearts. Sometimes I have thought my sins too big, my wickedness too great, and distance between us too far for me to turn back. I see now this is not true. I see that you are sensitive to the humble heart. I offer my heart and the sins I have held back from you today and ask you to cleanse me and help me to make the changes in my life that need to be made as I turn back to you.