I’m coming to the end of the books telling the histories of the kings of Israel and throughout Samuel, Kings and Chronicles it has been a roller coaster ride of highs and lows, of faith and failing, of obedience and rebellion. In the passage today we have perhaps two of the most opposite examples. Hezekiah who is a testament to the power of faith and Manasseh, his son, who demonstrates how low we can fall.
Whenever I read these accounts of righteous and unrighteous kings I shake my head. It never ever ceases to amaze me how fathers and sons can be so different. How a child can watch his father obey and be blessed by God and decide to go another way. Or even how a person can see God act in such amazing ways and wander away to do their own thing.
Then God usually reminds me that it has always been that way that Adam and Eve walked with God face-to-face in the garden and still sinned. Abraham had God’s promise but decided to help out by having Ishmael. Moses who saw God’s glory, saw plagues afflict God’s enemies, saw God smite the disobedient and still took it upon himself to smite a rock instead of speaking to it. Then there’s Manasseh.
9 Manasseh corrupted Judah and the people of Jerusalem until they were more evil than the nations whom the Eternal had destroyed before the Israelites.
That’s quite a damning statement but this man who became king at age 12 managed to influence the people to abandon everything they had seen Hezekiah do and worship gods, statues, even the stars and desecrate the Temple with a false idol.
Then God reminds me that He is always ready to show mercy, always ready to forgive and restore and that He will go to extreme measures to bring people back to Himself. 2 Chronicles 33:10-13 tells us what God did and the resulting change in Manasseh.
13 He heard Manasseh’s prayer and found it sincere; He returned Manasseh to the throne in Jerusalem. From that day forward, Manasseh never doubted that the Eternal was the True God.
Then God reminds me that His extreme measures went so far as to provide a way for me to live life with His power and authority so that I won’t slip and fall and go my own way. He provided a perfect Sacrifice that enables me to be in His Presence, to even carry His Presence wherever I go.
The truth is none of us are any different from the evil kings of the Old Testament, it is only by God’s grace and influence that we can come to Him, repent of our sins and walk in His ways. Even after that incredible event when we are made right with God we still fall, we still walk our own way raise idols, put things in God’s place in our lives and He still shows us incredible mercy allowing us to start over, to get a clean page as often as we need.
So let’s not take this great gift lightly, instead, let’s keep short accounts with God. Let’s moment by moment allow His Holy Spirit to keep watch over us so that we listen to His voice and walk closely with Him. His grace is endless and beyond our understanding let’s rejoice in that and be transformed by it into His image.