[Note: This blog was rescued from a blog cleanup on my local congregation’s website, along with a few others.]
One of the more complicated and interesting cases of belated reconciliation with God is the case of Manasseh ben Hezekiah, told in 2 Kings 21 and 2 Chronicles 33. Manasseh was the wickedest of the kings of Judah who was even more wicked as a ruler than the leaders of the peoples who were in the Promised land before the Israelites, an ominous development. For his wickedness and the bad example he set for Judah, the prophets of God promised captivity for Judah, a judgment that was not reversed despite his own repentance late in life because of the evil which Judah was led into.
We read of Manasseh’s wickedness in 2 Chronicles:33:1-9: “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 Eternal, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Eternal had cast out before the children of Israel. For he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down; he raised up altars for the Baals, and made wooden images; and he worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. He also built altars in the house of the Eternal, which the Eternal had said, “In Jerusalem shall My name be forever.” And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Eternal. Also he caused his sons to pass through the fire in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom; he practiced soothsaying, used witchcraft and sorcery, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the Eternal, to provoke Him to anger. He even set a carved image, the idol which he had made, in the house of God, of which God had said to David and to Solomon his son, “In this house and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my name forever; and I will not again remove the foot of Israel from the land which I have appointed for your fathers–only if they are careful to do all that I commanded them, according to the whole law and the statutes and the ordinances by the hand of Moses.” So Manasseh seduced Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to do more evil than the nations whom the Eternal had destroyed before the children of Israel.”
Is reconciliation possible for a man so wicked as Manasseh, who practiced infanticide, consulted witches and mediums, and engaged in all kinds of gross idolatry and immorality, so much so that he was even more wicked than the corrupt peoples of the land whom God had judged unworthy to dwell in the promised land any longer? Let us examine 2 Chronicles:33:10-17: “And the Eternal spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they would not listen. Therefore the Eternal brought upon them the captains of the army of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh with hooks, bound him with bronze fetters, and carried him off to Babylon. Now when he was in affliction, he implored the Eternal his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed to HIm; and He received his entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into the kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Eternal was God. After this he built a wall outside of the City of David on the west side of Gihon, in the valley, as far as the entrance of the Fish Gate; and it enclosed Ophel, and he raised it to a very great height. Then he put military captains in all the fortified cities of Judah. He took away the foreign gods and the idol from the house of the Eternal, and all the altars that he had built in the mount of the house of the Eternal and in Jerusalem; and he cast them out of the city. He also repaired the altar of the Eternal, sacrificed peace offerings and thank offerings on it, and commanded Judah to serve the Eternal God of Israel. Nevertheless the people still sacrificed on the high places, but only to the Eternal their God.”
Did the reconciliation of Manasseh with God mean that everything was alright, though? Not so, according to 2 Kings:21:10-15: “And the Eternal spoke by His servants the prophets, saying, “Because Manasseh king of Judah has done these abominations (he has acted more wickedly than all the Amorites who were before him, and has also made Judah sin with his idols), therefore thus says the Eternal God of Israel: ‘Behold, I am bringing such calamity upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whoever hears of it, both his ears will tingle. And I will stretch over Jerusalem the measuring line of Samaria and the plummet of the house of Ahab; I will wipe Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down. So I will forsake the remnant of My inheritance and deliver them into the hand of their enemies; and they shall become the victims of plunder to all their enemies, because they have done evil in My sight, and have provoked Me to anger since the day their fathers came out of Egypt, even to this day.’ ” ”
Let us ponder the example of Manasseh as we reflect upon the fate of our own nations. Like Judah and Israel, we have provoked God to anger for our entire history as a nation through our injustice, through our immorality, through our false systems of worship, and we have continually ignored the voice of God’s word as it reflects upon our behavior and our ways as a society. In recent years we have sinned to an even higher degree through our abortions, through our rampant immorality, and even should our leaders repent, our rottenness, like that of Judah, extends to the entire people. Unless our entire nation should repent, we too face judgment from God from the top to the bottom, just as the repentance and restoration and reconciliation of Judah did not reverse God’s promised judgment for their deep-set sins. May God have mercy on us all, as He would if we would only repent and be reconciled to Him.