Within the chronicles of Kings, the life of one really stood out to me. In the midst of a period, where every account isn’t linear but littered with the improprieties of leaders, this chapter was a fascinating one to behold.
The story about Manasseh, though unfolded centuries ago, is still very much relevant in today’s world. Showed me my past faults and the wonderful grace of God, during and after that. This was a king who had the good education of his God fearing father Hezekiah, but yet contradicted that and transcribed the abomination of God. How many of us profess to know God, whilst at the same time belie the truth of His words and commandments.
Manasseh proceeded with his reign, in building altars for the false gods of baal; total disregard to the absolute truthful tradition of his father. As I read that, a thought came into mind: he’s broken a commandment, idolatry the principal sin. That got me thinking, though we might not bow down to graven images, there are things that we have placed on higher pedalstone, that shrouds the presence of God, and His indispensable pre-eminence, taking a backseat. No? You think not? It shouldn’t come as a surprise that such don’t necessarily appear in black mists, but are the shells of intended blessings itself.
- Careers: its all good to be ambitious and whatnot, nothing against that, but the river begins to overflow with mucky waters, when that take precedence over the will of the Almighty Father. It starts with a small step that seems insignificant at first, but then it matures into a full blown wall, between you and God. Are you so caught up with achieving fleeting titles, that we compromise our relationship with God, just to be accepted by our colleagues at work, rather than standing out? Or, so caught up with the mundane activities and shuffling of money, that the day meant for the Lord is sacrificed for that? The mission of heaven to preach the word is dumbdown but 100% zeal is given to the workplace? Come on now! You think that’s just the way life is? No it isn’t, just like Manasseh’s early reign, we play down the significant of a fervent Godly relationship.
- Family: it’s a sad indictment on our supposed faith and walk with God, that what’s meant to be a blessing has and is still been used by some of us to ring excuses. The calling of God is laid aside, because of family. This isn’t a call to discard family duties and relationships, far from it; but rather the work of the Heavenly Father and His works should be of utmost importance. Don’t make a good thing the ultimate thing.
- Money: self-sustenance is a blessing. God is a Father, that provides for His children, whenever in need, the means and end results. But quite too often and detrimental, is the shift in focus; becoming quite clear, is the premier goal of money, when the need to tithe or pledge, is seen as a burden, rather than a privilege.
In verse 6, it said “and he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the Son of Hinnom…,” a barbaric act, where children were burnt alive as sacrifices to baal gods.
Here it says, he forced them to do what was contrary to God’s word. He had the influence to lead his people to God, but rather he led them to their detriment.
Relating that to ourselves, who have we got influences over? Perhaps it may not be as direct as a parent/child relationship, but nonetheless, every actions taken, have the power to impact those around us for better or for worse. The bible tells us in Titus 2:7 (nlt) “And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching.” We who are called to be the salt of the earth, should be in earnest pursuit of righteousness, to ensure the right influences ate rubbed off onto others. (Life not death)
From verse 1-10, we see how Manasseh wronged and sinned against God in every way imaginable, but then something dramatic happened onwards.
REPENTANCE THROUGH AFFLICTION
In verse 11, an affliction is brought upon him and his kingdom. We’ve all been there before on the past, or you might be there presently, where everything’s all rosy and serene, thus we inadvertently or willfully take things for granted, the need and thirst for God, takes a back-seat and is seen as a burden not worth lifting… That is, until (verse 12) “And when he was in affliction, he besought the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers.” During affliction and trials we seek God, showing that whatever areas in life, where we find supposed pleasure in, hence discarding God – is a temporary vice. The only place where true solace lies, is within the Lord’s bossom. Other idolatry satisfaction are momentary.
Makes me wonder on what, one of my Pastors, Pastor Tom Payne, once illustrated, because He loves us so much, God would bring us to a point, where we have to humble ourselves before Him and seek forgiveness, rather than leave us in a state of wealth and wellbeing, with one feet placed in hell. Are we matured and disciplined enough to handle success, without falling into the world? We don’t have to be brought to a place of affliction, before seeking God’s face and humbling ourselves – the hallmark of a matured believer.
You might be going through a difficult period in life and truthfully, not all trials are punishment for sins; there might be areas within your life, that God needs to prune, before taking you to the destiny, He’s got in store for you. Character building comes from a place of abject surrender to God and of we need to go through a process of transformation to get there, our just God, will do that.
Yes – he had ask for forgiveness and God forgave him, but it didn’t end there. He had to act within his powers to rectify the mistakes he had made. What we most often overlook, is the need for “restitution”. The bible shows to us clearly, the need for reconciliation and restitution in Matthew 5:23,24. In Luke 19:8,9 – Zaccheus gave back to those he had defrauded. Genuine repentance, should lead to a deep conviction of the desire to redress any wrongdoings. In some cases, there might be no adequate restoration, like the case of the burnt children used as sacrifices, in the first half of the book passage; still some form of restitution be made, to demonstrate remorse and repentance. There should be a wariness though, in falling into the condemnation of the enemy lies. True repentance led to God’s forgiveness.
Manasseh’s sins were forgiven him. But a different story unfolded afterwards; (v21-25) Amon, his son, took reign and despite witnessing the revelation of his dad’s life, decided to walk the path of his father’s early sinful acts, it says in verse 24 – that his servants conspired against him and slew him.
Here’s a man who could have learnt from the past mistakes of someone before him, but rather, decided to ignore clear vivid warnings. His wicked and obdurate ways led to his ultimate demise. Are there lessons we ought to learn from circumstances around us? Or are we turning blind eyes towards such?