Lord, I am thankful for repentance.
Read 2 CHRONICLES 33:1–25
Manasseh King of Judah
33 Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. 2 He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, following the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites. 3 He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had demolished; he also erected altars to the Baals and made Asherah poles. He bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshiped them. 4 He built altars in the temple of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, “My Name will remain in Jerusalem forever.” 5 In both courts of the temple of the Lord, he built altars to all the starry hosts. 6 He sacrificed his children in the fire in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, practiced divination and witchcraft, sought omens, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord, arousing his anger.
7 He took the image he had made and put it in God’s temple, of which God had said to David and to his son Solomon, “In this temple and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my Name forever. 8 I will not again make the feet of the Israelites leave the land I assigned to your ancestors, if only they will be careful to do everything I commanded them concerning all the laws, decrees and regulations given through Moses.” 9 But Manasseh led Judah and the people of Jerusalem astray, so that they did more evil than the nations the Lord had destroyed before the Israelites.
10 The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention. 11 So the Lord brought against them the army commanders of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh prisoner, put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon. 12 In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his ancestors. 13 And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God.
14 Afterward he rebuilt the outer wall of the City of David, west of the Gihon spring in the valley, as far as the entrance of the Fish Gate and encircling the hill of Ophel; he also made it much higher. He stationed military commanders in all the fortified cities in Judah.
15 He got rid of the foreign gods and removed the image from the temple of the Lord, as well as all the altars he had built on the temple hill and in Jerusalem; and he threw them out of the city. 16 Then he restored the altar of the Lord and sacrificed fellowship offerings and thank offerings on it, and told Judah to serve the Lord, the God of Israel. 17 The people, however, continued to sacrifice at the high places, but only to the Lord their God.
18 The other events of Manasseh’s reign, including his prayer to his God and the words the seers spoke to him in the name of the Lord, the God of Israel, are written in the annals of the kings of Israel.[a] 19 His prayer and how God was moved by his entreaty, as well as all his sins and unfaithfulness, and the sites where he built high places and set up Asherah poles and idols before he humbled himself—all these are written in the records of the seers.[b] 20 Manasseh rested with his ancestors and was buried in his palace. And Amon his son succeeded him as king.
Amon King of Judah
21 Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem two years. 22 He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, as his father Manasseh had done. Amon worshiped and offered sacrifices to all the idols Manasseh had made. 23 But unlike his father Manasseh, he did not humble himself before the Lord; Amon increased his guilt.
24 Amon’s officials conspired against him and assassinated him in his palace. 25 Then the people of the land killed all who had plotted against King Amon, and they made Josiah his son king in his place.
a 2 Chronicles 33:18 That is, Judah, as frequently in 2 Chronicles
b 2 Chronicles 33:19 One Hebrew manuscript and Septuagint; most Hebrew manuscripts of Hozai
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Reflect on your journey of faith. What have been the major turning points? Take time to thank God for them.
What causes a person to make a spiritual turnaround? Think of the apostle Paul, or Augustine or Charles Colson. Often a humbling event ends one way of life and begins another. The biblical word for this experience is repentance, and that’s exactly what happens to Manasseh in our passage today (10–13).
Manasseh begins as an unusually evil king (1–9). Perhaps his most damning indictment is that he led the people to do “more evil than the nations the Lord had destroyed before the Israelites” (9). Before we get too smug, however, we should remember that behavior patterns among churchgoers today sometimes reflect those outside the church, which may account for what, at least in the USA, the Pew Research Center calls “the rise of the nones,” a dramatic increase in the number of people who indicate “none” as their religious affiliation. Manasseh can’t check off that box, since he seems to have known what God wanted all along (7,8,10). He just intentionally defies God by doing the opposite.
It is no surprise that humans are sinful, but in spite of it God is “slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” (Exod. 34:6; Psa. 86:15; Joel 2:13). Some people think of God as vindictive and judgmental—and for sure, judgment is a reality in the Bible—but the bigger reality, in both the Old and New Testaments, is that God “is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9).
What do we make, then, of Amon (21–25)? His father reigned for fifty-five years, but Amon gets assassinated after just two. The fact is, we don’t always know the reasons for what happens to people. What we do know is “there’s a wideness in God’s mercy”(Frederick William Faber, 1814–1863)—and that’s good news.
Read Psalm 107, reflecting on the refrain, “Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress” (6).
Lord, You are the God of radical change. Change in me first what offends You, and then change those around me for the better.
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