I must admit I like the history of Manasseh in 2 Chronicles 33 a whole lot better than the story of him in 2 Kings 21 for it contains, as they say, “the rest of the story,” recounting the redeeming work of God in his life.
Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. His mother’s name was Hephzibah. 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 destroyed; he also erected altars to Baal and made an Asherah pole, as Ahab king of Israel had done. 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, “In Jerusalem I will put my Name.” 5 In the two courts of the temple of the Lord, he built altars to all the starry hosts. 6 He sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced divination, sought omens, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord, arousing his anger. (2 Kings 21:1-6) NIV
Manasseh was living about as far from the one, true, living God as you can get and he took the whole nation of Judah with him. In fact, the wording of 2 Chronicles 33:9 says they did more evil than the nations the LORD had destroyed before the Israelites took over the land. He aroused God’s anger!
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. (2 Chron 33:11-13) NIV
To me, that is Good News! God heard Manasseh, knew his heart, and was moved to return him back to power. He had learned that the LORD is God!
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. (2 Chron.33:15-19) NIV
God allowed Manasseh a second chance to get it right. I read these verses and take great comfort in the fact that God gives us multiple chances to redo the choices we’ve made. It doesn’t matter how far off track we’ve gotten, Jesus is there to forgive us! I have my own version of “foreign gods” and I worshiped them instead of God. They have a way of taking us down the road where we can be defeated by our enemy, taken prisoner, and bound in shackles. Thankfully, we don’t have to stay there! I, too, cried out to the Lord in humble submission to Him with a repentant heart. He heard my cry, forgave me, and returned me to my “kingdom”. Were there consequences? You bet. Sin has a way of leaving residue sometimes. The power of God has enabled me to move beyond those bad choices to a place of praise (thank offerings)!
22 I will praise you with the harp
for your faithfulness, my God;
I will sing praise to you with the lyre,
Holy One of Israel.
23 My lips will shout for joy
when I sing praise to you—
I whom you have delivered.
24 My tongue will tell of your righteous acts
all day long,
for those who wanted to harm me
have been put to shame and confusion. (Psalm 77:22-24) NIV
Lord, I thank you for the way you forgive me and redeem me. You are so good to me! Thank you for examples in the bible that show me no one is beyond redemption. Having experienced this freedom, I can do nothing but praise you. My heart is filled with gratitude and I will tell of your goodness all my days. In Jesus name, Amen.