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By now you’ve heard some from Isaiah about how God disciplines sin, but He also has a wonderful and undeserved mercy coming as part of His Big Plan. Well, the next king in this story was about to receive a little undeserved kindness and help, himself.
After King Hezekiah died, his 12-year-old son, Manasseh, became the next king.
Sadly, the young King Manasseh did not obey God.
King Manasseh even UNdid the good things that his father Hezekiah had done. Manasseh REbuilt the yucky high places that his father Hezekiah had torn down. And then, he set up altars for the nasty, ugly Baal and Asherah, just like King Ahab had done! Booooo!
Manasseh built yucky idols IN THE TEMPLE — God’s House! And he served satan in many disgusting, awful ways. Again, booooo!
Worst of all, King Manasseh led God’s sheep away, away, away from God down this dark path. The people followed Manasseh into his disgusting, idol-worshipping sins.
God was angry with King Manasseh. God warned both him and the people that they’d better stop, but they were stubborn and wouldn’t listen. So God had to discipline them… again.
God sent an enemy army to come. They put hooks in King Manasseh’s nose and big heavy chains on him; then they took him off to Babylon as a prisoner.
The hooks hurt Manasseh’s nose — bad. The heavy chains puuuulled him to the ground. He felt miserable and all alone.
King Manasseh had a choice in front of him. He could be sad, mad and prideful, OR he could choose to look up at God and humble himself. That seems like an obvious choice — be soft, Manasseh!
But it can feel really hard to humble yourself after you’ve been prideful and mean and hurt people with your sin. The more stubborn and prideful we’ve been, the harder it feels to turn things around and be humble and sorry. And Manasseh had been hard and stubborn a lot.
But I’m glad to say that Manasseh did soften his heart! He chose to lift his eyes to Heaven and humble himself. He talked to God. He told God he was so very sorry for all the terrible things he had done, and he asked God to have mercy on him.
What do you think God did when He heard Manasseh’s humble and sorry heart calling out to him?
Yea, when God heard King Manasseh’s cries, God rescued him from Babylon and took him back to God’s City, safe and sound.
Do you think Manasseh deserved such kindness from God? No. That was definitely un-deserved kindness. Just because Manasseh said he was sorry, did NOT make him “deserve” to be rescued from the enemy!
It’s true that God often responds to our little choices to humble ourselves and turn to Him, no matter how bad we’ve been. But please don’t think that God (or people) “owe” you forgiveness just because you “say you’re sorry.” You can’t demand that someone forgive you. In fact, when we are TRULY sorry, we realize just how much we don’t deserve to be forgiven at all. Forgiveness is always an undeserved gift.
God helps and forgives because that is who He is… not because we “deserve” any kindness or help from Him. He doesn’t owe us anything.
Now let’s find out what Manasseh will do with another chance.
King Manasseh now realized beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Yahweh is the One True God.
He was so sorry for what he’d done and how he’d hurt God’s Family. (I’m sure you’ve learned by now that sin still has consequences, even if God forgives you.)
But Manasseh got to work doing the best he could with the time he had left to try to turn, turn, turn around all the evil things he’d started!
Have you ever heard the word “repent”? That is what repent means — to turn around and go the other way. The opposite way that you’ve been going. Manasseh didn’t try to just “start being good now.” Instead, he actually worked to undo the bad he’d done — in very specific ways.
He built a big tall wall to protect God’s City and put guards in the city to protect it. Good job, King Manasseh!
Then he tore down the yucky idols that were in the Temple and chucked them out of the city. Yes! Smash those idols, King Manasseh!
Once he’d cleared out the nasty stuff, he fixed God’s altar and offered Him peace and “thank you” offerings on it.
After that King Manasseh used all his energy to help other people turn back to Yahweh like he had.
However, I should let you know that Manasseh was never able to help all the people hurt by his bad choices. He couldn’t just erase or undo all the ways he had hurt God’s lambs. So please remember that our choices do have consequences that can hurt other people.
Don’t ever think you can just “do something bad today” because “God will forgive you tomorrow.” That way of thinking is very wrong and will have painful and possibly dangerous consequences later. Trust me on this, okay?