Saturday, December 29, 2012
2 Chronicles 33: God Restores the Humble
2 Chron 33:1-6 Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, following the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites. 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. He built altars in the temple of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, "My Name will remain in Jerusalem forever." In both courts of the temple of the Lord, he built altars to all the starry hosts. He sacrificed his sons in the fire in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, practiced sorcery, divination and witchcraft, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord, provoking him to anger.
2 Chron 33:10-13 The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention. 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. In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. 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 33:21-25 Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem two years. 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. But unlike his father Manasseh, he did not humble himself before the Lord; Amon increased his guilt. Amon's officials conspired against him and assassinated him in his palace. Then the people of the land killed all who had plotted against King Amon, and they made Josiah his son king in his place.
Manasseh must be the worst king in the messianic lineage from David to Christ. He did more evil things than other kings: he rebuilt the altars to the Baals and made Asherah poles destroyed by Hezekiah and placed them right inside the temple in Jerusalem. He practised sorcery, divination, witchcraft, consulted medium and spiritists. Not only that, he even offered his own sons in the fire as human sacrifices. Finally, God sent the Assyrians to invade Judah and Manasseh was taken away as a prisoner to Babylon, bound in chains with a hook to his nose. His great physical suffering caused him to humble himself before the LORD, and he prayed to God. Despite the evils he had done, God rescued and restored him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Such was and is the grace of God--whenever He finds humble faith in Him, he saves us from our sin and its consequences. As the Scripture says in Habbakuk 2:4, Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11 and Hebrews 10:38, "The just shall live by faith." Faith is trust, and when we trust God to justify us, He will save us: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith." Whether in the OT or NT or even outside both testaments to peoples who do not have the covenants but only their conscience to live by, the same principle applies: "the just shall live by faith".
In contrast, Manasseh's son Amon repeated his father's sins but because he did not humble himself before the Lord, he "increased his guilt" and was assassinated by his court officials.
But what is most amazing about God's grace is that both Manasseh and Amon appeared in the list of Christ's ancestors (Matthew 1:10). God's grace is tied to God's promise to bring His Christ into the world to be the atoning sacrifice for the sins of all mankind--past, present and future, for "the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world" (Rev 13:8). Jesus' death on the cross is not an historical event but an eternal one before God who is himself eternal, who sees the past, present and future simultaneously. So, Christ's atoning death makes grace possible wherever humble faith is found--even for wicked men like Manasseh who humbled himself before the Lord of the heaven. For God so "loved the world that he gave his own Son" (John 3:16)--the grace of our Lord Jesus is not for Christians only but for whomever will humble themselves before God and put their trust in Him. So Peter affirmed in Acts 10:34-35, "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right."
Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost by now am found, was blind but now I see. Thank You Lord for Your amazing grace demonstrated at the Cross. Amen.