2nd Chronicles 33:1-20; The Prodigal King

Then Manasseh knew that the Lord he was God

2nd Chronicles 33:1-20

In all the pages of scripture that covers a period numbering thousands of years there are for me two conversions, one from each Testament that are monumental and far reaching. The New Testament example is the salvation of Saul of Tarsus converted to Christ on the road to Damascus while pursuing a cruel campaign of persecuting the people of God. The man who hated Christians more than anyone, whose very hands were stained with the blood of martyrs became the greatest missionary evangelist and church planter of the New Testament Church. The example from the Old Testament is less well known but the change was just as radical. In 2nd Chronicles 33 we are introduced to this ancient King of Judah whose name is Manasseh.

If there is one word that King Manasseh represents – it is HOPE. 

There is hope for all men and women alive in the world today. If this man Manasseh could be forgiven by God then the power of Christ’s blood is able to wash your sin away. Perhaps you wonder, can I really become a Christian; or you despair for others not yet converted. I guarantee you that no-one has lived the life that Manasseh lived and yet his life was turned around. There is hope for you – your life or the lives of your family can be turned around by the power of grace.

1:  The Corruption of Manasseh

a        Reversion

“He built up the high places which Hezekiah his Father had broken down.” (v3)

He reversed the good work that his Father Hezekiah had done.

He came to the throne when he was twelve years of ages.  His very birth was a miracle.  Three years before he was born his Father was sick and almost died but the Lord miraculously preserved His servant and promised him another 15 years of life.  It was during these 15 years that Manasseh was born. In many respects this boy King was an answer to prayer.  He had been dedicated and trained in the principles of God’s law.  His Father would have ensured that he was prepared for the throne.  Yet he swept aside all of this training aside by reversing the good that his Father had done.  His mother Mother was Hephzibah – meaning “my delight is in her” – traditionally recognised as the daughter of Isaiah. Her name indicates indicates a godly woman who prayed for her boy.

What a challenge for young people reared in godly homes! What blessings have you enjoyed?  Your parents prayed for you before you were born.  Your birth is a miracle as life within us all is miraculous and wonderful.  You have been educated in the things of God.  You know the Gospel and the truths of Scripture.  You have been cradled in these things from before you remember.

Yet tonight you are reversing all the good that you have learned.  You do not want God’s righteousness – you want sin – you do not want Christ – you want the world.

b       Rebellion

This young man did not only reverse the reforms of his Father but he went deeper into sin than any of the Kings who who pre-dated him.

V2 – “like the abominations of the Heathen”

He wanted to be like other peoples.  He did not want to follow a religion that made him different.  There are many like that today; You do not want Christianity because it makes you different.  You want all that is in the world because you want to be like other people.

This man’s desire to be like the world led him into some very dark places. He erected altars in the temple, he served the stars of heaven, witchcraft was practised and children were offered to Molech the god of fire.

A path of sin, of filling you mind and body with your own selfish and evil desires will lead you into dark places; places you thought would not be possible.

“Wherefore their way shall be unto them as slippery ways in the darkness: they shall be driven on, and fall therein: for I will bring evil upon them, even the year of their visitation, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 23:12)

c        Resistance

In the midst of his folly God sent messengers (v10) – but neither the King nor his people would hearken.  They only served to intensify his wicked lifestyle:

“But they hearkened not: and Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than did the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the children of Israel.” (2nd Kings 21:9)

2:  The Correction for Manasseh

a        Instruments

Manasseh was corrected by human instruments.

The heathen whom he desired to be like ruined him. The Assyrians conquered him in battle and carried him to Babylon, binding him with thorns.

The world whom you desire to be like will destroy you, the desires of the flesh which you are intent on satisfying will consume you and cause you untold agony.

Oscar Pistorioas the onetime star of the Paralympic movement, the first Paralympian to compete in the able bodied olympics, was imprisoned after being found guilty of murdering his girlfriend, the consequences of the sin of anger. There are alcoholics tonight with trembling hands reaching for the glass of whiskey because they took that first drink in what they thought was happy atmosphere.  There are so many lives broken and in tatters because the very thing that gives pleasure will bring pain.

b       Instigator

Although the Assyrians dealt harshly with Manasseh, the one who was behind their activities was God. The Lord brought this situation about, he was not merely punishing he was correcting as a Father would correct his child.  Perhaps you have been suffering in the world – you are unhappy and miserable – you are among the thorns – God has brought this situation about to show you the how dissatisfying a place the world is.

3:  The Contrition in Manasseh

a        Repentance 

“And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers” (v12)

When bound with thorns – in a strange land where he was no longer King of his own domain – Manasseh remembered his godly Father, he recalled those earnest prayers. He reflected upon the sound teaching he had received during those first twelve years of life, and so he earnestly sought the Lord.  It was sad that it took tragedy, death and suffering to bring this about but some people have to be taken a long hard road before they will come to Christ.

What will it take to bring you to the Saviour?  The death of a loved one who is saved, you will stand around that open grave with a broken heart knowing that your sin broke them, a critical illness that ushers you into the valley of shadow and there you will finally waken up like the prodigal among the pigs. Manasseh didn’t seek the gods of the heathen and their false priests in the hour of crisis. He cried upon the Lord God of his fathers. When the Earl of Rothes lay dying he desired ministry from covenanting clergymen, the very men he had spent his time persecuting. But the compromised clergy were of no value to him, he wanted real men of God who could preach the truth. All that the world represents to you will be of no value in the moment of crisis. You will then pray as never you have prayed before. Let me ask you what it take to bring you to the cross?

You may do many things, you may close your mind to the message, you may fill your mind with all kinds of thoughts, but you cannot stop people praying for you, you cannot prevent the power of God’s love, you might as well stop the Belfast Express in a dark night outside this church as prevent God working in your life but what will take before you bow on bended knee and seek the Lord for life?

b       Response

When Manasseh prayed God responded – I love that!

If God was a man he would have said, what’s that rascal coming to me now for? – What’s his game? – Let him go worthless wretch! – But God is not a man, I know when we seek Him we find Him – whatever you have done or been guilty of – seek God because there is forgiveness with him.

c        Recovery

He was given his Kingdom again in the Providence of God, He only experienced blessing and happiness when He got matters right with the Lord. It will be so with you, home life and business life – all manner of relationships will be improved when you seek the Lord.

d       Restitution

He made amends for the wickedness he had done, he repaired the altars, he took away the strange gods and idols.  This was a sure sign of  a genuine work of grace, when God moves in a life that person will do what is humanely possible to put matters right externally. Repentance involves putting every wrong to right, paying what we owe, addressing our past failings, as we totally turn from our sin. During the Nicholson era in Belfast when the shipyard workers were converted they brought back stolen goods in such huge quantities that a new warehouse had to be erected. This is genuine old fashioned Christianity.

e        Regret

Let’s ask Manasseh when he is an old man – have you any regrets? Oh yes he said – I wish I had sought my Father’s God when he was still alive, I wish I had trusted him when I was a child of twelve or even younger; I mourn over the path of sin I led my people in, there is so much that I cannot change that wished I could undo, look at my Amon he will take the nation down the same blind alley as a result of my wicked influence, if only I had repented earlier!

There is no time like today, this moment, your moment – Come to the Saviour – don’t waste any more time. Now is the Day of Salvation.

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