2 Chronicles 33
by Pastor David Groendyk
The cracks we started to see in Judah at the end of Hezekiah’s life deepen when his son Manasseh takes the throne. It’s interesting to see how Hezekiah’s reign began as one of the greatest in Judah’s history but ended in disappointing fashion with great pride, whereas Manasseh’s reign began as one of the most putrid and wicked in Judah’s history but ended with radical repentance and humility. Despite Hezekiah’s great pride at the end of chapter 32, it’s still important to remember that reform had indeed swept through the nation during his time. However, all of it is undone in one generation. The Chronicler gives a long, detailed account of Manasseh’s wickedness, all of it essentially teaching us that he’s about as bad of a person as you could be. He was as evil as the Canaanites that God had driven out from the land, he worshiped every kind of false god out there, he polluted the temple, he killed and sacrificed his own children, he used fortune-tellers, and he reversed every good that his father had done. It’s actually quite impressive just how many evil things this one man did.
On the other hand, what an amazing conversion! The parallel for this chapter is 2 Kings 21 in which there is no mention at all of Manasseh’s repentance. Clearly, the Chronicler wants our lasting impression of this text to be how God’s grace reaches hearts and the radical nature of true repentance. It truly was amazing grace that decided to pursue wicked King Manasseh at all, and what an irresistible grace it was. If even someone like Manasseh can turn away from his sin to God, then what else might our almighty God do and who else might our holy and loving Father save! This text says so much about God’s heart and character. It also says so much about what our personal repentance should look like. The word used a few times throughout the chapter is ‘humbled’, but what happens in Manasseh’s life and heart feels like so much more than that. One 19th-century writer describes it as not just humbling but “painful and humiliating”—yet with an end that would be “blessed and glorious.” Certainly it was painful and humiliating to be captured with hooks and dragged to Babylon, but to come to the realization of how great his sin was and how far astray he had led the nation of Judah would’ve been spiritually humiliating for Manasseh. And isn’t that how we feel when we finally come to grips with our sin, whether it’s a besetting sin that we’ve ignored for a while or whether it’s a one-time outburst? Humiliated? Ashamed? Yet we, like Manasseh, can be lifted to glorious heights when we respond to our sin the way he did. He made amends. He reversed all the wickedness he had done. He radically cleansed his life and the city of Jerusalem from all the idols he once worshiped. It is certainly not an enjoyable experience to live out true repentance and turning away from our sin, but it is blessed and glorious. May we all have soft hearts like Manasseh and listen when we feel the Lord pricking our hearts and consciences. May we all seek to worship and glorify the Lord as purely as we possibly can in this life, no matter the cost.