Divine Forbearance

According to 2Kings, his reign was pretty much the straw that broke the camel’s back. Sure, there would be one more government mandated revival in Judah after him, but Manasseh’s determination to do “evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel” (2Chron 33:2), kind of put it over the top. Judah’s days of freedom were numbered.

His father’s 30 year reign had cleansed the temple, restored temple worship, and revitalized Jerusalem as the epicenter of God’s glory. But Manasseh undid it all–and with a vengeance. He rebuilt the high places. He erected altars to pagan gods. And he worshiped the creation above the Creator. He pursued the occult. He sacrificed his sons. And he desecrated the most holy place by moving in carved images displacing the LORD God. Thus, “Manasseh led Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem astray, to do more evil than the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the people of Israel” (2Chron. 33:9).

But God in His infinite patience wasn’t done pursuing the wayward king and His off-the-rails people. First, He sent prophets, but they paid no attention. So he sent an army to defeat them and carry them off in chains. And that got the king’s attention.

Therefore the LORD brought upon them the commanders of the army of the king of Assyria, who captured Manasseh with hooks and bound him with chains of bronze and brought him to Babylon. And when he was in distress, he entreated the favor of the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. He prayed to him, and God was moved by his entreaty and heard his plea and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God.

(2Chronicles 33:11-12 ESV)

Unbelievable! If anybody deserved what he got, it was this schmuck king. Instead, when he prayed and humbled himself before the LORD (and this wasn’t some self-imposed “humble yourself in the sight of the Lord” humility–this was a you-are-backed-into-a-corner-and-have-only-one-thing-left-to-do humility), “God was moved by his entreaty.”

And I am moved this morning as I chew on God being moved. I marvel again at grace. I wonder at heaven’s response to repentance. I’m in awe as I consider this reminder that no matter how far one strays there is always a way back.

And on what basis is God able to forgive such over the top transgression? How can a just God justly deal with the great debt owed by one who has purposed through his life to snub God and pursue the ways of the nations around him? How can a holy God cleanse the defilement dumped at His feet?

God could forgive because a mediator would come who would plead for sinners, “Father, forgive them for know not what they do?” A just God could show mercy because He already ordained a time when the price would be paid in full. A holy God could deal with the junk because He had already purposed to provide a heaven made covering of righteousness for all who would honestly humble themselves in contrition and confession.

. . . for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith. This was to show Gods righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.

(Romans 3:23-25 ESV)

God was moved by Manasseh’s entreaty because of divine forbearance.

Despite a lifetime of rebellion, God still listened for the cry of a humbled heart because He had made perfect provision for a perfect redemption since the foundation of the world.

O what a Savior!

O what amazing grace!

To Him be glory now and forevermore!


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