“But Manasseh led Judah and the people of Jerusalem astray, so that they did more evil than the nations the Lord had destroyed before the Israelites.” (2 Chronicles 33:9)
Manasseh doesn’t sound very faithful or heroic, does he? So why include him in a devotional series dedicated to “heroes of the faith”? I have to admit, when one reads the account of Manasseh’s wickedness, it feels pretty dirty to put him in the company of heroes like Hezekiah and Isaiah. But then I remember some of the other terrible sinners who God was able to forgive and redeem – Samson, Saul, Andrew Boll – and I am reminded that a faith hero is measured only by the love that God demonstrates through him.
Manasseh’s heinous sins led the entire nation into exile and slavery. His decision to abandon God and perform terrible acts of idolatry caused him great suffering and shame. Finally, Manasseh wakes up and realizes that his rejection of God is at the heart of all the troubles he and Judah are facing: “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…Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God” (2 Chronicles 33:12-13).
Manasseh was a legendary sinner, which makes God’s restoration of him to the one true faith one of the greatest displays of His loving, redeeming power in the Old Testament. Manasseh finally acknowledges God to be the True King, and uses the remainder of his rule to correct many of the wrongs he had earlier committed. He is a hero of the faith because he shows us today the path to salvation: Repent, and trust in a merciful God for life and restoration.
The depth of Manasseh’s sins shows all the more the awesome power and love of a God who would go all the way to the cross for the sake of miserable sinners like you and me. Like Manasseh, in our state of defeat and bondage we turn toward the hills, looking for a Deliverer. What a glorious sight when we see the Son rising there, swooping down upon our enemies to bring us freedom and hope!
“Look, there on the mountains, the feet of one who brings good news, who proclaims peace!” (Nahum 1:15)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I thank and praise You for the example of sinners as wretched and miserable as I am who show me the power of Your love to redeem. Grant that I may always turn to You for deliverance from the bondage of sin. Help me to bring the good news of peace and life to everyone around me today, through Jesus Christ, Your Son. Amen.