“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.” (ESV – Read the chapter)
Manasseh’s story should give us a great deal of hope. He was the most evil and overtly pagan of any of the kings to rule over Judah. He essentially took his father Hezekiah’s legacy and turned it on its head. If there was some practice that would offend the Lord, he jumped into it with both feet. He led the whole nation astray and primed the pump for terrible judgment.
This was judgment he faced too. He was captured by the Assyrians which would have been a little like being captured by ISIS today. They were vicious and bloodthirsty and hauled him off to their capital city with hooks in his body.
But then something happened. Manasseh’s spirit finally broke. All of God’s attempts to get him to repent and turn to what was right finally worked. He humbled himself and sought the Lord for help. And do you know what happened? Of course you do. You just read it. The Lord accepted his repentance, released him from his captivity, and restored him to his kingdom. His lifestyle after this revealed that his repentance was real too, and not just a ploy to relieve his suffering. He made reforms in the kingdom and moved in the direction of the Lord once again.
The point here is twofold. If God could forgive Manasseh for all of his sins and restore him in faithful love to do what he had been put in place to do before falling to pieces (namely, to rule over Judah), then He can forgive us no matter how great our sin may seem to us. But, if we are going to receive and live in this grace, we have to follow, not just Manasseh’s example of repentance when the wheels have fallen off, but also the pattern of his lifestyle of faithfulness once they have been restored,in order to demonstrate that the thing was not just an act, but a genuine turning of our hearts from wrong to the Lord. If we don’t, we run the risk of landing ourselves in the same trouble as before or worse. Our God is absolutely faithful in His love for us. This demands nothing less but our own faithfulness to Him.