Wonder of God Meditations 30: Clean Up!
2 Chron 33:15 “He got rid of the foreign gods”
Verses 15 & 16 really need reading in their entirety. Manasseh does a real clean up, he puts right all the wrong he had been part of previously. What we are seeing here is total transformation. If you have forgotten how bad he was, reread verses 2 to 6. This is an incredible story, one of the most incredible in the Old Testament. If you and I had been God we’d probably have killed off Manasseh early on, but our God is a God of mercy and grace (learn again Ezek 18:23,32) who looks to bring life and transformation and blessing, for Manasseh and for you and me.
But let’s look behind our verse today and note the utter transformation that has taken place. He had “rebuilt the high places,” and “erected altars to the Baals and made Asherah poles. He bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshiped them.” (v.3) Moreover “He built altars in the temple of the Lord… altars to all the starry hosts” (v.4,5) AND “He sacrificed his children in the fire in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, practiced divination and witchcraft, sought omens, and consulted mediums and spiritists,” (v.6) and still God hadn’t killed him!
Why? It’s almost unbelievable. After all Israel had once stoned a man simply for blasphemy (Lev 24:10) but now this man with such a catalogue of wrongs against God and against the Law, still lives! How can such a thing be?
The answer has to be the grace and mercy of the Lord but still, what allowed Manasseh to live and the others to die? The answer has to be what God knew. God knew that with the right pressure applied, Manasseh would repent AND put everything right in the country, he would restore the land by cleaning out every vestige, every sign of idolatry, witchcraft and spiritism, from the Land.
The Lord alone knows what He can achieve with each individual and He alone knows who is so hard-hearted that they will never come to repentance – like Pharaoh who opposed Moses in Exodus. So thus we have seen the classic example of someone the Lord knew He could bring to repentance and so, despite all the terrible things Manasseh did, the Lord spared him, turned him, and used him to restore the land. Yet there is a further aspect to this. It sems the things Manasseh did in the early part of his reign so polluted the land – with the people following – that subsequent kings followed a similar path of disobedience that eventually led to further disciplinary actions and eventual destruction of Jerusalem because, according to the text, “of the sins of Manasseh and all he had done.” (2 Kings 24:3) Even more incredible that Manasseh lived. We’ll think some more on this.