When Brokenness Brings Forgiveness.
“Now that he was in trouble, he went to his knees in prayer asking for help – total repentance before the God of his ancestors.” – 2 Chronicles 33:12 MSG
Manasseh took the throne of Judah at the age of 12, and he would prove to be one of the worst kings that nation had ever had. It didn’t take him long to rebuild the pagan shrine his father Hezekiah had worked so hard to tear down. He reinstituted the worship of Baal and Asherah, reversing the religious reforms his father had set in place. He even erected pagan altars in the Temple and practiced human sacrifice, offering up his own sons on the fire. He practiced sorcery, witchcraft, divination, and consulted with mediums and psychics. This guy was bad to the core. He was a spiritual chameleon, changing his religious stripes to fit whatever circumstance he found himself in. He had no allegiance to God. In fact, he ignored God. God had given him warnings about what would happen if he continued to live in open rebellion to His Word, but Manasseh would not listen. So God sent the Assyrians against Judah and they captured Manasseh, taking him prisoner – with a ring through his nose and bronze chains on his hands and feet. The mighty Manasseh was now a prisoner in the pagan city of Babylon. He had rebelled against God and God had given him what he deserved.
But the story doesn’t end there. Manasseh’s pride had led to his downfall. His spiritual adultery had ended up with him divorced from God’s presence. But in the midst of his distress, he called out to God. It doesn’t say he called out to Baal, Asherah, or any of the other pagan gods Manasseh had worshiped in his glory days. No, he “sought the Lord his God and sincerely humbled himself before the God of his ancestors” (2 Chronicles 33:12b NLT). In his darkest moment, Manasseh prayed to God. The word used to describe Manasseh’s condition is “distress.” It can mean “to be bound or tied up.” It is a condition that leads to distress or pain. It is a circumstance that causes discomfort. With a ring through his nose and chains on his hands and feet, Manasseh was bound up and feeling down. He was broken. So he humbled himself before God. In his humiliating condition, he humbled himself. The Hebrew word for “humbled” is one that carries the idea of “bending the knee.” He willingly brought himself under subjection to God. And he did so completely. This was not some half-hearted submission to God. Manasseh’s humility is described using a Hebrew adverb meaning “completely, absolutely, or thoroughly.” Manasseh’s humility was sincere and severe. He was serious. And when he prayed, God listened. And because of his sincerity, God was moved. So moved, that He took Manasseh from Babylon and returned him to Jerusalem. He released him from the chains and bondage of the enemy and restored him to his original place on the throne of Judah. What a turnaround! What a reversal of fortune. We’re told “Manasseh finally realized that the Lord alone is God!” (2 Chronicles 33:13b NLT). His brokenness lead to an awareness of God’s power and supremacy. None of his other gods came to his aid in Babylon. No other gods were able to break the chains of bondage and humiliation. Only God.
Manasseh was a changed man. He made reforms in his life and his kingdom. He made changes to the way he lived and ruled. He removed the pagan altars and encouraged the people to worship God alone. His sinfulness had resulted in brokenness. His brokenness had resulted in humbleness. His humbleness had ultimately restored him to usefulness. Psalm 51:17 is a timeless reminder to each of us. “The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” Brokenness is a key to humbleness, which leads to holiness. That is the story of Manasseh.
Father, I don’t like brokenness. In fact, I avoid it like the plague. I try to run away from it and escape it at all costs. But often times, the decisions I make lead to brokenness. I find myself chained and bound by my choices to disobey or disregard You. I end up bound up and feeling down. But it is at those moments that I tend to turn to You. In my distress I look to You. I am much more willing to humble myself when I have been humiliated by my poor choices and bad decisions. I am more apt to realize how much I really need You. So Father, thank You for brokenness. Never let me forget that it is a key to holiness. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men