You’ve heard of kids turning 180 degrees away from the values of their parents? Well, this is one of those situations. Hezekiah was a good leader of his country. He began his reign at 25 and was king of Judah for 29 years. But after he died, his son, Manasseh, became king. Manasseh was only twelve years old when he inherited carte-blanche authority in his country (how many of you would want to see a twelve-year old be your mayor or governor or president?). He reigned for 55 years.
The summation of his life is given us in 2 Chronicles 33:2, “He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, following the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites.” Some of the detestable practices he engaged in were astrology, witchcraft, and seances. He also corrupted the Temple and sought to turn his country away from the Lord to worship other gods.
The worst thing he did, though, was he “sacrificed his children in the fire in the Valley of Ben Hinnom…” (2 Chronicles 33:6) He actually threw his screaming, terrified young children into burning trash dumps as WORSHIP of the gods he followed! Can you believe how heartless this maniac was?
As a result of such evil, “the Lord brought against him the army commanders of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh prisoner, put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon.” (2 Chronicles 33:11) Manasseh, this once-powerful king, was paraded through the streets of Babylon like a bull, led by a ring through his nose.
Could such a wicked, self-absorbed, evil man be changed? Could he ever turn his life over to God? Could he ever find forgiveness after all the terrible things he had done, for all the lives he had destroyed? The answer is YES. “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; so He brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God.” (2 Chronicles 33:12–13)
Was his humility before God authentic, or was it just another short-lived example of fox-hole repentance? We are told that when Manasseh returned to his throne in Jerusalem, he sought to reverse the evil he had done and bring people back to God. His countrymen, however, did not have the same desire to follow his new-found faith.
What we learn from the life of Manasseh is that anyone can humble themselves before God and find new life in Him. Some people think, “I’m too far gone. God would never want me. I’ve done too many bad things.” You probably have heard friends say, “If I ever step into a church, the roof will collapse.” But that is not true. No one is too bad. As long as a person has breath, they can turn to the Lord. That’s why Jesus died for us. “We ALL, like sheep, have gone astray, EACH OF US has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us ALL.” (Isaiah 53:6)
A history of doing “bad” things does not disqualify you from having a love-relationship with Jesus Christ. Contrary to what some believe, Christianity is not only for “nice” men, women, and children.
When the Lord Jesus died for sins on the cross, He didn’t die only for “little white lie” types of sins. He died for ALL sins, even the most gruesome ones you can think of. Remember the thief dying on the cross next to Jesus? With his final breaths, this criminal said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” Immediately “Jesus answered him, ‘I tell you the truth, today you will be with Me in paradise.’” (Luke 23:42–43) We’ll see this man in Heaven!
Deathbed confessions are valid, but please don’t wait till you are on your deathbed to place your faith in Jesus Christ. Whatever your state, the invitation is open today, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13)