First of all, you've got to make sure that you take time to read this whole chapter at some point today (2 Chronicles 33).
I want to encourage those of you who know someone who is so far away from Jesus that THERE IS HOPE, so DON'T GIVE UP. I was spending time with Jesus in his word this morning (2 Kings 21 and 2 Chronicles 33). As I started reading 2 Kings 21, I read the name: Manasseh. I knew he was BAD NEWS! And 2 Kings portrayed him just as I remembered that it did the last time I read it. Here is a list of what Manasseh did:
- He built altars to false gods (the same altars that his father had destroyed during his reign).
- He worshiped and served the stars.
- He built altars INSIDE the house of the Lord.
- He built altars for the stars of heaven in the two courts of the house of God.
- He burned his sons as an offering to false gods.
- He used fortune-tellling and omens.
- He used sorcery.
- He dealt with mediums.
He pretty much picked things to do that would tick God off. And he succeeded in doing that. And if you only read 2 Kings 21, you would think that he died far away from the Lord.
BUT, then you read 2 Chronicles and you see the extreme that God went to get Manasseh's attention.
"The Lord spoke to Manasseh and to his people, but they paid no attention. Therefore the LORD brought upon them the commanders of the army of the king of Assyria, who captured Manasseh with hooks and bound him with chains of bronze and brought him to Babylon." — 2 Chronicles 33:10-11, ESV
God took extreme measures to get Manasseh's attention. And as I was just writing that last sentence, this verse came to my mind: "...God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance" (Romans 2:4b). Paul, in Romans, had just finished talking about God handing people over to their lusts and passions. God handing them over is his wrath. And yet, in that wrath, the heart behind it is a desire for them to repent. And notice Manasseh's response to God's handing him over:
"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." — 2 Chronicles 33:12-13, ESV
This is one of the most extreme conversions that I have ever seen in Scripture. Manasseh was absolutely changed because God took him to an extreme place so that Manasseh could experience what things were like with God.
If you have that friend who seems so far from ever wanting Jesus, be encouraged: Jesus has done it before and he can do it again. Just be prepared when he decides to go to the extreme measure to bring that person to himself. In fact, one of the most loving things that you could do for that friend is to pray that God would take them to the edge of hell so that they could find Jesus and experience his grace.
DON'T GIVE UP!!! Jesus hasn't.