Manasseh was the son of Hezekiah, the king who had done what was right in the eyes of the LORD, carrying out reform to bring the people back to God. After Hezekiah died, Manasseh became king at the age of twelve and his character came out loud and clear when he took the throne.
And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD... For he rebuilt the high places that his father Hezekiah had broken down, and he erected altars to the Baals, and made Asherahs, and worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. And he built altars in the house of the LORD, of which the LORD had said, "In Jerusalem shall my name be forever." And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. And he burned his sons as an offering in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, and used fortune-telling and omens and sorcery, and dealt with mediums and with necromancers. He did much evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger. — 2 Chronicles 33:2-6, ESV
He went the complete opposite direction than his father had gone. And God was angry. But notice the beginning of 33:10 - The LORD spoke to Manasseh and to his people, but they paid no attention. He called out to them. He was wanting to talk with them but they ignored his word. So he went to the next step. He brought up the Assyrian army who captured Manasseh and led him away with hooks.
This was God pouring his wrath out on Manasseh. This was God handing him over to the commanders of the army of Assyria. But why? Why would God go to such extreme measures?
Because of his kindness.
In Romans 1 Paul brings up the topic of "the wrath of God." After the wrath of God is mentioned, there is a phrase that is repeated a few times: God gave them up...
- "Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts..." (Romans 1:24)
- "For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions..." (Romans 1:26)
- "And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done." (Romans 1:28)
God gave them up. But why? Because of the fact that "God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance" (Romans 2:4).
Notice the response of Manasseh after being captured and led away with hooks. He humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. He humbled himself. And this led him to do the following:
- he entreated the favor of the Lord...
- he prayed...
And God's response: "...and God was moved by his entreaty and heard his plea and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom" (2 Chronicles 33:13). God was moved. God forgave. God restored. And this is what he still does for us today.
I am not saying that every bad situation is thrown at us by God. Some of it is just life, but God's sovereignty is still over "just life." There is a purpose in the pain. But I will also admit that there are things that God hands to us for the purpose of calling us back to himself. As hard as the situation is, his kindness is the motivation of his heart. Kindness? Yes. As far as Manasseh was from following God, God went to extreme measures to get his attention, bringing him back to a "relationship" with himself. And it worked, because after of this "Manasseh knew that the LORD was God" (2 Chronicles 33:13).
God's response to Manasseh's rebellion seems pretty extreme. Think about it: God used an army to get Manasseh to stop long enough to make him see what he was doing. But when has God not used extremes to get our attention or to accomplish his will? Remember the cross? That act of Christ suffering on behalf of mankind was extreme, excruciating, and horrible. But when we see it from God's perspective, that act of wrath was motivated by a heart of kindness, for God so loved the world...
I don't know about you but I'm thankful that God's kindness is so extreme.