Friday, May 29, 2020

The Vision (5.29.20): Look at Manasseh, and then look to Christ

Image: CRBC Meeting House, Louisa, Virginia, May 2020.

Note: Devotional is taken from last Sunday's sermon on 2 Kings 21:

But they hearkened not: and Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than did the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the children of Israel (2 Kings 21:9).

2 Kings 21 is a sad and discouraging chapter. So much potential, so much spiritual promise seems wasted by Manasseh. All the great gains of godly king Hezekiah were rolled back and thrown aside. The result for Judah was national disaster, defeat, and exile.

So, this account is placed before us a warning. We are not to be like Manasseh.

We are not to reverse all the reforms won by our spiritual fathers.

We are not to raise up high places and idols.

We are not to import into the worship of God pagan and foreign practices.

We are not to pass our sons through the fire.

We are not to traffic in the occult or try to turn the faith into some manipulative and pragmatic scheme to get what we want in this life.

May it not be said of us, as it was of Judah when they ignored God’s Word in favor of the folly of Manasseh: “But they hearkened not” (v. 9).

Let us not use our influence upon other to seduce them to do that which is evil, as Christ taught in Matthew 18:6: “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”

There is one final thing to be said about Manasseh that is not recorded in 2 Kings 21. It is found in 2 Chronicles 33 (see especially vv. 11-17). It describes how at one point during his rule, Manasseh was taken captive by the Assyrians, and in his “affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers” (v. 12). It relays that he prayed to God and intreated him, so that the LORD heard Manasseh and allowed him to be brought back to Jerusalem (v. 13). It adds: “Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was his God” (v. 13). It even says that Manasseh tried in his last days to take away the pagan practices, but the people continued to sacrifice in the high places (v. 17).

The Chronicler seems to take this as a genuine conversion.

The historian of 2 Kings, however, wanted to make sure we heard the warning. There were things that Manasseh could not undo once they had been done. He and the nation deserved judgment that would make the ear tingle (v. 12). He had been measured and found crooked (v. 13a). He was like a dish wiped and set aside (v. 13b).

In the portrait of Manasseh’s sin, we are reminded that this is what we are like apart from Christ. The rap sheet has been dropped to the floor, and it is filled with our misdeeds. But there is one who is a friend of sinners. There is one who was commended toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, he died for us (Rom 5:8). It is Christ, the righteous plumb line, who knew no sin, who laid down his life a ransom for many, who was buried, who was raised again the third day, who appeared for 40 days to his disciples, and who ascended to be seated at the right hand of the Father in glory. The one of whom Paul wrote in Hebrews 10:37: “For yet a little while, and he will come and will not tarry.”

Let us look at Manasseh, and then look to Christ.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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