You really have to read both of our readings* to get the complete picture of King Manasseh, Hezekiah’s son. was twelve years old when he became king. We know that God extended Hezekiah’s life by fifteen years, (Isaiah 38:5) so Manasseh was born during Hezekiah’s last fifteen years as king. Extending Hezekiah’s life turned out to not be a good thing.
Manasseh was an evil king and didn’t follow in his father’s footsteps. (2 Kings 21:2-7; 2 Chronicles 33:2-7) Instead, he practiced idol worship, sacrificed his own sons to Baal, and even erected pagan altars in the Temple. The end of 2 Kings 21:6 and 2 Chronicles 33:6 summarizes Manasseh’s life. He did a huge amount of evil in the LORD’s sight, angering him. (2 Kings 21:6; 2 Chronicles 33:6 CSB)
But as Paul Harvey used to say, “And here’s the rest of the story” which only appears in our 2 Chronicles reading. God punished Manasseh and His people. While God’s people were unrepentant, Manasseh did repent. (2 Chronicles 33:10-17)
If you are a Believer, regardless of how far you may have drifted (or run away) from God, He will receive you if you will only turn back. Turning back is called repentance. It involves a change of mind and direction. If you are a Believer, you already did this when you came to faith in Christ.
But repentance isn’t a once-for-all turning back to God. I would argue that repentance is an every-single-day turning back to God, re-dedicating your life to His ways and purposes, and rejecting your own flesh-driven ways and purposes. (Galatians 5:16-25)
Repentance is a sign of being a true Believer. True Believers will persevere until they cross over to the other side of eternity when they are reunited with Jesus. (Matthew 24:13) Not repenting is a sign of having a cold, hard heart and not being a true Believer. (Ezekiel 11:19–21) If you think you are a Believer, but have no desire to follow God in obedience, you need to go back and ask God if you are truly a Believer!
I will give them integrity of heart and put a new spirit within them; I will remove their heart of stone from their bodies and give them a heart of flesh, so that they will follow my statutes, keep my ordinances, and practice them. They will be my people, and I will be their God. But as for those whose hearts pursue their desire for abhorrent acts and detestable practices, I will bring their conduct down on their own heads.” This is the declaration of the Lord GOD.
Ezekiel 11:19–21 (CSB)
Take a few minutes today and ask God to show you where your life lines up in the earlier part of the Galatians 5 passage (the works of the flesh) and where your life lines up in the latter part of the same passage (the fruit of the Spirit).
I say, then, walk by the Spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I am warning you about these things—as I warned you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.
Galatians 5:16–25 (CSB)
* Chapters covered in today’s reading:
2 Kings 21
2 Chronicles 33