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"In [Manasseh's] 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 NIV).
"I will make them abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth because of what Manasseh son of Hezekiah king of Judah did in Jerusalem" (Jeremiah 15:4 NIV).
Our God is compassionate and forgiving (Daniel 9:9). Yet one has to be very careful in relating with Him especially in keeping His commandments. The reason is that if one sins against Him and later on repents, one would still face the consequence of one's sins (Proverbs 11:21; 16:5).
The story of Manasseh attests to this. Manasseh was one of the worst kings in Israel. He was the direct opposite of his godly father, Hezekiah. He did many detestable things to provoke the Lord. Tradition has it that he was the one that killed prophet Isaiah. After God had warned him and his people, and they did not heed to God's warning, God made him a prisoner in the court of another powerful king. However, in his distress, he repented and asked for God's forgiveness. The compassionate and forgiving God heard his prayers and restored him back to his kingdom. He later spent his life doing good things (see 2 Chronicles 33). Nevertheless, his people faced the consequence of his atrocities (see Jeremiah 15). The Lord promised to make them suffer because of what he did.
One should not view this as injustice on the part of God. The people also had their own share of the blame, but that is not the emphasis here. The emphasis is a particular repented and forgiven person was made as a reference point for the impending judgment. This indicates that though God forgave Manasseh, the punishment of his sins were still there.
The punishment of Manasseh's sins might not be directly on him, but the cases of David and Paul were different. David committed the sins of adultery and murder. When confronted by prophet Nathan, he repented and said the prayer found in Psalm 51. Undoubtedly, his sins were forgiven, but he paid dearly for them (2 Samuel 12:13-14; 13-21). Paul (formerly Saul) persecuted the disciples of Jesus Christ. When he had an encounter with God, God promised, "I will show him how much he must suffer for my name" (Acts 9:16 NIV). He did suffer.
What are you doing now? Is it good or bad? You may be thinking of later repentance. However, hear the words of Solomon: "Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil" (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 NIV).
In His service,
Bayo Afolaranmi (Pastor).
This message was first sent out on November 14, 2004.