2 Chronicles 33:1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign; he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. 2 He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the abominable practices of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel… He did much evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger…11 Therefore the LORD brought against them the commanders of the army of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh captive in manacles, bound him with fetters, and brought him to Babylon. 12 While he was in distress he entreated the favor of the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his ancestors. 13 He prayed to him, and God received his entreaty, heard his plea, and restored him again to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD indeed was God.
Manasseh was a terrible king. The man didn’t walk away from the ways of God, he RAN away from God. And of course, his faithlessness came home to roost when the Assyrian army came against Judah and took Manasseh captive. V.11 says he ended up in chains in Babylon as a prisoner. The logical next step would be for Manasseh to be humiliated publicly and put to death – but that’s not what happened.
“(Manasseh) prayed to (God) and God received his entreaty… and restored him again to Jerusalem and to his kingdom.”
Some years ago I was distributing communion during a worship service for homeless people under a freeway in downtown San Antonio. There was quite a crowd that day so the line for communion was long. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a man get in line, then get out of line. In and out. In and out. It’s like he couldn’t make up his mind if he was going to actually take communion or not. Ultimately he left the line and didn’t return.
After worship I made it a point to find the man and ask him about this. We talked for a good 30 minutes as the man broke down in front of me. The man, who I would estimate was about 40 years old at the time, told me he hadn’t received communion since he was a boy. He’d lived a life of drug addiction, petty crime, incarceration, and then more addiction upon his release. There was something about the invitation to receive the sacrament that drew him in, but then he’d remember all of his sins and he would walk away.
The man was so broken, so humble in his description that I was deeply moved myself. I told him that it is never too late to turn to the Lord, that our heavenly Father stands waiting to receive us no matter what. I told him that our Lord Jesus died on the cross and was raised from the dead just so that people like me and him, sinners to the core, could be restored – like Manasseh in our passage from today. So the man and I knelt down together and prayed. We confessed our sins and received God’s forgiveness. Then we took communion together as the sons of God we are. Grace abounds.
Friends, it’s never too late to turn to the Lord. Is today your day? Lord, let it be so. Amen.