Some people are beyond God’s grace, or so the prevailing logic tells us. Some folks are so hard-hearted they can never be reached, and we tend to buy into that myth. However, 2 Chronicles 33 presents a starkly different view of the power of divine discipline and God’s grace in the life of King Manasseh.
Manasseh was the wayward son of a godly father. His dad, King Hezekiah, could tell stories of God’s deliverance. In contrast, Manasseh, led the nation to a new low in depravity—idol worship, child sacrifice, occultism, and much, much evil.
1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. 2 And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel. 3 For he rebuilt the high places that his father Hezekiah had broken down, and he erected altars to the Baals, and made Asheroth, and worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. 4 And he built altars in the house of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, “In Jerusalem shall my name be forever.” 5 And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord. 6 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. 7 And the carved image of the idol that he had made he set in the house of God, of which God said to David and to Solomon his son, “In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my name forever, 8 and I will no more remove the foot of Israel from the land that I appointed for your fathers, if only they will be careful to do all that I have commanded them, all the law, the statutes, and the rules given through Moses.” 9 Manasseh led Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem astray, to do more evil than the nations whom the Lord destroyed before the people of Israel.
God spoke graciously and kindly to Manasseh. But he ignored God for 55 years. God finally said, “Enough is enough,” and used a much harsher approach to get his attention.
10 The Lord spoke to Manasseh and to his people, but they paid no attention. 11 Therefore the Lord brought upon them the commanders of the army of the king of Assyria, who captured Manasseh with hooks and bound him with chains of bronze and brought him to Babylon.
In the midst of oppression and captivity, Manasseh came to his senses. He humbled himself, and cried out to God. Whether he was sorry for what he did or sorry he got caught, he was truly sorry and begged for mercy. And God heard and forgave. In his grace, God restored him back to his kingdom. And in the end, Manasseh knew that the Lord was God.
12 And when he was in distress, he entreated the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. 13 He prayed to him, and God was moved by his entreaty and heard his plea and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God.
The story of Manasseh should be an encouragement to us not to stop praying for family and friends who have walked away from God. God can still break through and bring repentance. It may take 50 years and his severe mercy, but he can break the hardest heart. No one is beyond the reach of God’s grace.