2 Chronicles 33 – The Manasseh Days

10 03 2011

I have been reading through the Bible, slowly, and this morning I found myself knee deep in the life of a man that reminds me a lot of myself and almost everyone else on this planet.  As I sat and read the 20 verse account of Manasseh’s life, hot coffee in hand,  I felt very self-aware of my own life.  Although my 30 year dissertation on life has not been jammed into 20 verses, I still found myself recalling the days of old as though they were only a few verses back in my life’s story.  Let me explain, paraphrase, the life of Manasseh for you so that you can understand what I am trying to say……

Manasseh, at the ripe age of 12, became the king of Judah and he reigned in Jerusalem.  He decides, at an early age, to not worship God but to bring back the idol worship that God hates so much.  He did it all.  He reinstated the altars, the high places, the Asherah Poles and he even “bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshiped them.”  Manasseh was ushering in the old and calling it the new.  He was leading his people, the children of God, into a place of disobedience and “evil in the eyes of the Lord.”  Life goes on and the people keep worshiping the false gods that have been reinstated and then something interesting happens.  Manasseh gets crazy.  He starts sacrificing his sons, practicing witchcraft and consulting with mediums which provokes God to anger.

The Lord speaks to Manasseh, and the people, but the scripture tells us that they paid no attention to the voice of God.  So, the Lord sends an army and they capture Manasseh.  They bind him up and take him off to Babylon.  This next part of the story will not shock anyone… In transit to Babylon Manasseh is distressed and in his distress he calls out to the Lord.  The Lord hears him and sends him back to Jerusalem.  This shows Manasseh that the Lord is God.

Manasseh goes back to Jerusalem a changed man and he tries to undo all that he has helped establish in the past.  He wants all the false gods out and he wants the Lord to be the one and only God.  The people hear him and they get rid of the idols but they decided that sacrificing and worshiping could still happen in the high places instead of the designated places of worship as long as they were worshiping the Lord their God alone.

Ok, first things first, I was reading out the NIV Study Bible so that’s where my info was coming from this morning.

Now the good stuff.  I can really relate to Manasseh in a few ways.  I have at times in my life fallen victim to chasing the “idols” of the world thinking that they would bring me life, happiness and peace.  I have also ignored God when he has called my name and asked me to stop my idol chasing.  Unfortunately, after the call for change was ignored, my heart was bound and carried off….I was in distress.  I called out to the Lord and he heard me, set me free from my bondage and restored me.  I knew then that only God could love me enough to save me and set me free.  This in itself is a pretty cool testimony of God’s forgiveness, grace, love and understanding.  However, there is a piece missing from this story…..the people I was leading.

Let’s face it.  We all are leaders in some capacity.  It may be one other person or it might be millions of people.  Either way, you are leading somebody….even if you don’t realize it.
I know that I caused others to stumble with me in my search for “freedom” and in my pursuit of “life” but what was even more alarming was how upset I became when some of those that were “following” my leadership didn’t change all the way…even when I did.
Let me explain….

I made a life change and the people that were being led by me, in whatever capacity, decided that change was good but that changing 100% was not necessary…..half way was good enough.

The sad truth is this:

When we lead people astray and then we try to lead them back, we have to live with the fact that they might not come all the way back with us.  Look at the people that Manasseh was leading.  Verse 17 says it all, “The people, however, continued to sacrifice at the high places, but only to the Lord their God.”

Manasseh’s initial bad leadership eventually led to a generation of “watered down” people.  They mixed the two together.  That’s a bummer.

Do I say all of this with guilt and shame about my past mistakes? No.  I am reminded, through this scripture, how important good leadership is.  I am reminded to not chase the idols of this world because there is somebody following me.  I am reminded that there are no bad followers….just bad leaders.  The challenge that I have this morning is to lead with integrity, love, compassion, hope, grace and most of all righteousness.  I am challenged to follow Jesus closely.  If I do this then I will lead others in the same direction and that is something that I will never be distressed about.

Praise God that He is faithful to hear our cries of distress and restore us.  Let today be the day that you chase after Jesus and consequently lead others to the heart of God.