Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 24 Number 1 January 2022
Page 14

Priscilla's PageEditor's Note

A Horrible Past, A Great
Present and A Wonderful Future

Marilyn LaStrape

Marilyn LaStrapeThis title was taken from a statement made in answer to a question that was sent in to one of the Sunday morning TV programs sponsored by the churches of Christ. The question was, “Can a horrible person who has done horrible things be saved?” The short answer is, “Yes.” Both the Old and New testaments record the lives of many such people.

How can this be? Again, the short answer is, “Jesus Christ.” When Jesus died on the cross, He died for the sins of the whole world throughout the ages of planet earth! Colossians 1:21-23 speaks directly to this biblical fact. “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and irreproachable in His sight – if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I Paul, became a minister” (NKJV).

King Manasseh of Judah has been described as the prodigal king of the Old Testament, who seemed to have been a man of policy. He had a policy of idolatry, immorality, persecution and destruction. The introduction to Manasseh in 2 Kings 21:1-2 and 2 Chronicles 33:1-2 are virtually identical, the exception being his mother’s name is mentioned in the Kings account. “Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. But he did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel.”

God had told the children of Israel through the prophets, Moses being the first, that they needed to understand why these nations were being cast out. Moses told them in Deuteronomy 9:5-6, “It is not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you go in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD your God drives them out from before you, and that He may fulfill the word which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Therefore, understand that the LORD your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stiff-necked people.” King Manasseh was without question one of the most stubborn and rebellious kings that Judah ever produced! He did not walk in the steps of his father Hezekiah, who was a faithful and an obedient king during his entire 29-year reign (2 Kings 18-2 Kings 20).

The account in 2 Kings 21:1-18 covers the reign and death of Manasseh. The account in 2 Chronicles 33:1-20 covers his reign, his captivity, his repentance and restoration, and his death. Both accounts are virtually identical covering Manasseh’s reign in Judah. The major difference comes in God’s pronouncement of doom upon Jerusalem in 2 Kings 21:10-15.

And the LORD spoke by His servants the prophets, saying, “Because Manasseh king of Judah has done these abominations, he has acted more wickedly than all the Amorites who were before him, and has also made Judah sin with his idols… Behold, I am bringing such calamity upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whoever hears of it both his ears will tingle. And I will stretch over Jerusalem the measuring line of Samaria and the plummet of the house of Ahab; I will wipe Jerusalem as one wipes a dish wiping it and turning it upside down.”

The accounts in 2 Kings 21 and 2 Chronicles 33 in the first several verses catalog the horror that Manasseh brought into Jerusalem. God had told David and Solomon that they had to be careful to do all that He had commanded them, according to the whole law – the statutes and the ordinances by the hand of Moses. Manasseh outrightly rejected all of God’s commandments, statutes and ordinances! Second Kings 21:16 concludes by describing the vileness of this man. “Moreover Manasseh shed very much innocent blood, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another, besides his sin with which he made Judah sin, in doing evil in the sight of the LORD.” The concluding verse of his abominable behavior in 2 Chronicles 33:9 records, “So Manasseh seduced Jerusalem to do more evil than the nations whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel.”

Second Chronicles 33:10-13 records Manasseh’s captivity and repentance.

And the LORD spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they would not listen. Therefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the army of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh with hooks, bound him with bronze fetters, and carried him off to Babylon. Now when he was in affliction, he implored the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed to Him, and He received his entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God.

The repentance of Manasseh is noteworthy! It is a striking example of harsh stubbornness, formidable pride and ugly arrogance being stripped away during God’s reckoning with evil! When we continue in persistent unfaithfulness, God will stretch out His hand against it! Psalm 119:67, 71 say it best. “Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now I keep Your word.” “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes.”

Manasseh spent the remainder of his life mending his past actions. Second Chronicles 33:14-16 records his restoration efforts.

After this he built a wall outside the City of David on the west side of Gihon, in the valley, as far as the entrance of the Fish Gate; and it enclosed Ophel, and he raised it to a very great height. Then he put military captains in all the fortified cities of Judah. He took away the foreign gods and the idol from the house of the Lord, and all the altars that he had built in the mount of the house of the Lord and in Jerusalem; and he cast them out of the city. He also repaired the altar of the Lord, sacrificed peace offerings and thank offerings on it, and commanded Judah to serve the Lord God of Israel.

Can a horrible person who has done horrible things be saved? Yes!

I conducted a study on the New Testament books that call sin by its various names. From Matthew to Revelation, 13 of the 27 books have actual listings in certain chapters, literal types or categories of sins. For this writing, I will cite only Romans 1:18-32. Anyone who really wants to know how God sees sin will read every word of those 15 verses. They will come away with the realization that what we may think is okay is an abomination in God’s sight! Any of us reading this list will find ourselves repeatedly. For my sons, it was the “disobedient to parents,” that was the most jaw dropping! God is and will continue to be God. He wants us to know Him as He has been revealed.

Can a person who has lived a horrible life doing horrible things be saved? Yes! How? Through obedience to the Gospel message. The Gospel is the good news about how Christ came into the world to save sinners, which indicts all of us! To become a child of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords one must:

Before Christ, we had a horrible past, but now we have a great present because of Christ, and we look to Christ for a wonderful, eternal future!

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