How Far Does The Offer of God’s Forgiveness Go?
How far does the offer of God’s forgiveness go? I mean how bad is too bad?
If you do a really bad thing, is the offer of forgiveness rescinded? How about if you continually do wicked?
What if you not only do wicked things, but also draw many others into your wickedness, what about that? Is there no forgiveness for you? Your wickedness is not kept to yourself but infects say thousands even. At that point is hell your only option?
And what about this. What if you are wicked for years and years, does that doom you and make it so you have no chance to get right with God?
God is all knowing. He knows the beginning from the end, therefore He knows who will call upon Him with a repentant heart and who will not. Since that is true. How far is God willing to go to get someone saved? To what length is He willing to change circumstances and bring things into a life to get them saved? To what lengths will God go?
And if someone gets saved, will there be a changed life? Can a person do a complete 180 after salvation?
And what about this, say a wicked person gets saved, are there no consequences of all the bad they did?
O and here is a big one. If forgiveness is always available, then why not put off repenting? Enjoy my sin now and get saved later. What about that?
I think these are some very serious questions. Valid questions. Questions that deserve answers. I am glad that we do not have to guess, God wanted us to know and put the answers into His Bible. And in more than one place. We could go to many places in the Word of God to answer these questions. But today we are going to look at a man’s life in 2 Chronicles chapter 33. God arranged it and recorded it so that we can see many of the answers to these questions in one man’s life.
2 Chron 33:1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem:
Stop. Details are often given for a reason. So let’s take note before we go on. He started to reign at 12 years old when his father Hezekiah died. That is the way it worked. When the king dies the son is king even if he is only 12 years old. And Manasseh is going to reign 55 years. So he will be 67 years old when he dies. That will be important later. For the time being just file that away. King Manasseh dies at 67 years old.
2 But did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, like unto the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel.
3 For he built again the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down, and he reared up altars for Baalim, and made groves, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them.
He rejected God’s rules, rejected God’s authority, and refused to reign as God wanted. King Manasseh did what God calls evil and abominations.
His father was a pretty good King, he believed in the one true God and did much to promote correct worship in the land. His son did not take after his father.
The book of 2 Kings tells us: Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Hephzibah.
2 Kings says the same thing as 2 Chron. He starts reigning at 12 years old and did evil. The only difference is in 2 Kings is inserted and his mother’s name was Hephzibah between he starts to reign and he did evil. I think what is inferred here is his mother bears some responsibility for how he turned out.
We know he sure did not follow after his father. Whether mom was the cause or not we cannot say for sure. But you can say that she did not succeed in getting or keeping Manasseh on the right path in life. He built altars for Baalim. A horrible false god.
And it says that he worshipped all the host of heaven and actually served them. So he is very active in it. It is not just a sideline of 1 hour a week, no he served, he built groves and altars and served the host of heaven and Baalim.
So far we see Manasseh is called evil by God and doing abominations, and very involved in false god worship and promoting it to others by building groves and altars in the land.
But that is not all, it gets worse.
4 Also he built altars in the house of the LORD, whereof the LORD had said, In Jerusalem shall my name be for ever.
5 And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD.
He is not only promoting worshipping false gods, Manasseh is stopping the true worship of the one true God. He built altars to his false gods and put them in God’s house. In His Holy Temple. Altars for all the host of heaven in both of the two courts of the house of the Lord.
This would completely stop correct worship of our Lord. So he is promoting false god worship and at the same time stopping others from correctly worshiping the one true God.
This is really bad. But wait, it gets worse.
6 And he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.
He caused his children to pass through the fire. That is some kind of horrible ritual to his false gods. There is some debate on exactly what it was. Some think that it was human sacrifice with the goal of killing the child. Others think that they made the child pass through the fire and some lived and some died from the burns later.
We are starting to get a picture of just how bad this guy was. It says he used enchantments and used witchcraft. Casting spells. And dealt with a familiar spirit. That is a fallen angel, also known as a demon.
This king was into some very dark, very wicked stuff. He dealt with wizards and wrought much evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger.
God has every right to be angry here. He is not only doing evil himself, he is promoting others to also do it, and stopping the correct worship of the true God. He took over God’s house for his wickedness.
7 And he set a carved image, the idol which he had made, in the house of God, of which God had said to David and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen before all the tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever:
8 Neither will I any more remove the foot of Israel from out of the land which I have appointed for your fathers; so that they will take heed to do all that I have commanded them, according to the whole law and the statutes and the ordinances by the hand of Moses.
God gave them a wonderful land and promises to them. And this is how they treat Him. The people let the King put an idol, a carved image in the house of God. The place where God has chosen to put His name forever.
9 So Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen, whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel.
The people followed Manasseh into all of this wickedness. They are now doing worse than the people God kicked out of the land so Israel could have it. When God gave Israel the Promised Land the people who were already there were wicked and serving wicked false gods. Kicking them out was actually what you would call justice.
Now God’s chosen people are doing worse. If those before were kicked out because of wickedness, and Israel is doing worse, it will also be justice for Israel to be kicked out.
God does not want to do that, so God tries to get them to listen.
10 And the LORD spake to Manasseh, and to his people: but they would not hearken.
This is the love, forgiveness, and mercy of God. Justice must be done, and it will be, it is coming. But even when judgment is due, coming, and even when being executed, God still has His arms out. He is still offering mercy. And wants people to know about it. You see that here and you see it over and over again in Jeremiah and other places.
God always is offering love, forgiveness, and mercy and He always wants someone to let people know. This is why we are doing a big push during what used to be Christian Holidays. Most celebrate Christmas now in a totally secular way, but even so, by celebrating it at all they are at least acknowledging the existence of Jesus. It is a good time of the year to let them know about God’s love, forgiveness, and mercy. We are going to do our best to reach 2,000 households Thanksgiving thru Christmas.
People need to know, and our Lord wants them to know. And even when a nation on a wholesale level departs from and rejects God, like our nation today and like Israel back in Manasseh’s day, God always kept a remnant. He always reserved unto Himself a few servants who would do the work and tell.
The main prophet in Manasseh’s day was Isaiah. And there were others. Isaiah was not alone. We are not told here who God used. But it says the Lord spake to Manasseh, and to his people: but they would not hearken.
Here is the free will of man. On occasion God spoke directly to a man such as Moses, but normally God spoke thru His prophets. He had men tell Manasseh. He had men tell the thousands of people. But they would not listen. They refused the love, forgiveness, and mercy of God.
2 Kings tells us: But they hearkened not: and Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than did the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the children of Israel.
Manasseh seduced them. Each person has an individual will and each person has an individual responsibility to choose for themselves. Manasseh did not force them, but he made the evil look seductive. Manasseh was wicked but he was very talented at leading people. In mass they decided to follow him into this rather than follow God.
God has tried to get Manasseh to see the light. Manasseh refused. What will God do now? Since Manasseh refused words and reason and prophets and history. He had all of that pointing to the truth. It came time for a different approach. The God of all power. The God who is on the throne and has everything at His disposal is going to act.
11 Wherefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon.
God used the king of Assyria and his army. The bible says that God can turn the heart of the king any way He wants. So our Lord just had the king of Assyria stop what he was doing and send his captains on an errand for the Most High. Of course they would not know it or acknowledge it but it was God doing it all the same.
And since they were on an errand for the one True King there was no stopping them. They marched in took Manasseh and marched out. God took notice of one man, and God moved a king and the captains of the host for one man.
Verse 11 says that they took Manasseh among the thorns. Ouch. Bound him in fetters and carried him all the way to Babylon. Manasseh is now in affliction. We are not told details about what these thorns did to him. They could have been poisonous or maybe just the wounds got infected. We are only told that he is in affliction. He is also in a prison in Babylon and in fetters. They did not have comfortable prisons and good food and libraries and so on. Manasseh is in affliction in many areas.
12 And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers,
God is all knowing, and He knew exactly what it was going to take to finally get Manasseh’s attention.
This should start to answer some of those questions. Does God stop trying to reach bad people? I mean really bad people. Stubborn, and for years and years wicked, and God takes notice and uses a King and an army, and thorns, and fetters, and prison in another country. How far will God go? A long way!
Even for a man like Manasseh who heard the truth before and rejected. I have a King James Chronological Bible. They put the scripture into date order and put dates on everything they can. Manasseh starts reigning in 697B.C. at 12 years old. He gets right with God in 670.
Now Manasseh out of a free will decides to humble himself greatly it says before God and he finally prays.
13 And prayed unto him: and he was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD he was God.
He reigned in wickedness for 27 years. And God did not give up on him. He got saved at 39 years old.
We do not have the words of his prayer recorded. Only that he prayed humbling himself greatly before God. I bet it was some prayer. He had a lot to humble himself about. Serving the host of heaven, seducing the people into it.
2 Kings tells us: 16 Moreover Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another; beside his sin wherewith he made Judah to sin, in doing that which was evil in the sight of the LORD.
Manasseh was responsible for the shedding of a lot of innocent blood. Some believe that is referring to the making children pass thru the fire for his false gods. It could be other innocent blood or a combination. Whatever the case Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another.
He had a lot to repent of. A lot of humbling to do. He besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers,
And God heard his prayer and returned Manasseh to Jerusalem just as easily as he brought him there. That fact alone testifies that his prayer and repentance were genuine.
We started with some serious questions. How far does the offer of God’s forgiveness go? I mean how bad is too bad? God’s forgiveness is offered even to someone as bad as Manesseh. No one is too bad. God’s forgiveness is offered even to those like Manesseh who were habitually wicked and even drew thousands into his wickedness.
Even after being wicked for 27 years. At 39 years old he gets right with God.
That answers the question about can one find forgiveness even if they have been wicked and rejecting God for years.
How far is God willing to go to get someone saved? To what length is He willing to change circumstances and bring things into a life to get them saved? To what lengths will God go? We see God will go a long way to save anyone that He knows out of His perfect foreknowledge will out of a free will call upon Him.
He will do whatever it takes. In this case He used a foreign king and his army as well as nature, thorns, and chains, and prison.
That leave us with three questions left unanswered.
- If someone gets saved, will there be a changed life, can a person do a complete 180 after salvation?
- Say a wicked person gets saved, are there no consequences of all the bad they did?
- If forgiveness is always available, then why not put off repenting? Enjoy my sin now and get saved later. What about that?
All three of those are answered in the remaining verses.
14 Now after this he built a wall without the city of David, on the west side of Gihon, in the valley, even to the entering in at the fish gate, and compassed about Ophel, and raised it up a very great height, and put captains of war in all the fenced cities of Judah.
He starts caring about the people. Before he is hurting the people and shedding innocent blood. No longer. He is now protecting the people.
15 And he took away the strange gods, and the idol out of 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 cast them out of the city.
The false beliefs and false worship is gone out of his life. And more than that. It is gone out of the land. He tears it all down. All of it. All of the altars that he made, all of the strange gods and the idol. He makes it right and gets rid of it all.
16 And he repaired the altar of the LORD, and sacrificed thereon peace offerings and thank offerings, and commanded Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel.
Before he was stopping the correct worship of the one true God. A total 180 here. He is now leading the way in correct worship. He repairs the altar of the Lord and sacrifices peace offerings and thank offerings. And instead of pointing people to the false gods, He now points them to the Lord. A total 180.
He had a changed life. A real change. He did a total 180. That answers that question.
But what about consequences. We see a partial answer to that in verse 17.
17 Nevertheless the people did sacrifice still in the high places, yet unto the LORD their God only.
Part of what Manasseh got the people into, he never got out of them.
Manasseh had made groves to worship the false gods. And altars in the high places. Manasseh got them to stop the worship of false gods but could not get out of them worshipping in the wrong places. God’s way was to go worship at the temple which still had a lot of types and pictures of the Savior who was coming.
The groves and high places had none of those types and pictures. The method of worshipping the true God was corrupted and Manasseh had a lot to do with that. He could never make that right. He could not fix it. The damage was done. The consequence remained.
And that is the way it works. Manasseh received the miracle of forgiveness. Yep a miracle as in supernatural. God moved to bring about the circumstances in his life that was needed. And God’s ability to forgive such evil is also so far above us. His forgiveness is nothing like ours. It is a miracle.
Manasseh found mercy and forgiveness but that does not make the consequences of what he did before go away. None of the innocents that died came back to life. Not one. All still dead. None of those families got their loved ones back. Not one. Not everyone who he seduced into wickedness stopped it. Many did but not all. They just started doing it under cover of darkness.
Manasseh has a new heart. We see it in his actions. Now concerned about protecting the people and concerned about their walk with God. You can see it. He is changed and he cares now. And now he must live with the horrible things that he had done.
And there are personal consequences that remained to his immediate family.
Using the King James Chronological Bible we find out that Manasseh was 39 when he saw the light and that he was 45 when Amon his son was born.
Amon was born after Manasseh was saved (to use a New Testament term). 6 years after he was saved. That wickedness has been out of this new father’s life for 6 years.
His son never saw his father worship or serve the host of heaven. He never saw his father kneel to an idol or cause children to pass thru the fire. So you would think Amon would turn out good. Born after Manasseh is saved and actively worshipping the Lord.
20 So Manasseh slept with his fathers, and they buried him in his own house: and Amon his son reigned in his stead.
2 Kings tells us: Amon was twenty and two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned two years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Meshullemeth, the daughter of Haruz of Jotbah.
21 Amon was two and twenty years old when he began to reign, and reigned two years in Jerusalem.
22 But he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, as did Manasseh his father: for Amon sacrificed unto all the carved images which Manasseh his father had made, and served them;
23 And humbled not himself before the LORD, as Manasseh his father had humbled himself; but Amon trespassed more and more.
Again we have the mothers name inserted between the king starts to reign and he did evil. Just like it was with Manasseh. He had a good father in Hezikiah but he turned out evil. Manasseh lived a new life during Amon’s life but Amon turned out evil
And how did Amon find out about the idols his father worshipped. How did he learn their names. Who took the idols after his father tore them all down. Who hid them and saved them for his son. Someone did. The person in the best position to achieve all of that would be his mother. It is a circumstantial case, I know.
If not the mom then someone like her who had access to him and the position to hide the idols. A Kings son did not go to public school. He was protected, few would have the kind of access needed.
That someone was influenced by Manasseh’s false worship before he got saved. It is a left over consequence of his wickedness before he got saved. The answer to the question is clearly you can get saved and change, but the consequences of your wickedness often remain.
That leaves one question. If forgiveness is always available, then why not put off repenting? Enjoy my sin now and get saved later. What about that?
We see the answer to that in Manasseh’s son Amon. Amon was not given the same length of time as his father to choose to get right with God. Amon only had two years and his time was up.
24 And his servants conspired against him, and slew him in his own house.
it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: No one knows when their time is up and after you die comes the judgment. After a man dies it is too late to change the outcome of the judgment.
Waiting to get right with God is a dangerous game. One that often has tragic eternal results.
God’s word is amazing. So many questions answered in this short section of scripture. And the answers to these questions should have an impact upon God’s children.
Since no one is too bad to be saved. Since no one had been wicked for too many years to be saved.
Since getting saved can result in a 180, lives can be dramatically changed.
Since God is all powerful and will go to great lengths using His power in the circumstances of life to draw people to Himself.
Since consequences remain after someone gets saved, then the sooner they get saved the more new consequences can be avoided.
Since God’s forgiveness, mercy, and love is always available and since He wants people to know.
And since no one is guaranteed tomorrow. None of the lost have any guarantee that they will be around next year to get saved.
Since all of that is true. Should we not want to be involved is letting people know that God’s love, forgiveness, and mercy is available.
For these reasons and a few others, like He is worthy, and wanting to please Him. These reasons is why I set things up as I have. For God to bless us and be happy with what we are doing, we must be involved in doing His work. Primarily spreading the gospel and also doing the little things he wants done like helping the poor and fatherless.
Everything that is cheerfully given goes into one fund and dispersed. That way if you give anything you are automatically involved in the local spread of the gospel and in missions and in helping the poor and fatherless. This way we have 100 percent involvement in missions and spreading the gospel.
And because of the answers to the questions we covered today, is why we are pushing to put out around 2,000 tracts between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
People need the Lord. No one is too lost. Lives can be changed.
I am thankful for the opportunity and the privilege that we have to be involved in getting God’s love, forgiveness, and mercy delivered to people’s homes and mailboxes.