The contrast between Manasseh and Josiah is so striking. Even reading the words on the page summarizing Manasseh’s evil practices makes my stomach turn. If you are interested in reading a little more about Manasseh’s story, read 2 Chronicles 33-34. I was surprised to read that he too humbles himself to God after a lifetime of evil. And God shows him mercy.
When I read this story about two different kings leading in two very different ways, I asked myself: how am I like Manasseh? How am I like Josiah? And, what does this story tell us about God?
Manasseh didn’t trust God (clearly). “He practiced sorcery and divination, and he consulted with mediums and psychics. He did much that was evil in the Lord’s sight, arousing his anger.” Sorcery and psychic readings are something I’ve never toyed with, but I can admit to a willingness to know the future. There are lots of tv shows, books and even games out there that appeal to this desire in people, because it’s a pretty consistent longing in all humans. What’s going to happen? I tend to think that if I just know what’s going to happen, I won’t be anxious, angry or impatient. Not only are these activities (consulting mediums, etc) directly disobeying God (Deut. 18:9-13), but it demonstrates a lack of faith in him. Loving God is trusting him and giving him control. This is terrifying! Yet freeing.
To be honest, I struggled to find a way to relate to Josiah. Adolescence was not exactly my shining moment. But his story greatly encouraged me to take parenting seriously. God does not have an age requirement before he starts using us. If you’re not a parent, there are still ways to get involved in raising up good kids. Children are the future leaders of our church and our world. Foster care, children’s ministry, youth group and local kids programs are just a few opportunities that are out there. I’m convicted this morning to take my role seriously as a parent, an aunt, a friend, a neighbor and a church member to children and teens out there.
God goes a long way to get a hold of our hearts. I’d encourage you to read those chapters in 2 Chronicles. What can we learn about forgiveness and mercy from this story?