“Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-five years. 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. 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. And he burned his sons as an offering, and used fortune-telling and omens and sorcery, and dealt with mediums and with necromancers. He did much evil. Manasseh led Judah astray, to do more evil than the nations whom the Lord [had] destroyed.
“The Lord spoke to Manasseh and to his people, but they paid no attention. Therefore the Lord brought upon them the army of Assyria, who captured Manasseh with hooks and bound him with chains of bronze and brought him to Babylon. 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. 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. And he took away the foreign gods from the house of the Lord, and all the altars that he had built. He restored the altar of the Lord and offered on it sacrifices of peace offerings and thanksgiving, and he commanded Judah to serve the Lord.” 2 Chronicles 33:1-3,6,9-13,15-16
Imagine a half-century regime that promoted rampant idol worship, child sacrifice, and sorcery, and what it would do to its monarch and the fabric of his country. Manasseh was proud and wicked through and through, over years and decades. Yet, the LORD pursued him, and the appointed time came when he cried out and humbly entreated Him. God transformed his heart. His outlook. His inclinations and motivations. His life’s drive and purpose. Manasseh abolished all that had drawn his affection from the true God, and reestablished proper worship after a lifetime of running in the opposite direction.
The Almighty can bring this kind of transformation in anyone. We may struggle with besetting sins, and bemoan we will never have victory, never rise beyond our weak flesh in certain areas. But God is able! He who conquered the grave breaks the chains of sin and gives resurrection power to demolish strongholds in our lives. Entreat Him! (Romans 7:15,18-25; 1 Corinthians 15:54-57; 2 Corinthians 9:8; 10:3-6; Jude 24)
There may be loved ones for whom we despair, who have charted a course of destruction or rebellion and seem beyond repair. Take heart! Pray without ceasing! Expect God to pursue, save, and transform! (Ephesians 3:20; Hebrews 7:25)
“His love my heart has captive made,
His captive would I be,
For He was bound, and scourged and died,
My captive soul to free.
He breaks the power of canceled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean;
His blood availed for me.” ~Charles Wesley (1707-1788)
Heavenly Father, guard me against complacency and discouragement with self, and lethargy or hopelessness in prayer for others. Fix my trust in You Who can do all things, and do all things well to the praise of Your glory. (Mark 7:37)