There is something odd about reading 2 Kings vs 2 Chronicles today. Both are an account of King Manasseh, but they are different. In reading 2 Kings, you would believe that all hope is lost. Manasseh was full of evil. The account in 2 Kings mentions mass murder, then his death. You would think that this is the story of another hopeless king. But that is not true, 2 Chronicles tells the rest of the story.
As we see in 2 Chronicles, Manasseh’s evil has consequences. The Lord allowed him to be captured, bound with chains and taken to Babylon. This should have been the end for him, but it wasn’t. Instead, Manasseh does a curious thing. He repents.
But while in deep distress, Manasseh sought the Lord his God and sincerely humbled himself before the God of his ancestors. 2 Chronicles 33:12 (NLT)
The best part of the story comes next. How exactly would you expect God to handle an evil, mass-murdering leader?
And when he prayed, the Lord listened to him and was moved by his request. So the Lord brought Manasseh back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh finally realized that the Lord alone is God! 2 Chronicles 33:13 (NLT)
That’s one powerful prayer! We don’t learn much about it from 2 Chronicles, except that Manasseh turned to God, humbly. I imagine that much of his prayer mirrored that of David’s from Psalm 71. Consider the first five verses:
O Lord, I have come to you for protection;
don’t let me be disgraced.
Save me and rescue me,
for you do what is right.
Turn your ear to listen to me,
and set me free.
Be my rock of safety
where I can always hide.
Give the order to save me,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
My God, rescue me from the power of the wicked,
from the clutches of cruel oppressors.
O Lord, you alone are my hope.
My cynical heart wonders what Manasseh’s response had been if God had chosen not to return him to Jerusalem. Would he have remained faithful? That thinking is a dark path that fails to trust in who God is.
Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands. Deuteronomy 7:9 (NLT)
1,000 generations. Chat GPT estimates that at 20,000 years. Jesus promises that it is much longer.
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 (ESV)