2 Chronicles 33:12-13
"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."
My emotions are so mixed when I read the story of Manasseh. How could he take the godly heritage of his father Hezekiah and run so far in the other direction? How could Hezekiah's son be the one who "led Judah and the people of Jerusalem astray, so that they did more evil than the nations the LORD had destroyed before the Israelites?" Then I am reminded of the godly heritage I received from my father, and I am convicted by how many years I worshiped so many other gods and influenced others to do the same.
What the LORD allowed Manasseh to do and to suffer in the process of leading him to repentance reminds me of how long-suffering and patient our God is as He pursues those who are His. Thinking of Manasseh's life caused me to remember Saul of Tarsus. Saul did everything in his power to destroy the church. Who would ever have thought Saul would do anything except breath "threats and murder against the disciples?" Paul understood both himself and his salvation with clarity. In 1 Timothy 1:15 he said, "The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost."
Just as the LORD God was patient, long-suffering, and persistent as He pursued Manasseh and Paul, he was with us also. Our conversion may not have been as dramatic as Manasseh or Paul, but it was the faithful, loving Father who brought us to the same place.
Thank you, Father, for my godly father, who just like You, never gave up on me. Thank You that when I was in distress and sought Your favor and humbled myself, You listened to my plea even though I had run so far away from You. I know the only reason I would respond in repentance is because of Your action in my life. Like Manasseh and Paul, I know the LORD is God.
Reading Malachi 1 causes me to squirm. The people of Israel's attitude toward the LORD reminds me of mine at times.
In the NLT, the LORD tells them "I have always loved you." To which the people reply "Really? How have you loved us?" I can almost hear them say "What have you done for me lately?" When things are not going the way I think they should, those words might not come out of my mouth, but my attitude sure can express it.
The LORD says, "A son honors his father, and a servant respects his master." He accuses the people of not honoring or respecting Him because they refuse to bring their best to Him. He was referring to their animal sacrifices which were to be perfect. Instead, they brought their rejects. When I honestly consider what I return to the LORD, I must admit it is often the leftovers.
In Mark 12, Jesus sits in the temple watching as people bring their offering. Many brought a significant amount to place in the offering box, while the widow brought all she had. Those who gave a large amount probably did not affect their standard of living. But the widow's offering most definitely did, since she gave all she had, not the leftovers.
The last accusation the LORD makes of the Israelites is their attitude of weariness in serving Him. I understand why on two occasions (Galatians 6:9, 2 Thessalonians 3:13) Paul instructs us to not "grow weary in doing good."
Holy Spirit, thank You for the conviction of Your Word. Lord God forgive me for being more like the Israelites than I care to admit. I know I can act as if You have not done anything for me lately knowing full well it is You that provides every breath I breathe. You deserve the very best I have to offer because You gave Your Only Son for me. I am sure Jesus grew weary of putting up with sinners like me, but You finished the Father's assignment for His glory and my good. I desire to complete the tasks He lays before me with delight in serving a worthy Master.