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2 Chronicles 33:1-20 – King Manasseh – What God Can Do

As Christians, we sometimes come across people who are especially difficult. While trying to lovingly share the gospel with them, their response is vitriolic. Their love of sin and hatred of God’s ways makes us think that they are too far gone to ever turn to the Lord. But this is a human response. While studying Mark 10:23-31, we found that “with men it is impossible, but not with God.” God is able to do what seems improbable and even impossible. The king mentioned in this chapter is a good example of what God can do.

  1. Manasseh rejected God (2 Chron. 33:1-9).

    What does it say?

    Manasseh was twelve when he became king and reigned for 55 years in Jerusalem. But he did evil in God’s sight just like the terrible things done by those God had cast out of the land. He rebuilt the high places of worship his father had broken down. He made altars for Baals, wooden images, and worshiped stars and planets. He even built altars in the temple which was dedicated to the Lord’s name and in the temple courtyard. He caused his sons to pass through fire, practiced soothsaying, witchcraft, sorcery, and consulted with mediums and spiritists. God was angry with him for this wickedness. He even set a carved image in the temple dedicated to the Lord. God had promised not to remove His people from the land as long as they were careful to obey His commands. But Manasseh seduced the people of Judah and Jerusalem to do more evil things than their predecessors had done.

    What does it mean?

    People make their own choices.

    Although his father had been a faithful king for the Lord, Manasseh chose to reject the Lord. There is no doubt in my mind that Hezekiah was a good example to his son and that he admonished him to do what was right. But Manasseh made his own choices.

    The allure of wickedness is very strong.

    The things listed in this passage don’t seem very alluring to us. Why would someone want to worship the stars, burn his children, and get involved in witchcraft? But for Manasseh, all of these things seemed more attractive than living a holy life for the Lord and obeying His commands. The practices of false religions are often cruel but they also include some pleasure for those who take part. Manasseh was so involved that he seduced the people to commit these evil deeds with him.

    The Lord can be provoked to anger.

    In verse 6, we learn that Manasseh’s wicked actions provoked God to anger. When someone is provoked, it usually takes more than one action. But after repeated attempts, that person is provoked and becomes angry. With God, we know that his patience is much greater than our own. He knows what sins are being committed and must be grieved by all that people do today. But He is patient. But His patience does not last forever. Continued sinfulness eventually earns His anger. And that is what happened here.

    How does it apply?

    You can’t take responsibility for the sins of your children.

    When our children make choices that are not good, it is easy to blame ourselves for not doing enough as their parents. But in this case, Manasseh’s father was a godly man who was a good example. Each person who sins will have to take responsibility for his own sins and their results.

    Ezekiel 18:20 – “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.”

    While parents should seek to train their children well, the children must eventually make their own decisions.

    You must take temptation seriously.

    There is something about certain temptations that make people do things that they never thought they would have done. The allure of sin is very great. We face the of lusts of our flesh, sight, and pride. And the world and the devil are also against us. So, we must protect ourselves with the armor God had provided (Eph. 6:10-18). Take sin seriously and prepare for it.

    You must not presume upon God’s mercy.

    Seeing how long God waited for Manasseh to repent should not give us the idea that He will always be patient with sin. When we talk to people about their need to repent and trust Jesus, we should remind them that God is patient (2 Pet. 3:9) but that His patience will come to an end at some point (Rev. 20:11-15). His mercy should lead people to repentance (Rom. 2:4).

    2 Pet. 3:9 – “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

    Rom. 2:4 – “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?”

  2. God intervened (2 Chron. 33:10-17).

    What does it say?

    The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his subjects but they would not listen. So, the Lord sent the Assyrian army to capture him. They took him with hooks, bound him with bronze shackles, and carried him off to Babylon. When he was afflicted there, he asked God for help, humbled himself, and prayed to God. God received his prayer and brought him back to Jerusalem. This confirmed to Manasseh that the Lord was God.

    After his return, Manasseh built a tall wall around Jerusalem’s west side. He also put military captains in fortified cities in Judah. He took away the idols from the temple and all the altars that he had built throughout Jerusalem and cast them out of the city. He also repaired the altar of the Lord and offered various sacrifices on it to thank God. As king, he commanded the people to serve the Lord as well. But the people still sacrificed on the high places but now only to the Lord.

    What does it mean?

    God will eventually judge sin.

    The Lord attempted to turn Manasseh’s heart. He sent prophets (see 2 Chron. 33:18) to speak to him and the people, but they would not listen. So, God punished the king in a very humiliating way. The once proud king had a hook in his nose, was shackled, and then carried off to Babylon. Why did God wait so long? Why did He eventually do something and not right away. This is God’s patient way of working with sinful people. He tries to get their attention and to turn them back, but, at some point, they get the consequences of their sin.

    God listens to the prayer of repentance.

    While in Babylon, King Manasseh humbled himself and repented of his sin. We don’t know how long it took for him to come to this place, but it did happen after he got to Babylon. Thankfully, God is merciful and both heard and received his prayer. It goes along with what Solomon prayed many years earlier. “If my people which are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray, then will I hear from heaven… .” We learn from this that God is willing to forgive those who truly repent of their sins against Him.

    True repentance will result in a changed life.

    When Manasseh came back to Jerusalem, we see a great change in his demeanor. He removed all of the idols and altars he had used to worship false gods. He also repaired the altar of God and sacrificed to the Lord. And this time, instead of seducing the people to do wickedness, he commanded them to serve the Lord. This is proper evidence that shows that true repentance had taken place.

    How does it apply?

    You must recognize God’s purposes for judgment.

    When God brings judgment on a sinner, it is not always final judgment. Sometimes, God wants to use the judgment to get their attention. I can think of several reasons for bringing judgment on someone. First, the judgment shows how serious the crime is. If left unchecked, a sinful person will not recognize how wicked he has become. God’s judgment is often a wakeup call for that person. Second, it is a warning to others of what God will eventually do. Third, the judgment is often used by God to bring someone to repentance. This is why we must allow God’s judgment to have its perfect work in people’s lives so that it can accomplish his purpose.

    You must live a life of repentance.

    What God wants to see in a sinner’s life is true repentance. Too often people cry out to God for help and then go back to their old ways as soon as the calamity is past. But God expects there to be the “fruit of repentance.”

    Matthew 3:7-8 – “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, ‘Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance.'”

    If you are truly repentant about your sin against God, then you should live a changed life. When someone is saved, God changes their life (2 Cor. 5:17) but this should continue in a desire to always live in a way that pleases the Lord. This is why Peter tells us to add to our faith (2 Pet. 1:5-11). Are you living a life of repentance?


If the narrative of Manasseh’s life had ended at verse at verse 11, we would not have been surprised. Manasseh was an extremely wicked man who supported and propagated wickedness in Jerusalem. If God had taken his life, no one would blame Him. His influence led many people to reject God and to live for Satan. However, the rest of his story shows that God intervened where we would have said it was impossible.

We can look at numerous people in the Bible who were “impossible” cases. The demoniac of Gadera, Saul of Tarsus, and Manasseh are three prominent examples. From our perspective, these people would never be saved. But God, who is rich in mercy, intervened and did the impossible. He loved the unworthy and changed their lives completely.

Can God do that today? Yes, He can.