Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem: But did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, like unto the abominations of the heathen, whom the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel. For he built again the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down, and he reared up altars for Baalim, and made groves, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them. Also he built altars in the house of the Lord, whereof the Lord had said, In Jerusalem shall my name be for ever.
So Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen, whom the Lord had destroyed before the children of Israel. And the Lord spake to Manasseh, and to his people: but they would not hearken. Wherefore the Lord brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon. And when he was in affliction, he besought the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, And prayed unto him: and he was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord he was God.
II Chronicles 33:1-4, 9-13
I was encouraged by reading these verses, not because of all the horrible things Manasseh and the Israelites did, but because it shows the nature of the great mercy of the Lord.
Manasseh was an evil king. The first several verses of this chapter detail his evil doings. He behaved like the heathen. He worshipped Baalim, even going so far as to build altars to him in the Lord’s house- imagine the sacrilege! He sacrificed his children to Baalim. He dabbled in witchcraft and with wizards and “familiar spirits.” He set a carved idol in the Lord’s house. And he caused the people to reject the Lord as well. All of these things are detailed in the first nine verses.
After all of this great wickedness, in verse ten we still find the Lord speaking to him and the people. That, in itself, is great mercy and compassion. Even after all their evil, God is still trying to get them to return to Him. But Manasseh and the people “would not hearken.”
The Lord then brought judgment on them in the form of the Assyrians. In this affliction, Manasseh finally prayed unto the Lord and humbled himself. And guess what? The Lord heard him and answered him and “brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom.” One of the most wicked kings in the history of Israel, after years of pure evil, turned to the Lord and the Lord had mercy on him.
Sometimes we may think that we are beyond the mercy and goodness of the Lord, but Romans 5:20 still says “… But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” We truly do serve and good and merciful God!