03/04/Th – The Gift of Repentance

2 Chronicles 32:24-33:13; Romans 16:1-9; Psalms 26:9-12; Proverbs 10:24-25

OT: “In those days Hezekiah became sick to the point of death, so he prayed to the Lord, who spoke to him and gave him a miraculous sign. However, because his heart was proud, Hezekiah didn’t respond according to the benefit that had come to him. So there was wrath on him, Judah, and Jerusalem. Then Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart — he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem — so the Lord’s wrath didn’t come on them during Hezekiah’s lifetime.” (‭‭2 Chronicles‬ ‭32:24-26‬ ‭CSB)

“Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, imitating the detestable practices of the nations that the Lord had dispossessed before the Israelites… So Manasseh caused Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to stray so that they did worse evil than the nations the Lord had destroyed before the Israelites. The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they didn’t listen. So he brought against them the military commanders of the king of Assyria. They captured Manasseh with hooks, bound him with bronze shackles, and took him to Babylon. When he was in distress, he sought the favor of the Lord his God and earnestly humbled himself before the God of his ancestors. He prayed to him, and the Lord was receptive to his prayer. He granted his request and brought him back to Jerusalem, to his kingdom. So Manasseh came to know that the Lord is God.” (‭‭2 Chronicles‬ ‭33:1-2, 9-13‬ ‭CSB)

In 2 Kings 20, a more detailed description of Hezekiah’s illness is chronicled there. He grew gravely ill, and sent for Isaiah. Isaiah told him that the illness would lead to Hezekiah’s death. At that news, Hezekiah humbly prayed to the Lord and asked for mercy. Then the Lord spoke through Isaiah and said He would give Hezekiah 15 more years. As a sign to confirm that word, the Lord caused the shadow on the sundial to move backwards. Unfortunately, that display of mercy from the Lord was not enough to prevent Hezekiah from lifting up his heart – which is the fate of most people when they become successful and well known. However, unlike the kings that went before him, Hezekiah repented of his pride and God held back His wrath. When Hezekiah’s life finally came to an end, he died in honor.

Manasseh, Hezekiah’s son, became king when he was twelve years old and completely rebelled against the ways of his father and the ways of the Lord. I don’t believe it was because Hezekiah failed to teach his son. I wonder if it was a combination of a bad case of adolescent rebellion and “preachers kid” syndrome. Regardless the cause, Manasseh drug the nation of Judah back into idolatry. He engaged in child sacrifice and desecrated the temple. So bad was his idolatry, that the word says it was even worse than the idolatry of the Canaanites whom God removed from the land under the leadership of Joshua. Manasseh completely ignored and rejected the warnings of the prophets, and God responded by allowing Manasseh to be captured and drug off by the Assyrians. It was there, as he was imprisoned in Babylon, that Manasseh remembered the teachings of his father. As a result, Manasseh, one of the worst kings in the history of Israel, repented and sought the favor of the Lord. Manasseh earnestly humbled himself before God, and God received his prayer and restored him.

No one is ever too far from God to receive mercy and forgiveness. Earnest and humble confession and repentance is all that is required to open the doors to forgiveness and mercy. When we place faith in Jesus Christ and repent of our sin, God is faithful to save us, remove our sin from us and make us new. Then, throughout our walk as disciples of Christ, when we stumble into sin, we simply humble ourselves, repent, and maintain our life-giving relationship with the Lord. Repentance is not something to run away from. It is a gift from God that opens the doors to a life-giving relationship with him. It opens the doors to a life of peace and joy that is free from the weight of sin and condemnation. The thing that causes us to run away from repentance is our own pride. Instead of rejecting repentance, we need to reject pride. Through our humility and the gift or repentance, we will experience the mercy, grace and blessing of God.

Prayer: Lord, I thank you for the ability you have given me to initiate and maintain my life-giving relationship with you through earnest confession and repentance. Lord, by Your Holy Spirit, show me when I am drifting into pride and sinful thoughts and behaviors, that I may quickly confess, repent from my pride and sin, and set my gaze on You again. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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