The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they ignored all his warnings. So the Lord sent the commanders of the Assyrian armies, and they took Manasseh prisoner. They put a ring through his nose, bound him in bronze chains, and led him away to Babylon. But while in deep distress, Manasseh sought the Lord his God and sincerely humbled himself before the God of his ancestors. 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!
After this Manasseh rebuilt the outer wall of the City of David, from west of the Gihon Spring in the Kidron Valley to the Fish Gate, and continuing around the hill of Ophel. He built the wall very high. And he stationed his military officers in all of the fortified towns of Judah. Manasseh also removed the foreign gods and the idol from the Lord’s Temple. He tore down all the altars he had built on the hill where the Temple stood and all the altars that were in Jerusalem, and he dumped them outside the city. Then he restored the altar of the Lord and sacrificed peace offerings and thanksgiving offerings on it. He also encouraged the people of Judah to worship the Lord, the God of Israel. However, the people still sacrificed at the pagan shrines, though only to the Lord their God. (2 Chronicles 33:10-17)
After Hezekiah, Manasseh’s story reads like a train wreck. Detestable practices. Pagan shrines. Images of Baal. Asherah poles. Pagan altars inside God’s Temple. Sorcery, divination, witchcraft, mediums, and psychics. Idols in the Temple of the Lord. And in all of this, Manasseh leads the people of Judah into these sins too. Is there any hope?
There doesn’t seem to be. Assyrian armies arrive on Judah’s doorstep. A ring through Manasseh’s nose. Bronze chains. Captivity in a foreign city. By then, Manasseh finds himself in “deep distress.”
God’s judgment falls hard on Manasseh. He seems to get exactly what he deserves for his ongoing wickedness. But then, unexpectedly, Manasseh turns and finds mercy. He humbles himself, and God is moved by Manasseh’s request.
“Notice how God is both kind and severe” (Romans 11:22). God punished Manasseh severely for his blatant sin. But God restored Manasseh without hesitation.
When God disciplines his people, it is not to ruin them but to refine them. He does not wish to destroy them but to destroy their sin. He does it for our good. But more than that, he does it so that we will recognize “that the Lord alone is God!”