Sunday, March 2, 2014

Believe and Pray

I've been reading 2 Chronicles during my Quiet Times. I always love reading the histories of the kings. They absolutely fascinate me. One thing I find intriguing is the epitaph that each king is given. Often, there is a king who lived most of his life well, but toward the end of his life he messed up and turned away from God. Yet his epitaph will say something to the effect that he "did right in the sight of The Lord" - sometimes despite having ended his life in rebellion to God.
Manasseh, however, is a king whose story is rather the opposite. People often cite Hezekiah (Manasseh father) as an example that we should trust God's will in things and not ask him to change anything. They say that God intended Hezekiah to die, but he begged for longer life and his wish was granted. But the result was that his son Manasseh was born, a king who "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." Manasseh is remembered as the worst king Judah ever had. So people say that Hezekiah should not have had his extra 15 years. And if you only read the story in 2 Kings there does seem to be truth in that. Yet that is not the end of Manasseh's story, although you have to go to 2 Chronicles to get "the rest of the story" as Paul Harvey would say. In fact, Manasseh was taken captive by the king of Assyria, and in his imprisonment he turned to God. He was later released and sent back to rule over Judah again. The fact that the Assyrian king let him go is in itself is amazing. What is even more amazing is that Manasseh destroyed all the idols he had built and ordered the Israelites to worship the true God and forsake idols. Can we say witness? Manasseh may have led the people to sin, but they didn't exactly go kicking and screaming. They were followers. They followed their king into sin, and they followed him back out of it.

And that still isn't the end of Manasseh's story. His son, Amon, reigned after him. Amon was evil, and God only saw fit to let him reign two years before he died at the tender age of 24. But his son, Josiah, (Manasseh's grandson, who would never have been born if Manasseh had never been born) was perhaps the greatest king Judah ever had, next to David. He brought a great revival to Judah and to Israel as well!

So I say pray on, ladies. If God tells you something you don't like, don't be afraid to ask him to change it. Even Jesus asked God to change something he didn't like! Just make sure your heart is in neutral when it comes to the answer. Ultimately, God is in control and will grant or deny as he sees fit. We have to trust him either way, knowing he knows "the rest of the story".

(These stories start in 2 Kings 18 and 2 Chronicles 29 if you're interested in reading them yourselves.)