Draw Close to God
“He Softened the Face of Jehovah”
“I FELT so unworthy,” says a man who had strayed from his godly upbringing. When he began to take steps to turn his life around, he feared that God would never forgive him. But this repentant sinner found hope in the Bible account about Manasseh, recorded at 2 Chronicles 33:1-17. If you have ever felt unworthy because of past sins, you too may find comfort in Manasseh’s example.
Manasseh was raised in a godly home. His father, Hezekiah, was one of the most outstanding kings of Judah. Manasseh was born about three years after his father’s life had been miraculously extended by God. (2 Kings 20:1-11) No doubt Hezekiah viewed this son as a gift resulting from God’s mercy and tried to instill in him a love for pure worship. But the children of godly parents do not always follow in their parents’ footsteps. Such was the case with Manasseh.
Manasseh was not more than 12 when he lost his father. Sadly, Manasseh “proceeded to do what was bad in Jehovah’s eyes.” (Verses 1, 2) Was the young king influenced by counselors who had no regard for true worship? The Bible does not say. What it does tell us is that Manasseh descended to gross idolatry and cruelty. He set up altars to false gods, offered his own sons in sacrifice, practiced spiritism, and put a graven image in Jehovah’s temple in Jerusalem. Stubborn Manasseh refused to heed repeated warnings from Jehovah, the God whose miracle had enabled his birth.—Verses 3-10.
Finally, Jehovah allowed Manasseh to be taken in fetters to Babylon. There, in exile, Manasseh had a chance to reflect on his course. Did he now see that his impotent, lifeless idols had failed to protect him? Did he think back to the things his godly father had taught him as a child? Whatever the case, Manasseh had a change of heart. The record says: “He softened the face of Jehovah his God and kept humbling himself greatly . . . And he kept praying to Him.”* (Verses 12, 13) But could a man who had committed such gross sins really be forgiven by God?
Jehovah was touched by Manasseh’s sincere repentance. God heard his pleas for mercy “and restored him to Jerusalem to his kingship.” (Verse 13) In proof of his repentance, Manasseh then did what he could to rectify his wrongs, clearing out idolatry from his realm and urging his people “to serve Jehovah.”—Verses 15-17.
If you feel unworthy of God’s forgiveness because of past sins, take heart from Manasseh’s example. This account is part of God’s inspired Word. (Romans 15:4) Clearly, Jehovah wants us to know that he is “ready to forgive.” (Psalm 86:5) It is not the sin but the heart condition of the sinner that matters to him. A sinner who prays with a contrite heart, abandons his wrong course, and makes determined efforts to do what is right may ‘soften the face of Jehovah,’ even as Manasseh did.—Isaiah 1:18; 55:6, 7.
Suggested Bible reading for January:
Young’s Literal Translation here reads: “He . . . appeased the face of Jehovah his God.”