Have you wondered how long these changes from the Wuhan Virus might last? One verse plus a little research opened my eyes to a few better questions and thoughts to consider.
“Therefore the Lord brought upon them the commanders of the army of the king of Assyria, who captured Manasseh with hooks and bound him with chains of bronze and brought him to Babylon” 2 Chronicles 33:11 ESV
I was 800 words into writing another blog when curiosity about that verse from some writing by Dr. Ray Rooney combined with the Holy Spirit to change my direction. I decided I better listen. I hope you will too.
Rooney wrote about what isn’t a popular subject, but especially apt for our times now. First published in September 2019, “Some People Need a Disaster” shares from 2 Chronicles the story about Manasseh. Sound harsh? Consider where we are today with the COVID-19 crisis – a pandemic creating pockets of pandemonium here and abroad.
First, a brief recap of Manasseh to catch us up to the verse above. Manasseh had good roots and had been raised on the path to be the king of Judah. After he became king, the good he had learned and seen was ignored, and he did a tremendous amount of evil in the sight of the Lord.
So we are on the same page, evil is breaking God’s commands and laws from the Holy Bible. Too often we soften this fact in the church today: sin is evil. (Yes, this is basic, but the relevance will bloom as we go.)
The evil Manasseh did was more than what God had punished before as explicitly stated in 2 Chronicles 33:9 ESV, “Manasseh led Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem astray, to do more evil than the nations whom the Lord destroyed before the people of Israel.”
Then God intervened through the nation of Assyria which is now northern Iraq and southeastern Turkey. Assyria would have seemed as far away for King Manasseh as Wuhan, China does for us.
Assyrian soldiers captured, chained, and hooked Manasseh and took him to Babylon as written in 2 Chronicles 33:11. Then in 2 Chronicles 33:12 we learn, “And when he was in distress, he entreated the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers.”
My research shows within these two verses of almost 60 words are hidden between three to five months of arduous and definitely tortuous travel from Jerusalem to Babylon. Tortuous? Was Manasseh led by these hooks like a bull is with the ring in his nose? Did the capturing army see how close to death they could punish this king while still delivering him to Babylon?
How far was the journey to Babylon? Two Christian resources indicate between 900 and 1070 miles and one current secular source of 1678.2 miles. For you detailed readers, I did go with the shortest distance, but it was during Ezra’s time, over a century later
This journey of a thousand miles started when Manasseh stepped away from God's ways.
The key of all this to us now: God used the pressure of pain and time to soften Manasseh’s hardened heart so he had another opportunity to turn back to Him.
Have we in our own strength and sin found ourselves like Manasseh and Samson: deceived, captured, and chained?
Maybe we in our distress will turn back to the Lord too.
Today’s instant gratification culture has seeped into our ideas of repentance, so beware of the culture which teaches differently than what the Bible shows. We should remember Manasseh’s lessons above while adding the realization repentance doesn’t guarantee the results we may hope for with decreased pain or time. God will do what glorifies Him. How did God glorify Himself in Manasseh’s situation?
“God’s mercy is seen in restoring Manasseh. However, His mercy is also on display,” wrote Rooney, “by sending the Assyrian king to put hooks in his nose and chains on his hands and feet. Without that there would have been no cry to God for help.”
We should respond with repentance not out of the desire to influence God’s response to us, but we should respond with repentance to be influenced by God more and more.
So, here we are with our world shaken just a bit. Will it be a blessing in disguise? I suggest it will if we repent of any sin we have loved more than God. If you do not have a saving relationship with God, then please visit here or you can even go there if you need to chat related to spiritual concerns about the new coronavirus, COVID-19.
So let us pray first for our love to grow in and through Christ, and then for the world.
Lord, teach us to love Your ways more. If it is good and we’re calling it evil, let us hear and obey. If it is evil and we’re calling it good, soften our hearts quickly, so we can turn and obey. Lord, use these times to prepare a good soil for Your Word in our hearts and the hearts of those lost in darkness without You. Protect Your Word in those hearts who receive it in joy. Amen.” May the Lord bless and keep you.