Day 105—The End is Near!!! “Resistance” 2 Chronicles 33:1 – 36:23
April 15, 2021, 9:09 AM

Day 105—The End is Near!!!  “Resistance” 2 Chronicles 33:1 – 36:23

By "the end" I meant the end of Chronicles, which has been a bit of a trial for me to read.

In any case, questions, and some answers, that came up for me as I read:

How was it even possible that God forgave Manasseh? Alistair has been telling me all along “Oh, Manasseh is the MOST evil of all the kings!” Chronicles gives us a much broader picture of his evil deeds, and he does sound truly evil—bringing his idols into the Temple itself, sacrificing his own child to Moloch (the reference to ‘passing through fire’ in 33:6), wizards, soothsayers and sorcery—oh my!!!

But God does forgive him, and Manasseh ends up his reign as being ‘good’. Really?

While Manasseh does seem to be genuinely repentant while he is being held captive, we are not to notice his behavior nearly as much as we are to note God’s mercy, forgiveness and restoration. Much as Hezekiah restored the temple by carting out all the garbage, Manasseh had a powerful amount of work to do on his own heart and his kingdom in order to end up in God’s favor once more. Wouldn’t it be tempting for you or I to be vengefulness or to lack trust in a cry of repentance from such a bad guy? But God sees to the heart, God is the God of second, third and endless chances for redemption, and this is one place where it seems clear to me—God is the star of this story, and Manasseh is simply a bit player.

How did an eight year old boy, who reigned  for just over 3 months, become an evil king? Actually, I have no real answer for this one because Jehoiachin is mentioned so briefly, but I did want to know what an 8 year old could do in 3 months that made him evil. Certainly Jehoiachin was not actually reigning and those people around him, who had served his evil father, Jehoiakim, were probably running the kingdom, but this strikes me as a heavy burden for an 8 year old, and he then disappears into Babylon with King Nebuchadnezzar, who kidnaps him.

We then read about both the exile and release of Jerusalem in less than 10 verses of scripture—talk about a quick ending to a tortured history! These ten verses cover at least 70 years of history that profoundly affected the Judahites for the rest of their own history. The story of a people being forced from their homes is all-too familiar when we think of modern day Jews and the Holocaust, and we need to wrestle with the effects that our scriptures may have had in this diasporic experience. In other words, the interpretations of our Christian scriptures in particular have unwittingly created some difficulties between Jews and Christians and we need to be aware of our own biases, prejudices and viewpoints when it comes to tensions in our faith relationships with others. The sense of exile is always present for our brothers and sisters who are Jews, and this is a defining characteristic of what it means to be a Jew and to long for a homeland, one that God has ordained, as we have read in our scriptures thus far.

And now a tangent—our contemplation for today was thought-provoking to me. The writer, Dallas Willard,  a prominent Christian writer/theologian/philosopher  (Alistair called him a ‘heavy thinker’),  said that our gospel—remember that gospel means “Good News”—has become a ‘gospel of sin management’ rather than providing hope for transformation, forgiveness on a large scale, reconciliation between entire people groups or faith traditions, change at my own deepest levels that radiates into change for the world in which I live, move and have my being.

Are we stuck in the smallness of the gospel to the point that we no longer believe it has world-changing effect? Are we so focused on ourselves and our personal relationship with Jesus that we are blind to the much bigger picture, the much larger questions of justice, love and kingdom?

The readings from Chronicles, from Kings, from Samuel, ok, the entire Bible, should remind us that faith in God changes lives, changes people groups, changes history. Perhaps we can look up from our bibles in order to see that the world around us desperately needs the message of Good News that our scriptures can provide to our families, our communities and the world.  This message is so much bigger and better than ‘sin management’ on an individual basis.

Be blessed and be a blessing to others,

ML

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