(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
I wrote a Gem called A Bad King In Heaven on August 31 of this year. It is about King Manasseh of the southern kingdom of Judah. Manasseh, son of the godly king Hezekiah, was an evil king for most of his 55-year reign. Here is part of the Scriptural record from II Kings 21:1 through 16, highlighting his wickedness (International Standard Version – redacted):
He did what the LORD considered to be evil, following the despicable practices of the nations whom the LORD had expelled....He rebuilt the high places that his father Hezekiah had destroyed. He erected altars for Baal...and worshipped and served the stars of heaven ....He made his son into a burnt offering, practiced witchcraft, used divination, and consorted with medi- ums and spirit-channelers ....He also erected the carved image of Asherah...inside the Temple about which the LORD had spoken..., “I will put my Name forever in this Temple....And I will not make Israel's feet to wander anymore from the land that I have given [them]...if they will...do everything that I have com- manded....” But they would not listen. Manasseh led them astray to practice more evil than the nations whom the LORD had destroyed....In addition to this, Manasseh shed lots of innocent blood —until he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another....So the LORD announced..., “Because King Manasseh...has com- mitted these despicable things...making Judah sin with its idols....I'm going to bring...a disaster to Jerusalem and Judah....I will abandon the survivors of my heritage and hand them over to their enemies.”
Yes, Manasseh was a wicked king! But according to II Chronicles 33:12 and 13, he repented!
Now when he [Manasseh] was in affliction [in Babylon], he implored the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and he prayed to Him; and [the LORD]...received his entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God.
The final years of his 55 year reign were spent trying to rectify the evil he had fostered upon the people of Judah! In II Chronicles 33:15 and 16 it is recorded:
He took away the foreign gods and the idol from the house of the LORD, and all the altars that he had built...in Jerusalem; and cast them out of the city. He also repaired the altar of the LORD, sacrificed peace offerings and thank offerings on it, and com- manded Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel.
Manesseh personally repented. And he tried to undo the damage he had done in leading his subjects into grievous sin. But, while God forgives the individual upon repentence of sin and faith in His mercy and grace, eradicating the sinful influence a wicked life has on others is not so readily accomplished! Manasseh’s sin resulted in a lot of collateral damage!
- Wikipedia defines Collateral damage as, “…any death, injury, or other damage inflicted that is an incidental result of an activity.” The term was originally used in the 1960’s and 70’s, referring to military action during the Vietnam war, described as “…friendly fire or to the intentional killing of non-combatants and destruction of their property.”
- Manasseh’s collateral damage was the 70-year Babylonian capitivity of his Judean subjects because of their wicked actions imitating their king, even though the captivity was 56 years after their regent’s death! Here is what our featured Scripture of Jeremiah 15:1 through 4 records:
Then the Lord said to me, “Even if Moses and Samuel stood before Me, My mind would not be favorable to- ward this people. Cast them out of My sight, and let them go forth. And it shall be, if they say to you, ‘Where should we go?’ then you shall tell them, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Such as are for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for the famine, to the famine; and such as are for the captivity, to the captivity. And I will ap- point over them four forms of destruction,” says the Lord: “the sword to slay, the dogs to drag, the birds of the heavens and the beasts of the earth to devour and destroy. I will hand them over to trouble, to all kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah, king of Judah, for what he did in Jeru- salem.”’
✡ Manasseh personal sins were grievous! But he later repented and was forgiven. ✡ His Judean subjects imitated their king’s wicked ways, but they didn’t repent! And so they were severely punished by... ➔ ...many losing their lives to war, starvation, and disease as the Bab- ylonian army invaded their land and besieged their cities. ➔ ...many others, by force, being de- ported to Babylon, a thousand-mile march to the east.
“What has all this to do with us today? ” you might ask. We are told in Malachi 3:6, “…I am the LORD, I do not change….” He “…is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8). If He did not ignore the sins of the people of Judah, He will not leave unpunished the iniquity of His people today!
✞ But God has made provision for the forgiveness of our sins by the sacrifrice of His Son on the cross! As it is written in Colossians 1:19 through 22 (Good News Bible): For it was by God's own decision that the Son has in Himself the full nature of God. Through the Son, then, God de- cided to bring the whole universe back to Himself. God made peace through His Son's blood on the cross and so brought back to Himself all things, both on earth and in heaven. At one time you were far away from God and were His en- emies because of the evil things you did and thought. But now, by means of the physical death of His Son, God has made you His friends, in order to bring you, holy, pure, and faultless, into His presence. ✞ We are told in I John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteous- ness.” No sin is unforgivable.......if we fol- low the instructions of I John 1:9. ✞ Jesus Christ has already paid for our sins, for it says in I John 2:2, “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”
But be aware of the collateral damage of our misdeeds! What we do and say can affect those around us, including our children and generations of descendants to come! We can also infect with our sins the lives of neighbors, friends, business associates, schoolmates……anyone with whom we interact! As someone has said, “We never sin in a vacuum!” We always are influencing those around us!
Paul gave his own example of this in I Corinthians 8:8 through 13 (Contemporary English Version):
Don't cause problems for someone with a weak con- cience, just because you have the right to eat any- thing. You know all this, and so it doesn't bother you to eat in the temple of an idol. But suppose a person with a weak conscience sees you and decides to eat food that has been offered to idols. Then what you know has destroyed someone Christ died for. When you sin by hurting a follower with a weak con- science, you sin against Christ. So if I hurt one of the Lord's followers by what I eat, I will never eat meat as long as I live.
We, in America, probably don’t have to worry about eating (or not eating) food offered to idols. But the principle stands!
So be careful!
Don’t produce the collateral damage of sin!