From Zero to Hero

Modern history is full of people who are discarded in ministry because of past sins—particularly those who committed notably vile sins but who experienced a massive, radical conversion and personal reformation. But it is a valid proposition that God will use people in that condition regardless of past sins. One example is Manasseh, King of Judah (2 Chronicles 33:1-20).

Manasseh, in fact, “led Judah and the people of Jerusalem astray, so that they did more evil than the nations the Lord had destroyed before the Israelites” (2 Chronicles 33:9 NIV). But after the king of Assyria took Manasseh prisoner, Manasseh “[i]n his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his ancestors. And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea, so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom” (2 Chronicles 33:12-13 NIV).

The narrative passage began noting that “he reined in Jerusalem fifty-five years [but] did evil in the eyes of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 33:1-2 NIV). So it is striking to note that Manasseh was the longest-reigning king of Judah (and I think of Israel as well including David and Solomon who were noted for their goodness and righteousness). So how does a just God allow a supremely evil king to continue ruling? The answer is that Manasseh changed his heart. In fact God removed Manasseh from the throne but Manasseh’s humility created space within him for God to restore Manasseh and to use Manasseh to advance the kingdom of heaven.

It is far too easy to hold people forever accountable for their past sins, but the early chapters of a person’s life are not determinative of the final chapters nor the nature of the redemptive transformation that occurred in between.

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