Our Best Thought is a weekly devotional thoughtfully penned by leaders in DUMC arising from their daily devotions. The devotional’s title, “Our Best Thought” is taken from the hymn, “Be Thou My Vision” as a reference to God: “Thou my best thought, by day or by night.” Publishes on Sundays.
But Manasseh led Judah and the people of Jerusalem astray, so that they did more evil than the nations the Lord had destroyed before the Israelites.
The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention. So the Lord brought against them the army commanders of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh prisoner, put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon. In 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. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God.
1 Chronicles 33:9-13 (NIV)
King Manasseh of Judah led God’s people astray, and they sunk into idolatry and injustice. Manasseh’s actions were heinous—he installed idols of the gods of Canaan in the holy temple of Jerusalem. Manasseh’s actions were monstrous—he burned his children according to the practices of the Canaanite god, Molech.
“The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention.” (v. 10)
“The Lord spoke to Manasseh” must surely only summarise the deep fervour and strong emotion that God conveys through His prophets that we see typical in the Old Testament. It was not the Lord who turned His face away from Manasseh’s sins. It was Manasseh who was hardened and refused to see His message.
At this, God acted further. He brought Assyria to capture him like a slave to bring him to Babylon. Manasseh’s high position was lowered and humble, like a lowly slave or an animal, as he was bound in chains to Babylon. Now that all his foreign gods had forsaken him, Manasseh now turns to the God of Israel, Yahweh to save Him. And God does save him.
“Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God.” This connotes that perhaps Manasseh did not before, and knows God more intimately now, and is finally submitted to Him.
I was often told that human sin was so foul and putrid that God turned away in horror, because of His pristine holiness. That human sin was so obnoxious and black that a Holy God would stand at the other end of a gulf, waiting for His Holy and Only Begotten Son to volunteer to save us.
The Old Testament is filled with the presence of God, who never leaves and never left—even when He coordinated Israel's expulsion from the Promised Land to live in foreign lands, for they had forfeited their covenant inheritance when they abandoned God. God was present with them even in the hour of exile, to provide, to love and to judge.
God does not purse His lips, wrinkle His nose and turn His back from the stench of our sin.
He reaches out to us with a wrath that can only emerge from love, to beckon us to see and turn from our ways, to return to Him.
Knowing that God is calling me to Him in my most twisted thoughts and disordered behavior, breaks the whirlpool of isolation and loneliness that sin can pull me into.
The Psalmist says:
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
Lord, I misunderstand You when I I think that You would walk away when I offend You. Rather, it is in the hour of my most disordered self that You come to me even more urgently. When I am most overwhelmed by the darkness of my disordered impulses, help me hear Your voice, and take Your outstretched hand.
Debbie Loh is Zone Leader for PJ North 3.
Our Best Thought is a weekly devotional that follows DUMC's Bible Reading Plan. Posts on Sundays.