II CHRONICLES 33:10-13: “And the LORD spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they would not listen. Therefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the army of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh with hooks, bound him with bronze fetters, and carried him off to Babylon. Now when he was in affliction, he implored the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed to Him; and He received his entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God.” (NKJV)
OBSERVATION: Do I know God personally, or am I living my life through “second hand faith”? This question is a bit misleading, as there really is no such thing as second hand faith. Yet, many times we live our life as if it truly exists. We know and understand many things in our minds, but do we really know them in our hearts?
Manasseh was the son of Hezekiah. Hezekiah was one of the godliest kings that ruled in Judah, since King David. Hezekiah got rid of the idols in the land, and restored the true worship of the Lord. He reinstated the celebration of the Passover, and the full service of the priests and the Levites. Manasseh, as the heir apparent son, no doubt witnessed all of this, yet it did not change his life. Why? Because Manasseh had not personally embraced the Lord in his life. And so we read about his rule,
- “Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. But he did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel. For he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down; he raised up altars for the Baals, and made wooden images; and he worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. He also built altars in the house of the LORD, of which the LORD had said, “In Jerusalem shall My name be forever.” (II Chronicles 33:1-4 NKJV)
One might wonder, how could he stray so far from his father’s example? A case could be made from the Biblical text about Hezekiah’s lack of fathering skills. However, ultimately – each person is responsible for their own actions. Manasseh had all the opportunities to embrace the true worship of the Lord, and he rejected them. As a young man, no doubt, he thought that God’s ways were narrow minded. Like many young people he wanted to explore the world and be like all the other nations. This search led him down a path of destruction. The depravity grew so great that he even sacrificed his own sons in pagan worship.
All of this brought the judgment of God upon Manasseh. He was captured by the king of Assyria, and it was only then that he cried out to the Lord in true repentance. And it was this sincere cry of repentance that did two things. First, it touched the heart of God. In spite of all that Manasseh had done, the tender heart of God turned toward Manasseh as he truly repented. Next, it touched the heart of Manasseh. It was only at this point of desperation, and through this act of true contrition, that what Manasseh knew in his mind – became what Manasseh knew in his heart!
- “…Now when he was in affliction, he implored the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed to Him; and He received his entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God.”
This teaches us the importance of personal repentance and faith. We cannot have a relationship with God simply because we have Christian parents, or sit in a pew each week in church. We do not become children of God by osmosis. We only become children of God through personal repentance, and personal faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. This is why Jesus told Nicodemus, one of Israel’s greatest religious leaders,
- “…Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
- “…Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:3, 5-6 NKJV)
And this is not only true with salvation, this is also true with our daily walk with Christ. The Scriptures tell us that the “just” (those justified by faith in Jesus Christ), shall live by “faith” (the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things to come). This call to walk by faith must be personal. We cannot live through the faith of someone else. We must learn to daily trust and obey the Lord, by grace through faith, as we humble ourselves and call upon His name. We need to meditate upon the Word of God until it becomes alive in our hearts.
As in salvation, so in our daily walk, there is no place for “second hand faith”.
Lord, forgive me for the times I have tried to live by “second hand faith”. Open my spiritual eyes and my heart to truly know You, to understand Your Word, and to walk in the full revelation and assurance of faith.
In Jesus Name!