2 Chronicles 32-33
In church-speak you often hear that we are told to “repent.” But what does that mean, really? Is it an admission of guilt? An apology? A feeling of regret? Those certainly are facets of repentance. True repentance goes further than that, however.
There is a picture of repentance here in 2 Chronicles. Manasseh is a good example of what it means to repent.
He was an evil king, a worshiper of false gods, a king who practiced divination and consulted mediums and spiritists. He even was brazen enough to erect idols right inside the house of God. They don’t come much worse than old Manasseh.
But Manasseh eventually humbled himself “greatly” before God. Manasseh prayed, and God forgave him.
Now here’s where the picture of repentance comes in. Manasseh changed. He removed the foreign gods from the temple, took down the altars he’d built, and set up the altar of the Lord for sacrifices to the only True God. He ordered the people of Judah to serve God, too.
Scripture tells us often to repent. Manasseh’s story demonstrates that no one is too evil for God to forgive if that heart is willing to change. A repentant person doesn’t look the same as he did before, doesn’t go to the same places, laugh at the same dirty jokes, doesn’t disrespect God’s Name, or treat others dishonestly. A repentant heart looks like Jesus.
Two things I take away from Manasseh’s example today: 1. no one is too far gone for God to forgive, and 2. people can change, and do change, when they give their lives to God.