Devotional Thought of the Day:
He did much evil in the LORD’s sight and provoked him to anger. 7 An idol he had made he placed in the house of God, of which God had said to David and to his son Solomon: In this house and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I shall set my name forever. 8 I will no longer make Israel step out of the land I assigned to your ancestors, provided that they are careful to observe all I commanded them, the entire law, the statutes, and the ordinances given by Moses.
9 Manasseh misled Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem into doing even greater evil than the nations the LORD had destroyed at the coming of the Israelites. 10 The LORD spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention.
Manasseh’s Conversion. 11 bTherefore the LORD brought against them the army commanders of the Assyrian king; they captured Manasseh with hooks, shackled him with chains, and transported him to Babylon.* 12 In his distress, he began to appease the LORD, his God. He humbled himself abjectly before the God of his ancestors, 13 and prayed to him.* The LORD let himself be won over: he heard his prayer and restored him to his kingdom in Jerusalem. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD is indeed God. 2 Chronicles 33:6-13 NABRE
We are unjust before God; we have turned away from him in pursuit of our own glorification and so we have become subject to death. But God waives the merited punishment and puts something new in its place: healing; our conversion to a renewed Yes to the truth about ourselves. So that this transformation may take place, he goes before us and takes upon himself the pain of our transformation. The Cross of Christ is the real elucidation of these words: not “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”, but “transform evil by the power of love.…” In the Cross of Christ, and only there, these words open themselves to us and become revelation. In the company of the Cross, they become a new possibility even for our own lives.
21 Here we are talking about personal faith, which accepts the promise as a present reality and believes that the forgiveness of sins is actually being offered, not about a faith which believes in a general way that God exists.
22 Such use of the sacrament comforts devout and troubled minds.
For the last week, I have seen sincere brothers and sisters in Christ aid in the demonizing of politicians that they don’t know, never mind knowing their hearts, never mind knowing the plans God has in store for us all.
Watching the anxiety grow, and the angst, I even see it beginning to fracture families and friendships, as one can’t understand how the other can support “them”. While I pray for those running, I pray even more for those who are following and placing their hopes in the plans and personalities of those running for office.
This was on my heart this morning, as I went into my devotional reading, and came across Manasseh. Not only did he encourage the worship of idols, and demonic “gods”, he even placed in God’s temple a giant Asherah pole – a pagan idol that was simply a huge phallic symbol. He put the idol in the place where God put His name, which people would know that their prayers would be answered and that He would forgive their sins, and bring them to the transformation of repentance.
A slap in God’s face, and worse. This man was evil upon evil. I think even the staunchest opponent of any politician in office today, or running for office, would find their nemesis preferable to Manasseh. Some may argue differently, but the reality is there, God’s testimony is clear – the nation’s evil was greater than nations God condemned and destroyed. God tried to speak to them, and they ignored Him.
This corrupt evil leader would not only repent; he would also lead his entire nation in repentance, in a time of purging all the idolatry from their nation.
He would lead a revival of repentance because God didn’t give up, even as God was completely ticked off, furious beyond recognition. His people, led by a descendant of the David, the man after God’s own heart, did more evil than those God had Israel clear out of the land. God was patient with them, and called them to repentance, and transformed them from evil, into His children once again.
As Pope Benedict wrote when he was a cardinal, God sent Jesus before us to bear the price of that repentance, to bear the punishment that should have been ours. He transformed evil by the power of love, not only giving us an example to follow but making it possible to love that completely. It becomes the hope, the possibility for our lives.
Melancthon writes in the Lutheran confessions that this brings us comfort when our minds are torn between being devout, yet troubled by our sin. For our trust in God, boosted by the sacraments, the acts where God pours out His mercy, love and grace, upon us.
It is those promises, and seeing those promises fulfilled in the life of Manasseh that bring peace in a time when the world and just the United States seems beyond hope God can work in and through such people. God can call them to repentance, and has.
God doesn’t give up, He strives for our very souls and the souls of those in leadership. Trust in Him, find in your baptism, and in communion the real forgiveness of sins, and pray that God would lead our leaders to the same.
So pray for them, pray for us, that all would know the mercy and peace of God.
Peace that is promised, peace that is delivered.
(1) Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (I. Grassl, Ed., M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans.) (pp. 78–79). San Francisco: Ignatius Press
(2) Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 214). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press..