By Collin Ross
The other day I was talking with a good friend about what we hoped our young sons would learn from us. My friend said that, above all else, he wanted his son to become the type of person willing to say, “I’m sorry.” He went on to say that expressing genuine remorse had the power to reconcile a person to both God and neighbor, and more than anything, my friend wanted his son to live at peace with both. A wise man, my friend.
Repentance means to apologize with a genuine heart and then turn away from that behavior. When a person is genuinely sorry for something that they have done, they make every effort to change course for the better. This is exactly what is involved with Christian repentance. We acknowledge our sin and make every effort to turn back to the Lord.
In our text today, we see that Manasseh was a faithless man. With tragic repetition, we are told how he charted his own course in rebellion against the ways of God. Though the Lord mercifully called out to Manasseh, the king shut his ears to God’s voice (2 Chronicles 33:10). It was not until he was captured, humiliated, and carted away to Babylon that Manasseh saw how his sin was leading him further and further down the road to destruction. “When he was in distress, he sought the favor of the LORD his God and earnestly humbled himself before the God of his ancestors” (v.12).
In his darkest hour, he called out to God, “and the LORD was receptive to his prayer” (v.13). At this point, we may wonder, “How could God be receptive to such a despicable and hard-hearted man?” It was as if Manasseh had scoured the Scriptures for practices that would most anger the Lord and then intentionally committed them! But now, when the consequences of his misdeeds had finally caught up to him, the man cried out to the Lord for help, and remarkably, the Lord accepted Manasseh’s prayer.
Such is the magnitude of God’s grace, and such is the power of repentance. There will undoubtedly come a day when our hearts will condemn us saying, “The Lord could never be receptive to such a despicable and hard-hearted fool as you!” However, when that day comes, let us remember how the Lord dealt with Manasseh and how the Lord deals with every flawed and compromised character throughout the story of Scripture. When we cry out to God from a humble and genuine heart, He is faithful to listen and quick to restore.
More than anything, I want my children to know this beautiful connection between repentance and grace. What Manasseh’s saga demonstrates in vivid color is the essence of the gospel. There is no “too far gone” when it comes to God’s grace; because of that, there’s nothing keeping us from saying those three words, which are the gateway to restoration: I am sorry.