Friday, November 30, 2007

Trembles at my word

The Lord declared in Isaiah 66:2, "But this is the one to whom I will look:

he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word."

This last chapter of Isaiah was likely written shortly before his death. According to Jewish tradition, Manasseh sawed Isaiah in two. It is thought that Hebrews 11:37 is a reference to Isaiah.

When the prophets came to Manasseh, he paid no attention (2 Chron. 33:10). Manasseh was a wicked king. He worshiped Baal, erected an Asherah on the temple mount, worshiped the astral gods, and made his son to pass through the fire in worship to the god Molech. Manasseh shed "very much innocent blood until he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another" (2 Kings 21:16). He erected altars in the two courts of the temple. It was Manasseh's wickedness that God remembered when Jerusalem was destroyed (2 Kings 21:13). Manasseh was a wicked, wicked king who had no regard for God or his word... until...

God had enough. The Lord sent the king of Assyria against Judah. They captured Manasseh with hooks (thongs put through the nose), bound him and took him with bronze chains to Babylon (2 Chron. 33:11).

And when he was in distress, he entreated the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. 13He prayed to him, and God was moved by his entreaty and heard his plea and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God. (33:12-13).

In response to God's blessing, Manasseh rebuilt the outer wall of Jerusalem, removed the idol and the foreign gods from the house of the Lord, as well as the altars. He threw them out of the city. (33:14-15). He restored the altar of the Lord and sacrificed peace and thank offerings. He ordered Judah to serve the Lord God of Israel. The people still sacrificed in the high places, but only to the Lord (33:16-17).

Unfortunately, many of the reforms of Manasseh were too late. His son Amon in his short, two-year reign brought back to Israel all that Manasseh got threw out. But we must admire Manasseh for humbling himself--even if for a short time.

Some lessons:

God forgives the penitent, even when one has been a terrible sinner. (Psalm 51:17) A humble and contrite heart is precious in God's eyes.

When one fails to hear God, he is following the path of destruction (Matt. 7:24-27). Bible authority is not something to be ignored or dismissed, as many progressives do. God means what He says. We ought to "tremble" at His word, taking it seriously enough that we do not get involved in idolatry or self-made religion (which is itself a kind of idolatry, since all idols are made). Manasseh carved out his altars and brought in his gods. We should not bring in the human-made machines for worship. God did not ask for them or teach us to use them. People thought that up on their own.

When we learn something is in error, we should throw it out.


1 comment:

Darin L. Hamm said...

Mr. Sanders,

I agree that we should tremble at God’s words but often times people don’t ask others to tremble at what God has said but what they say God has said.

There are certainly progressives who go beyond what God has said but I’m not sure we would agree on who they are.