Archive for September 30, 2012

THE OLD TESTAMENT PRODIGAL

The most significant lesson we can teach our children is to live their lives in complete submission to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  We must first instruct them in the word of God, and then model strong godly values for them to follow.  If we are diligent in teaching them well, we are preparing them to honor God with their lives.  Although we have taught them well, they may still choose to disobey God’s law.  We must always remember that our God is sovereign and He has a perfect plan to bring His wayward children back to Himself.

There is a true story in the Old Testament that richly expresses the keeping power of God’s abundant grace and mercy.  This beautiful story is found in 2 Chronicles 33:1-20 and tells of a King by the name of Manasseh.  King Manasseh was the son of King Hezekiah who was a great man of God.  He was mightily used of God to lead a reformation in Jerusalem.  There is no doubt that young King Manasseh witnessed the work of his father, and I’m quite certain that as a child he was taught the laws of God.

When his father died, King Manasseh reigned in Jerusalem for 55 years.  However, unlike his father, we are told that he did evil in the sight of the Lord.  He set out to totally destroy everything his father worked so hard to accomplish.  Even in our depraved society, King Manasseh would surely have been deemed as an evil man.  He sacrificed his children to false gods, participated in witch craft, used divination, practiced sorcery, and he even dealt with mediums and spiritists.  King Manasseh committed acts against God which the vilest of men would not even consider.  He not only practiced these most detestable acts, but also led the people of God, whom he was responsible for, to follow in his foot-steps.

God began sending messengers to King Manasseh, calling him to repent of his evil deeds, but he persecuted God’s precious prophets.  According to rabbinical tradition the prophet Isaiah was sawn in two by order of this evil King.  The bible tells us that sin is pleasurable for a season, but in the end we must pay the consequences of our sin (Hebrews 11:25).  King Manasseh would shortly learn a valuable lesson in obeying God.

The Assyrian Army was sent by God to arrest King Manasseh.  He as treated very badly in a Babylonian prison for approximately one year.  Imagine with me for a moment if you will, King Manasseh sitting in his damp and dreary prison cell with plenty of time to reflect upon the sad state of his wretched existence.  Perhaps he had fleeting thoughts of an escape plan, but soon realized this would be a futile effort, and could possibly cost him his life.  I’m sure he pondered within himself how he had arrived at such a place as this.  After all, wasn’t he a King?  As such he had become accustomed to living a life of luxury.  Yet here sat this man of great influence in Jerusalem, sinking into a deep state of depression in his cold, dark, and very lonely prison cell.

Gone were all of his servants, there were no more false god’s for him to play with, no more mediums or spiritists for him to consult, no one with whom he may gain comfort for his lonely aching heart.  No one that is except God!  With a very heavy heart his mind began drifting back to a more peaceful time.  He was a child sitting on his father’s lap listening to the stories his father would often tell him of the love, the grace, and the mercy of almighty God.

How had he wandered so far from God?  As he meditated on this one nagging question he was awakened from his dream-like state by the sound of clanging keys.  “It must be chow time again,” he thought to himself.  While trying to force down a few bites of the less than appetizing meal, he could not escape this one nagging question.  How had he wandered so far from God?  In deep desperation, he cried out to God with a humble heart, however this time it was not a false god, but the true and living God.  The Lord heard his humble prayer, and being moved with compassion for this lonely hurting soul, God delivered him from the horrible pit he had fallen so deeply into.  Then at last he acknowledged that the Lord was God!  He was not only delivered from his sin, but God chose to set him free from his physical prison, and miraculously restore his kingdom to him once again.

When he returned to Jerusalem it was clear to see that this was not the same man who was imprisoned one year earlier.  He truly served and honored God with his life.  He removed the idols from the temple and destroyed the altars used to sacrifice to these false gods.  Then, he rebuilt the altar of the Lord and offered sacrifices to the Lord.  He also led the people of Jerusalem to honor and worship the true and living God.

Perhaps, as you read this story it’s as if you’re reading your own story.  You grew up in a God fearing home and were taught the importance of serving the Lord.  However, something happened that caused you to wander from God.  Then again, maybe this is the first time you’ve heard about the grace and mercy of God.  In either case, one fundamental truth will never change: God loves you and wants to be invited into your life.  However, the choice is yours!

So, what will you choose today?  Let’s remember the words of the Apostle Paul, recorded in Romans 10:13, “for whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”  It’s just as true today for us as it was for King Manasseh in that Babylonian prison so long ago.  If you’ll simply come to God with a sincere heart and turn away from your sins, He’ll accept you and make your life brand new.  Yes, my friend, He will do in your life what He did in King Manasseh’s life, and the lives of countless others throughout history.  However, the choice is yours.  What will you choose?

May the Lord richly bless you as you choose to serve the true and living God!