Thursday, October 27

Evil in the Eyes of the Lord

In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God. --2nd Chronicles 33:12-13

October 31st is only a few days away, and I couldn't be happier. The sooner we can put "All Hallows Eve" behind us, the better, in my opinion. I am simply aghast at how glorified and commercialized this occultic, spooky event has become. What saddens me is that so many people are starting to refer to Halloween as the beginning of the holiday season. Yikes! The days really are evil. What's truly frightening is that for all the modern advances we have, all the enlightenment we have supposedly experienced, spiritually speaking, we are still living in a world that is just as depraved and evil as it was in the days of the kings of ancient Israel.

A quick search of the word "evil" in an online Bible concordance produces nearly 500 results. Most often the word is found in the phrase "evil in the eyes of the Lord." The story of Manasseh stood out to me as the most relevant to our times. Let me summarize it for you here.

Manasseh became king at the tender age of 12. He quickly decided to behave in a manner not unlike many of today's preteens and young adults--he did his best to completely undo anything positive that his father, Hezekiah, had done. Hezekiah had torn down the high places that were designated for pagan practices and idol worship. Manasseh put them up again. Hezekiah had driven out nations of peoples who lived in disobedience of the Lord God of Israel. Manasseh brought them back in and partied with them! Prayer and worship weren't "cool", so be brushed up on some other useful practices such as sorcery, divination, and witchcraft. He also consulted with spiritists and mediums. The guy was dangerous. He even had two of his own children put to death in a manner just as gruesome as what Planned Parenthood likes to do.

As is usually the case with God, he let Manasseh do his own thing and make his own mistakes. God kept telling him that what he was doing was inappropriate and would lead to destruction, but Manasseh didn't want to listen. He was too busy playing with his Ouiji board, burning incense and reading his daily horoscopes. God finally got Manasseh's attention the only way that could have worked for a guy like that--with a body piercing.

Things had gotten so out of control in Manasseh's district that a neighboring nation saw a prime opportunity to attack them. The Lord allowed the Assyrians to capture Manasseh and drag him into Babylonian captivity by putting a hook through his nose! (Nowadays we have the Geneva Convention to prevent this sort of thing.)

While imprisoned in Club Bab, Manasseh began to realize that maybe the stuff his dad had been trying to get him to understand about obeying God wasn't such a bad idea after all. Slavery, imprisonment in a foreign country, a festering nose wound, and having to fight the rats for a space to sleep at night weren't nearly as fun as sitting on the throne ruling over his own kingdom. Thinking he had nothing else to lose, Manasseh cried out to God in his distress. God, who is merciful, heard him.

Eventually Manasseh was returned to Jerusalem where he lived a life obedient to God for the rest of his days. He fortified Jerusalem, rebuilt its walls and made them higher than before. He removed the pagan gods from within the city. The foreign gods that he had put in place in God's temple were kicked unceremoniously to the curb. With a contrite heart, Manasseh led his people in offering pleasing sacrifices to the one true God, the God of his fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

***

I am encouraged by the fact that even in the midst of complete evil like we see today, God is still at work and is still in charge. No matter how wicked a nation or its people become, God remains Sovereign and His plan is always perfect. As this weekend approaches and we are surrounded by very visible evidence of the evil one, let us remember that the Lord is God and that we have no fear of anything in the earth, above it or below it if we profess hope and faith in Christ.

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