The Gift of Repentance
The Fellowship | September 15, 2019
In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his ancestors. 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. — 2 Chronicles 33:12-13
The Hebrew month of Elul, which means “search,” is a time of intense soul-searching and repentance in preparation for the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Elul is also a time to begin the process of asking for forgiveness for wrongs done to others. This is one of 13 devotions on repentance and forgiveness. To learn more about the shofar, which is blown every weekday during Elul¸ download our complimentary Bible study.
There is a story told about King Manasseh’s foreboding childhood. Young Manasseh was sitting on his father’s shoulders. As King Hezekiah bounced his sons around, Manasseh turned to his brother and said, “Look what a strong forehead Daddy has. It would make a great pair of shoes!” Horrific! As could be expected, Manasseh grew up to be a horrible person and king.
There are no words to describe his wickedness. He sinned and caused his whole generation to do likewise. He undid all of the good that his father had done. He promoted idolatry and erected an idol in the House of God. He murdered Isaiah, his own grandfather. He sacrificed his own children. No one was more evil.
Then one day, the enemy captured Manasseh. They placed him in a copper cauldron and lit a fire underneath. Manasseh called out to every god that he had ever worshiped, but to no avail. Finally, when there are no choices left, he remembered the God of his fathers and called out in prayer. His prayers are answered, and Manasseh was saved.
Tradition teaches that when Manasseh called out to God in prayer and in repentance, the ministering angels shut all of the windows in heaven. “Lord of the universe, how can You accept the prayers of such a terrible person,” they asked. But God found a way to accept Manasseh’s prayers. “If I do not accept him in repentance, I am locking the door before all repentant sinners,” God told his angels. So God dug a tunnel from beneath His throne in order to create a channel for Manasseh’s words.
This powerful story reminds us that God’s door is always open to those who wish to return to Him. If He could find a way to forgive the wicked Manasseh, our Almighty Father can find a way to forgive anyone! It is never too late and never too difficult.
Turn to God, and confess your sins to Him. Then feel the freedom and gift of forgiveness.
To learn more about the approaching High Holy Days, download our complimentary Bible Study, Shofar: The Sounds of Repentance.