Description / Transcription
Let’s pray as we come to God’s Word. Blessed Lord, who caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning, grant us so to hear them. Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which You have given us in our Savior, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Our text this morning comes from 2 Chronicles. We have two more weeks to finish up this summer series on the kings of Judah and also in the evening on the minor prophets, and then we will return to our regularly scheduled programming, John in the morning and Exodus in the evening. Today we come to King Manasseh and Amon; we will spend most of our time on King Manasseh.
I will read the whole chapter, 25 verses, beginning at verse 1 of 2 Chronicles chapter 33.
“Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel. For he rebuilt the high places that his father Hezekiah had broken down, and he erected altars to the Baals, and made Asheroth, and worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. And he built altars in the house of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, ‘In Jerusalem shall my name be forever.’ And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord. And he burned his sons as an offering in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, and used fortune-telling and omens and sorcery, and dealt with mediums and with necromancers. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger. And the carved image of the idol that he had made he set in the house of God, of which God said to David and to Solomon his son, ‘In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my name forever, and I will no more remove the foot of Israel from the land that I appointed for your fathers, if only they will be careful to do all that I have commanded them, all the law, the statutes, and the rules given through Moses.’ Manasseh led Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem astray, to do more evil than the nations whom the Lord destroyed before the people of Israel.”
“The Lord spoke to Manasseh and to his people, but they paid no attention. Therefore the Lord brought upon them the commanders of the army of the king of Assyria, who captured Manasseh with hooks and bound him with chains of bronze and brought him to Babylon. 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. He 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.”
“Afterward he built an outer wall for the city of David west of Gihon, in the valley, and for the entrance into the Fish Gate, and carried it around Ophel, and raised it to a very great height. He also put commanders of the army in all the fortified cities in Judah. And he took away the foreign gods and the idol from the house of the Lord, and all the altars that he had built on the mountain of the house of the Lord and in Jerusalem, and he threw them outside of the city. He also restored the altar of the Lord and offered on it sacrifices of peace offerings and of thanksgiving, and he commanded Judah to serve the Lord, the God of Israel. Nevertheless, the people still sacrificed at the high places, but only to the Lord their God.”
“Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh, and his prayer to his God, and the words of the seers who spoke to him in the name of the Lord, the God of Israel, behold, they are in the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel. And his prayer, and how God was moved by his entreaty, and all his sin and his faithlessness, and the sites on which he built high places and set up the Asherim and the images, before he humbled himself, behold, they are written in the Chronicles of the Seers. So Manasseh slept with his fathers, and they buried him in his house, and Amon his son reigned in his place.”
“Amon was twenty-two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned two years in Jerusalem. And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, as Manasseh his father had done. Amon sacrificed to all the images that Manasseh his father had made, and served them. And he did not humble himself before the Lord, as Manasseh his father had humbled himself, but this Amon incurred guilt more and more. And his servants conspired against him and put him to death in his house. But the people of the land struck down all those who had conspired against King Amon. And the people of the land made Josiah his son king in his place.”
I want you to think about how hard it is to change. Some of you like change, you embrace it, you’re excited about it. Some of you, you know, you’re famous last words on your tombstone will be “that’s the way we always to things.” Or as I remember somebody saying in church one time, “how come we keep always singing the same old unfamiliar hymns?” [laughter] Why do we do that?
Change can be hard. It’s hard in the church, it’s hard as individuals. Just think how many of you, I bet, at some point in your life have had a great plan for a diet, turn over a new leaf with exercise, signed up for a gym membership, said “this year we’re going to the Y.” The one year I stay away from the gym, for sure, is on January 2, because it’s packed. And I say “well, I’ll be back in a week when all the quitters are gone.” [laughter]
We all have habits. Maybe it’s biting your fingernails, twirling your hair. I have things I wish I would change. I do wish I ate a little bit better. I, I wish that I didn’t check e-mail so incessantly. How many people say make sure you have your quiet time in the morning before you check your e-mail? Simple thing you’d like to think your pastor has that one nailed, but there’s something about that, “stuff happened when I was sleeping, I need to see what it is.” So I’m working on that; you can pray for me. Set that aside.
Now, none of those are even particularly necessarily sinful; diet, exercise, fingernails, even e-mail, even you know, fruit and vegetables. Not necessarily sin. Now consider how hard it is with evil desires. Addicted to pornography, addicted to gossip, the fear of man, bitterness lodged deep in your heart, unforgiveness, explosions of anger toward your spouse or to your kids, the way you respond when you feel hurt, and you crawl into your little shell and you shut the world out and you feel sorry for yourself.
It’s hard for us to change. We all have besetting sins. It takes a work of sovereign grace to overcome those sins.
What I’m talking about there’s a good biblical Christian word for it: Repentance. It’s what the prophets called the people to, it’s what John the Baptist announced, it’s what Jesus demanded of everyone who would be His disciples, it’s what the first Christians preached. There is no entrance into the kingdom of heaven that does not march through the gate marked repentance. Repentance is one of the missing jewels in the contemporary church. You will hear messages of how much God loves you. You will hear messages of how much God has great things in store for you. You will hear messages of all the ways that you should try to improve. Repentance is often missing from contemporary expressions of the Gospel, and yet when Jesus burst on the scene in Mark’s Gospel, the very first words out of His mouth recorded in His public ministry “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Repentance is an amazing thing because it is so difficult, that, that about face, that contrition of heart, and then that change of direction. It’s hard for all of us. It’s hard when, when you’re young and you’re, you’re blind to the things that people who are older can see, and it’s hard when you get older and you’re set in your ways and you say “you know, this is just the way I am, all right? God’ll fix that one in heaven.”
Repentance is an astounding gift. It sounds like such a simple thing. How many of us have, time and time again, again said “tomorrow’s going to be different.” Or how many of us are even now praying for someone in your life that they would see their sin, they would repent and turn to God. Maybe someone is praying that for you, that your eyes would be opened.
Repentance is not the same as regret. Regret is easy. We all have regret. You feel embarrassed, you’re shamed for being caught for something. You know, regret is I didn’t study, and I failed my test, I feel miserable about it. That’s regret. You’re discouraged how you messed things up. You’re worried how others will respond. You’re concerned for your reputation. That’s regret.
Repentance is different. The Puritan Thomas Watson said “repentance is a spiritual medicine made of six ingredients: The sight of sin, sorrow for sin, confession of sin, shame for sin, hatred for sin, turning from sin.”
Now that makes repentance much different than natural regret. You do not need the Spirit of God to regret bad decisions in your life. You need a miracle of God’s Spirit to actually see your sin, be sorry for your sin, confess your sin, have shame for your sin, hatred from your sin, and turn from your sin. That takes a miracle.
I remember being in a session meeting years ago, several churches ago, and a person was coming in to meet with the session because of a very specific public sin. It was a public display of drunkenness and also sorts of people saw it, were there, knew it, it was unmistakable. And so the person needed to come in. It wasn’t about trying to, you know, shame on you and teach you a lesson, but the general rule of thumb is your repentance for sin ought to be as public as the expression of sin was. You have private sins which can have private repentance; public sin is dealt with publicly. It wasn’t before the whole church, but this person came before the session. At first the person said “I made a mistake, I’m sorry” and quickly then it turned: But do you know how hard it is, and do you know how no one ever helped me and no one ever sought after me and I can’t believe I have to come here and why are you so judgmental and why do I have to come before all of you men and don’t you know that I’ve needed help and nobody ever did anything for me? And quickly what came to our sense was this is a profound regret and I’m not sure that we see repentance. It was an unpleasant experience, and I said afterward I don’t think that we saw repentance and there was some disagreement and one of the elders said “well, but we can’t judge the person’s heart” and I said “I agree, we cannot judge the person’s heart, but we are specifically told to look for fruit of the person’s heart, a broken-heartedness, a hatred for sin, a turning from sin, a not making excuses for sin, not getting angry for the one who points out the sin.”
Regret/repentance, there is literally an eternity of difference between the two. Regret tends to be horizontal: People saw me, I’m embarrassed. Repentance vertical. Now the good news is regret, horizontal, you often can’t fix it, you can’t undo it, you can’t go back in time, you have consequences. Repentance, because it’s vertical, can be dealt with: You can be forgiven, and God can make you new.
We see here in the unlikeliest of places true repentance. King Manasseh, he’s one of the worst kings, by some measurements the worst king. In fact, if you were reading through the parallel account in the Kings, you would walk away and say Manasseh was the worst king, at least of Judah, and we’ll say more about that later because Kings has a different focus than Chronicles. It’s not that one is telling the truth and one isn’t, but they’re wanting to focus on different elements. You get, you get none of this turning in Kings, but here we see it highlighted in Chronicles.
But before we get there, you notice what a bad king. He reigned for 55 years. You’ve, you’ve, you’ve had presidents that you don’t like? They last four or eight years. Be thankful for that system. Fifty-five years of this rascal.
Look at what he did. Verse 3: He rebuilt the high places. So these are the pagan shrines up on the literal high places. Even with the good kings they often missed those, but Hezekiah tore them down. He said build them back up.
Verses 4 and 5: He built altars to the host of heaven. That’s a language for some of the pagan deities. And he put these altars in the temple and in the temple precincts, right there in the house of God.
Look at verse 6: He burned his sons as an offering in the valley of the Son of Hinnom. He committed human sacrifice, so entrenched was his pagan worship. This is what we do in the pagan worship, is we sacrifice our own sons. That’s what it means almost assuredly to have passed through the fire. And the second half of verse 6: He was deep into the occult. You may think these are just sort of silly things that some people do: Fortune telling, omens, sorcery, mediums, necromancer, that is, people who communicate with the dead. No, these were parts of pagan worship. And demonic rituals. And he took part in them and encouraged them.
In verse 7, idolatry. A carved image of the idol that he made and he set it up in the house of God, the very house that God said to David and Solomon “this is to be My house,” and he defiled it.
Verse 8, he warned them “I won’t remove you. I will bless you if, if only they will be careful.”
You’re careful about a lot of things. You’re careful, maybe, with your finances, careful with your lawns, careful with your homework, careful with the decorations in your house, careful to follow your sports teams, careful to do the work on your car on a regular schedule. You’re careful.
How careful are you about your devotion to God? God said “I’ll bless you if you’re careful.” They were not careful. Manasseh was as far from careful as you can be.
And then look at verse 9. Manasseh led Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to do more evil than the nations whom the Lord destroyed before the people of Israel. He was a fundamentally evil, wicked king, and things seemed to be going par for the course.
Verse 10: He spoke to them and they paid no attention. No one cares.
Verse 11: Then he comes and this is the beginning of the end. It’s not quite the end, we’ll have Josiah, but it’s the beginning of the end as Syria is marshaling its troops and here in a foreshadowing of things to come, they exile Manasseh to Babylon.
But then, verse 12. Something remarkable happens. Manasseh not only gets humbled, he gets humility. You know the difference? We like it when our enemies get humbled, get what’s coming to them. So high and mighty and they get knocked down a peg or two. Lots of gets humbled in life. You live long enough, we’re all going to be humbled, we’re all going to be humiliated, we’re all going to have moments of embarrassment, we’re all going to have moments where we think we’re this and we’re not. In that moment of being humbled, do you actually then get humility? Manasseh did. Catastrophe brought clarity, discipline brought discernment, and in his weakness, God was strong, so he prayed.
Verse 13, God was moved. He heard the plea and brought him again back to Jerusalem, out of Babylon, and Manasseh knew that the Lord was God.
This, this could be a summary of the entire book of 2 Chronicles. Over and over again we’ve seen this theme. Chapter 6, for example, verse 36: If they sin against you, Solomon prays, for there is no one who does not sin, and you are angry with them and give them to an enemy so that they are carried away to a land far or near, yet if they turn their heart in the land to which they have been carried captive and repent and plead with you in the land of their captivity, saying we have sinned and have acted perversely and wickedly. If they repent with all their mind and with all their heart in the land of their captivity to which they were carried off, and they pray toward their land which You gave to their fathers, the city You have chosen, the house You have built and hear from heaven, Your dwelling place, their prayer, their pleas, maintain their cause, forgive Your people who have sinned against You.
Over and over God says “I want to bless you, but you must be careful.”
And then He says “when you find yourself off in exile, if you would but turn, if you would turn.”
You know, some of us hit rock bottom and we keep digging. And you say “well, I think he’s, he can’t get any worse.” No? Such is the human predicament and our fallen human nature. We hit rock bottom and we keep going and we find new avenues for our depravity.
But here Manasseh, in his moment of greatest weakness, chained, bound, shipped off to Babylon, he finally has a moment of sanity and he repents.
Now look at how verse 13 ends: Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God.
It sounds so simple, so simple, and almost all of you would come in here this morning and say “oh yeah, okay, yep, there’s a God, that’s why I’m going to church. And we believe in God.” You can go out even in secular America and it’s still 85, 90% depending on your survey, believe in a God. You would believe in God, deity, higher power, something.
But don’t miss in the simplicity how amazing this is. He’s finally come to that moment. He supposedly has been serving this other living God; he’s supposed to be the king of his people, but he’s been serving pagan gods. And now when he calls out, he realizes Yahweh, the God of David, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of my fathers, the Lord, He’s God.
And though almost all of you would get that right on a true or false test, okay? We can pass that around. True or false this morning, the Lord is God. Okay? So you don’t have to look over shoulders… What did you put? What did you put? It’s a trick question. Nope. Okay? True.
Do you live like that? Some of us have grown up in church, been around church, we know all the right answers, but do we really know the lesson of Manasseh? Sometimes we don’t learn it until we go through something like Manasseh went through. And you realize that all this stuff that you’ve been saying, that you’ve been spouting, that you’ve been repeating, that you’ve been singing… You didn’t really, didn’t really make that longest journey known to mankind, which is that journey of, you know, 12 inches down from your head to your heart.
The Lord is God. I believe it. I know it. There’s a God and He made me and He speaks to me and He loves me and He’s angry at my sin, but He’ll forgive my sin and He gave me His word and He made a way for me to follow Him if I’ll listen and be careful. That, He, He’s real. He’s real.
Manasseh sees it finally. And it wasn’t just words. The good kings, the changed kings in Chronicles, are always instituting practical changes in the land. Repentance always leads to reform. Repentance in your life leads to reform in your life. Repentance in the church leads to reformation in the church. Repentance in a nation leads to reform in a nation.
And so look at what he does, verse 14. He fortifies the city, he builds the wall, he fortifies the gate, he strengthens it.
Verse 15, he took the idol out, the altars out. This is the reverse of what we saw. He put the idols in, he built the altars to the pagan gods, and now this is what repentance looks like. You undo the sin that you had done.
Verse 16, he restored the altar of the Lord and offered the sacrifices, the peace offering. So he’s restoring pure worship, or at least purer worship.
Because verse 17 tells us that they didn’t make it all the way there. They still sacrificed on the high places, they still had blind spots.
And we come to the end of his life, most of which was a deeply wicked compromised life. The repentance from Manasseh occurred in his last years, probably between 648 and 642 B.C., so the bulk of his 55 years he has been this evil king. That’s why when it talks about Amon it says he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord as Manasseh his father had done. So even when you repent, and even when you receive forgiveness, even when you institute reforms as a result of that repentance, you can’t undo a whole lifetime of wickedness. You can undo what you can undo, but his mark that he left on the land was still one that in its sweep was wrong.
And yet, what the chronicler wants us to see is that at the end of his life, he got the most important thing right. So you see in verse 18 the rest of the acts, and his prayer.
Verse 19 and his prayer and how God was moved by his entreaty. Maybe the most important thing you have left to do your life is a prayer that you have yet to pray. A prayer for someone, a prayer about someone, or a prayer of your own contrition and repentance. Lord, you’re God, I have lived my life all these years as if you were not, You have not been the functional deity on the throne of my heart, and now in a moment of clarity, when I’m almost at the end of my race, I see it and I get it. Forgive me.
There was a change. His life was marked by two halves. Now, they weren’t equal halves, so I guess it wasn’t technically, it wasn’t a mathematical half, but it was a spiritual half. Evil, repentance. Now does that mean the age old question well, that’s great, let’s just, let’s live the good life, man. Let’s do it up. Let’s enjoy the evil things of this world and then, man, we can turn. We can do thief on the cross. Hey, I’m about dead now.
If that’s what you think, college students, teenagers, 20, if that’s what you think, the Lord hardens the hearts of those who wander. He will harden the hearts of those who say there’s all, no later, later, later. It never gets easier to repent. You only become cauterized, you become numb to the work of the Spirit in your life. Do not be so foolish as to think “later I’ll pay attention to the Spirit.” No, you won’t. Later your heart will have more scar tissue, which is why I’ve said before and I just prayed it back there with, with the elders before we came out, to be here on a Sunday morning and hear the Word of God preached is a place of such immense privilege that billions of people in the world know nothing of and you get to be here, and it’s a place of immense danger. Danger that you would be stirred and not changed, danger that you would walk out this door and you’d say “no, I’m fine with sin. God’s fine with my sin.”
Humility is the lesson we are supposed to draw from Manasseh’s life. Have you noticed that the kings have been coming to us in sets of threes. So we had Joash, Amaziah, and Uzziah, all three of them start good and for one reason or another they end bad, because the high priest leaves or because they get strong and then in their strength they forget God, so Joash, Amaziah, Uzziah start good, end bad.
Then we have Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, and that triplet alternates good and bad. Jotham good, Ahaz bad, Hezekiah good.
And then this triple: Manasseh, Amon, Josiah (we’ll get to next week), this triple the common theme is humility. Do you have it or do you not? Manasseh humbled himself, Amon did not. Look at verse 12 again, “and when he was in distress, he entreated the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself.” Now compare that with his son Amon, verse 23: “And he did not humble himself.” So don’t think “I’ll just go on with wickedness and then the day will come and I’ll humble himself.” There’s a whole lot more Amons in the world than there are Manassehs.
And then we’ll get to Josiah, chapter 34, verse 27: “Because your heart was tender,” Huldah says, “and you humbled yourself before God when you heard His Word against this place, and you’ve humbled yourself before me, have torn your clothes and wept before me, I have heard you, declares the Lord.”
So this final threesome of kings, Manasseh, Amon, Josiah, has this common theme: When you get a rebuke, do you learn from it? Because each one, they had people speak to them. They had the seers, or the prophets, you might say the preachers. And Manasseh, after turning away from them, turning away from them, finally at the end of his days in the moment of his great tribulation, he turns to God. Amon got the same message, didn’t want anything to do with it. When Josiah heard it, he was humbled. Humility is the lesson we are meant to draw from this king.
And we’re meant to have the hope that repentance is always an option. It is not too late for you. It’s not too late for the son you’re praying for, the granddaughter you’re praying for, the spouse you’re praying for. It’s not too late for you.
It wasn’t too late for Manasseh. Josiah was responsive, but that was really with the people. Manasseh was his own personal sin. In fact, you could make the case that Manasseh is the only one who really is rebuked for his personal sin and turns away from it, in these kings.
Now as I said, you get a very different picture of Manasseh if you read 2 Kings 21. Elsewhere Jeremiah 15:4 says “I will make them abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth because of what Manasseh, son of Hezekiah, king of Judah, did in Israel.” So Manasseh sort of writ large over his life is this legacy of wickedness. And you might say, well, the two accounts don’t make sense, the one in Kings and the one in Chronicles. They are focusing on different themes: Kings wants to show that wickedness led the people into exile, Chronicles wants to show that repentance can bring them back into God’s favor. That’s the different theme. Kings, see, wickedness got us into this trouble. Chronicles, repentance can bring us back. And so they highlight this story that Kings doesn’t.
Don’t miss, there are two miracles in this passage. You may say well, it doesn’t seem like, you know, the feeding of the 5000, it doesn’t seem like the kind of miracles we see with Elijah and Elisha and people coming back to life and axe heads floating and all sorts of crazy stuff going on and bears mauling people for being bald and all the… No, there are two miracles here. Don’t miss them.
Number one, Manasseh changes. He repents. That’s a miracle. And number two, God forgave. Those are the two miracles.
You can’t even change your, your eating habits. You’ll get informercials and you’ll buy books and you’ll set up accountability and you’ll do all this and we still struggle to eat better, eat less, whatever your goal is. And this is a lifetime of sin. Now this is a miracle. Repentance, the Puritans said, is the vomit of the soul. It’s no fun to vomit. Repentance is hard work. It’s sort of everything going down this way and errrrr, coming up this way. It’s painful. It’s necessary. It’s a miracle.
God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. It’s in Proverbs, it’s in James 3, verse 6. God opposes the proud, He gives grace tote humble. It’s one of those verses that often before I preach I have going through my, my head. I don’t want to come up and do this and be proud because God will oppose me if I’m proud, and if I’m humble, there’s grace. You can bank on this promise from God: There is always more grace for the humble.
You think, well, Pastor, you don’t have real sins. No, I have real sins. You say, well, Pastor, you don’t know how bad my sins are, how bad I have been, how much of a fake I am. Could you possibly be worse than Manasseh? Have you been evil all of your days like Manasseh? Pagan idolatry? Killing your own sons? Oh, there’s still hope for you. But you need to repent.
What made King David so great? Why is that they always go back, like David, like David, like David. Old Testament, New Testament, like David, a man after His own heart. David, when we all know that David could be such a scoundrel with adultery and murder and his house was messed up, and yet it’s David!
Sometimes you’ll hear people say on whatever side of the political aisle or whatever they are talking about some public person they want to defend, they’ll say “well, yeah but David was a sinner and he was a man after God’s own heart, and look at how messed up David was.” Now often the conclusion is ergo it’s not a big deal that they have lots of sins.
What made David great was that he repented of all those sins. David’s greatness lie in this: As much as he sinned, he never failed to own up to his sin. Check it out for yourself. I am not aware of a single instance where David was rebuked rightly for his failings and failed to heed the rebuke. Nathan confronted David for his adultery and his murder; he laments “I have sinned against the Lord.” When Joab sent the woman of Tekoa to change David’s mind about Absalom, he listened. When Joab rebuked David because you love your treacherous son more than you love all your loyal servants, David did what Joab told him to do. Joab was often wrong, but when he was right, David saw it and he changed course. After David made his foolish census, his heart struck him and he confessed “I have sinned greatly in what I have done.” When David is rightly rebuked for his sin, he heeds every one of those rebukes. That’s what made David great. He did not make excuses for his family history or his peer pressure or the demands of leadership. He did not just lament over them because of the negative effects on his kingdom. He saw his transgressions, “against You only have I sinned.” He did not run from the light when it exposed the darkness in his own heart.
And when we consider how rare it is in our day for athletes, movie stars, politicians, any public person, to candidly, clearly take responsibility and say not just it was a mistake or I could have done better or I’m reading something prepared, to say it was a sin against God. When you consider how rare that is, then you can see what made David great. And you can see why Manasseh was such a miracle.
Will you listen to the seers, to the prophets, to the preachers? Repentance is still an option for you. We are deceiving ourselves if we think in a room of this many people that there aren’t some people living absolutely duplicitous lives, dressed up, looking good, put ourselves together for an hour and a half on Sunday. That’s not what’s really going on. We’re kidding ourselves if we think there aren’t people here who have never really come to the realization Manasseh did, that the Lord is God. Kidding ourselves if we don’t think that there isn’t repentance that needs to take place in this room.
Will you listen? Will you have the measure of true greatness? Humility? Contrition? Repentance?
You’re not out of chances with God. You’re not out of grace with Jesus. He was betrayed for all of your covenant betrayal. He was exiled to the very torment of God’s hellish wrath so that you don’t have to be. But you have to turn and you have to come.
Will you listen? May it be said of you as it was said of Manasseh, and when he, or she, was in distress, he entreated the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly.
Let’s pray. I’m going to lead us in a prayer of confession for our sin, adapted from the “Valley of Vision, a Collection of Puritan Prayers.” Hear this and may this prayer be your own: “Merciful Lord, pardon all my sins of this day, week, year, all the sins of my life, sins of early, middle, and advanced years, sins of commission and omission, of morose, peevish and angry tempers, of lip, life, and walk, of hard-heartedness, unbelief, presumption, pride, of unfaithfulness to the souls of men, of lack of bold decision and the cause of Christ, of deficiency in speaking out for His glory, of bringing dishonor upon your great name, of deception and justice, untruthfulness in dealing with others, of impurity in thought, word, and deed, of covetousness which is idolatry, of substance unduly hoarded and squandered. Sins in private and in the family. Sins in my study and in recreation. Sins even in the study of Your Word or the neglect of Your Word. Sins in prayers irreverently offered and coldly withheld. Sins in time misspent, in yielding to Satan’s wiles and opening our hearts to his temptations and being watchful when we know he is near in quenching the Holy Spirit. Sins against light and knowledge, against conscious and the restraints of Thy Spirit, against the law of eternal love. Pardon all my sins, known and unknown, felt and unfelt, confessed and unconfessed, remembered or forgotten, good Lord, hear and hearing, forgive.”
There is yet time to repent, and when we do there is always mercy. Hear these good words. My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin, but if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation, the wrath-bearer for our sins. And not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. Thanks be to God. Amen.