“The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” (Psalm 103:8 NIV)
“The Lord is slow to anger and filled with unfailing love, forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion.” (Numbers 14:18 NIV)
Throughout the Old Testament, God’s people continuously rebelled and repented and every time, without fail or hesitation, God forgave, instantly. 2 Chronicles 33 tells the story of Manasseh, son of Hezekiah, who succeeds his father to the throne of Jerusalem. Hezekiah was a God-fearing king, who was responsible for restoring the Temple of the Lord and reinstating the sacrifices prescribed in the Law of Moses after his father, King Ahaz, had “shut the doors of the LORD’S temple and set up altars at every street corner in Jerusalem” and “built high places [in Judah] to burn sacrifices to other gods and around the anger of the LORD.” (2 Chronicles 28:24-25 NIV)
Except one minor incident in Chapter 32 where the let his pride get the best of him but quickly repented and was forgiven, he served the Lord faithfully all his life. However, his son Manasseh did not follow in his father’s footsteps and “did evil in the eyes of the Lord”. He reinstituted the worship of Baal and erected altars to him and Asherah poles, as well as worshipping the stars, burning his own children, and practicing divination and witchcraft. In short, he was a bad guy. And he lead God’s people astray. As always, God gave the people fair warning, which they failed to heed — initially.
“The LORD spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention. So the LORD brought against them the army commanders of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh prisoner, put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon.” (2 Chronicles 33:10-11 NIV)
God chastens those He loves in order to set their feet on the straight and narrow and fortunately for Manasseh, the punishment was effective and brought about the result God desired and God forgave him – not in an hour or a day or a week but in the instant Manasseh humbled himself and sought the Lord’s forgiveness.
“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 NIV)
After this, Manasseh rebuilt the temple and the walls of Jerusalem; he removed all traces of the worship of the false gods and served the Lord for the remainder of his life.
The Bible says that God is the same, yesterday, today and forever; He does not change like shifting shadows and He will not stay angry at His people forever. However, God is a just God; therefore, He must punish sin but He does it for our own good. If He allows us to fall into sin and continue to sin, we are doomed to an eternity separated from Him but He loves us too much to let us go without an effort on His part to bring us back and restore us to fellowship. This is why He is quick to forgive; He loves us. He desires us. He chose to set His love upon us.
So the next time it seems that God is punishing you, examine yourself and see where you might be in error and if you find that you are, appeal to God quickly and He will restore you. To be in the good graces of God, the place where His love and mercy abound — there is nowhere else for me…and you.
In His Love,