Month 10:15, Week 2:7 (Shibi'i/Sukkot), Year:Day 5941:281 AM|
Gregorian Calendar: Tuesday 2 January 2018
King Manasseh's Débâcle
Coal That Was Turned to Diamond
The George Müller Memorial Sermons Part 9
Continued from Part 8
The George Müller Memorial Sermons (GMMS) are a series of sermons honouring the Prussian evangelist Georg Müller who founded orphanages by complete faith and dependency on Elohim (God). These sermons highlight the principles that George Müller so successfully and inspirationally lived by.
Shabbat shalom kol beit Yisra'el and Mishpachah and welcome to this nineth part of our George Müller series.
A King in Distress
It is written in the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel:
Descent into Evil
"...while in deep distress, Manasseh sought Yahweh and cried out humbly to the Elohim (God) of his ancestors" (2 Chr.33:12, NLT).
Manasseh became king when he was twelve years old and did much evil in Yahweh's sight. How evil we can only begin to imagine for it is written that he "imitated the detestable practices of the pagan nations whom Yahweh had driven from the land ahead of the Israelites" (v.2). Like dogs returning to vomit, the moment we start turning our hearts away from the Creator it is not long before we are imitating the habits, customs and practices of our forefathers. We see it happening all around us as once-Christian Europe returns to the paganism that preceeded the conversion of our continent.
The Work of Hezekiah Destroyed
Indeed, Manasseh undid the reforms of his father for:
Defilement of the Temple
"He rebuilt the pagan shrines...Hezekiah had destroyed. He constructed altars for the images of Baal and set up Asherah poles. He also bowed before the stars of heaven in both courtyards of Yahweh's temple, the place where Yahweh said His Name should be honoured for ever. He put these altars for the stars of heaven in both courtyards of Yahweh's Temple. Manasseh even sacrified his own sons in the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom (from which we get the modern word 'hell'). He practiced sorcery, divination, and witchcraft and he consulted with mediums and psychics. He did much that was evil in Yahweh's sight, arousing His anger" (2 Chr.32:3-6, NLT).
Now had his father, the great reformer, lived to witness what his son was doing, it would have doubtless broken his heart. Indeed, sometimes is beggars belief that a son, carefully raised in the admonition of Yahweh, could turn so thoroughly away from all he had been taught. But it gets worse, as if Moloch-worship is not abominable enough:
Collapse of Western Civilisation
"Manasseh even took a carved idol he had made and set it up in Elohim's (God's) Temple, the very place where Elohim (God) had told David and His son Solomon:
"But Manasseh led the people of Judah and Jerusalem to do even more evil than the pagan nations whom Yahweh had destroyed when the Israelites entered the Land" (vv.7-9, NLT).
'My Name will be honoured here forever in this Temple and in Jerusalem - the city I have chosen from among all the other tribes of Israel. If the Israelites will obey My mitzvot (commandments) - all the instructions. laws, and regulations given through Moses - I will not send them into exile from this land that I gave their ancestors.'
It is so often the case that this happens. Look at the West. Look what's going on here. Do I even need to list the abominable sins happening in our midst? All the news - and I am speaking of the alternative media principally (since the mainstream news endorses the wickedness of our leaders) - focuses on the 'good' things that the Trump administration (for example) is doing in overturning - or starting to overturn - the evil done by past presidents. Yet has the West repented? Is not this civilisation of ours engaging in exactly the same things as Manasseh's Judah and Jerusalem? Are we not offering our sons up to the fire by murdering them in the womb and in satanic cults, promoting sexual immorality, waging ungodly wars for profit, and much else besides? There is a certain hypocrisy in even the good that the West is trying to do because underpinning that is gross sin still that nobody dares to address for fear of being metaphorically stoned to death by the politically-correct crowd. Yet now, because of Yahweh's judgments, our civilisation is collapsing around us, seemingly in a very short space of time, and we are surprised?!
Raw Royal Power
As you heard in the passages we have been reading, Yahweh threatened Judah with exile if the nation would not repent. Hezekiah's reforms in the previous generation had largely been the work of one man swimming against the spiritual stream of national apostacy and I think it would be fair to assume, given how easily and quickly they reverted pack to paganism during the reign of Manasseh, that it was only raw royal power that held their wickedness in check. Had Judah been a democracy in Hezekiah's day you would not have seen much or any reform at all. The one who occupies the seat of power has the ability to do much evil or good, even in a modern democracy.
More Wicked Than the Pagans
We are in such a situation today. Now, as then, evil kings outnumbered righteous ones. But I am getting off my point. Manasseh was one of the most wicked kings ever to rule in Judah. He encouraged his own people to do so much evil that they became more wicked than the Canaanite nations that Moses and Joshua had driven out of the Promised Land. Yahweh sent warnings through His nevi'im (prophets), as He does in every age, but Manasseh ignored them. So what did Yahweh do? He sent the Assyrian armies, just as He is doing today in Europe and America by other means, and they seized Manasseh, bound him with chains and hooks, and carted him off to Babylon (vv.9-11). Only then, as he was personally paying for the consequences of his evil, did he come to his senses and cried out to Yahweh for help, which brings us to the passage we began with today.
When Distress Brings Repentance
Let's look at it again because it contains the tried, tested yet simple formula for making teshuvah (repentance):
"But while in deep distress. Manasseh sought for Yahweh-Elohim and cried out humbly to the Elohim (God) of his ancestors" (v.12, NLT).
The Humiliated Monarch
Sadly, we are all of us not at all unlike wicked King Manasseh? Why? Because we so often refuse to repent until we have taken a thorough beating and experienced humiliation. For Manasseh, it was having "a ring put through his nose, [and being] bound...in bronze chains, and [being] led...away captive to Babylon" (v.11, NLT). Such treatment might be considered little for one living in poverty and slavery, as so many people are as the default state of their lives, but you have to remember that this was a monarch accustomed to the luxury of court life and the power which only absolute rulers are able to wield.
Delivered and Restored
As soon as Manasseh genuinely repented, Yahweh in His mercy listened and restored him to his kingdom:
The Renegade Was a Witness of the Reformer's Work
"And when he prayed, Yahweh listened to him and was moved by his request for help. So Yahweh let Manasseh return to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Manasseh had finally realised that Yahweh alone is Elohim (God)!" (v.13, NLT).
As parents we cannot always see our children go in the way we raised them. You cannot be 'born' a Christian or a Messianic. You have to choose it yourself. And, astonishingly, in spite of the great advantage children born and raised in godly homes may have, it is not uncommon for them to reject Yahweh and go and do great wickedness. It's a fact. Yet they will never entirely forget their upbringing and will be able to fall back on that if and when they come to their senses. Manasseh would have remembered all that his father Hezekiah had taught him and perhaps witnessed how he had torn down the very pagan idols that he himself had re-errected, even though he was only twelve when he ascended to the throne.
No Human Situation Precludes the Possibility of Pride
The reformed Manasseh went on to accomplish much for Yahweh, you'll be glad to know. In his prosperity, Manasseh was proud. In his nothingness, he was humbled and cried out to Elohim (God). Pride can arise at any time and in any situation. There is no spiritual advantage we may have that pride cannot arise in if we choose to let it. It happened to Solomon, did it not? He had every advantage and had received the spiritual legacy of his father David, the friend of Elohim (God). Yet even he had to brought down to the depths. David repented but Solomon did not. Whatever advantage Yahweh and life may have given to you, it is not a guarantee that you will remain in emunah (faith) or even end this life saved.
The Old Testament Elohim of Grace
Every man and woman has to make his or her choices whether advantaged or disadvantaged. Salvation is not handed down to us viâ an umbillical cord or on a silver platter and it is certainly not guaranteed to us just because we were raised believers. Manasseh is the perfect example. And yet, as wicked as he was - he was a baby murderer, if that isn't enough - we see that Yahweh, even in Old Covenant times, was and is full of undeserved living kindness, the same Elohim (God) of grace as in the New Covenant. Yahweh forgives the penitent and restores them.
Influenced at a Young Age
How can this be so? We don't know the forces that bore upon the twelve year-old after his father died. Young minds are easily corrupted We don't know who his advisors were or what they believed. It is highly unlikely that Manasseh just 'decided' one day to do all that wickedness on his own initiative. So we can only guess as the complex influences and processes than can lead any person into evil. It is frankly amazing that Manasseh was ever released from captivity at all. Most deposed monarchs never make it back to their thrones.
Yahweh uses Ex-Wicked Manasseh's
Fast forward to today. Yahweh has used, and continues to use, lots of Manasseh's in His service, those who have done great evil but in His grace have been brought to humility and to their right senses and made them servants in His Kingdom, people we would likely never have imagined could be so dramatically turned. Yet some of the greatest testimonies come from those who were once wicked and became righteous due to the merits of Messiah's blood alone. That is why we can never know who Yahweh can change. That is why we must never write somebody off until they have crossed final lines or been taken away in death. There is always hope.
Everyone's a Manasseh to Some Degree
There are many Christians and Messianics who are 'Manassehs'. They do most of the right things outwardly, which makes them harder to detect because they're not building idols or frying babies alive on brass altars, and they may even do a lot of right things inwardly too. They may even think they are humble because they go through the motions of humility, and it is only when they are called out that their pride comes to the surface and they react in decidedly non-Christian ways.
Prophetic Dream: The Lump of Coal
I had a dream last night. I dreamed about one such 'Manasseh' lifted up in the pride of his heart, only in the dream he was represented as a lump of coal. For those of you who have never seen or handled coal, it is very dirty indeed but burns well, being as it is a widely-used fossil fuel. When I was a teen in England, we used to burn coal at home and one of my jobs was filling the coal scuttle in the mornings to power our central heating and hot water system. I didn't mind the heavy work so much as I did getting filthy. Shovelling coal leaves you govered in grime and forces you to wash afterwards. I am sure you have seen period movies which has included a coal man covered in black coal dust.
Man is Born as 'Coal'
As I was waking up, Yahweh was speaking to me. I saw that this man was likened as a piece of coal because that is what all of us are like. We all enter this life as pieces of coal. And each of us is given a hard choice: we can be burned, let off heat, and do some useful work until our life is over. Or we can present ourselves to Elohim (God) and offer ourselves up for intense compressing. You all know what happens when you compress coal. Coal under very high pressure becomes diamonds. The thing about diamonds is that they are almost literally 'forever'.
Diamonds and Their Uses
There are industrial applications for diamonds, as you know, both because they are exceedingly hard and because of the way they can manipulate light and conduct heat. They are used for cutting, grinding, drilling, and polishing procedures, a good metaphorical description of the calling of true ministers operating in the prophetic and pastoral whose task is to be Yahweh's instruments in perfecting the character of talmidim (disciples). Diamonds are even ground down to make abrasive powders. But diamonds aren't just hard, they're also good heat conductors which in the human analogy means they are supposed to be conduits or conductors of Yahweh's ahavah (love).
Diamonds have a very bright luster - the highest non-metallic luster - known as 'adamantine' which gives them the ability to reflect a high percentage of the light that strikes their surface. This is one property that gives diamond gemstones their 'sparkle.' Believers are supposed to be reflectors of the Light of Messiah too, for others to see and be drawn to. Diamond also has a high dispersion - as white light passes through a diamond, this high dispersion causes that light to separate into its component colours. Dispersion is what enables a prism to separate white light into the colours of the spectrum. This property of dispersion is what gives diamonds their colorful 'fire.' Ministers - and especially those called to be teachers - must likewise be able to 'disperse' the emet (truth) into its component parts so that the divine tavnith may be observed. Thus the One Universal Commandment or Davar (Word) of Ahavah (Love) is split into two (love Yahweh and love your neighbour) which are split into the ten which are further split into the hundreds of mitzvot (commandts) in New Covenant Torah. The Besorah (Gospel) teacher must be able to see the whole and explain why all the parts are essential.
Your Life as Coal or Diamond
You can choose to be a piece of dirty coal and let your life burn in some small but temporary service for your fellow human beings or for yourself in this short life that we must all live. Or you can choose to be compressed into a spiritual gem and become something that lasts forever. The illustration should, I hope, be obvious. Manasseh's can be turned into Hezekiah's. Abram's can be turned into Abraham's, Sarai's into Sarah's and Jacob's into Israel's. But none of this comes easily - and harder for some than others because of stubbornness, pride and the sin we often refuse to relinquish until beaten low. How easy or hard - and for how long - this compression process takes, only Yahweh knows, for only He knows you sufficiently well to be able to say.
The Müllerite Diamond
George Müller yielded his life so completely that Yahweh compressed him into a spiritual diamond that is still sparkling for us to see, be inspired by, and imitate today. Do you want to remain a lump of coal or be transformed into a diamond? That is the question I am asking you today. There's a price either way. If you choose to remain coal, the price you will pay is 'conscious extinction' - you'll burn out your life and have nothing to show as one who is unsaved. Or, if you choose salvation and sanctification, the price is self-sacrifice so that Yahweh can turn you into something eternally beautiful through Kingdom service. That means being compressed from big to small - from pride to humility - from darkness to glorious light. Diamonds can reflect the Creator's Light. Coal reflects nothing, it absorbs it all for self.
In the dream my Father in Heaven told me that this lump of coal that I was shown would have a major rôle in the future of the Kingdom in his home country if he chose aright. It only takes one man or woman to change many by their example and right-ruling. That is what we are challenged to become today, through humble surrender. I pray you will accept the call. Amen.