Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch
I once was lost, but now I'm found, was blind, but now I see. 
John Newton was the wretch who penned those words. He was a shipmaster and slave trader in the 1700's before he turned to trust the Lord. Here is how he describes his conversion:
I was not any wiser or better than [my companions], but the Lord was pleased to entrust to me peculiar mercy. I was the most unlikely person in the ship to receive an impression, having been often before quite stupid and hardened in the very face of great dangers, and having always before hardened my neck more and more after every reproof. I can see no reason why the Lord singled me out for mercy but this, 'that so it seemed good to Him'; And [also] to show by one astonishing instance that 'with Him nothing is impossible.'" 
John Newton experienced a surprising conversion. The testimony of the apostle Paul is much the same. He wrote, ...
1 Timothy 1:12-16
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.
The Apostle Paul experienced a surprising conversion. The Bible is flooded with stories of surprising conversions. Matthew, the tax-collector, had a surprising conversion. One ordinary day, he was seated in his office, busy with his tax work. Along came Jesus, who said to him, "Follow Me." And a well-known, notorious sinner "got up and followed Him" (Matt. 9:9). Eventually, he became one of Christ's twelve disciples and died for his faith in Christ.
Zaccheus, the tax-collector, had a surprising conversion. When Jesus came walking by the road, Zaccheus climbed the tree to see Jesus. Soon afterwards, Jesus was in his home, saying, "Today salvation has come to this house" (Luke 19:9).
The woman of Samaria, who met Jesus at the well experienced a surprising conversion. Her life was a mess. She had been married and divorced five times. Currently, she was living with a man who wasn't her husband. And yet, she came to believe that Jesus was the Messiah and was converted (John 4:42).
The thief on the cross had a surprising conversion. He was in the process of being killed for his crimes. Yet, upon his death-cross, he sought mercy from Jesus. Jesus promised him, "Today you shall be with Me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43).
Perhaps other examples from the Bible come into your mind. You may be thinking of the surprising conversion of Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 4). You may be thinking of the surprising conversion of the Philippian jailer (Acts 16). You may be thinking of the surprising conversion of Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9). You may be thinking of the surprising conversion of Ruth, from Moab. But, none is more surprising than that of Manasseh.
Though our focus this morning is upon a character in the Bible, such surprising conversions didn't happen only in the days of the Bible. They are happening today. Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago has done a great job dramatizing true accounts of those who have experienced a surprising conversion through their radio program, "Unshackled!" You can hear hundreds of testimonies on their website of alcoholics and drug dealers and gang members and prostitutes from abusive homes turning to Christ and seeing their life changed. 
Such testimonies are extremely encouraging to hear. As a boy, I remember listening to these testimonies on the radio. I still enjoy them today. There is something about hearing the way that the Lord works in these incredible ways that stirs our hearts to love Him more!
In fact, Jonathan Edwards once wrote, "There is no one thing I know of which God has made such a means of promoting His work among us, as the news of others' conversions." This was the reason behind his treatise entitled, "A Faithful Narrative of Surprising Conversions" in which he documents the accounts of many who were converted during the Great Awakening in his day. Page after page, Jonathan Edwards described the circumstances surrounding the conversion of those he knew. Such a work promoted the cause of Christ in a unique way.
This morning, we will look at the circumstances surrounding the conversion of Manasseh. My message this morning is appropriately entitled., "A Narrative of a VERY Surprising Conversion."
My aim this morning is three-fold:
(1) to encourage your heart in hearing the story of the most wicked of kings becoming a saint. Hearing of the one who promoted idol worship and later became a worshiper of the true God ought to encourage your heart. When you think of how the one who was so wicked that God pronounced irrevocable judgment upon Judah, but later repented and came to know the Lord should strengthen your faith.
(2) to stir your heart. Perhaps you are here this morning under the weight of your sin. it presses upon you like a burden on your back. You live under its constant weight. I want for you to know Christ Jesus can lift your burden off your back. It matters not how great your sin is. He can take it away as He did for Manasseh.
(2) to encourage your evangelism. If Manasseh wasn't out of the reach of the grace of God, then neither are those in your social circle out of the reach of the grace of Christ. Think about someone you know who is currently rebelling against the Lord. They are engaged in a lifestyle of rebellion, in which God has know part. They sin in thought, word, and deed in great ways. They are not beyond the reach of the gospel of Christ. May my message this morning you a fresh to tell them of the gospel.
Consider our text.
2 Chronicles 33:1-20
Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. He did evil in the sight of the LORD according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD dispossessed before the sons of Israel. For he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down; he also erected altars for the Baals and made Asherim, and worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. He built altars in the house of the LORD of which the LORD had said, "My name shall be in Jerusalem forever." For he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. He made his sons pass through the fire in the valley of Ben-hinnom; and he practiced witchcraft, used divination, practiced sorcery and dealt with mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him to anger. Then he put the carved image of the idol which he had made in the house of God, of which God had said to David and to Solomon his son, "In this house and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen from all the tribes of Israel, I will put My name forever; and I will not again remove the foot of Israel from the land which I have appointed for your fathers, if only they will observe to do all that I have commanded them according to all the law, the statutes and the ordinances given through Moses." Thus Manasseh misled Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to do more evil than the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the sons of Israel. The LORD spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention.
Therefore the LORD brought the commanders of the army of the king of Assyria against them, and they captured Manasseh with hooks, bound him with bronze chains and took him to Babylon. When he was in distress, he entreated the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. When he prayed to Him, He was moved by his entreaty and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem to his kingdom Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God. Now after this he built the outer wall of the city of David on the west side of Gihon, in the valley, even to the entrance of the Fish Gate; and he encircled the Ophel with it and made it very high. Then he put army commanders in all the fortified cities of Judah. He also removed the foreign gods and the idol from the house of the LORD, as well as all the altars which he had built on the mountain of the house of the LORD and in Jerusalem, and he threw them outside the city. He set up the altar of the LORD and sacrificed peace offerings and thank offerings on it; and he ordered Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel. Nevertheless the people still sacrificed in the high places, although only to the LORD their God.
Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh even his prayer to his God, and the words of the seers who spoke to him in the name of the LORD God of Israel, behold, they are among the records of the kings of Israel. His prayer also and how God was entreated by him, and all his sin, his unfaithfulness, and the sites on which he built high places and erected the Asherim and the carved images, before he humbled himself, behold, they are written in the records of the Hozai. So Manasseh slept with his fathers, and they buried him in his own house. And Amon his son became king in his place.
Our text this morning splits right in half. Manasseh's wickedness is shown in the first half of this text. Manasseh's repentance is shown in the last half of this text. The turning point comes in verses 12-13, "When he was in distress, he entreated the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. When he prayed to Him, He was moved by his entreaty and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem to his kingdom Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God."
Every child of God has these two phases in his life: B. C. and A. D. (Before Christ and Anno Domini). There is a phase in your life that was before Christ. There is a phase in your life that is dominated by living under His rule. Is there such a divide in your life today?
Perhaps you haven't experienced these phases in your life. It may be that you are not a Christian. Well, be assured that God can save anyone. If God can save Manasseh, then God can save you. And if God can save Manasseh, then God can save anybody in your relational world. Don't give up on anybody with the gospel of Christ!
Let's look at the life of Manasseh with my first point. And this is the dark news about Manasseh's life.
Verse 1 begins, "Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem." In this verse we are introduced to Manasseh, who reigned over Jerusalem for 55 years, that was a long time. He began when he was a boy of the age of 12, like my son, SR. He finished his reign when he was a man of 67 years old, a bit younger than my father. This was the longest of any king in the history of Israel or Judah. He didn't do well. Verse 2 informs us that "he did evil in the sight of the LORDaccording to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD dispossessed before the sons of Israel."
It was customary for Scripture writers to "grade" their kings. Back in 2 Chronicles 29:2, we see Manasseh's father, Hezekiah, receive a passing grade, "He did right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father David had done." A bit further back, in 2 Chronicles 28:1, we read of Manasseh's grandfather, "Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem; and he did not do right in the sight of the LORD as David his father had done."
Throughout the long lineage of kings in Judah, about half of them were good, and about half of them were bad. But, Manasseh's sin was particularly bad. In fact, you could easily argue that he was the worst, the most evil, of all of the kings of Judah. According to Jeremiah 15:4, it was the sins of Manasseh that sentenced Judah to destruction. Consider what Jeremiah said, "I shall make Judah an object of horror among all the kingdoms of the earth because of Manasseh, the son of Hezekiah, the king of Judah, for what he did in Jerusalem!"
Manasseh's sin was so bad that it brought the ultimate judgment upon Judah. And indeed, some 50 years after the reign of Manasseh, the Babylonians came and took them off to exile. This is why Manasseh's conversion is so surprising! His sin made certain the downfall of Judah, and yet, he still came to know the LORD.
What did Manasseh do that was so bad? Our text gives us five things that makes his sin so great. First of all, ...
1. Manasseh's rebellion was against a godly example.
Manasseh's father was Hezekiah. He was a good and godly king. Hezekiah "did right in the sight of the LORD" (2 Chron. 29:2). Hezekiah's first priority during his reign was to restore the worship of the LORD. "In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of the LORD and repaired them" (2 Chron. 29:3). Hezekiah's first order of business was to re-establish the worship of the LORD in the nation. Chapter 29 gives the details of how this took place. In 2 Chronicles 30, we see Hezekiah re-instituting the Passover (verse 1). In chapter 31, the reform continued He destroyed all of the idols in the land! A great summary of Hezekiah's life is found in the following verses:
2 Chronicles 31:20-21
Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah; and he did what was good, right and true before the LORD his God. Every work which he began in the service of the house of God in law and in commandment, seeking his God, he did with all his heart and prospered.
Hezekiah was a godly man. And yet, Manasseh "did evil in the sight of the LORD" (2 Chron. 33:2) in spite of the godly example left by his father. And this makes his sin worse, because he sinned against the light.
It's one thing to sin in ignorance. It's another thing to sin against the light! If you grew up in a home, hearing nothing of God, but rather being exposed to sin, such as an alcoholic father, with an abusing mother, with parents who fight and never go to church. It's one thing to grow up following this example, but it's another thing entirely to grow up in a home where God is honored in the lives of your parent. Where the Bible is read. Where prayers are prayed. Where love abounds.
When Jesus walked the earth, His greatest condemnation was toward those who had the light. He called curses upon the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matt. 23). He cursed Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, because they had seen more miracles than any other city, yet remained hard. Manasseh had sinned against the light (Matt. 11:20-24).
Oh, may Rock Valley Bible Church raise up a godly generation!
2. Manasseh's rebellion was against God's commands to Moses (verses 3-6).
We see this beginning with verse 3, "For he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down; he also erected altars for the Baals and made Asherim," (cf. 31:1). Everything that Hezekiah had torn down, Manasseh built up. Everything that Hezekiah had built up, Manasseh tore down.
Hezekiah had torn down the "high places" places of worship that were situated up on a hill or mountain, but Manasseh built them up again. Hezekiah had torn down the "altars for the Baals" local fertility gods, but Manasseh built them up again. Hezekiah had torn down the "Asherim" the female fertility gods, but Manasseh built them up again. Each of these altars that Manasseh built were all explicitly forbidden in the law of Moses.
To make matters worse, Manasseh, "worshiped all the host of heaven and served them." He was worshiping the stars, like many astrologists today might do. This too was contrary to the law of Moses (Deut. 4:19; 17:3).
But, wait, there's more. Verse 4 continues, "He built altars in the house of the LORD of which the LORD had said, 'My name shall be in Jerusalem forever.'" These altars weren't merely built in some obscure, out-of-the-way part of town. No, they were build in the very temple of God, itself.
But, wait, there's more. Look at verse 5, "He built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD." This is talking about the holy of holies and the priestly court. In the most holy place on earth, where one man was permitted to enter once a year to make atonement for the sins of the people, Manasseh sets up alters for the stars in that place.
Just when you think that it can't get any worse, it does. Verse 6 describes the horror, "He made his sons pass through the fire in the valley of Ben-hinnom. This is talking about child-sacrifice! He sacrificed some of his own children upon the altar!
It continues in verse 6, "he practiced witchcraft, used divination, practiced sorcery and dealt with mediums and spiritists."
It was almost as if Manasseh was on the hunt for anything bad to do. And when he found it, we did it. Proverbs 10:23 says, "Doing wickedness is like sport to a fool." Manasseh was "sporting" in his wickedness. It's as if he was trying to break the rules.
You know what a rebellious child is like, don't you? If you say, "Come here," the rebellious child won't. If you say, "Don't touch that!" the rebellious child will touch it. If you say, "Please be quiet," the rebellious child will continue to babble. So was Manasseh. Whatever Moses had commanded, Manasseh was trying his best to break the commandment.
Throughout the Torah, Moses spoke against the high places and the Baals, and the Asherim, and the altars for the stars of heaven and child sacrifice and witchcraft and divination and sorcery and mediums and spiritists (see Num. 33:52; Deut. 7:5; 4:19; 18:10-12).
Richard Baxter put it well, "A sin of infirmity may admit apology; A sin of ignorance may find out excuse; But a sin of defiance can find no defense."  Manasseh had no excuse for his wickedness.
A good summary of Manasseh's circumstances comes in verse 6, "He did much evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him to anger." And this is why Manasseh's conversion is so surprising! He rebelled against all light given to him in the written revelation of the Pentateuch.
3. Manasseh's rebellion was against God's promise to Solomon (verses 7-8).
Consider verses 7 and 8, "Then he put the carved image of the idol which he had made in the house of God, of which God had said to David and to Solomon his son, 'In this house and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen from all the tribes of Israel, I will put My name forever; and I will not again remove the foot of Israel from the land which I have appointed for your fathers, if only they will observe to do all that I have commanded them according to all the law, the statutes and the ordinances given through Moses.'"
God had given Solomon a great promise. A promise of blessing for obedience. Here is the promise, ...
2 Chronicles 7:17-20
As for you, if you walk before Me as your father David walked, even to do according to all that I have commanded you, and will keep My statutes and My ordinances, then I will establish your royal throne as I covenanted with your father David, saying, 'You shall not lack a man to be ruler in Israel.' But if you turn away and forsake My statutes and My commandments which I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will uproot you from My land which I have given you, and this house which I have consecrated for My name I will cast out of My sight and I will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples."
Manasseh had rebelled against this promise. And God was true to His promise. Because of the sin of Manasseh, He cast Judah out of the land!
4. Manasseh's rebellion was as a leader (verse 9).
In verse 9 we read, "Thus Manasseh misled Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to do more evil than the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the sons of Israel."
It's one thing to do evil yourself, but to lead others in it is even worse. It's one thing to be a drug user, but it's another to bring others along in your sin. It's one thing to be a homosexual, but it's another to seduce others into the same sin. And those who lead other into sin are under the greatest condemnation. Jesus said, "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea" (Matt. 18:6).
But, Manasseh didn't merely lead a believer or two into sin. He led the entire nation into sin! And thus, he became under an even greater condemnation. The fact that he repented was VERY surprising.
5. Manasseh's rebellion was as a leader (verse 10).
Consider verse 10, "The LORD spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention."
It's one thing to be outside the church and be evil. But, it's another thing to be inside the church and hearing from God's word and continuing in your sin. "To whom much is given, much will be required" (Luke 12:48). It would have been better for Judas never to have been born, than to walk with Jesus for three years and then betray Him against all knowledge and understanding (Matt. 26:24). And so with Manasseh. In his sin, it would have been better for him never to have been born.
Manasseh was a man, who looked like he had no chance of being converted. Yet, we must remember what Proverbs 21:1 says, "The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes." God was gracious to Manasseh and turned the channel of his heart to seek the LORD.
Would the truth be known, this is the only way that a sinner every comes to Christ. It's not because some spark of goodness within them suddenly decides that they want to seek for God. Rather, it's because God takes the initiative and opens the heart to believe. Jesus said, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day" (John 6:44).
On the road to Emmaus, the disciples were confused about the resurrection of Jesus, even though they saw Jesus and touched Him! (Luke 24). But, "Jesus opened their minds to understand the Scriptures!" (Luke 24:45). It was when God turned the heart that they finally understood and embraced the truth. And that's what the LORD did with Manasseh. He brought him low and turned his heart. We see this in my second point.
This is where the good news shines through! This is where there is hope. This is where we see God at work!
Verse 11 describes the terrible fate of Manasseh. "Therefore the LORD brought the commanders of the army of the king of Assyria against them, and they captured Manasseh with hooks, bound him with bronze chains and took him to Babylon."
Manasseh was captured in war by the Assyrians! Now, the Assyrians weren't a new enemy. During the days of Hezekiah, Manasseh's father, the Assyrians had come against Judah and waged war! (32:1). But, now Manasseh had been captured by them.
It says here that they captured Manasseh "with hooks." The NIV says that they "put a hook in his nose!" That's probably what happened. It was a common Assyrian custom to take away their captives with hooks in their noses, to lead them around like cattle. The British Museum has many Assyrian reliefs that displayed the capturing of enemies in this way.
Though these events were horrific for Manasseh, they turned out to be a wonderful blessing for Manasseh! Because there in that Assyrian prison, Manasseh came to an end of himself. Here was the king of Judah for decades, captured and taken into custody in a cold, damp, dark, and musty prison. The king in the palace had become a slave in the dungeon. And oh, what a blessing it was for Manasseh.
Verse 12 describes the scene, "When he was in distress, he
entreated the LORD his God and humbled
himself greatly before the God of his fathers." For such a great sinner, it took a
drastic action for the LORD to get his
attention. In verse 10, we saw how the LORD was constantly entreating him. But, he paid no attention to the
But, deep in the prison cell in a foreign land, the king was humbled.
There is an old adage that goes like this: "He that cannot pray, let him go to sea, and there he will learn to pray!" It is often in time of our greatest need that we are brought to our knees. For Manasseh, the one who refused to pray, was taken to Assyria to learn to pray.
Think about it. When the terrorist attacks came on 9-11, prayer meetings arose all over the country. When there are shootings on school campuses, students almost naturally begin to hold prayer vigils. And this was Manasseh's state. He was down and he was out. He had nowhere else to turn, but to the LORD. And to the Lord he turned. "He humbled himself greatly" (verse 12). Great sin demands great repentance.
Look at God's response in verse 13, "When he prayed to Him, He was moved by his entreaty and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God." This was the point of his conversion!
Now, we don't know exactly what Manasseh said, but it must have been wonderful. Verses 18 and 19 tell us about this prayer, "Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh even his prayer to his God, and the words of the seers who spoke to him in the name of the LORD God of Israel, behold, they are among the records of the kings of Israel. His prayer also and how God was entreated by him, and all his sin, his unfaithfulness, and the sites on which he built high places and erected the Asherim and the carved images, before he humbled himself, behold, they are written in the records of the Hozai (i.e. the seers)."
Manasseh's prayer was such a great prayer, that the Jewish historians recorded it in their annals. Now, unfortunately, we don't have these records. There is an ancient document called, "The Prayer of Manasseh," which was included as an appendix to the apocrypha. Few churches acknowledge its authenticity. But, it's worthy to read, as a great prayer of repentance. But, it probably wasn't what Manasseh actually prayed. 
So, we don't know exactly what Manasseh said in his prayer. But, we can make a pretty good guess as to the elements of his prayer. I believe that he simply confessed his sin and cried for help. "God, I am a sinner. I have done mighty terrible things in your sight. I know that I have no right to seek your forgiveness. I need your grace. I need your help, lest I die." And in many ways, this is the prayer that all of us need to pray. "God, I have messed up. God, I have blown it! I am guilty before you. I need your forgiveness. I need your help. Be merciful to me, the sinner."
This is how people come to know the Lord: they cry out to Him! When Manasseh prayed, he came to know the LORD. He was converted!
It's amazing how God answers his prayer. He "brought him again to Jerusalem to his kingdom" (verse 13). When kings were captured in the ancient world, they were usually killed. They weren't returned to power. But, Manasseh's fate wasn't in the hands of the Assyrians, but in God's hands. When the Assyrian king had come up to attack Judah in the days of Hezekiah, he encouraged the people of Israel with these words:
2 Chronicles 32:7-8
Be strong and courageous, do not fear or be dismayed because of the king of Assyria nor because of all the horde that is with him; for the one with us is greater than the one with him. With him is only an arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles" (2 Chron. 32:7-8).
And so also in the deep prison in Assyria, Manasseh was in the hands of the LORD. There is no other way that you can explain how it was that Manasseh was restored. It was only the sovereign pleasure of God that accomplished these things.
We see in verses 14-16 of how Manasseh's repentance demonstrated itself to be true. When Manasseh returned to the city, things were different. He fortified the city (verse 14a). He fortified the army (verse 14b). He re-instituted the temple worship (verses 15-16). Every evil that Manasseh had done, he undid.
2 Chronicles 33:14-16
Now after this he built the outer wall of the city of David on the west side of Gihon, in the valley, even to the entrance of the Fish Gate; and he encircled the Ophel with it and made it very high.
Then he put army commanders in all the fortified cities of Judah. He also removed the foreign gods and the idol from the house of the LORD (cf. verse 7), as well as all the altars which he had built on the mountain of the house of the LORD and in Jerusalem (cf. verses 3-4), and he threw them outside the city. He set up the altar of the LORD and sacrificed peace offerings and thank offerings on it; and he ordered Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel.
Just like the Thessalonians, he "turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God" (1 Thess. 1:9). And as the sovereign king, he pressed all of his people to worship the LORD!
This was a bit like what took place in the days of Constantine. In 313 A. D., he issued the Edict of Milan, which was the legal end of the terrible persecution that had come upon the church for nearly three centuries. It announced the toleration of Christianity. In 324 A. D., an imperial edict was announced that "ordered all soldiers to worship the Supreme God on the first day of the week."  This became the seed of the Roman empire officially being designated a Christian empire. At that point, many were baptized and brought into the church. Sadly, those who came into the church merely brought their pagan practices into the church. The hearts of those in the Holy Roman Empire were not changed.
And this is exactly what happened with Manasseh. Though he "ordered Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel," verse 17 informs us, "Nevertheless the people still sacrificed in the high places, although only to the LORD their God" (verse 17). They continued in their idolatrous ways, only they changed the name of the God that they worshiped. They changed the name of their worship, but they didn't change their practice. When the heart in the palace was changed, the heart of the people was unchanged.
Continuing on in the narrative of 2 Chronicles 33, we see that Manasseh's son, Amon, became king (verse 20). Rather than continuing on, following Manasseh's lead, "he did evil in the sigh of the LORD as Manasseh his father had done" (verse 22). Whatever Manasseh had changed, Amon changed back. Amon "did not humble himself before the LORD as his father Manasseh had done, but Amon multiplied guilt" (verse 23).
Sadly, that is the case of many in our land today. They have a name that they are Christian, but they haven't been converted in their hearts. Externally, they attend church. Externally, they sing praise to the name of Jesus. But, in the end, they really had no change of heart. But, a change of heart is what's needed!
What about you? Is your heart changed? Has your heart been humbled? Has your heart been changed? Have you pleaded mercy before the LORD? With Manasseh as your model, know that there is hope for you.
A good friend of John Newton's wrote the following words of hope:
The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his
And there may I, though vile as he, wash all my sins away. 
This sermon was delivered to Rock Valley Bible Church on
April 20, 2008 by Steve Brandon.
For more information see www.rvbc.cc.
 Jonathan Edwards, "A Faithful Narrative of rht eSurprising Work of God." You can read the work here: http://www.jonathan-edwards.org/Narrative.html. In the two-volume edition of the Works of Jonathan Edwards, this quote can be found on page 355.
The Prayer of Manasseh
1:1 O Lord Almighty, God of our fathers, of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and of their righteous posterity;
1:2 thou who hast made heaven and earth with all their order;
1:3 who hast shackled the sea by thy word of command, who hast confined the deep and sealed it with thy terrible and glorious name;
1:4 at whom all things shudder, and tremble before thy power,
1:5 for thy glorious splendor cannot be borne, and the wrath of thy threat to sinners is irresistible;
1:6 yet immeasurable and unsearchable is thy promised mercy,
1:7 for thou art the Lord Most High, of great compassion, long-suffering, and very merciful, and repentest over the evils of men. Thou, O Lord, according to thy great goodness hast promised repentance and forgiveness to those who have sinned against thee; and in the multitude of thy mercies thou hast appointed repentance for sinners, that they may be saved.
1:8 Therefore thou, O Lord, God of the righteous, hast not appointed repentance for the righteous, for Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, who did not sin against thee, but thou hast appointed repentance for me, who am a sinner.
1:9 For the sins I have committed are more in number than the sand of the sea; my transgressions are multiplied, O Lord, they are multiplied! I am unworthy to look up and see the height of heaven because of the multitude of my iniquities.
1:10 I am weighted down with many an iron fetter, so that I am rejected because of my sins, and I have no relief; for I have provoked thy wrath and have done what is evil in thy sight, setting up abominations and multiplying offenses.
1:11 And now I bend the knee of my heart, beseeching thee for thy kindness.
1:12 I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned, and I know my transgressions.
1:13 I earnestly beseech thee, forgive me, O Lord, forgive me! Do not destroy me with my transgressions! Do not be angry with me for ever or lay up evil for me; do not condemn me to the depths of the earth. For thou, O Lord, art the God of those who repent,
1:14 and in me thou wilt manifest thy goodness; for, unworthy as I am, thou wilt save me in thy great mercy,
1:15 and I will praise thee continually all the days of my life. For all the host of heaven sings thy praise, and thine is the glory for ever. Amen.