Did King Manasseh go to heaven?
The history of King Manasseh is described in two passages in the Old Testament. The first is in 2 Kings 21 and the second in 2 Chronicles 33. What follows is a description of the major events in this king’s life and a conclusion about his eternal destiny.
King Manasseh – An Evil King
2 Chronicles 33:1 states that Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king 695-642 B.C.).
Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. 2 Chronicles 33:1 (NASB)
When he became king, Sennacherib was the king (705-681 B.C.) of the Assyrian empire. Sadly, Manasseh committed the same sins of the nations that occupied the land of Canaan before Israel (v. 2). The most grievous sins were worshipping the false gods, such as the Baals and the Asherim. He built high places, altars to the Baals, pole for the Asherim and worshiped the celestial bodies (2 Chronicles 33:3). Altars were erected inside the temple and in its two courts (2 Chronicles 33:4-5, 7). 2 Chronicles 33:6 says that Manasseh made his son walk through fire and he himself practiced occult arts. 2 Kings 21:16 states that he caused many to die and Israel to sin greatly. In summary, note 2 Kings 21:2, 16 and 2 Chronicles 33:2, 6 did evil before the Lord. 2 Chronicles 33:6 says he did “much evil.” Manasseh was truly an evil man.
Tragedy Changed His Heart
Then after forty-seven years of his rule, God sent the Assyrian army to Jerusalem to capture Manasseh and deport him to Babylon. Most likely the Assyrian king was Asshurbanipal (669 – 633 B.C.). 2 Chronicles 33:11-13 tells us that as a result of Manasseh’s suffering he finally humbled himself and turned to God in prayer.
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. 2 Chronicles 33:11-13 (NASB)
For forty-seven years as king, Manasseh did not believe in God. But when tragedy hit, then he finally turned to God in humility. 2 Chronicles 33:14-16 reveals that he repented of his past sins and evil conduct because he worked to undo the evil that he had created.
How God dealt with Manasseh is the illustration of Romans 2:4-5 where we are told that God is patient with us. He is not quick to punish or condemn. God was patent with Manasseh. But Romans 2:4-5 also teaches that those who do not repent will experience the wrath of God for their evil deeds.
Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God . . . Romans 2:4-5 (NASB)
King Manasseh – The Good King
2 Chronicles 33:13 is the turning point in Manasseh’s life because we are told that “Manasseh knew that the Lord was God.” He believed in God and it changed his life. 2 Chronicles 33:14-17 states that Manasseh rebuilt Jerusalem, removed the false gods from the temple and the mountains, the high places. He set up the altar of the Lord and started the Mosaic sacrifices. Finally, he ordered Judah, the southern kingdom, to serve the Lord.
During most of Manasseh’s life he was an evil king and led Judah to do evil. Then in the forty-seven year of his reign, God brought tragedy into his life and Manasseh repented and turned to God. We are told that he finally understood that the Lord was God. He repented and prayed. This strongly suggests that Manasseh was an Old Testament believer or saint. That is, the biblical record indicates he will be in heaven for eternity. Manasseh is an illustration of true God’s patience and forgiveness.
Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? Romans 2:4 (NASB)
1. J.A. Thompson. 1, 2 Chronicles. New International Version. The New American Commentary. B & H Publishing. 1994. p. 369.
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