Tuesday, 14 November 2017

I Will Make Them a Horror

When God Becomes Weary of  Relenting

The Prophet Jeremiah was serving the Lord in the last days of Judea, before the Babylonians came down and destroyed Jerusalem.  He has been called the weeping prophet because of his lamentations and cries over the destruction that he knew was coming.

In Jeremiah 15, the prophet declares God's sentence upon Judah:
I will appoint over them four kinds of destroyers, declares the Lord: the sword to kill, the dogs to tear, and the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth to devour and destroy. And I will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth because of what Manasseh the son of Hezekiah, king of Judah, did in Jerusalem.  [Jeremiah 15: 3-4]
God declares that He will not relent because of what King Manasseh had done nearly one hundred years previously.  Manasseh, son of Hezekiah, had provoked God in a way so grievous that it "locked and loaded" God's wrath upon Judah.  And this, we may add, in the face of Manasseh's subsequent captivity at the hands of the Assyrians, then release, followed by his repentance and relative faithfulness.

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 favour 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.

. . .  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 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.  [II Chronicles 33: 10-20]
What was it that Manasseh did which proved so terminal?  In turning to the worship of idols, Manasseh did the unthinkable--he burned his own son as an offering to Molech.  II Kings 21 provides a "charge sheet" levelled against Manasseh:
For he rebuilt the high places that Hezekiah his father had destroyed, and he erected altars for Baal and made an Asherah, as Ahab king of Israel had done, and worshipped 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 will I put my name.” And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord. And he burned his son as an offering and used fortune-telling and omens and dealt with mediums and with necromancers. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger.  [II Kings 21:3-6]
When the Lord writes up the charge sheet against the West, how will it read?  What is the sin that is so perverse that God will not hold back His hand from judgement, even if the people and nations were to repent and return to the Lord?  Remember the words of Jeremiah:
And I will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth because of what Manasseh the son of Hezekiah, king of Judah, did in Jerusalem.
Manasseh subsequently repented of his sin; he was restored.  Yet it was so gross, so extreme, that the  judgement upon Judah could not be reversed.  Manasseh burned his son as an offering to Molech.  The practice did not stop with Manasseh's repentance: it continued for around a hundred years until Jeremiah's day.

We cannot help but fear that the systematic slaughter throughout the West of innocent children in the womb in the name of human rights will prove to be the sin which will break us, and have God declare with respect to us, "I am weary of relenting"  [Jeremiah 15:6].  To this most gross evil we may rightly add the accompanying guilt of self-will worship and devotion: homosexuality, gender bending, and forcing these perversions upon the children of our benighted age.

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