"OUR GRACIOUS GOD."
Intro. Many people who do not really know the Bible believe that there is a difference between the God of the New Testament and the God of the Old Testament. Not knowing the scriptures they think that the God revealed in the New Testament is an all loving God, whereas the God of the Old Testament is a God of wrath and judgment. If you will carefully study the scriptures you will find that He is the same God.
I. THE GOD OF THE OLD TESTAMENT IS A LOVING AND GRACIOUS GOD, BUT HE IS JUST.
The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He has not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
B. When God revealed Himself to Moses after the nation had sinned in the worship of the golden calf in the wilderness, we read:
And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of Jehovah, and Jehovah passed by before him, and proclaimed, Jehovah, Jehovah God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth. Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.
II. THE GOD OF THE NEW TESTAMENT IS A LOVING AND GRACIOUS GOD AND HE IS JUST.
A. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.
B. Jesus said to the woman taken in adultery, "Neither do I condemn you go your way and sin no more."
C. Jesus said, "As the Father has loved Me, even so have I loved you. continue in My love."
D. Jesus also said to the Pharisees, MAT 23:33
: "You serpents, you generation of vipers, how can you escape the damnation of hell?"
E. Paul declared: ROM 1:18
: "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness."
F. Again he wrote, "But your hard and impenitent heart is treasuring up unto yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God."
G. Again in the book of Revelation, from chapter 6 through 18 you have in great detail the descriptions of the judgment of God that is coming upon this world very soon, when He pours out His wrath.
And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;
And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casts her untimely figs, when it is shaken by a mighty wind.
And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;
And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive [his] mark in his forehead, or in his hand,
The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
And the smoke of their torment ascends up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receives the mark of his name.
H. In the book of Hebrews we read:
For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, of God which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: How much worse punishment, do you suppose he shall receive, who has trodden under foot the Son of God, and has counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith He was sanctified, an unholy thing, and has done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know Him that has said, Vengeance belongs to Me, I will repay, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge His people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
III. THE STORY OF KING MANASSEH.
A. Though his father King Hezekiah was a good, righteous man, there was no king more evil than he. He was worse than the pagans that God had previously destroyed from off the land.
B. The Bible lists for us his evil deeds.
1. He built again the high places where they erected altars to worship the pagan gods.
2. He built altars for Baalim.
3. He made groves; i.e., places where they worshipped the goddess Ashtoreth in licentious fertility rites.
4. He practiced astrology.
5. He desecrated the temple by building in it altars to pagan gods.
6. He sacrificed his own children in religious rites, by placing them alive in the bonfires built for the gods Molech and Baal.
7. He practiced sorcery and witchcraft.
8. He was into Satan worship.
9. He would not listen to the prophets of God who warned him to turn from his evil ways. 10. He led the whole nation in a rebellion against the laws of the Lord. 11. He had crossed over the line between God's mercy and His grace.
C. God finally sent the prophets to declare:
Because Manasseh king of Judah hath done these abominations, and has done more wicked things than all that the Amorites did, which were before him, and has made Judah also to sin with his idols:
Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Behold, I am bringing such evil upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever hears of it, their ears shall tingle.
I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria, and the plummet of the house of Ahab: and I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipes a dish, wiping it, and turning it upside down.
And I will forsake the remnant of mine inheritance, and deliver them into the hand of their enemies; and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies;
Because they have done that which was evil in my sight, and have provoked Me to anger, since the day their fathers came forth out of Egypt, even unto this day.
Moreover Manasseh shed very much innocent blood till he had filled Jerusalem with blood from one end to another; beside his sin wherewith he made Judah to sin, in doing that which was evil in the sight of the LORD.
D. He had caused the nation to cross over the line from which there could be no return. Though a slight reform was brought in the reign of his son Josiah, it was only surface. The die is cast, he has led the nation in its final death plunge.
E. We read that the Assyrians came and took him among the thorns and bound him and carried him to Babylon. That is, they put a ring either through his nose or lip and led him as a captive to Babylon. The word translated thorn, is literally piercing.
F. But this is not the end of the story, we read that when he was in affliction.
1. In the Chaldea account of this story it declares: "For the Chaldeans made a brazen mule, and pierced it full of small holes, and put him in it. They then kindled fires all around it; and when he was in this affliction, he sought help of all the idols which he had made, but obtained none, for they were of no value. He therefore repented, and prayed before the Lord his God, and was greatly humbled in the sight of the Lord God of his fathers."
2. Look at what it took to bring him to repentance, great torment and the exhausting of all other resources that might possibly help. You might say that he was at the bottom of the barrel.
3. Let me ask you, if you were God, what you would say to this man at this point, when he finally cries out to you, this man who has done so much evil?
a. "You have made your own bed, lie in it."
b. "Don't call on My help now."
c. "I refuse to be your last resort."
d. "You wouldn't listen to Me, why should I listen to you?"
4. What did God do?
a. He heard and answered his prayer.
b. He brought him back to the throne in Jerusalem.
c. He pardoned his transgressions.
5. Talk about a gracious and forgiving God.
IV. THE STORY OF MANASSEH SHOULD BRING HOPE TO EVERY SINNER.
A. You may have tasted the depths of sin, but I doubt if you could ever be as evil as Manasseh.
1. If God forgave Manasseh, then surely He will forgive you.
2. Peter quoted from Joel who declared, "Whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved."
B. Maybe today like Manasseh you are in great affliction because of your sin.
1. It has brought you into bondage.
2. It has brought great pain to you.
3. You have exhausted your options, nothing has worked.
4. Maybe it is time that you call on the Lord.
5. If you do, just as he heard the prayer of Manasseh, and forgave Him, so He will hear your prayer and forgive you.