In 2 Chronicles 33 the life of King Manasseh is described. He was a wicked king whose lamentable reign is described in vrs 2, he did evil in the eyes of the LORD, following the detestable practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites. He ended up ruling for 55 years (695-642 BC) and serves to remind us of the marvelous patience of God.
When the OT says that God is patient or slow to anger (Exodus 34:6, Psalm 86:15; 103:8; 145:8, Nehemiah 9:17, Joel 2:13) the original Hebrew actually says that God has a long nose. It is a peculiar figure of speech! Apparently, the idea was this: When a person gets angry, his or her nose turns red or burns. Hebrew speakers believed that, when God gets angry, He doesn’t act until His nose burns all the way down to His face. Since God’s nose is so long, it takes a long time for it to burn up; as a result, He does not act on His anger quickly. Today we would say that God has a long fuse. God’s patience means that He often graciously withholds judgment for long periods of time from those who are sinning. Notice how vrs 3-6 describes the depths of Manasseh’s wickedness.
a) In vrs 3 he erected altars to the Baals and made Asherah poles. These deities were associated with fertility rites.
b) Vrs 3 goes on to say he bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshiped them.
c) In vrs 6 we read the horrifying words, he sacrificed his sons in the fire in the Valley of Ben Hinnom.
d) Vrs 6 goes on to say that he practiced sorcery, divination and witchcraft, and consulted mediums and spiritists.
In vrs 10, 11 we read that although the Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people they paid no attention. So the LORD brought against them the army commanders of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh prisoner, put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon. Manasseh responded to the Lord’s discipline and in vrs 13 we read, and when he prayed to him, the LORD was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD is God. The Lord is indeed slow to anger and abounding in love? We might wonder why God allowed this man to reign longer than any other king in Judah. He ruled for 55 years. This is even more remarkable since vrs 21-25 says that God only gave his son, Amon two years before pulling the rug from under his feet. This serves to remind us that although God has a long fuse His patience is not infinite. Aren’t you thankful that the Lord is indeed slow to anger and abounding in love? It supplies even the greatest of sinners with hope. The apostle Paul many centuries later could say in 1 Timothy 1:15, 16 here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. If the Lord in his great patience worked salvation for Paul, there is hope for even the worst of sinners today. As we read in 2 Peter 3:9 the Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.