It’s never too late for God to use you to launch a multigenerational movement of faith in your family. It may be that you came to Christ as an adult, and that your life before conversion was disastrous. Perhaps you have a wayward child who remembers those days and still finds it difficult to believe that God has truly changed you. Consider the dramatic story of Manasseh in the Scriptures:
Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. 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 rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had demolished; he also erected altars to the Baals and made Asherah poles. He bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshiped them. He built altars in the temple of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, “My Name will remain in Jerusalem forever.” In both courts of the temple of the Lord, he built altars to all the starry hosts. He sacrificed his sons in the fire in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, practiced sorcery, divination and witchcraft, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord, provoking him to anger. (2 Chron. 33:1–6)
Manasseh was one of the most wicked kings in the history of Israel. He worshipped idols and led the people to do the same. He threw his own children into pits of fire, sacrificing them to his demonic gods. God did not let this evil go unpunished.
The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but 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. In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. 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. . . . He got rid of the foreign gods and removed the image from the temple of the Lord, as well as all the altars he had built on the temple hill and in Jerusalem; and he threw them out of the city. Then he restored the altar of the Lord and sacrificed fellowship offerings and thank offerings on it, and told Judah to serve the Lord, the God of Israel. (2 Chron. 33:10–13; 15–16)
Manasseh repented! For the last five years of his life, he was a man on a mission. He tore down all the pagan altars he had built and raised up the altar of the Lord that he had torn down. He called the people to repent just as he had done, and to serve the Lord. Have you committed terrible sins in your life? Consider Manasseh, his sins, his repentance, and God’s forgiveness.
It’s possible that the person most dramatically affected by Manasseh’s repentance and radical pursuit of pleasing God was his grandson, Josiah. Josiah was only one year old when his grandfather turned from sin. From age one to six Josiah saw his grandfather worshipping God, tearing down places of idol worship, raising up the altar of the Lord, and pleading with the people to follow God and God alone. It’s reasonable to believe that Josiah heard some stories about the man his grandfather used to be, but all Josiah knew was, regardless of the past, his grandfather loved God now. Josiah needed that example from Manasseh, because he would become king at the tender age of eight.
Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and walked in the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left. . . . In his twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of high places, Asherah poles, carved idols and cast images. Under his direction the altars of the Baals were torn down; he cut to pieces the incense altars that were above them, and smashed the Asherah poles, the idols and the images. (2 Chron. 34:1–4)
Manasseh’s repentance blessed his grandson Josiah, and Josiah continued his grandfather’s mission to call the people of Israel back to God. Josiah became one of the most godly and important kings in the history of Israel. Your choice to pursue God and walk humbly with Him will have a ripple effect in your family for generations to come.