Christianity and theology

From Manasseh to Christmas

The next person in the genealogy of Jesus Christ who does not have a beautiful story is King Manasseh. His story is recorded for us in 2 Kings 21.

“And he (Manasseh) did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the despicable practices of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel. 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 (2, 3).

And he burned his son as an offering and used fortune-telling and omens and dealt with mediums and with wizards. He did much evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger….Moreover, Manasseh shed very much innocent blood, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another (6, 16).

And the Lord said by his servants the prophets, “Because Manasseh king of Judah has committed these abominations and has done things more evil than all that the Amorites (pagans) did…therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Behold, I am bringing upon Jerusalem and Judah such disaster that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle” (10-12).

This is a summary of the life of King Manasseh, a great grandparent of Jesus. I wish the Bible had omitted his name in the genealogy of Christ found in Matthew 1:1-18; however, the Bible doesn’t. I believe that through the story of Manasseh, God wants us to appreciate and learn that the past doesn’t really matter to him and in Christ everything begins anew.

This is why Scripture reminds us that: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17).

In Christ our lives begin anew.  We might still carry the scars of our past when we were in rebellion against God but in Christ, we who were sinners and enemies of God become saints and friends.  It doesn’t really matter how our past was. In Christ, God sees a new creature worthy to be called God’s child and friend.

In this season of Christmas just like any other season of the year, God is extending an opportunity to everyone to begin anew in Christ. All this is done by God’s grace through faith which is also a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8, 9).

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Christianity and theology

Then it’s not a very nice picture

Some refuse to accept that the Bible is God’s Word and allege that it is fiction. They even accuse Christians of composing stories contained in the Bible to paint a nice picture of Jesus.

However, if one studies Scripture then these allegations fall through. For instance, the genealogy of Jesus in Mathew 1:1-18 contains some names which no one composing the genealogy with such an aim would have deliberately included.

There is Tamar who concealed her true identity in order to sleep with her own father in law, Judah, and she succeeded (Genesis 38).

Then there is Rahab who was a prostitute before she was converted to Judaism (Joshua 2:1). Another questionable character in the pedigree is Bathsheba who committed adultery with King David and this sin even led to death of her own husband, Uriah (2 Samuel 11-12).

In the family tree, you also meet King Manasseh who was one of worst and evil kings of Judah (2 Kings 21). If the Bible is a fiction that aims at painting a very nice and beautiful picture of Jesus then these characters fail the whole plot.

But the Bible is not fiction. It is God’s Word hence the truth because God is truth. God allowed these characters to be in the line of Jesus’ great grandparents probably to show us as one theologian remarked “God can use a crooked stick to strike a straight blow.”

The genealogy can also encourage us who do not have a good family tree by reminding us that God can change everything through us who are in Christ because if we are in Christ, we are a new creation. The old has passed away… the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17).

 

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