Welcome to Becomning Closer! 

Communion Meditations (2021)

 

Manasseh

Originally scheduled for April 18

(A brief note about the Apocrypha) The quotation from the Scripture today comes from the section which is not commonly found in most Protestant Bibles. It is called the Apocrypha. Generally speaking, Roman Catholics identify it as part of the Bible; Protestants do not. In this particular instance we have an excellent example of repentance in prayer, whether you consider it Scripture or not.

The book we will be quoting was supposedly written by Manasseh, King of Israel. He was the son of Hezekiah, one of the great kings of Israel. The Babylonians captured him; this prayer was supposed to have been written by him while in captivity. Here is part of it:

Now therefore I bow the knee of my heart, beseeching you of grace. I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned, and I acknowledge my iniquities: but, I humbly beseech you, forgive me, O Lord, forgive me, and destroy me not with my iniquities. Be not angry with me forever, by reserving evil for me; neither condemn me into the lower parts of the earth. For you, O Lord, are the God of those who repent; and in me you will show all your goodness: for you will save me, that am unworthy, according to your great mercy. And I will praise the forever all the days of my life: for all the army of heaven does sing your praise, and your is the glory forever and ever. Amen.

(Prayer of Manasseh 1:11-15 WEBA)

 

It may serve as well as a modern form of prayer of repentance. The first thing I would have you note is that it comes from the heart. Manasseh then goes on to give us these three points:

·         He admits his sin — straight out. There is no beating about the bush; no attempt to smooth things over with God.

·         He is just as straightforward when it comes to asking for forgiveness. He does not approach the throne of grace meekly, but with boldness.

·         In so doing, he also acknowledges the character of God. In particular he recognizes him as a God of “very great mercy.” His plea for forgiveness does not depend on his own virtue but God’s mercy. He is not asking because Manasseh is so good; he is asking because God’s mercy is so great.

Please note one particular phrase: “For you, O Lord, are the God of those who repent.” Have you ever wondered why God didn’t restrict communion to only the really good people? Apart from the difficulty in telling who is “really good,” such a restriction would limit God’s sovereignty to those who are such. The rest of us sinners would have no appeal to God. So to speak, we couldn’t get an appointment to be heard.

We see this echoed in the New Testament. Christ came to “seek and save the lost.” Communion tells us the price of that quest. In simple pictures and participation, we see the atonement of Christ played out before us. In the bread we see his body, wounded for our sins. In the cup we see his blood, shed for us. His forgiveness is thereby offered to all.

Therefore, come before the God of those repent. Seek his mercy as only the repentant can do. As you partake this morning, remember the price that was paid because he is the God of those who repent. He payed it all – for you, and for me.

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