Now when he was in affliction, he implored the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, 13 and prayed to Him; and He received his entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God.

– 2 Chronicles 33:12-13

 

Truth or Consequences was a game show that began in 1940. It began airing on NBC radio and later was broadcast on television with Ralph Edwards as its original host. Other prominent hosts include Jack Bailey, Bob Barker, Steve Dunne, Bob Hilton, and Larry Anderson. The show ran for a time on CBS and NBC and then ran in syndication. The game ran for 48 years with its final episode in 1988. The show became so popular that on its tenth-year anniversary (1950) a city in New Mexico changed its name to Truth or Consequences. The show that marked the ten-year anniversary was broadcast from Truth or Consequences New Mexico.

The premise for the game show was that contestants were given a few seconds to answer the truth about an off-the-wall trivia question before “Beulah the Buzzer” sounded. Even if the contestant was able to answer the question, a second and third part was added to increase the likelihood they would face consequences. Some contestants purposely didn’t answer the questions so they could face the fun consequences. Consequences included some stunt that was zany or embarrassing. When the contestants were facing their consequences and the audience reacting in various ways, Ralph Edwards commented about himself and the producers, “Aren’t we devils?”

Truth or Consequences also included emotional surprises for the contestants. Some would be reunited with a long lost relative or with a son or daughter returning from military duty. There were other aspects of the game but it was a fun way of entertaining people with the truth that there are consequences in life when we aren’t able to answer the truth.

Truth or Consequences as a Life Principle

Truth or Consequences was a light-hearted way of considering the truth that a person reaps what they sow. There’s a far more serious side to this truth. The Bible states:

Galatians 6:7–9 (NKJV) – Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

This is a life principle. It is sometimes abused by reducing it to a material way to gain prosperity. The verses speak of something far more substantial spiritually. There is absolute truth laid out by God in His word (John 17:17). And there are consequences based on how people respond to that truth. To disregard God’s truth and disobey it is to sow to the flesh, or to act with self as one’s guide rather than the Spirit. This leads to “corruption” (Greek phthora) or literally ruin, corruption, destruction, perish. To regard and obey God’s truth is to sow to the Spirit (who is “the Spirit of truth” – John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13; and 1 John 4:6). When you sow to the Spirit it leads to “everlasting life.” When we disobey God’s truth it leads to death and decay. When we obey God’s truth it leads to health and life, eternal life.

Truth or Consequences and the Word of God

God in His word reveals the truth about life and our existence. When God was commissioning Joshua to take over for Moses (large shoes to fill!) and lead His people into the Promised Land, His instruction was:

Joshua 1:8 (NKJV) – This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

The Psalmist echoed this truth when he was inspired to write the longest chapter in the Bible, Psalm 119, which is a revelation on the benefit and blessings that come when we live according to God’s word. Jesus promised us abundant life (John 10:10). And the way to discover abundance from God in life is to abide by His word. That is especially true under the New Covenant of Jesus Christ (e.g. 2 Timothy 2:15; 3:16-17).

The Blessing of God’s Truth in Life

The Bible is filled with historical examples of truth and consequence situations. An example of such a situation is found in 2 Chronicles 32-33. In these chapters we find a good King of Judah named Hezekiah who is faced with a terrifying overwhelming invasion by the Assyrians. When faced with this fearsome challenge Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah go to the Lord in prayer. The result is a mighty deliverance from a seeming undefeatable foe (2 Chronicles 32:1-22). It really is an incredible account of God’s deliverance of His people.

But that isn’t what I want to focus on for this study. As a result of this mighty victory against the Assyrians, Hezekiah prospers (2 Chronicles 32:23). Did he take credit for what the Lord had done? It seems he did from the context of the account.

Shortly after this time of prosperity it states Hezekiah grew ill. It states:

2 Chronicles 32:24–26 (NKJV) – 24 In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death, and he prayed to the Lord; and He spoke to him and gave him a sign. 25 But Hezekiah did not repay according to the favor shown him, for his heart was lifted up; therefore wrath was looming over him and over Judah and Jerusalem. 26 Then Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the Lord did not come upon them in the days of Hezekiah.

In 2 Kings 20:1-11 we are provided further details of what happened at this time with King Hezekiah:

2 Kings 20:1–11 (NKJV) – In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death. And Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, went to him and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die, and not live.’ ” Then he turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the Lord, saying, “Remember now, O Lord, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what was good in Your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly. And it happened, before Isaiah had gone out into the middle court, that the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Return and tell Hezekiah the leader of My people, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord. And I will add to your days fifteen years. I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for My own sake, and for the sake of My servant David.” ’ ” Then Isaiah said, “Take a lump of figs.” So they took and laid it on the boil, and he recovered. And Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “What is the sign that the Lord will heal me, and that I shall go up to the house of the Lord the third day?” Then Isaiah said, “This is the sign to you from the Lord, that the Lord will do the thing which He has spoken: shall the shadow go forward ten degrees or go backward ten degrees?” 10 And Hezekiah answered, “It is an easy thing for the shadow to go down ten degrees; no, but let the shadow go backward ten degrees.” 11 So Isaiah the prophet cried out to the Lord, and He brought the shadow ten degrees backward, by which it had gone down on the sundial of Ahaz.

When Isaiah told Hezekiah to get his house in order for his time to depart this earth had come, Hezekiah did what any other godly person would do, he prayed. Hezekiah didn’t only pray, he “wept bitterly” and prayed. And God heard the heartfelt prayer of the for the most part godly king. God even assured Hezekiah of His healing touch by making the shadow go backward on the sundial (which was an ancient type of clock that measured time from the shadow of the such).

God added fifteen years to Hezekiah’s life. And the historical record of the Bible indicates Hezekiah continued to prosper greatly (2 Chronicles 32:27-30). But it also indicates that during the fifteen years that Hezekiah needed further heart testing. In 2 Chronicles it states:

2 Chronicles 32:31 (NKJV) – 31 However, regarding the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, whom they sent to him to inquire about the wonder that was done in the land, God withdrew from him, in order to test him, that He might know all that was in his heart.

The Consequence of Not Appreciating God’s Truth in Life

It seems Hezekiah got a little braggadocios and prideful. In 2 Kings it explains what Hezekiah did and the consequences:

2 Kings 20:12–19 (NKJV) – 12 At that time Berodach-Baladan the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he heard that Hezekiah had been sick. 13 And Hezekiah was attentive to them, and showed them all the house of his treasures—the silver and gold, the spices and precious ointment, and all his armory—all that was found among his treasures. There was nothing in his house or in all his dominion that Hezekiah did not show them. 14 Then Isaiah the prophet went to King Hezekiah, and said to him, “What did these men say, and from where did they come to you?” So Hezekiah said, “They came from a far country, from Babylon.” 15 And he said, “What have they seen in your house?” So Hezekiah answered, “They have seen all that is in my house; there is nothing among my treasures that I have not shown them.” 16 Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the Lord: 17 ‘Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and what your fathers have accumulated until this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left,’ says the Lord. 18 ‘And they shall take away some of your sons who will descend from you, whom you will beget; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.’” 19 So Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the Lord which you have spoken is good!” For he said, “Will there not be peace and truth at least in my days?”

Hezekiah became proud of his wealth and when ambassadors from Babylon came to see him, Hezekiah showed them “all that is in my house.” Notice the personal pronoun “my” as in “My house.” In truth God has blessed Hezekiah with fifteen more years of life. But as the account indicates, Hezekiah’s heart wasn’t right. So proud and self-centered had Hezekiah become that when Isaiah informed him of his foolishness and that in the future the wealth would be carried away by the Babylonians, it didn’t seem to faze the king much. He simply responded, “’The word of the LORD which you have spoken is good!’ For he said, ‘Will there not be peace and truth at least in my days?’” Hezekiah had been blessed by God with an extended life. But he was not humbled by God’s blessing. Instead he became proud as though he deserved what God had done for him. It’s as though Hezekiah said, “I prayed. God heard. And because of my prayer and my godliness, God has extended my life.” Hezekiah lost sight of the truth of God’s grace. There’s always a consequence to that.

Which brings us to Hezekiah’s son, his successor, Manasseh.

 The Unforeseen Consequences of Resisting God’s Truth

The Lord had sent the prophet Isaiah to king Hezekiah with the message of “Set your house in order.” Hezekiah resisted this message. He prayed for more life. God graciously granted Hezekiah’s request. But Hezekiah’s prayer may not have been the most prudent one. Why?

The Bible states of the LORD:

Psalm 139:16–18 (NKJV) –  Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them. 17         How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! 18         If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You.

The LORD loves us. The LORD knows what’s best for us. His thoughts toward each of us are innumerable. God’s thoughts toward us are “precious.” Therefore, when Hezekiah heard from the LORD through Isaiah the prophet, maybe it would have been better to simply accept that message. Hezekiah did continue to prosper after he was healed. But during those additional years he also acted selfishly, proudly, his actions planted the seeds of the ultimate demise of the southern kingdom of Judah by the Babylonians. And it was during those fifteen years that Hezekiah produced another offspring, Manasseh (who was twelve years old when he became king.)

Manasseh began as a terrible king. He undid much of the good his father Hezekiah had done. Manasseh is one of the consequences of Hezekiah resisting God’s truth.

In 2 Chronicles it goes on to record of Manasseh’s reign:

2 Chronicles 33:1–9 (NKJV) – Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. But he did evil in the sight of the Lord, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel. For he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down; he raised up altars for the Baals, and made wooden images; and he worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. He also built altars in the house of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, “In Jerusalem shall My name be forever.” And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord. Also he caused his sons to pass through the fire in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom; he practiced soothsaying, used witchcraft and sorcery, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger. He even set a carved image, the idol which he had made, in the house of God, of which God had said to David and to Solomon his son, “In this house and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put My name forever; and I will not again remove the foot of Israel from the land which I have appointed for your fathers—only if they are careful to do all that I have commanded them, according to the whole law and the statutes and the ordinances by the hand of Moses.” So Manasseh seduced Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to do more evil than the nations whom the Lord had destroyed before the children of Israel.

Manasseh systematically undid all his father had done during the spiritual revival of Judah. “He did evil in the sight of the LORD.” He acted in abominable ways. He reduced Israel to just another nation among “nations.” He rebuilt the “high places,” places where pagan prostitutes would lure people into sexual immorality in order to secure financial support for pagan temples. He built up “images,” and was a proliferator of idolatry. He facilitated the worship of the stars rather than the worship of the LORD our Creator. He introduced pagan practices into the courts of the Temple itself! He encouraged child sacrifice by fire. He promoted soothsaying, witchcraft, sorcery, mediums and spiritists; all things prohibited by God in His word. These were all things that blasphemed God and provoked the Lord to anger. He even set up his own “carved image” in the House of God itself! With all these things it states, “So Manasseh seduced Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to do more evil than the nations whom the Lord had destroyed before the children of Israel.”

But there are consequences to ignoring God’s truth. And therefore, it goes on to record:

2 Chronicles 33:10-11 – 10 And the Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they would not listen. 11 Therefore the Lord brought upon them the captains of the army of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh with hooks, bound him with bronze fetters, and carried him off to Babylon.

This was true in actual history. But it is also true metaphorically. Whenever we ignore or disobey the truth of God, the consequence is enslaving and defeat.

Thankfully, 2 Chronicles indicates Manasseh repented of his wickedness:

2 Chronicles 33:12-13 – 12 Now when he was in affliction, he implored the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, 13 and prayed to Him; and He received his entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God.

Perhaps Manasseh remembered the inspired words of Solomon when the Temple was originally built. Solomon had prayed:

2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV) – 14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Manasseh poured his heart out before the LORD. Just think of it, this evil king who had gone so far as to promote the sacrifice of children in the fires of pagan god worship, this king who had stooped so low as to erect pagan idols in the House of God itself! He was the lowest of the low. Some think Manasseh was the worst of all the kings. But when he repented and turned to the LORD, the LORD forgave him. God restored evil Manasseh. And there’s a life principle there too.

No matter how low we stoop or sink in life, no matter how evil we become, if we will turn to the LORD, He will forgive us. God forgave those who repented of having crucified His Only Son Jesus (e.g. Acts 2:38-39). God forgave Saul who persecuted the Church and even made him a pillar in the Church (e.g. 1 Timothy 1:12-17). He restored Peter even though he had denied the LORD three times! (John 21). The message of Manasseh here is that God’s grace can overcome any evil of the one who repents and returns to Him.

Truly God’s grace is amazing and able to redeem us from the depths of sin. The Bible states:

Titus 2:11–14 (NKJV) – 11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

No matter how far away or how deep you have sunken into sin, God’s grace is able to redeem and restore you, to heal you and get you back on the right track with Him. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you are beyond the amazing grace of God.

The account of Manasseh concludes:

2 Chronicles 33:14-17 – 14 After this he built a wall outside the City of David on the west side of Gihon, in the valley, as far as the entrance of the Fish Gate; and it enclosed Ophel, and he raised it to a very great height. Then he put military captains in all the fortified cities of Judah. 15 He took away the foreign gods and the idol from the house of the Lord, and all the altars that he had built in the mount of the house of the Lord and in Jerusalem; and he cast them out of the city. 16 He also repaired the altar of the Lord, sacrificed peace offerings and thank offerings on it, and commanded Judah to serve the Lord God of Israel. 17 Nevertheless the people still sacrificed on the high places, but only to the Lord their God.

Notice, Manasseh’s repentance and return to the LORD was not only lip service. Manasseh rebuilt the City of Jerusalem. But he also “took away the foreign gods’ and the idol from the house of the LORD, and all the altars that he had built in the mount of the house of the LORD in Jerusalem; and he cast them out of the city.” Manasseh repaired what he had broken and desecrated and he began to worship the LORD in holiness. He thanked the LORD and lived for Him from that point on. And even though there were some continued wrong influences on the people who kept sacrificing on the high places, their worship is qualified with the words, “but only to the LORD their God.”

God is able to restore when we disregard His truth and suffer the consequences. How about you? Have you disregarded God’s truth in some way and gotten yourself into an enslaving situation of sin? Are you caught up in the consequences of disobeying God’s word in some way? Is the LORD tugging on your heart right now? Now, at the beginning of a New Year, is the perfect time to get right with God. Now is the time to get on the right track with God. If you refuse, understand things, as bad as they might be, can still get a lot worse. You don’t want to go into eternity without having repented and be saved or restored by the LORD. Then temporary hardship becomes permanent. God in Christ has provided a way for you to have a fresh start (2 Corinthians 5:17). Turn to Him. Confess your sins to Him (1 John 1:9). Get right with God through faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 5; 6:23).