Today's devotion from 2 Kings 23-24.
The sins of Manasseh were too great to overcome. God had foretold in 2 Kings 21:10-16 the extent to which He would punish Judah and Jerusalem. For all the good that Hezekiah had tried to bring, Manasseh had single-handedly unraveled the morality and covenantal faithfulness of the people. That's really what this is about. Manasseh did great evil. He desecrated the Temple, offered human sacrifice, and expanded idolatry in ways that were unprecedented among Judah, but he did not do these things alone. The people flocked to theses forbidden practices.
When Josiah enacted his reforms, it was not enough to atone for the sins of the people. God had been gracious, but His righteousness demanded justice and punishment for the heinous offenses of the people. This goes to show that there is truth in the idea that we can never do enough good to overcome all the bad that comes so easily to us in our fallen state.
As today's reading concludes, we stand on the precipice of captivity. It's coming. Nebuchadnezzar's shadow looms over the land. In this moment, we must remember that God is not a liar. His words spoken in 2 Kings 21 would come to fruition. Yet, how long had it taken God's righteousness to outweigh His mercy? For generations He has patiently waited and watched. He continued to honor His covenant with these unfaithful people. We should not be shocked, then, that Josiah's efforts are not enough. They were not enough because the people were following their king in his authority, not their God in His. Their actions had changed, but not their hearts. This is proven by how quickly they fall away...again.
This, friend, is why no one can ever do enough to appease the righteous requirements of God. We are so mangled by the effects of the Fall that we are unable to truly comprehend the span between depths of our depravity and the heights of God's righteousness. This is the reason that each and everyone of us must cling to God's offer of grace. Don't be fooled. You can never be good enough to deserve forgiveness, but the good news is that you don't have to be. The gospel is not that God makes us able, but that God is able. Able to give mercy. Able to forgive. Able to reclaim, redeem, and restore.