One Family in Israel
“God was moved by his entreaty and heard his plea and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God” (v. 13).- 2 Chronicles 33:1–20
The program of kingdom extension God began with Adam (Gen. 1:28) was eventually transferred to the family of Abraham (22:15–19), the nation of Israel, through whom the Lord would defeat His enemies and bring about the prosperity originally promised to our first parents (Deut. 7:12–26). Because our Creator’s standards do not change, the proper exercise of human vice-regency can only be accomplished through perfect obedience, as was demanded of Adam. Such conformity, however, was clearly impossible for the nation of Israel as a whole because the institution of the sacrificial system (Lev. 1–7; 16) shows how God knew His people would fail and need atonement. But, if the Lord could get just one Israelite to represent the entire nation and keep His commandments on the people’s behalf, He could still use Israel to succeed where Adam failed, and make manifest His kingdom on earth.
Having isolated Israel as the people through whom human vice-regency would again be manifested, God further narrowed His focus to the Israelite tribe of Judah and the family of David. Second Samuel 7:1–17 records the covenant our Lord made with David and his descendants, a covenant to which we will later return. Today we want to establish that passages like 2 Chronicles 33:1–20 prove the Davidic king can indeed represent the entire nation.
The books of Chronicles were written to the Israelites after the Babylonian exile to show them what they needed to do to have their kingdom restored. In 2 Chronicles 33 we read of Manasseh, an Israelite king who was so wicked that God eventually sent him into exile in Babylon (vv. 10–11). While in Babylon, Manasseh repented and was restored to his throne (vv. 12–13). Here Manasseh is being used as a representative for the nation, specifically Judah, for this was later the experience of the whole people when they were exiled into Babylon for their sins (2 Kings 25). The Chronicler is telling the ancient Israelites that if they repent just as Manasseh did, they would be preserved in their restoration after Babylon and regain their kingdom.
Israel as a whole failed after returning from exile, but the principle of representation ensures that the Son of David can fulfill Israel’s mission and thus the mission given to Adam. Thanks be to God that this Son of David represents us as well.
Because Jesus represents us before the Father, what can be said of Him can also be said of us. Jesus’ record is clear of sin and full of righteousness, and this is what the Father sees when He looks upon us in His heavenly courtroom. This is an essential truth of the gospel, and it assures us that we are free from the penalty of sin if we are in Christ and that we need not fear approaching the Lord with all of our hopes, fears, and needs.