The Humility of Zacchaeus -Part 1

1 And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.

2 And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich.

3 And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature.

4 And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.

5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.

6 And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.

7 And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.

8 And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.

9 And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. Lk. 19:1-9

I had set out to write about Zaccheaus, but things sort of got out of hand…

I am convinced in my heart that God has a special place for the man with a humble heart. Above all things, I am convinced, God hates a proud heart. And I believe it is the same with us. Consider the murderer who can say, “I am sorry” and mean it. Most of us would look at such a man with a different eye. Nearly every sin is forgivable if the perpetrator can show enough remorse.

With God, of course, it is much more so. Think about the case of David and Uriah in 2 Samuel 11. David did what no man ought ever to do – he slept with another man’s wife and, to cover up his crime, he had that man killed. Moreover, after Uriah was killed, David sent and had the man’s wife brought to him and David took her and made her his wife. I often wonder what any of us righteous people would have done to David had we been in God’s place. I will leave that to your imagination.

But God, who is infinitely more righteous than we, planned on doing worse than any of us could have conceived. He planned to kill David among a host of other things that He intended to punish him with.

But the Bible says that, upon hearing from the Prophet Nathan the sentence that God had passed upon him, David humbled himself before the Lord and declared,

“I have sinned against the LORD.” (2 Sam. 12:13)

The difference between God and us is that God is quick to let go of His anger. Upon hearing David’s humble reply, the Bible says:

“And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.”

It was that quick with God. God is not quick to anger as we are. On the contrary, He is quick to show mercy to a repentant heart.

The word “also” here means that God hearkened to David when He saw David’s humility. He regarded David with a merciful heart.

I am also reminded of another Israelite king. This king’s name was Manasseh. Let us see how totally evil this man was.

“1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem: 2 But did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, like unto the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel. 3 For he built again the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down, and he reared up altars for Baalim, and made groves, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them. 4 Also he built altars in the house of the LORD, whereof the LORD had said, In Jerusalem shall my name be for ever. 5 And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. 6 And he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger. 7 And he 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 before all the tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever: 8 Neither will I any more remove the foot of Israel from out of the land which I have appointed for your fathers; so that they will take heed to do all that I have commanded them, according to the whole law and the statutes and the ordinances by the hand of Moses. 9 So Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen, whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel. 10 And the LORD spake to Manasseh, and to his people: but they would not hearken.”

2 Kings 21:16 adds:

Moreover Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another; beside his sin wherewith he made Judah to sin, in doing that which was evil in the sight of the LORD.”

But on reading the account in 2 Chronicles further we find something else, something different about this king:

11 Wherefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon. 12 And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, 13 And prayed unto him: and he was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD he was God. 14 Now after this he built a wall without the city of David, on the west side of Gihon, in the valley, even to the entering in at the fish gate, and compassed about Ophel, and raised it up a very great height, and put captains of war in all the fenced cities of Judah. 15 And he took away the strange gods, and the idol out of 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 cast them out of the city. 16 And he repaired the altar of the LORD, and sacrificed thereon peace offerings and thank offerings, and commanded Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel. 17 Nevertheless the people did sacrifice still in the high places, yet unto the LORD their God only. 18 Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh, and his prayer unto his God, and the words of the seers that spake to him in the name of the LORD God of Israel, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Israel. 19 His prayer also, and how God was intreated of him, and all his sin, and his trespass, and the places wherein he built high places, and set up groves and graven images, before he was humbled: behold, they are written among the sayings of the seers. 20 So Manasseh slept with his fathers, and they buried him in his own house: and Amon his son reigned in his stead.” (2 Chron. 33:1-20)

I used to wonder why God would allow such an evil king to reign for 55 years. That’s way too long for such a horrible man!

But then I realized that Manasseh actually reigned two terms in Israel. During his first reign he did all that evil. Eventually, God caught up with him and He had him pay for his folly by banishing him into exile. While in exile, though, the Bible says of this king:

“12 And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, 13 And prayed unto him: and he was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD he was God.” (2 Chron. 33:12-13)

God heard Manasseh’s humble cry and, in spite of the fact that he had done so much wickedness against God, God reinstated him to the throne, and Manasseh reigned for another term where he restored nearly all the work of the Lord that he had torn down during his first reign.

Yes, God does indeed have a soft spot for the man with a humble heart.

[Below: God shows great mercy to the repentant in heart]



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