2 Chr. 33:10-13
The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention. So the Lord brought against them the army commanders of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh prisoner, put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon. In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his ancestors. And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God.
I can recall numerous instances of God coming to my rescue well before I came to him to save me. I have a tendency to demarcate my life at the point of salvation and contrast my existence as a sinner with my existence as a saint. The line is an important one to draw, but I believe our understanding of what that line means sometimes can be inaccurate. I used to look at the day of my salvation as the day I became a child of God. However, I know that God called me and chose me well before I even came into existence. In fact, before the foundations of the earth were even laid, He knew me. What happened when I prayed that prayer of salvation was my recognizing the role God had selected for me in his kingdom and accepting it.
Manasseh had not lived as a man of God. He was one of those old testament leaders who led Israel astray in their worship of false gods and their practice of ungodly ways. He lived as one of the world and appeared to be just that. What was unknown to him and everyone else, yet what was known to the Lord, was that he had been marked by God. Manasseh was one of those children who simply had not recognized his Father and his heritage. His imprisonment brought him to the feet of the God of his ancestors, and his prayer that day opened his eyes to the reality of who the one true God is. The sincere prayers of justification are actually prayed by people of God who simply had not yet realized their identity in him until that moment of prayer.
I look back on the man I used to be, and he is difficult to recognize. I certainly see myself in him in many ways, but I also see in him so much that I find unfathomable today. Spiritual rebirth into a new creation brought a transformation in that man’s manner of living. I see glimmers of God in him which would shine from time to time, but they were few and far between. His real self was crying out to be born, and that was the cry of a soul belonging to God and wanting to be recognized as being his. My prayer of salvation was relinquishing the will of sin within me for the will of God over me, but I had been chosen as his long before then. Father, thank You for showing us that we have been chosen to be yours and for giving us the words to usher in our justification and realize our identity.