Let’s look at the last three verses of the chapter, verses 23 through 26. Verse 23 says, “Now the sons of the half-tribe of Manasseh lived in the land; from Bashan to Baal-hermon and Senir and Mount Hermon they were numerous.” God had prospered them, and gave them a large amount of land.
But listen again to verse 25. “But they acted treacherously against the God of their fathers and played the harlot after the gods of the peoples of the land, whom God had destroyed before them.”
So what happened? Verse 26 tells us that “ the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul, king of Assyria, even the spirit of Tilgath-pilneser king of Assyria, and he carried them away into exile, namely the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh, and brought them to Halah, Habor, Hara and to the river of Gozan, to this day.”
There is a classic old movie from 1954 with a young Marlon Brando playing a boxer. The title of the film is “On the Waterfront”, and this scene has one of the most well-known lines of Hollywood history. “You don’t understand. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody. Instead of a bum. Which is what I am, let’s face it.”
I’m reminded of this scene when I read the fate of the half-tribe of Manasseh. They coulda been somebody, but because of their unfaithfulness to the God of Israel, everything was taken away, and they were taken into captivity.
So much has been given to the followers of Jesus. Not only have we received the gift of eternal life, but we are grafted into the family. We have become the sons and daughters of God. However, some believers forsake their inheritance and voluntarily forfeit the rich relationship they could have with God. Addiction to pornography, drugs, alcohol, gambling and what have you are not unheard of in the Christian community. It’s tragic, but it is true.
The thing that is so tragic is that Jesus came to set us free from bondage. Yet some choose to surrender themselves, just like the half-tribe of Manasseh chose to turn from God.
It does not have to be that way, brothers and sisters. If you find yourself in bondage of any kind, you can be free. If you need help, ask your pastor or another trusted friend. Or write to me. I’ll do everything in my power to get help to you.
You don’t have to settle. You can be free. It’s part of your birthright as a child of God.