Now, I can't say that I approved of Sen. Kennedy's political leanings, nor many aspects of his personal life, but far be it from me to judge the contents of his heart and speculate on where he will be spending eternity.
It reminded me of the the life of Manasseh, King of Judah, told in 2 Kings 21:1-18 and later in 2 Chronicles 33:1-20.
King Manasseh “reigned in Jerusalem 55 years” (longer than Kennedy!), and “did evil in the eyes of the LORD,” even going so far as to sacrifice his own son in the fire, as an offering to the god Molech. 2 Kings 21:16 tells us that “moreover, Manasseh also shed so much innocent blood that he filled Jerusalem from end to end.” In addition to this, the king engaged in numerous forms of idolatry; worshiping the stars, practicing divination, sorcery and witchcraft, and even building altars to other gods in the temple of the Lord.
2 Chronicles 33 continues this unholy narrative by telling us that Manasseh “did much evil in the eyes of the LORD, provoking him to anger,” and that “[he] led Judah and the people of Jerusalem astray so that they did more evil than the nations the LORD had destroyed before the Israelites.”
As a result of this, the Lord brought about his capture by the Assyrians, who “took [him] prisoner, put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon.” I suppose if the narrative stopped there, or ended with a story of his gruesome death at the hands of his captors, we might feel some sense of divine justice for the evil perpetrated by this wicked man, right?
But surprisingly, the account abruptly changes course. We read in vv. 12-13 that “In his distress he sought the favor of the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. 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 won’t claim to know all that was in Ted Kennedy’s heart. But I will say that it is indeed possible that in his waning days he “sought the favor of the LORD,” as many are wont to do in the hour of their distress. And if he did, then I believe that God heard his prayers and reassured him of His great love for him.
How grateful I am that God’s love is so limitless – that He loves me abundantly and without measure, and that He pours out this love to all His sons and daughters, whether they acknowledge Him or not. For if God were as petty and capricious as I am in extending love and offering grace and mercy, what a wretched world this would be, and with what fear and trepidation would I contemplate death and eternity!