I recently shared a message entitled "When God's people" and spoke concerning the text of 2 Chronicles 7:14 which you will see in a few moments. To understand this thought today, you need to know how and from where I am approaching this subject. As a Christian first and foremost I am also an American citizen by birth. I am concerned first as a Christian as to where we are as mankind and as an American where we are today. This is something that is constantly on my mind. So let me begin by sharing with you what I said recently in that message.
First and Second Chronicles are the history going back to Adam in the garden. The characters of the books are familiar, old stories in a new light. If you look at the books and what is said, you will see and hear an author who is not just reciting facts but rather is delivering a word of bright hope, a pep talk, to just-freed refugees.
The books barely mention the great failures of the Israelites. There is no word of the mistakes of David and Solomon. No mention of the chaotic Northern Kingdom, and the civil war that Judah waged against it.
The Chronicles reach higher, seeking to restore pride in the original ideals of the nation. The special relationship of God to His Israel is the focus of the Chronicles, recalling the covenant that had brought about their Golden Age. Each of the 8 kings of Judah dominates the story with over 2/3 of 2nd Chronicles devoted to their reigns. Their religious reforms and above all, highlights of the temple, the house where God’s presence came to rest.
We are all familiar with the text found in 2 Chronicles 7:14-
if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
The key to understanding any verse of Scripture is context. There is the immediate context—the verses before and after it, as well as the larger context of Scripture—how the verse fits into the overall story. There is also the historical and cultural context—how the verse was understood by its original audience considering their history and culture.
Because context is so important, a verse whose meaning and application seem straightforward when quoted in isolation may mean something significantly different when it is considered in context.
When we consider today 2 Chronicles 7:14, we must first consider the immediate context. After Solomon dedicated the temple, the Lord appeared to him and gave him some warnings and reassurances in 2 Chronicles 7:12–14
“The Lord appeared to him at night and said: ‘I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices.’
When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people,
if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land”
The immediate context of 2 Chronicles 7:14 shows that the verse is tied up with Israel and the temple and the fact that from time to time God might send judgment upon the land in the form of drought, locusts, or pestilence.
In Deuteronomy 28, God had entered into a covenant with Israel and promised to take care of them and cause them to prosper as long as they obeyed Him. He also promised to bring curses upon them if they failed to obey. Because of the covenant relationship, there was a direct correspondence between their obedience and their prosperity, and their disobedience and their hardship. Deuteronomy 28 spells out the blessings for obedience and the curses for disobedience. Simply stated, divine blessing and divine punishment on Israel were conditional on their obedience or disobedience.
The blessing and cursing under the Law play out in the book of Judges. Judges chapter 2 is often referred to as “The Cycle of the Judges.” Israel would fall into sin. God would send another nation to judge them. Israel would repent and call upon the Lord. The Lord would raise a judge to deliver them. They would serve the Lord for a while and then fall back into sin again. And the cycle would continue.
In 2 Chronicles 7, the Lord simply reminds Solomon of the previous agreement. If Israel obeys, they will be blessed. If they disobey, they will be judged. The judgment is meant to bring Israel to repentance, and God assures Solomon that, if they are humble, pray, and repent, then God will deliver them from the judgment.
Understanding the context, we can know that it is never wrong to confess our sins and pray—in fact, it is our duty as believers to continuously confess and forsake our sins so that they will not hinder us. 1 John 1:9 tells us that-
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
We have seen this verse in 2 Chronicles used to focus our attention as Christians and as a nation to do what God said so that our sins and our land may be healed. However, the context of this verse is for God's people in that time and in that situation going forward.
Should and can we pray this way as Christians for our nation? Of course, we can and we should and it may be that God in His grace will bless our nation as a result of our prayers—but there is no guarantee of national deliverance. Even if God did use our efforts in prayer to bring about national repentance and revival, there is no guarantee that the nation would be politically or economically saved.
As believers, we are guaranteed personal salvation in Christ (Romans 8:1),
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus
We are also guaranteed that God will use us to accomplish His purposes, whatever they may be.
It is our duty as believers to live holy lives, seek God, pray, and share the gospel knowing that all who believe will be saved, but the Bible does not guarantee the political, cultural, or economic salvation of our nation.
So today there are 3 things we can learn from 2 Chronicles 7:14-
1) God’s people recognized
“if My people who are called by My name will”
Gordon H. Taggart once said:
I wish I were honest enough to admit all my shortcomings:
--brilliant enough to accept flattery without it making me arrogant;
--tall enough to tower above deceit;
--strong enough to treasure love;
--brave enough to welcome criticism;
--compassionate enough to understand human frailties;
--wise enough to recognize my mistakes;
--humble enough to appreciate greatness;
--staunch enough to stand by my friends;
--human enough to be thoughtful of my neighbor;
--and righteous enough to be devoted to the love of God.
We as Christians have the opportunity and the privilege to seek the Lord. In so doing, we are to recognize we are His people and not our own.
2) God’s people responding
Samuel Chadwick said, "If you're successful, don't crow. If you fail, don't croak."
God says- and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then”
Humility is a problem with most people. The old country song had a line in it that said "O Lord it's hard to be humble, when we're in every way". Now of course this was just a song written for fun nd entertainment but there is some real truth in this line. Proverbs 11:2 says-
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
Be humble and with it comes wisdom. In James 1:5 he says that if we lack wisdom and the word there for wisdom is that of heavenly knowledge. Humility begats wisdom.
3) God’s people restored
The preeminent reason that God forgives and heals is His love for mankind. God said that if they would do the things He said:
“I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land”
Restoration is the work of bringing something back to its original state. Anytime there is sin in our life there is a need for the Lord’s restoration. He promises to hear us when we call and-
Forgive our sin and heal...
In God's Grace,