If My People Pray

 

2 Chronicles 7:14

If My People Pray

“. . . and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

(2 Chronicles 7:14)

One of the basic principles of Biblical interpretation is that the passage must be understood in its original context. Once the original meaning is determined, one can ask whether there is some principle that is applicable to other situations in our contemporary world.

Let’s notice the context of our text above.  Solomon, the successor to his father David, was permitted by God to build the temple to the Lord.  Solomon the king dedicated the temple with a great prayer to Yahweh God (2 Chronicles 6:12-42). God replied to His sincere prayer by sending fire from heaven to consume the sacrifices (7:1-3). Solomon continued by offering a massive number of animals as sacrifice (vv. 4-5).  After the festival, Solomon sent the joyful and fulfilled people home (v. 10).

After the king had completed the building of the temple and his palace, the Lord Yahweh appeared to Solomon during the night and gave this promise: “If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people. . .” (v. 13). We then have the further promise of the Lord, “. . . and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (v. 14). The interested reader should also read vv. 15-18 where further promises of God are given to Solomon.

What is being said here?  God is saying that although things seem good at present, with a new temple and people united to fear the Lord, that will not always be the case.  In the future, Israel will fall into sin of various kinds (and this is described in the further portions of 1 and 2 Chronicles). This will cause God to discipline them to bring them to repentance and restoration.  He will bring drought, a plague of locust, and pestilence (v. 13).  The Lord then says that when His people Israel find themselves in this sinful state, under discipline, then if they “humble themselves and pray” and “seek” the face of God, and “turn from their wicked ways,” He will respond. How will God respond?  He will hear their prayers, will forgive their sins, and will “heal their land” that will have been devastated by the drought, the locust, and the pestilence (v. 14).

This promise contains various parts,  It pertains to Israel whom God calls, “My people who are called by My name.”  It pertains to their sinful ways, which (in context) would pertain to breaking the Law of Moses (see Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28).  It pertains to physical discipline where their land—the Land of Canaan—is affected.

If you are like me, you have seen or heard numerous entreaties from broadcasts, ministries, preachers, and others for Americans to heed the admonitions of 2 Chronicles 7:14 so that America will be spared destruction. During the recent election, evangelical preachers and pastors pleaded with their members to pray that God would “heal” America and its countless moral, spiritual, and financial problems.  They said that prayer was the key for God’s people.  And now they are questioning whether there was enough prayer since a godless man was re-elected to the presidency for a second term. They conclude that God’s people did not humble themselves enough, did not repent enough, and did not pray enough—thus God did not answer as they hoped.

One article puts it this way:

WND Editor Joseph Farah told a national radio audience late last week that Election 2012 is evidence the U.S. has been “mortally wounded” and it’s time for Americans to stop looking for political “Band-Aid” solutions to the culture’s wider problems.

“It’s very clear, having been through this election now, that things are going to get worse in America before they get better,”

Farah then appeals to the favorite proof text:

But Farah also told the hosts not all is doom and gloom.

“Here’s the good news,” Farah said, “God is still on the throne.”

In fact, Farah contended, the key to redeeming America’s current state lies where it always has: in the hands of God and His people.

“So what’s the answer?” Farah asked. “It’s very important that Christians get down on their knees … and take a good look at 2 Chronicles 7:14.”

That biblical passage states the promise from God, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

Finally, this speaker makes one final appeal to our text:

“Many times you read in the Bible where God speaks through a prophet, He talks about ‘this wicked and adulterous generation’ and He sends them into captivity,” Farah explained. “That affected everybody in Israel. … Daniel went into captivity, a great prophet of God, and the thing is, that’s going to happen to us. It’s only a matter of time unless we as believers get down on our knees collectively, individually, and invoke that promise in 2 Chronicles 7:14.”

We need to realize that America is not the Promised Land or the land of Israel. Americans are not God’s people, Israel.  America is not being disciplined for breaking the Mosaic Law as the Israelites were.  While it is good to pray for our government (1 Timothy 2:1-2), along with the president and congress and Supreme Court, God does not guarantee that national calamities or distress will be alleviated as He did in the case of Israel.  God may choose to work in America and solve its problems, but let’s not assume that 2 Chronicles 7:14 is a promise to us in our present lamentable circumstances.

–Richard Hollerman

 

 

 

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