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If 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 will I hear from heaven and forgive their sins and will heal their land". (2 Chronicles 7:14 - NIV)


I can't recall the last time I heard 2 Chronicle 7:14 spoken of in its true historic context.  What I've heard lately are attempts to link this verse to America and the upcoming 2012 election.  To be hermeneutically accurate, we must understand when the message of this verse was spoken, to whom it was spoken, and why it was spoken. 


2 Chronicles 7:11 tells us that God spoke these words after King Solomon finished building the temple that pleased Him. (mid 900's B.C.)      


The phrase "if my people who are called by my name" clearly refers to Israel , not to America or to any other nation.  Therefore, before we give this passage a secondary application by connecting it to America or to any other nation, we must first understand it in its Old Testament Israeli setting. 


2 Chronicles 7:13 tells us why God spoke these words to Israel.  "When I shut up the heavens so there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land, or send a plague among my people".  The text doesn't say "if I ..."  It says "when I…", as in, "when I shut up the heavens", "when I command the locusts", and, "when I send a plague".  Drought, locusts, and a plague, weren't a possibility, but a certainty.  They were God's judgment on an arrogant, self reliant, and wicked nation.   


In light of God's judgment, 2 Chronicles 7:14 now comes into play.  If Israelis were to find their way out from under judgment, they were to "humble" themselves.  The word "humble" is translated from the Hebrew word "kata", meaning, "to bow, to fall, to be subdued, to be depressed, or to be brought low".  God's judgment would bring Israelis down and knock their arrogant self reliance out of their national system.  Once broken by judgment, Israelis could more easily humble themselves, pray, and seek God's face.   


The Hebrew word "baqash" is translated as "seek" in 2 Chronicles 7:14.  It means, "to earnestly and persistently search for".  Seeking God's face wasn't meant to be a quick prayer meeting, but a burden that caused Israelis to persist in prayer until judgment was lifted.     


Lastly, Israelis had "to turn from their wicked ways".  They had to repent of what they had done and who they had become.  Their greatest sin was paganizing the worship of Yahweh.       


An example of Israeli's following through on the 2 Chronicles 7:14 pattern is seen in Ezra 10.  "While Ezra was praying and confessing, weeping and throwing himself down before the house of God, a large crowd of Israelites – men, women, and children – gathered around him.  They too wept bitterly … We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women from the people around us … now let us make a covenant before our God to send away these women and their children …" (Ezra 10:1-3)  The 2 Chronicles 7:14 pattern is clearly seen here.  While weeping, Israelis genuinely humbled themselves and sought God's face.  As hard as this must have been, husbands sent their pagan wives and the children born to these wives back to their pagan homelands.  What pain and anguish this must have caused these families.  Repentance was no easy or casual matter for these Israelis.    

Now, when linking 2 Chronicles 7:14 to America or to any other nation, we must realize this to be a secondary application, a departure from its original intent.  We must understand the message of this verse in the exact same way God meant Israel to understand it.  We must maintain the consistency from the verse's original intent to our secondary application.    


In maintaining this consistency, we should realize that this past summer's drought in parts of North America , our economic, climate, and other problems, are acts of God.  As God judged Israel, He judges us.  Remember, the text doesn’t say "if", as in if judgment is possible.  It says "when", as in judgment is inevitable on Godless nations.              


Much of that which is called "God's people" these days is no different than Israel of old.  There's more pride, self reliance, and humanism than most of God's people realize or want to admit.  Unfaithfulness to our Lord is seen in our marriage to worldliness.  Unless 2 Chronicles 7:14 becomes as real to us as it became real to Israelis in Ezra 10, we will not find our way out from under God's present judgment.      


An Ezra 10 experience doesn't take place in a two day prayer conference at a high priced hotel.  It's not a get-a-way retreat where we listen to one speaker after another, sing worship songs, and then gather for coffee.  It's a burden we can't run from.  It's an outpouring of a spirit of repentance on believers who are willing to embrace the anguish of a sinful people.  It's a grass roots movement.  Individual Israelis followed Ezra's example of heart felt repentance.  The same can happen today.  Repentance can spread from one believer to the next, from one community to the next, until a massive movement of real repentance invades the land.   


The upcoming American election won't totally be decided by the electorate, although they obviously play an important part.  "The Most High is sovereign over the nations of men" (Daniel 4:17), and He places those in power who will accomplish His purposes.  He might well install an anti-Christian leader to promote anti-Christian legislation.  Like Israel of old, this will put pressure on God's people which is meant to bring them to their knees in serious repentance.  He's done this before, and it's certain He'll do it again.  National healing doesn't come through our political leaders  As 2 Chronicles 7:14 clearly states, it comes through a repentant people of God.    


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