Should we apply 2 Chronicles 7:14, even though tied with Israel, to America’s spiritual decline as so many do?
In context, the passage obviously concerns Israel, which had been celebrating its Feasts of Tabernacles. Israel’s King Solomon had just finished building the temple of David. Then God appeared to King Solomon at night and reiterated the Davidic Covenant given to His chosen people. The provisions of the Davidic Covenant are given in 2 Samuel 7:12–16. This covenant was unconditional (see 2 Samuel 7:12–17; 23:1 and 5; and Isaiah 55:3). However, there was no guarantee that Israel would always stay faithful and obedient. We know from studying her history that she disobeyed and suffered the consequences. Yet God remained and remains faithful.
God told Solomon that should His judgment come upon the nation for the sin of her people, there was a remedy. And that remedy includes the elements of the passage we’re considering.
Other passages in Scripture also deal with Israel, the promises made to her, the coming kingdom, and the like. We violate correct contextual interpretation if we spiritualize and/or take these passages to refer to ourselves or someone else. In other words, we need to rightly divide the Word of God. For example, the New Testament records the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5—7). This message previews the laws and conditions that will be experienced during the coming millennial reign of Christ.
Should we then ignore passages such as 2 Chronicles 7 or Matthew 5—7, dismissing them to another dispensation or people? No. We also have the matter—besides interpretation— of application. These passages contain unchanging principles that apply to us. God has something to say to us in all portions of His Word. People can try to disregard these and other passages that refer to Israel, the coming millennial reign, and the like, but please note the elements of 2 Chronicles 7:14, and then notice how the same principles appear in the New Testament too—for us.
We start with the phrase “If My people.” We have to understand that in every period of time God has had “His people,” and in our day this is no exception. In the dispensation of the Church Age, God’s people are the New Testament Age believers in Christ, those who have experienced the new birth. Titus 2:14 tells us, “[Christ] gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”
The next phrase in 2 Chronicles 7:14 is “will humble themselves.” The New Testament contains similar references to believers in our dispensation needing to humble themselves. First Peter 5:5 and 6 state, “Be clothed with humility, for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble! Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.” The fact that we New Testament Christians are not Israel, to whom the same admonitions were given as found in the Old Testament, does not negate this very important principle of life.
Then we have “and pray.” The New Testament is full of instructions and promises concerning prayer. “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) is just one.
The significance of “and seek my face” (2 Chronicles 7:14) is just as important in our age. Colossians 3:1 and 2 state, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is. . . . Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”
Reading the next phrase in 2 Chronicles 7:14, “and turn from their wicked ways,” I can’t help but think of Christ’s words to the New Testament church of Ephesus in Revelation 2:4 and 5: “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. . . . Repent.”
Now we come to God’s promise if His people will do these things: First, He will hear. God never changes. He still hears when people meet the conditions. “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purity your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:8).
Second, He will forgive. This is the principle of 1 John 1:9. Third, He will heal their land. Some people unnecessarily “choke” a bit on this one. Israel is certainly the only nation that has physical land divinely promised to her unconditionally. Yet there are examples of believers in various countries who have witnessed marvelous answers to prayer on behalf of their nation. Wales is one example, a great blessing to read about. The United States is no exception either; and there have been great revivals in our history at very needy times as the result of Christians’ getting right with God, praying, and trusting God for what He can do. Many people don’t realize our nation historically has been on the brink a number of times. But God is so faithful. And He does honor those who trust Him and pray on behalf of their nation.
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