Text: 2 Chronicles 7:14 | Listen to Message
It’s the verse of choice for the National Day of Prayer:
“If 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 and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
What a hopeful verse! We should just call on God and step back and watch as he fixes everything wrong with our country!
“God bless America!”
Well, sort of.
See, 2 Chronicles 7:14 isn’t about America. It’s about Israel. God is speaking to King Solomon sometime around the mid-10th Century B.C., laying out both a curse (for rebellion) and a blessing (for repentance).
You may also be interested to know verse 14 is actually the second half of a sentence that begins, “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, . . .”
In context, you can see that God is saying, “When I’m disciplining you with something like drought, famine, devouring insects, or pestilence, if you humbly confess your sin, then I will heal your land.” Healing their land isn’t a figure of speech; it’s literally getting rid of blight and bugs.
Oh, one more thing: if you keep reading, God says in the very next verse, “My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place.” What is this place? The temple in Jerusalem – a building that was destroyed nearly 2,000 years ago!
So that’s it, then? 2 Chronicles 7:14 is about some other people living at some other time in some other place, and isn’t about us? Well, yes . . . and no.
Yes, it’s about ancient Israel praying and seeking God in their temple. But what’s the message? What’s the invitation? And what’s the promise? Isn’t God inviting sinners to receive his favor through repentance (“humble yourselves . . . and turn from your wicked ways”) and faith (“pray and seek my face”)?
But how can God do that? How can God forgive people who’ve forsaken his law and gone off to worship and serve false gods?
We’re meant to see how 2 Chronicles 7:14 prepares us for the person and work of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the how.
In Jesus, God sent his Son to live the life we should’ve lived and to die the death we should’ve died. He fulfilled the law by his obedience, yet he died forsaken and condemned – because that’s what our sin deserved. Jesus paid the debt of our sin because God is just. And Jesus forgives repentant sinners because God is merciful.
So if you find today that the drought, the famine, the sickness, is in your heart, what should you do? God still invites you to humble yourself, and pray, and seek his face, and turn from your wicked way.
But wait, what about that whole you-need-to-pray-in-the-temple thing? Oh, don’t worry, Jesus fulfilled that too. See, the temple was the place where God met with sinful humans – after an offering had been made for their sin. But then Jesus offered himself for our sin, so he is the true temple. He is the “place” where God meets with humanity. So you don’t need to make a pilgrimage. Just pray in Jesus’ name. And he will hear your humble cry, and forgive your sins, and heal the broken places in your life.