Every Christian, it seems, is spouting off 2 Chronicles 7:14, as if is the cure for all of our problems. It is – if you read it right, and take it in context.
Tonight, I was fired up – and I had a mini Bible Study with my wife (and not social distancing either – we were two feet from each other) – about this very verse.
We turned to 2 Chronicles, chapter 6, which is the set-up for chapter 7. Here, Solomon is dedicating the newly constructed Temple to God. In his prayer of dedication, which was made in front of the entire nation of Israel – he went point by point.
Starting in verse 22 of chapter 6: “If a man sins against his neighbor and is made to take an oath and comes and swears his oath before your altar in this house, then hear from heaven and act and judge your servants, repaying the guilty by bringing his conduct on his own head, and vindicating the righteous by rewarding him according to his righteousness.”
This is where Solomon recognizes – and stresses God’s faithfulness – God judges sin, and rewards righteousness…
Verse 24: “If your people Israel are defeated before the enemy because they have sinned against you, and they turn again and acknowledge your name and pray and plead with you in this house, then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and bring them again to the land that you gave to them and to their fathers.”
If the people are given over to an enemy because they’ve sinned – and then turn and repent, Solomon is asking God to forgive their sin.
Verse 26: “When heaven is shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against you, if they pray toward this place and acknowledge your name and turn from their sin, when you afflict them, then hear in heaven and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel, when you teach them the good way in which they should walk, and grant rain upon your land, which you have given to your people as an inheritance.”
Solomon starts getting specific now. Here, he addressed drought. A common occurrence in Israel. Israel is a desert nation, rain falls in the fall and winter months, and if they don’t get enough – drought sets in.
God promised that if the people didn’t follow the law back then – there would be judgement. This was one of them. Solomon asked God that if they repent, that God teach them how they are to behave – and bring rain.
Verse 28: “If there is famine in the land, if there is pestilence or blight or mildew or locust or caterpillar, if their enemies besiege them in the land at their gates, whatever plague, whatever sickness there is, whatever prayer, whatever plea is made by any man or by all your people Israel, each knowing his own affliction and his own sorrow and stretching out his hands toward this house, then hear from heaven your dwelling place and forgive and render to each whose heart you know, according to all his ways, for you, you only, know the hearts of the children of mankind, that they may fear you and walk in your ways all the days that they live in the land that you gave to our fathers.”
Now, he addresses famine, infestations and disease – again, repentance first, then heal the land. Solomon understood this. (Unfortunately, he forgot this later in his life).
Do you see how 2 Chronicles 7:14 is being set up?
Verse 32 addresses those who are not Israelites, but converts – grafted into the vine – so to speak: “Likewise, when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes from a far country for the sake of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm, when he comes and prays toward this house, hear from heaven your dwelling place and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to you, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your people Israel, and that they may know that this house that I have built is called by your name.”
The same rules for the Israelites, go for the foreigner – in other words, repent of sin to the one and only God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the sin is forgiven.
Verse 36, it seems, foretells the Babylonian captivity of the Jewish people – and the seventy year capativity: “If they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—and you are angry with them and give them to an enemy, so that they are carried away captive to a land far or near, yet if they turn their heart in the land to which they have been carried captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their captivity, saying, ‘We have sinned and have acted perversely and wickedly,’ if they repent with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity to which they were carried captive, and pray toward their land, which you gave to their fathers, the city that you have chosen and the house that I have built for your name, then hear from heaven your dwelling place their prayer and their pleas, and maintain their cause and forgive your people who have sinned against you. Now, O my God, let your eyes be open and your ears attentive to the prayer of this place.”
Why do I go into this expository look into 2 Chronicles 6 and 7?
What does 2 Chronicles 7:12-14 say? First, you can’t have verse 14, without beginning in verse 12:
“Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. 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, 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.”
This is God answering Solomon’s prayer – and it’s the beginning of the answer. God addresses each items that Solomon asked for, with a caveat:
- Humble themselves – get on their knees and prostrate themselves, lowering themselves before a HOLY GOD,
- Pray – Ask for forgiveness in a deep, humble and heartfelt way,
- Seek God’s Face – Look for God’s guidance for corrective behavior,
- Turn from their wicked ways – Total REPENTANCE.
There’s the key – REPENTANCE.
The Hebrew word for Repent is “shuv” (שׁוּב) – meaning to “turn back” or “return” – and the act of repentance is “teshuvah” (תשובה) – meaning “turning back to God” is what Solomon stipulated, and what a Holy God requires.
Pastors, I said in my title “Take Note” – how many of you are preaching sin and repentance in your sermons? Not many of you. Of the pastors I know, I can count on one hand, ones that pound home repentance before a Holy God.
Yet, y’all spout off 2 Chronicles 7:14 as if it’s come sort of cure-all… just ask God to heal our land, and like some sort of genie in a bottle – our problems will be taken care of.
How many of you are preaching against the sin of same-sex marriage, homosexuality and transgenderism? I mean really railing against it? I think I’ve heard one pastor, other than myself do so.
How many of you are preaching against the sin of abortion? The murder of unborn children? I think I’ve heard three, other than myself, do so.
Here we are – a people – in this world – doing the same things that was done in Abraham and Lot’s day – men sleeping with men, and women sleeping with women – and sacrificing our babies to the god of Molech!
No wonder God’s allowed this COVID-19 to be unleashed in the world! He’s pissed – and I don’t blame Him. And His Pastors aren’t doing much about it either!
We talk about revival – repentance starts with Self-Revival. If pastors want to start revival – they need to examine themselves first – and repent for their own failures – and then get out there, at whatever the cost to his reputation, and start preaching Heaven and Hell, Sin and Repentance!
We have a state representative here in our area of Pennsylvania – who is also a pastor of a local church. He doesn’t like abortion, but won’t lift a finger in Harrisburg (our capital) to get it restricted. He doesn’t support same sex marriage (he claims), yet again, he won’t lift a finger to keep men out of women’s bathrooms (and vice versa). It makes me think: What the heck is he preaching to his church?
This clown is up for re-election. If he holds the same positions as he did back then – I will have no choice but to actively work to see that he’s defeated. (See my blog post when he ran two years ago here).
And don’t be blaming it on the separation of church and state either! You either believe that there’s a Holy and Just God that cannot stand – and will judge – sin, or you don’t. You can’t serve a Holy God – and government – two masters.
So, what’s it gonna be pastors? Are we gonna start doing our jobs, or answer to a Holy God as to why we didn’t.