2 Chronicles 7:14
A. Read 2 Chronicles 7:14
Complete Steps B, C, and D as guided
Then see below for a completed study.
2 Chronicles 7:14
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.
Tradition tells us that Ezra the Scribe wrote the Chronicles, or "the events of the days" towards the end of the fifth century. However, the book itself does not denote a single author. In his accounting of the events in the history of Israel, the author used numerous sources including Samuel and Kings, as well as Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Judges, and Ruth. His book is not intended to be "history for history's sake," however (J.H. Walton, Ancient Israelite Literature in its Cultural Context). 1 & 2 Chronicles reads more like a sermon arranged for the purpose of offering "a theology of covenantal hope" (Chronicles--Job, Tremper Longman (III.), David E. Garland, & Edwin M. Yamauchi).
The subject passage is only a small portion of a word from God when "the Lord appeared to Solomon at night..." (7:12), so we need to interpret the entire passage (7:12-22), not merely a portion of it.
2 Chronicles 7:12-22
(We cannot interpret only one verse when our context is eleven verses.)
Biblical Context of 7:12-22
The whole of Scripture
Compare the Deut. 28 (What will Israel do with the Word of the Lord, with all Moses has taught them concerning God's commands?) with 2 Chr. 7: God's covenant with Israel (His promise to care for them and cause them to prosper - if they obey him. His promise to bring curses - if they disobeyed Him.)
Repeated phrases from Chapter 6:
7:12/6:19 (listen/hear prayer)
7:14/6:25, 27, 30, 33, 35, 39 (hear from Heaven)
7:15/6:20, 40 (eyes will be open)
The subject verses are God's private response to Solomon's public prayer using much of the same language Solomon used, including the conditional language of "if/then" (7:13, 14, 17-20).
Outline and Primary Message
Outline - 2 Chronicles 7:12-22
The Lord appeared to Solomon:
I have heard your prayer
If I shut up the heavens, or
If I command the locust, or
If I send pestilence,
if my people
Then I will: hear, forgive and heal
If you walk as David walked, and
If you keep my statutes
Then I will: establish your throne
If you turn away, and
If you forsake my statutes, and
If you go serve other gods
Then I will: uproot and cast you out
In response to Solomon's prayer asking God to hear and forgive, God promises to remain faithful to fulfill His Word, even to punish Israel's unfaithfulness in accordance with His covenant, but also, in accordance with His covenant, to redeem their repentant hears.
Interpretation and Application
Interpretation: 2 Chronicles 7:12-22
This passage is an answer from God to a specific appeal from Solomon that He remove His hand of judgment from the Jews if they repent and seek His mercy (6:24, 25, 27). When God punishes Israel with locust and pestilence, their genuine repentance will bring forgiveness and healing (7:13-14).
God's relationship with Israel was built on the covenant to which He invited them. His love is offered unconditionally and not based on their worthiness, but instead on His great mercy. His promises of blessings, prosperity, care, and protection; however, are conditional.
Because their's was a covenant relationship, there was a direct correlation between their obedience and God's blessings, as well as their disobedience and God's curses. (Deuteronomy 28)
Again, here in Chronicles, the author spells out very clearly that Israel's response to God's Word would determine divine blessing or divine punishment.
Application: Can we apply this Scripture to America, is this a promise that God will heal the United States when the Church humbles themselves, prays, seeks, and turns? If not, is this Scripture of no use to the modern church?
The only true hope for any and every generation of mankind is that God will keep His promises.
As confirmed by God in 7:12, our subject verses in Chapter 7 directly relate to Solomon's public prayer dedicating the Temple in Chapter 6.
In his prayer, Solomon:
(6:14-18) - Thanked God for being faithful to His promise to allow a son of David to build Him a Temple where He would "dwell with mankind on the earth" see 1 Chr. 17,
(6:19, 20) asks God to listen to His prayer of dedication,
6:21-40) asks God to "hear and forgive." Solomon is appealing to the "imagery of reconciliation and forgiveness" (Longman) that the blood provides by Temple sacrifice,
(6:41,42) asks God to arise and shine His glory on the new dwelling place.
and here in Chapter 7, God responds to Solomon's requests by confirming His covenant He has already established with Israel:
(7:13) IF He withholds the rain or sends pestilence and
(7:14)IF the people humble themselves, pray, seek, and turn THEN He will Hear, forgive, and heal
(7:16) And cause His Presence to "perpetually" dwell at the Temple
(7:17) IF Solomon walks according to God's commandments
(7:18) THEN He will establish David's throne eternally
(7:19) IF he turns away and forsakes God's Law
(7:20) THEN He will uproot Israel
In His response, God promises to remain faithful to the covenant he entered into with Israel in the days of Moses (Deuteronomy 28). At the time the book of 2 Chronicles was written; however, the author knows full well that Israel would not remain faithful to God and His commandments. Ezra knows that God allowed Judah to spend 70 years in exile from His very Presence because of their sinful response to His Word. But exile had not been the end of Israel; God returned the exiles who rebuilt the Temple where God's Presence once again dwelled.
Just as original sin in the Garden did not negate God's plan for mankind, Israel's failures did not thwart God's plan. God promised Abraham, Moses, and David that He still planned to create a people for Himself. He promised that, even if they failed to walk according to His commands and brought judgment on the land, He would forgive when they turned back to Him. And then, wonderfully, He promised to provide a King who would finally heal their wicked hearts, a King who would rule on the throne forever. We know this promise was fulfilled in King Jesus.
Ezra awaited the Messiah, but He reiterated here in the Chronicles that though Israel's wicked hearts caused God to respond via curses, the hope of Israel had not been forfeited. Israel suffered because of their disobedience to the Word, but God promised grace again and again - "If my people humble themselves, pray, seek and turn... I will hear and forgive." There is hope for Israel, but only because God remains faithful to His Word. The hope for Israel lies not in her ability to faithfully keep the law or to remain faithful to the covenant; the only hope for Israel is that God will keep His promises.
The only true hope for any and every generation of mankind is that God will keep His promises.
Back to our question: is it a proper application for Christians in the United States to use this verse as a plea for God to heal America? If we, as Christians, humble ourselves, pray, seek God’s face, and repent, does this Scripture promise that God will heal our nation, morally, economically, and politically? Is the American Church covered by the same covenant relationship with God that ancient Israel was promised?
The short answer: God's covenant with Israel was exclusive and simply does not apply to any other nation. It is improper for us to attempt to make America's relationship with God homologous to Israel's in a way that usurps these promises here in Chronicles (and Deuteronomy) for our benefit. Remember, the Bible is not written about us, though it was most assuredly written for us. The Bible was written for us to know God more fully and this promise reveals a tremendous amount about our God's merciful heart. And that's the best way for America and every other country to read this Scripture.
Isn't the Church privy to the same promises God gave Israel since she is now the means by which God is building His Kingdom on Earth? Yes, to some extent. When any of us humble ourselves before our Holy God, seek His face and repent, God is gracious to relent and save. But remember, when God was speaking to Israel, He was speaking to a nation. While it is highly unlikely when the Bible speaks of Israel's repentance, that every single man, woman, and child repented, the repentance always signified national repentance. Therefore, when some Christians, or even when most Christians, humble themselves and pray for America, that repentance is not national repentance and so is not privy to the same national deliverance that God promises here.
Nevertheless, Paul reminded us that "these things happened to them [Israel] as an example, and they were written [history] for our instruction" (1 Cor 10:11), and therefore the spirit of this prayer is applicable to Americans (or any nation) - especially because God's Word teaches us to pray for our nation and its leaders (1 Timothy 2:1–2). God's Word is clear that pride is sinful and humble submission to God and His Word brings God's deliverance. We can and should pray, and many Americans are praying, that America would repent of her prideful rejection of God's Sovereign Word; however, our prayer is not as was Solomon's that God would remain faithful to His covenant with Israel.
Our prayer as Americans should be that we would respond to the new covenant and the sacrifice of Christ because the Word does guarantee personal salvation through His blood. However, that is personal salvation, not national deliverance. While we await the return of the King, the only King who can heal the hearts of all mankind, our position as members of His Church is humble submission to His Word for the salvation of hearts and for His glory.
When we approach Scripture with humility, we read this passage as a beautiful promise God gave to Israel that no matter how she had failed Him, even though they were exiled from His Presence for an extended period of time, He remained forever faithful. That picture of God's faithfulness is the greatest application of this verse for His Church today. And we are proper in applying the testimony of God revealed in these verses - the testimony of a God who is faithful to His Word - as we pray for a world full of individual hearts that need to humble themselves before the God of Creation.
Therefore, no these verses are not a promise of national deliverance of America if enough of us pray for our country. It's better. It's a wonderful picture of our God who is merciful and faithful and powerful - even to use our exile from Him to turn our hearts back to Him.
But most wonderfully, it is a promise that our repentance is for His glory. In that, we can join with Israel (7:3) who upon seeing His glory shine down on His Temple, "bowed down on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave praise to the Lord, saying, 'Truly He is good, truly His lovingkindness is everlasting." Truly it is!
And truly He is faithful to save nations - one broken, damaged heart at a time.