Revival: If My People…
We’ve been discussing aspects of revival, what it means and its implications in history. We have been asking the question about whether or not a revival should be expected in America if Christians are only willing to pray for it. You can read the previous articles here, here, and here.
We learn in 2 Chronicles 7:14 the following truth as a promise from God Himself:
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
I’ve heard and read many instances where this verse has been used as a proof-text by well-meaning Christians (and a few charlatans as well) to show that God wants to heal America. After all it is argued, this country was founded on biblical principles and Satan has worked hard to pull America off its moorings. I would agree that America was founded on biblical principles and I would also agree that Satan has worked very diligently to move this country off those moorings. That said, we need to ask ourselves more about 2 Chronicles 7:14, who is speaking and to whom is the speaker speaking?
Clearly, God was speaking to the nation of Israel. We gain this understanding based on the fact alone that this text is part of the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament) and the Hebrew Bible reveals God’s unfolding drama of redemption beginning with Adam, through Enoch and Noah, to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph (along with the other patriarchs) and then to and through Moses, Joshua, and numerous others all the way to the silence between the two testaments.
In other words, the majority of the Hebrew Bible (or the Old Testament) is written to show us how God chose to create a special and unique nation that would be called Israel, to be made up of Hebrews (also called Jews). The Old Testament is a record of the trials, problems, foibles, and successes of that nation and its leaders.
2 Chronicles 7:14 is proof of God’s love for the people of Israel, the unique and peculiar people He personally and specifically chose to be a nation that would ultimately be the vehicle through which the Messiah (for the Jews) and Savior (for the Gentiles) would be born into this world. This was God’s plan and He accomplished it in spite of fiery darts of the enemy, Satan, who did everything he could to destroy God’s plans. He never once got even close to succeeding. Israel was established. The Messiah was born. He lived a sinless life and died a sinner’s death (though He was without sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). He rose from the dead and He ascended on high to sit at the right hand of the Father until His enemies are made His footstool (Psalm 2).
Today, too many people want to reach into the Old Testament and use Scripture that applies only to Israel and attempt to make it apply to the Church and/or Christians. The promise of 2 Chronicles was given to Solomon as Solomon prepared to build and eventually completed the Temple dedicated to Jehovah in Jerusalem. In 2 Chronicles 2 – 5, we learn of Solomon’s plans and preparations to build the Temple. In chapter 6, Solomon has completed the Temple and dedicates it to the LORD God. Chapter 7 reveals to us God’s response to Solomon’s efforts. God was pleased enough to actually indwell this Temple.
Sacrifices are offered and a celebratory feast of dedication is observed. It is at that point that God spells things out for Solomon with respect to the nation of Israel. It is a warning with a built-in promise. Here are verses 12-14 and 19-20 of 2 Chronicles 7:
“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… But if you turn aside and forsake my statutes and my commandments that I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will pluck you up from my land that I have given you, and this house that I have consecrated for my name, I will cast out of my sight, and I will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples.”
God tells Solomon that He is speaking of His (God’s) people – those of Israel. We cannot wrench this out of context and apply it to the Church. It is wrong to do that because it changes the meaning and intent of Scripture. “God is giving Solomon a point-by-point response regarding his prayer for Israel in 2 Chronicles 6. Therefore, the promise of blessing and the warning regarding disobedience was given to Israel, not America or Christians living in America.”
Please notice in the text above from 2 Chronicles 7 that God tells Solomon He heard Solomon’s prayer. God then states He has “chosen this place” for Himself. What place? The Temple. This is where God chose to be with respect to the nation of Israel. Prior to the Temple, God moved with Israel as either a cloud by day or pillar of fire by night. The Temple offered God a permanent place to dwell.
Notice also that God tells Solomon flat-out that if the people of Israel do things the right way, God will remain with them and they will enjoy “the land.” If not, they will be thrown out of “the land.” What “land” is God referring to here? Clearly, God is referring to the land that He promised Abraham and the people entered under the leadership of Joshua. It was that Land to which God was referring. History has shown us the truth of God’s promises here because Israel has been tossed out of that land numerous times from that time until today. It was in the early 1940s that Jewish people began to go back to “the land” because of WWI and WWII. God allowed that, according to His promises to Ezekiel.
But we have certain Christian authors who have best-selling books that take a verse or two out of the Old Testament and attempt to connect it with the United States. If that isn’t bad enough, we have millions of people who gobble it up straining on every word from his first book to his second, dealing with the Shemitah (also taken out of context and applied to the United States), and blood-red moons.
There is something wrong when people are so desperate to avoid persecution and the clear teachings of Scripture that they are willing to listen to a person who offers several “fictional” accounts of what he believes God has “told” or “revealed” to him.
Though I believe it is very clear that the text of 2 Chronicles 7 has nothing to do with any nation except Israel, people will continue to ignore this, preferring to believe what their itching ears prefer to hear. There is hope for America, is what they want to hear. We just need to pray more, work harder, convert more people to Jesus, and they will impact this nation as never before so that America will return to her biblical roots! It will all be well.
Then why didn’t God do that during the first century with the first Christians and the Roman Empire? By AD 300s, the “church” had become married to the state, something that God also did not clearly want but allowed. Did that make things better? Not necessarily.
Why didn’t God bring revival to the first century church? Why was there so much persecution? Why did Christians have to flee for their lives or be burned to death on a stake to light up Nero’s garden? Why did God allow any or all of that?
Is it because He has a higher purpose, one that not too many Christians really even think about or consider? Next time, we’ll be back with a look at Revelation 6:20 and we also want to look at the question what does true revival look like to God? We’ll ask King David to help us with that question.