I am the oldest of 12 children, and I have 7 brothers.
It has been 7 years since I last lived in my parents’ home, and I now have a family and a house of my own.
As with almost every home with children, bedrooms become messy and need cleaning at my home. It’s not unusual for parents to tell a child to clean his room.
Imagine if my dad told me, “Son, I want you to clean your room. If you go and do it, tonight we will make your favourite meal for supper.” The instructions are clear. If I went and cleaned my room, we would eat my favourite food for supper.
But what if my little brother overheard my dad talking to me and decided that his room was also somewhat messy and decided to clean it? If he cleaned his room, would we eat his favourite food for supper?
Of course not! The directions and promised result were given to me, not my brother. Yes, we both are legitimately his son, but he was speaking specifically to me, not any of my other brothers.
This does not mean that my dad does not want my other brothers to clean their rooms, nor does it mean that he won’t ever reward them for doing what is good. But in this specific context, he was promising my favourite meal to me if I did something specific at his request.
“If My People…”
Let’s get straight to the point: 2 Chronicles 7:14 is not a promise given to you unless you are of Jewish descent and live in the area of ancient Canaan.
I love America, and I am so grateful that God allowed me to be born in this amazing country. Furthermore, I am thankful for my family’s Christian heritage and the many aspects of America that have been influenced by biblical principles and ideals.
But one downside of being a Christian in America is the tendency that we have to think that we are God’s chosen people and that America is the promised land (i.e., the greatest country ever).
A prime example of this mindset is our hijacking of 2 Chronicles 7:14 which says, “If My people who are called by My name will 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 verse is often quoted in discussions about national revival and repentance, and you can find it embedded in songs, social media images, and inspirational plaques in homes and church buildings.
But there are several reasons why it is inappropriate to apply this verse specifically to America.
First, the context of this verse is the dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem, which was a specific event in Israel’s history. The verse was addressed to the people of Israel, not to any other nation, and the promise of healing the land was given in the context of God’s covenant with Israel.
Second, the verse specifically addresses the sins of God’s people Israel and calls for them to repent and turn from their wicked ways. While America is a nation that has benefited from some Christian ideals, it is not a theocracy, and not all Americans are Christians. Therefore, it is horrible theology to apply this verse to America as a whole.
Third, the promise of healing the land is a reference to God providing fruitfulness to Israel’s physical land. It is not a formula for automatic revival or national restoration. If Christians in America were to seek revival, they would need to do so with sincere repentance and a genuine desire to follow God’s will, rather than simply invoking a verse as a magic formula for national renewal, especially when this passage refers to a physical healing, not a spiritual healing.
While this verse certainly contains powerful promises of forgiveness and healing, it is important to understand its context and how it relates to the nation of Israel specifically.
Who Are God’s People?
In the Old Testament, “God’s people” generally referred to the Israelites, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, whom God chose to be His special people and entered into a covenant with.
For those of us who are not of Jewish descent but have placed our faith in Jesus Christ, yes, we too can now refer to ourselves as God’s people.
In the New Testament, the term “God’s people” is used to refer to Christians who have believed in Christ. We find examples of this Galatians 3:26-29, Ephesians 2:19, and 1 Peter 2:9-10.
These verses, among others, emphasize that through faith in Jesus Christ, believers become part of God’s family and are considered his people.
However, 2 Chronicles 7:14 is not a promise given to all of God’s people of all time. It is specifically given to his special chosen people of Israel.
The Israelites were a chosen nation, set apart from other nations to be a holy people and to fulfill God’s purposes on earth. Throughout the Old Testament, God made many promises and gave many commands to the Israelites as His chosen people, and the history of the Israelites as recorded in the Old Testament is the story of their relationship with God and their efforts to fulfill their role as His chosen people.
If you’re still not convinced, take a look at the 14 references to people in 2 Chronicles 6:5,6,21,24,25,27,29,32,33,34,39. These verses in Solomon’s prayer all make references to God’s people, and there is no doubt that every single one is a reference to the children of Israel.
“Heal Their Land”
The book of 2 Chronicles is a historical account of the reigns of various kings of Israel and Judah. In chapter 7, King Solomon has just finished building the Temple in Jerusalem, and God appears to him in a dream, promising to bless the nation if they remain faithful to him.
2 Chronicles 7:14 is part of God’s response to Solomon’s prayer in 2 Chronicles 6. God lays out the conditions for blessing and protection for the nation of Israel. These conditions are specifically tied to the Temple in Jerusalem and the relationship between God and the Israelites.
In fact, during his prayer in 2 Chronicles 6:26-31, Solomon acknowledged that Israel’s physical land would suffer if they disobeyed God, and he asked God to provide physical healing in the event that Israel turned back to God with repentant hearts.
So God responded directly to Solomon’s specific request.
If my dad asked me to clean my room and promised me a certain result if I did, he is not also promising that another brother of mine would receive the same result if he cleaned his room.
Likewise, it is important to understand that 2 Chronicles 7:14 is descriptive of God’s relationship with Israel, not prescriptive for other nations or individuals.
While the principles of humility, prayer, seeking God’s face, and turning from wickedness are certainly relevant for all believers, the specific promises of forgiveness and healing for a nation are tied to the unique covenant relationship between God and Israel.
If you want a similar passage that is written to all believers and not just Israel, take a look at Colossians 3.
2 Chronicles 7:14 is a powerful reminder of God’s faithfulness and desire to bless his people, but it must be understood in the context of God’s unique relationship with Israel and cannot be simply applied as a formula for national revival or repentance.
While God certainly desires for all people to turn to him in repentance and seek his face, it is not appropriate to take this verse out of its context and apply it to the United States or any other country that is not Israel.
Now if 2 Chronicles 7:14 was not given to directly to us, but all Scripture is profitable for us (2 Timothy 3:16-17), what application can we get from it? Well, we will discuss that in my next blog post 🙂
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree, and why?