2 Chronicles 7:14 "If My people" - a closer look at a misused promise

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by asterisktom, Nov 24, 2009.

  1. asterisktom

    asterisktom
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    "If My People..."

    A Promise God Never Made and

    A Prophetic Application Overlooked


    First, the verse, 2 Chronicles 7:14:


    "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 is the second in our series of misunderstood verses, the first being the previous article on Matthew 18:19 - 20.

    This verse is, first of all - as it is often presented - a promise never made.
    The implication of many American websites, sermons, books, posters, songs, and bumper-stickers is that if America, or the Christians in America, will seek God's face then He will hear their prayer and heal our country. The reason why many misconstrue this verse as having special application for America and for her revival is that they take these words out of context, focusing instead on special words and phrases that can be reloaded with other meaning. Once the text is denatured and re-natured it comes out red-white-and-blue - and totally at odds with the context. The essential points of misunderstanding are these:

    "My people" = Americans. Rational: Were we not a Christian nation?
    "Called by My name" = Christians. Are we not called by Christ's name?
    "I.. will heal their land" = America. God will heal our country.

    As I said, these applications are arrived at by seeing this verse as self-contained. One well-meaning pastor even makes this verse part of his "single, stand-alone Scripture series"! But to see any verse - especially one like the present - as stand-alone is a recipe for exegetical disaster.

    Context, always helpful for understanding
    Other websites I visited - a minority of them, unfortunately - gave due credit to the rest of the passage, chapters 6 and 7 of 2nd Chronicles. As one reads the rest of the passage one notices a recurring theme: the Temple! This whole passage is set in Solomon's Temple, and was God's answer in the night to Solomon. It was after Solomon's dedication of the Temple, and in response to his prayer during that dedication, 2nd Chron. 6:1-42. And what did Solomon pray? That God would honor prayers of His people "toward this place". He refers to "this place", "this temple" thirteen times: 6:18, 20 (twice), 21, 22, 24, 26, 29, 32, 33, 34, 38, and 40. God's answer to Solomon, likewise, refers six times to "this place" or "this temple". He also mentions four times the "name" that is associated with this temple. My point in all this enumeration is to show that God's promise is closely associated, not only with the ancient covenant with His people, but with the Temple as well. It is revealing that those who quote 2nd Chron. 7:14 rarely quote the verses before, or those that follow immediately after (emphasis added):

    "Then the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said to him: 'I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice.", vs. 12.

    "Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually." vss. 15 - 16.

    Looking at this context we see that God's oft-quoted "I will hear from heaven" must be qualified with the very next verse, His ears being "attentive to prayer made in this place" [that is, the Temple]. Not prayers in America, but Jerusalem.

    And if one sees how important the context and setting is here then it is much easier to follow the application: the "land" spoken of which God, upon prayer and repentance, promised to heal was Israel, not America.

    The whole point is that this promise was made to the only nation on the Earth that had (past tense) a national covenant with God - Israel. And, thus, the only nation that could ever have expected corporate healing per this promise is Israel.

    America has nothing to do with this promise.
    America, as a nation, has no right to this promise.
    American Christians have no need for it.

    But what about the Principle?
    Surely, someone might object, there must be some application for us? Yes. One is that God is faithful in all His promises. Even in those situations that don't apply to us.

    But one principle we cannot draw out from this passage is that we are able to pull a nation out of a moral nosedive, or into a "national revival", by the spiritual exertions of a Christian minority, however sincere. That is the promise not given. We have the proof of this in Ezekiel 14:13 - 20:

    "'Son of man, if a country sins against Me by committing unfaithfulness, and I stretch out My hand against it, destroy its supply of bread, send famine against it, and cut off from it both man and beast, even though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job were in its midst, by their own righteousness they could only deliver themselves,' declares the Lord God."

    In this whole passage God makes it clear that the unrighteous nation - and America certainly has the right to put themselves in this verse (Ezekiel 14) - will not avoid judgment by the spiritual exertions of the righteous few.

    Second Chronicles 7:14 was a promise given to national, covenantal at the height of their spiritual blessedness. It was for a limited time, as well: the age of legitimate temple worship. How ironically inappropriate and anachronistic for any nation to take this specific promise for themselves!

    But the misuse of this verse not only entails a wrong application; it also covers up a Messianic truth.

    A Prophetic Messianic Application Overlooked

    "But He was speaking of the temple of His Body." John 2:21. See also 2nd Peter 2:4 - 10.

    "Jesus said to her, 'Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father...
    "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." John 4:21, 24

    "For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us." 2nd Cor. 1:20

    There is much in the Old Testament that is prophetic of the brighter, clearer New Testament. Not only teaching and prophecy, but also types points to Christ. The Temple is one of those types that points to Christ, our Messiah. Christ is our Temple. As we abide in Christ, "a holy nation" studying His Word, worshiping in the spirit and in truth, we are also being built up (edified) into a holy building, living stones resting upon - and resting in - the living, precious Stone of Christ. This is the point of 2nd Peter 2:4 - 10. This passage should remind us of both Matthew 7:24 - 27 (the house on the rock) and Matthew 16:18 (on this Rock I will build My church).

    How does this relate to 2nd Chronicles 7:14? The whole setting and basis for God's erstwhile promise has changed. It is not as though the Old Testament assurance has become null and void. No, rather it has been amplified in Christ our Saviour:

    Prayers once made in the earthly temple are now made in Christ.
    Worship once performed between temple walls, in Jerusalem, is now done in spirit and in truth - everywhere.
    The holy name Solomon invoked we know now to be the name above all names, the One in whose name we pray.
    And, Peter tells us, we are the holy nation - believing Jews and Gentiles - the largest nation in the world, a spiritual diaspora that will know no boundaries, nor ultimate defeat.

    All of these things were wonderfully prefigured in 2nd Chronicles chapter 7. To take that one verse 14 and make it be merely about America is to cover up something comforting, gloriously prophetic, and Messianic with something transient and - by comparison - quite shoddy.
     
  2. Zenas

    Zenas
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    Sounds reasonable to me.
     
  3. kyredneck

    kyredneck
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    A Day Of National Humiliation, Fasting, and Prayer

    [we've done it before]

    http://www.conservapedia.com/Nationa...ing_and_Prayer

    A Day Of National Humiliation, Fasting, and Prayer
    in the The United States Of America on April 30, 1863

    WHEREAS, the senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the Supreme Authority and Just Government of Almighty God, in all the affairs of men and of nations, has by a resolution, required the President to designate and set apart a day for National prayer and humiliation:

    And whereas, it is the duty of nations as as well as of men, to owe their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord:

    And, in so much as we know that, by His divine law, nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us! It behooves us, then to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.

    Now, therefore, in compliance with the request , and fully concurring in the views of the Senate, I do, by this proclamation, designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting, and prayer. And I do hereby request all the People to abstain on that day from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite, at their several places of public worship and their respective homes, in keeping the day holy to the Lord, and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.

    All this being done, in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the Divine teachings, that the united cry of the Nation will be heard on high, and answered with blessings, no less than the pardon of our national sins, and the restoration of our now divided and suffering country, to its former happy condition of unity and peace.

    In witness whereof, I have here unto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

    Done at the city of Washington this thirtieth day of March, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-seventy.

    By the President:
    ABRAHAM LINCOLN
    William H. Seward, Secretary of State

    http://www.wallbuilders.com/LIBissuesArticles.asp?id=44
    This is the text of President John Adams' March 23, 1798 national Fasting and Prayer proclamation; as printed in the The Phenix/Windham Herald, April 12, 1798.

    http://www.wallbuilders.com/LIBissue...es.asp?id=3727
    This it the text of James Madison's August, 1812 Humiliation and Prayer Fast Proclamation; as printed in the Independent Chronicle on July 20, 1812.

    See: Historical Documents, http://www.wallbuilders.com/LIBissue...les.asp?cat=HD [very enlightening]

    Now compare to our present prez and weep:

    http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/05/...yer/index.html
    Obama tones down National Day of Prayer observance

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/0..._n_198806.html
    National Day Of Prayer: Obama Scales Back From Bush
    __________________
     
  4. asterisktom

    asterisktom
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    Yes, it has been done before.

    It has been done before. History shows us that. It also shows the results. I am not against praying for our nation, individually or collectively. In fact, Romans 13 requires it. But we must not think that God promises revival because of our prayers.

    That was the point of my article and my point for using Ezekiel 14, to show cannot pull our nation out of a moral nosedive, or into a "national revival", by the spiritual exertions of a Christian minority, however sincere. Ezekiel 14:13 - 20:

    "'Son of man, if a country sins against Me by committing unfaithfulness, and I stretch out My hand against it, destroy its supply of bread, send famine against it, and cut off from it both man and beast, even though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job were in its midst, by their own righteousness they could only deliver themselves,' declares the Lord God."

    We need rather to focus on our own personal walk. If Christians would truly be light, through and through, we wouldn't have to rely on campaigns and gimmicks to impact our culture.

    My two cents.
     
  5. asterisktom

    asterisktom
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    And about Bush: Now that he is no longer in office he has let the other shoe drop, letting us know (for those who didn't notice earlier) what he really believes. He says that evolution and genesis are not at odds, and that the Bible, for that matter, is not literally true.

    ""' I think that God created the Earth, created the world; I think the creation of the world is so mysterious it requires something as large as an almighty and I don't think it's incompatible with the scientific proof that there is evolution,' he told ABC television."

    Bush is also on record as saying that Christians, Muslims. and all other religions pray to the same God.

    So... what are we scaling back to with Obama? The last president we had whose Christianity I looked up to (to any degree) was Reagan.
     
    #5 asterisktom, Nov 25, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 25, 2009
  6. Johnv

    Johnv
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    Good point. If we want a revival, we must be a revival of one. We need to stop thinking of God as a cash machine: put the prayer/fast/petition in, get a prize out. That's not how God works, nor is it how we should expect God to work.
     
  7. thegospelgeek

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    Don't know how to say this politely, but I could not disagree with you more. based on the assumptions you make, no promises in the Bible apply to us today. They were all addressed to either Isreal, Prophets, Jesus disciples, apostles, or people in the NT. If the term "my people" does not apply to the Christian then what does. Are we not God's people? If not the we must be Satan's.
     
  8. asterisktom

    asterisktom
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    Sigh. Yes, we - Christians - are God's people. That is not at all what I was writing against.
    I don't know where you make the leap that I teach that "no promises in the Bible apply to us today". All I am saying is that we cannot cherry-pick verses and fill them up with our own meaning.

    1. The Bible has promises for Jews of the Old Testament.
    2. The Bible has promises specifically for church-age Christians.

    There are some promises that are in both category 1 and 2.
    But some promises (2 Chron. 7:14) are either category 1 or 2.. 2 Chron. 7:14 is an example of the former.

    We find out which is which by careful study and discernment.
     

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