"If My people" - a second look at a well-known promise

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by asterisktom, Aug 29, 2014.

  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 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. But this application is hard for many American Christians to see, because they cannot see beyond their own "Americanness".

    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 passage (in 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 Israel at the transient 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

    The New Testament is Clearer
    There is much in the Old Testament that is prophetic of the brighter, clearer New Testament. Not only teaching and prophecy, but also types point to Christ. The Temple is one of those types that directs us 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.known
    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, most glorious 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.
     
    #1 asterisktom, Aug 29, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 29, 2014
  2. Revmitchell

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    What a bunch of misrepresentation. Good grief.

    While it was a direct promise to Israel (of which no one denies) it shows us the heart of God to anyone who has been disobedient ever. The understanding throughout scripture, not just Israel at that moment, is that when the people of God, (Israel or anyone else) repent of their disobedience then God will do the very things he has promised in that passage.

    The fact that The American people want God to be a primary focus in all that we do "as American people" is nothing to be ashamed of, run from or deny.

    What in the world amazes me is that there are those who call themselves Christian and want to live in a secular society. In doing so they will even deny that this country was in fact founded on biblical principles.

    No one, I repeat no one sees America as having been chosen special like Israel and no one, I repeat no one makes that verse merely about America. If we are going to address these things we need more honesty and less demonization.
     
  3. asterisktom

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    Talk about misrepresentation.

    Did you even read my post before you started pounding on your keyboard (just a few minutes after I posted this?) Read it again, this time for understanding, not ammunition.

    If you have legitimate discussion - based on my points raised, and the verses I quoted - then I am ready to engage. Innuendos and shooting from the hip mean nothing.

    I am afraid that you are so wrapped up in your "Americanity" that you miss the point that I am making. It is not anti-American, but pro-Kingdom of God., the holy nation that Peter said we are a part of.
     
    #3 asterisktom, Aug 29, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 29, 2014
  4. RLBosley

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    Excellent AT. :thumbsup:
     
  5. pinoybaptist

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    Great post. :thumbsup:
    Then there's Romans 8:28...ah,well:rolleyes:
     
  6. beameup

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    "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."

    My people = true genetic Israel
    Their sin = killing their Messiah

    And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications:
    and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son,
    and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.
    Zech 12:10
     
  7. asterisktom

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    This was not Israel's sin at the time. This is a divine promise givien to people in present need, not a prophecy that can only benefit a far-future generation of Israelites. Messiah's death, at this point, is still about 1000 years away.

    To know what Israel's actual sin was in the time of Chronicles you just need to read the whole passage.

    You also wrote:
    The looking upon the pierced Messiah was fulilled at the Crucifixion. This passage that you quoted is the "in that day" section of Zechariah - 19 times the phrase is mentioned - that had its fulfillment in the first century.
     
  8. beameup

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    In otherwords, what you are saying, is that there is no "future prophecy" in the Bible.
    This seems a bit odd since I cannot recall all of Jerusalem morning when they see Jesus.

    In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon.
    And the land shall mourn, every family apart; the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart; the family
    of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart; The family of the house of Levi apart, and their wives apart;
    the family of Shimei apart, and their wives apart; All the families that remain, every family apart, and their wives apart.

    Zech 12:11-14
     
    #8 beameup, Aug 30, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 30, 2014
  9. Aaron

    Aaron
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    I never read your posts. They're too verbose, and you seem to be always tweaking orthodoxy to say the understanding and teaching of the Church for 2 millennia has just missed the truth till you came to fine tune it.

    I might read your post if it could be written on a 3X5 index card.
     
  10. Yeshua1

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    That was NOT fulfilled at his first coming, as national isrel rejected Him as promised messiah, so that refers to his second coming as their Messiah, when isreal sings :Blessed is he who comes in the name of the lord"
     
  11. asterisktom

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    My comment wasn't directed to you.

    This should fit on your card.
     
  12. Aaron

    Aaron
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    And I read it. :thumbs:
     
  13. Revmitchell

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    Seriously, is that all you got? You can take you anti-American attitude and go live somewhere else. Try a remote village in India for a while. Maybe you will learn to appreciate what you got.
     
  14. asterisktom

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    I do live in a remote place, northeast China. Odd that I am sometimes slammed here because I am American - and also by thin-skinned people like you for being anti-American.

    You still haven't responded intelligently to what I actually wrote. I know you are capable of it. I suppose that glib comments are all you think I am worth. That's OK, but then don't expect to be taken seriously by me.
     
  15. Earth Wind and Fire

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    I will have to agree with you here.
     
  16. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast
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    The op is correct and we'll thought out.
     
  17. Yeshua1

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    So the principles of it would only apply to isreal under the old Covenant then?
     
  18. kyredneck

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    Agree!

    Ah, we're fortunate that Tom even bothers to post here and takes the abuse he always gets from the paranoids. I always appreciate his posts.
     
  19. Yeshua1

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    Even though they are often not biblically based?
     
  20. asterisktom

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    Thanks Kyredneck and other encouragers. On these boards it helps to have a thick skin. BTW, I am now back in China where, oddly enough, I think I should have more time to post than when I was in the US these last two months. It is good to be back in the old apartment.
    ,
    I forget who wrote the comment about me thinking that I have everything fine tuned. This is not really true. I often posted lengthy studies here looking for peer-review, for someone to kick the tires of what I am posting. This board is especially helpful for just that. I don't have years of emotional investment in my current theological views. If someone can biblically counter what I am writing I am indebted to him/her.

    Of course there is a world of difference between "the Bible disagrees with you" and "here is where the Bible disagrees with you".
     

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