For the past few years, believers have consistently quoted 2 Chronicles 7:14 as the benchmark for national repentance. But, there is a backdrop and context to this verse that should challenge us in how we judge the present crises we face as a nation.
In the preceding chapter, Solomon leads the people in dedicating the Temple after years of preparation. They had done everything required and were determined to walk in the ways of the Lord. In his prayer, Solomon makes a deal with God. He wanted to make sure the people stuck to their promises and asked the Lord to hold them accountable…
Then hear from heaven where you live, and forgive. Give your people what their actions deserve, for you alone know each human heart. Then they will fear you and walk in your ways as long as they live in the land you gave to our ancestors. (2 Chronicles 6:30 NLT).
Solomon told the Lord to give His people what their choices and actions “deserve” – good or bad. He does not ask God to bless the people without merit or to overlook any future bad choices out of mercy. Instead, he asks God to follow through with any negative consequences of sin committed by His people – SO THAT they will learn the fear of the Lord.
It’s in THIS context that the Lord responds in the next chapter with our oft-quoted verse:
At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops, or send plagues among you. Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. (2 Chronicles 7:13-14 ESV)
This famous promise was not in response to an enemy attack or some random declaration from heaven. It was God answering Solomon’s petition for accountability – “OK, you want accountability? Here’s what I’ll do… “ The only way the people would walk in the fear of the Lord would be for them to taste the results of their rebellion and learn the dire consequences of disobedience. Confronted with disasters and crises, they would be faced with their own limitations and hopefully turn back to God. Though this deal with heaven may seem drastic, it was necessary in order for the nation to maintain their covenant with the Lord.
Today, our nation is truly getting what we have deserved because of some bad choices we’ve made. Because of the Church’s lack of engagement in the public square and our apathy in voting, we are now reaping the results of our inaction. Though many are waking up to this dilemma and wanting to turn things around, there are yet sleepers and those who walk in unbelief. But, I believe God is at work, bringing them to the place of seeing the consequences of their choices so that they, too, can yield fully to the Lord. We must pray this happens so that our collective unity will be strong, steadfast, and secure.
Though it means that even the righteous must bear the consequences of these wrong choices for a time, I believe we will triumph if we understand the Lord’s greater purposes. He doesn’t want some glib acquiescence or forced submission. He is going after the doubters and those who have yet to wake up. He wants our full surrender and wholehearted devotion and He’s willing to take the time needed if it means He has us – completely.
As much as we want the swamp to be drained, we might all have to take a dip before the plug is pulled. But, take heart. I hear mud baths are really good for you.
More and more groups are going through the book and video series on MOVING FROM SWORD TO SCEPTER. Don’t miss out. Special ends this weekend! HERE’S A COMPLIMENTARY VIEW OF SESSION 11: The Mordecai Mandate: Securing Your City