2 Chronicles 7:14
Microsoft Word Format:
By Stephen Green. (First Published in Christian Voice June 2003)
The introduction to the First Book of Kings cries out to be made into a film. An aging king, a beautiful concubine, a usurping pretender, a split in both the army high-command and the priesthood, an aggrieved mother who became queen by adultery and betrayal, a young prince of great wisdom, and a cunning courtier-prophet who is so able to stage-manage events so that the will of God is done in the end. There are all the ingredients of an epic.
But reading on into 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles, we become aware that it is all going wrong. It is surely a tragedy of Biblical proportions that the empire of David and Solomon was so short-lived. We read in 1 Kings Chapter 11 that Solomon, famed for his wisdom, was in the end so driven by lust and the pursuit of power that he turned from worship of the one, true God to a syncretism in which worship of God was blended with the worship of idols. Solomon even introduced child sacrifice to Molech as his many wives led him into error.
And yet, in his declining years, Solomon could still write the book of Ecclesiastes, with its conclusion that the fear of God and the keeping of His Commandments is the true purpose of man. He is a complex character indeed.
The high taxation Solomon required to finance his building programmes - 1 Kings has more about these than the parallel passages in 2 Chronicles - led to resentment which surfaced after his death. The high-handed attitude of his son, Rehoboam, resulted in the ten northern tribes of Israel breaking away from Judah and Benjamin in the south, and falling into even worse idolatry. Taxation was apparently at a rate of twenty per-cent, (frugal by the standards of our own governments, which take between 40% and 50% of the national income) but the chief tax collector was still stoned to death as he tried to collect even more.
VISION AND PROMISE
There are lessons for us from Solomon's life both at a personal, a church and a national level. Things start well, full of vision and promise, but they can only end badly if the vision is lost. At a personal level, some Christians go to church desiring and expecting to be blessed but are unwilling to live their lives totally under the authority of God.
Many of our churches are blending worship of God with worship of idols. They are so sold out to modernism, and so afraid of preaching the Commandments of God, and discipling believers, that one sister at our day of prayer cried out to God, "Why are our young girls saved one day and pregnant the next?"
The reign of our Queen, too, started with such promise. She acceded after God had removed a time-waster and had put a better man - with all his faults - on the throne for a time of war. In the peace which followed, God was forgotten, as the nation celebrated a 'Festival of Britain' and gloried in its own achievements.
Then came the syncretism. Humanism - the elevation of man to be his own god - was soon blended with worship of God. God was honoured by name, but not in deed. The people were led into sin, breaking promises, despising their parents and the old paths, and even sacrificing their own children on the altars of convenience. The royal household itself took a lead in betrayal, adultery and divorce, with three of the monarch's four children failing to keep their marriages intact. Sexual license became the norm, along with infertility and ever more institutionalised homosexuality, as all restraint was cast away. Injustice was written into law, and the Exchequer found more and more ways of parting the people from their money. The kingdom is now in danger of being split up and taken away from the House of Windsor, whose future kings could soon be puppets in the hands of foreign dictators.
IF MY PEOPLE
It is recorded in 1 Kings 8 and 2 Chr 6 that Solomon in his temple prayer begged God eight times to hear from heaven should the people repent of sin which had brought judgment upon them.
After God's glory had filled the completed temple, God appeared to Solomon in a night vision. God promised to be with Israel as long as Solomon was faithful, but to curse the nation if they forsook His statutes and commandments, and turned aside to serve and worship other gods. Yet even in midst of judgment, God would be merciful.
In a direct reply to Solomon's eight-fold request, recorded in 2 Chronicles, God gave Solomon a now-famous assurance:
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. (2 Chr 7:14)
Christian people are relying increasingly upon the hope enshrined in this promise in the dark days today. God's promise to Solomon sets out four principles of repentance, and assures him of God's three-fold reply. We do, however, need to be careful that we do not over-interpret God's assurances.
At one superficial level, there can be prayers (and worship songs) which ask God to 'heal the land' without those praying (or singing) going through the tiresome business of repenting first. We cannot expect God to act against His own principles. The repentance which God looks for involves humbling ourselves before the great Sovereign of the universe. Genuine fasting speaks of humility, if it is a fast of the heart and not just an outward show. Humility can and must be shown in other ways as well, in other words, our whole attitude must be humble before God. Prayer is calling on God in thanksgiving, supplication and intercession (1 Tim 2:1). Seeking the face of God involves us listening to what He has to say, studying His word and putting ourselves under His authority, forgetting our own agenda. Having done all of that, we will turn from our wicked ways truly and completely.
HEALING THE LAND
However, we can do all of that in faith and God will still not heal our land. Why is that? I suggest that the clue lies in the words 'If my people'. We tend to assume the words refer to Christian believers, to the elect. But if all true believers were to do all that the verse requires, God would hear from heaven, forgive our sin, but still not heal our land. Why? Because if God healed the land today, it would be defiled tomorrow by the blood of the innocents flowing seven days a week from the abortion mills. (Psalm 106:38) God cannot act in opposition to His own righteousness.
So we need to apply our God-given faculty of reason and remember the context of the promise. It was given to a king in his capacity as ruler. 'My people which are called by my name' referred at that time to the whole nation of Israel. Looked at in that way, and applying the New Testament extension of the promises of God to the gentiles, there has to be a complete turning to God of the people of a land before God will heal their land.
In Britain that means that recompense must be made for the shedding of innocent blood; that the abortion mills will close; that the sex educators and gender equality officers will lose their jobs; that sodomy will be banned; that marriage will again be for life; that the courts will dispense justice; that the sabbath will be kept; that government will be honest and limited to what God commands. In short, God will heal the land when He sees the fruits of national repentance.
Nor will it do any good to say, "But the church is now Israel!" If that is true, then God will heal church land, but not the rest of the land, and we shall not be satisfied with that. I think it fits the facts better to look at the lines of authority God sets in place, and the responsibility laid on the shoulders of those who lead (the father in a family, the elders in a church, the rulers of a nation) and then conclude that they must lead those under them in humility, praying, seeking God's face and turning from their wicked ways in collective repentance.
REVIVAL AND AWAKENING
But in another sense, if the church were as one to do as God requires in 2Chr 7:14, there would be such a revival and awakening in the land that word would come to the Queen in Parliament (Jonah 3:6-10), our rulers would seek the face of God, proclaim national repentance, repeal the enacted wickedness and set in motion the process by which God would indeed begin to heal the land.
That does not mean that our prayers for God to heal our land were or are wasted. Personally, I believe that if all the prayers for revival in the last forty years had been prayers for and of repentance, than we should have revival by now. But God sees the heart behind our imperfect prayers and will act according to His righteous purpose. He will do what only He can, frustrate the wicked by events and sow seeds of repentance in the right places. But there are things which only we can do - God cannot write to our MP, for example.
BE PART OF GOD'S PURPOSE
So if we are listening to Him, we shall hear Him convict us of the need to become part of what He wants to do and out of that, to do something ourselves. "Lord, heal our land!" could result in the response: "What are you doing to bring my word to those who lead you? What prayers have you made for those in authority? What action have you taken against the workers of iniquity?"
In short, if the church were to unite in fervent prayer, rise up and proclaim the truth of God's word, and the need for repentance at every level in our land, then God would, I believe, do a work greater than anything we can imagine. The United Kingdom does not have to go the way of Solomon's Israel. Time is running out, that is true, but if the Lord tarry, there may be time for Britain to repent. The darkest hour, it is said, is just before the dawn. May Almighty God stir up Christian people everywhere in our land to pray the prayers that God would have and witness as the prophets of old. Lord, heal our land, and use us for your glory as you do so!