Did you know that there are things in the Bible that you were never meant to apply to your life? Take for example the popular 2 Chronicles 7:14:
If my people who are called by my name 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.
Have you ever heard this verse cited as a type of spiritual recipe for the United States to come back into favor with God? Have you ever considered the context in which this verse sits? Can I tell you that this verse has nothing to do with America’s future? This verse should not be seem as a spiritual prescription for the health of our Nation and you should help others see this as well. Consider the context starting at verse 12:
Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. 13 When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people …
So, God is speaking to Solomon because He had been praying on behalf of the nation of Israel. In response, God promises that He will make the Temple a place for sacrifice (slang for worship). The worship of Israel will periodically be strained due to sin and neglect of faithfulness to the Law. When this occurs the Lord will graciously provide for Israel certain signs to indicate this strain: the lack of rain and the growing presence of locust or pestilence. It is at this point that the Israel is given a conditional promise to avert further strain between themselves and the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob: If my people who are called by my name 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.
If Israel responds to God in humility through crying out to Him and turn from their sin, the Lord promises to hear, forgive, and return the land to its original condition. In other words, the relationship between the nation of Israel and the God of Israel will again be enjoyable and effective in being a light to the nations: Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place (2 Chron. 7:15)
Given the context how does this relate to the potential vitality of the United States? Short answer: It doesn’t. Long answer: Our relationship with God is not centered on a sacrificial system that is in Jerusalem, we don’t offer sacrifices, and God has not promised us this “land.” We simply have no right to say that America is or can be the focus or beneficiary of this passage.
We have it much, much better!
If you are a Christian then Jesus is the ultimate and final sacrifice: … “He [Christ, emphasis mine] has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Heb 9:26, see also Heb. 10:12).
If you are a Christian then your “land” will come at the coming of Christ: “But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city” (Heb. 11:16).
If you are a Christian then God has opened your eyes and you can pray boldly to Him on the basis of what Jesus has done for you in the Gospel: “… so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.” (Eph 3:10-12).
Therefore, let the promise of 2 Chronicles find their intended purpose: to be rooted and expressed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let’s not go back to the Old Covenant between the Lord and Israel. Let’s remind ourselves of the New Covenant based on the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God is good!