2 Chronicles 7:14 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.
The verse you just read has, for many years and with good reason, been looked to as guidance for America. Indeed, the darker and more desperate the day, the more people have fled to this light and hope giving passage. Impromptu prayer meetings and revivals have sprung out of it, and I have personally witnessed great differences being made as people have obeyed its instructions. What a wonderful thing, right?
Not so fast.
It appears that not everyone is actually okay with that kind of thing.
For probably three months now a social media trend has been intruding onto my consciousness. I have witnessed multiple ostensible Bible scholars opining negatively about the application of this verse to America. Mind you, I have seen hundreds and hundreds of people simply and sincerely calling America to repentance and prayer through this passage, and yet on the other side of the needless battle line there are a few very self-important adversaries actually fighting against this.
On what basis can they possibly do so, you ask? I give you this, as an example:
“People need to learn a thing called context in their Bible; this has nothing to do with America.”
And so, with a condescending sniff and a wave of the digital hand, one of the most valuable instructions in Scripture is dismissed from the discussion just when it is needed most.
Let us begin our dissection of this fallacy by stating what is true and what is false in the criticism above. The first half of the criticism is true; people do need to learn how to take the Bible in context. The second half of the criticism is false; it actually has a great deal to do with America.
“But America is not mentioned in that passage!” shrieks the critic.
“That is correct,” we respond. However, it does not stop there; America is actually not mentioned in the Bible at all. So if the qualification for a passage being able to be applied to America is that America must be mentioned, then we literally cannot apply so much as a single verse in any of the 66 books of Scripture to America. We have no guidance, no instructions, no commands, no promises, and no hope, from anywhere in Scripture.
I hope you know how foolish of a view that is.
The apostle Paul gave us a pretty important verse of Scripture on how Scripture, especially the Old Testament, is to be taken.
Romans 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime [In the Old Testament] were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
The same man who under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost told us that we are not under the law but under grace (Romans 6:14) also under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost told us that we could look to the Old Testament, learn from it, and draw hope from it. And he wrote this as “the apostle to the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13).
In other words, we in the Gentile world, including America, can and should look to all of Scripture for guidance and hope, including the Old Testament.
Now, in saying that, it is evident that certain promises were given by God solely to the Jewish people, especially promises concerning possession of the holy land itself. He also gave certain promises just individuals, such as promising Abraham a child in his old age. We do need to be careful to discern physical promises to distinct people, and leave those promises to those people. God promised David that he would be King of Israel, not me.
But when it comes to 2 Chronicles 7:14, we are dealing with much more than a limited physical promise to the Jewish people. Yes, the immediate context is God’s promise to Solomon concerning Israel. But since we have been given the liberty to learn from it and draw comfort from it (Romans 15:4) then we have every right to apply it and expect the God who never changes to do for us what he also promised to do for Israel. You see, “my people” ultimately came to mean much more that the Jews alone:
Romans 9:23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, 24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? 25 As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. 26 And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.
If you are saved, you are “His people.” And God always expects His people, Jew or Gentile, to “humble themselves, pray, and seek His face.” And the God who promised to the Jews that if they did so He would “hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land” is the God who very much desires to do all of those same things today.
Think about it. If the critic of people calling for 2 Chronicles 7:14 does not believe it can and should be applied to America, then what, by logical extension, do they believe? The options are very few.
One: They believe that even if we do humble ourselves, pray, seek God’s face, and turn from our wicked ways, God will not hear from heaven and forgive our sin and heal our land. In other words, it’s no use, folks, we’re doomed.
Two: They believe that we should humble ourselves, pray, seek God’s face, and turn from our wicked ways, and that God will hear from heaven and forgive our sin and heal our land, but that we still should not be telling anyone all of that since there is no verse that specifically applies those truths to America. In other words, there is hope, but we shouldn’t be telling anyone about it.
Those are literally the only two options.
The worst irony in all of it is that I have watched some of these people for months now, and not once, not once have I seen them give any Scriptural hope for America. All I have seen them do, at all, is mock those who do. And it goes much deeper than just this one verse and application. They have actually carved an identity for themselves as the “correctors of all who came before us.” They have made themselves a spiritual demolition crew. Where others built, they simply tear down. They have become very skilled with the sledge hammer, but never bother with the framing or finishing hammer.
So, is it okay to post 2 Chronicles 7:14 in these dark days, and ask Christians in America to follow those instructions and believe that God will behave toward us as He promised to do toward Israel? Yes, yes it is.
So humble yourself, pray, seek God’s face, turn from your wicked ways, and encourage everyone else to do so as well. And trust that if we, God’s people, will join together in doing so, God will be so kind as to hear from heaven, forgive our sin, and heal our land.
Pastor Wagner can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and his books are available by clicking on the “Store” link above.