And He Will Heal Their Land. Maybe.

I’m sure we’ve all heard this one.¬† The time-worn favorite of the armchair evangelical who exhorts us to pray for our nation in that email you are supposed to forward to 25 friends.

2 Chron. 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. “

We see this verse¬†again and again when it’s time for the National Day of Prayer, “See You At The Pole,” or a variety of other times and events when people need to feel like they are DOING something.

However, like so many other things in modern day eschatology, I think we tend to skip over a lot in this verse and focus on the “easy” stuff.

Keep in mind that praying is only ONE of the things that the verse exhorts us to do.

Another is to humble ourselves, a third is to turn from our wicked ways.¬† Understanding that “wicked” simply means “un-Godly.”¬† We tend to think of wickedness as those “evil” things like adultery and murder and stealing.¬† But in God’s eyes, “wickedness” is anything we do outside of His will.¬† Anger, strife, jealousy…delusions of self-sufficiency.¬† Even “good” things done with the best of intentions, if they are done based on our human (and thus flawed) intentions might ultimately be considered “wickedness.”

Isaiah 46:6 – “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.”

It is hard to truly understand “humbling” ourselves when we’ve never really lived under a King.¬† We’ve never had to physically kneel before a throne, before a man who has the power of life and death in his hands, and whose very words become law the moment they are spoken.¬† Humbling ourselves means giving up everything that isn’t of God; giving up the demands that we get to live life like WE think it should be lived.¬† It means giving up being mad at God when I don’t get my way or don’t understand my circumstance, and committing myself absolutely to accepting His sovereign authority over my life. “Seeking His face” involves a lot more than invoking his name like a spell from Harry Potter that will magically fix things.¬† It means daily, moment by moment, wanting to know more about WHO God is and what than means to my life.

It’s easy to say we will pray every day.¬† It’s easy to say that if¬†the rest of the country would just straighten out and clean up their act…

However, is it as easy to say that we will pray…AND seek His face AND humble ourselves AND turn from our wicked ways? It’s about more than praying for our leaders, it’s about changing the way we live our lives in a very real and personal way.¬† ONLY THEN does this scripture promise that God will heal our land.¬† Prayer is certainly a great place to start, but I think it’s a lot taller of an order and a lot more work than most people want to think.¬† Myself included!!

I think it’s important to remember that the context of this verse is God speaking to Solomon just after the completion of the Temple.¬† God is actually speaking in the past-tense here.¬† Because the people, after they had already¬†endured droughts, plagues and disease, humbled themselves, turned from their wicked ways and turned their face towards God, He heard their cry and restored them as a nation, complete with a fantastic new temple.

However.  Comma.

God IMMEDIATELY goes on to warn Solomon that (based on Israel’s history I’m sure) their new-found providence is still very conditional (I paraphrase slightly here):

IF, and I repeat IF you walk before Me as your father David walked, even to do according to all that I have commanded you, and will keep My statutes and My ordinances,¬† then¬†AND ONLY THEN¬†I will establish your royal throne as I covenanted with your father David, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man {to be} ruler in Israel.’ (vs 17-18)

And then he drops the other shoe….

“BUT!¬† If you turn away and forsake My statutes and My commandments which I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them,¬† then I will uproot you from My land which I have given you, and this house which I have consecrated for My name I will cast out of My sight and I will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples.

“As for this house, which was exalted, everyone who passes by it will be astonished and say, ‘Why has the LORD done thus to this land and to this house?’

“And they will say, ‘Because they forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers who brought them from the land of Egypt, and they adopted other gods and worshiped them and served them; therefore He has brought all this adversity on them.’ (vs. 19-22)

And you know what’s sad?¬† We see in Isaiah¬†64:10-11¬† that that’s exactly what happened:

Your holy cities have become a wilderness, Zion has become a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation.  Our holy and beautiful house, Where our fathers praised You, Has been burned {by} fire; And all our precious things have become a ruin.

So what we have is a pretty clear “Either/Or” proposition.¬†God says that either you humble yourself, acknowledge HIM and ONLY¬†HIM as your God, or your land will be made desolate and your people scattered.

No middle ground.¬† Not a lot of ecumenicalism or mutli-culturalism there.¬† Doesn’t seem to support the whole, “we all worship the same god, just with different names” thing.¬† Kind of “intolerant” and “divisive” isn’t it?

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  (Heb 4:12 NASB)

It’s almost like God KNOWS the wickedness of our heart, the darkness of human nature, and our nearly inevitable tendency to follow our own hearts rather than His will.¬† Almost like a theme, running throughout the Scriptures, as if some things never change.

Something to think about.  And tell 25 of your friends.

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5 Responses to And He Will Heal Their Land. Maybe.

  1. However, is it as easy to say that we will pray…
    AND seek His face
    AND humble ourselves
    AND turn from our wicked ways?

    There’s one more condition… one more number on the combination lock dial…

    It’s “my people, called by my name”. This isn’t a rallying call to everyone. Just God’s people. Its not like God is wondering “How can I get those pesky atheists on the bandwagon with us?” This is God calling for his own people – who are supposed to be praying and fasting anyway!

    You wouldn’t think this would be hard. You wouldn’t think God would have to exhort THOSE people. The ungodly? Sure maybe… they might take some convincing. But he’s not calling to them. How hard should it be to get – not sinners – but Christians to pray and seek God and repent?

    And the point I’m getting at? Consider: If God is having to rally his own because they are becoming sluggish…. and…. if the righteous scarcely can be saved…

    Ouch. The way just became that much narrower. Ya know, Jesus must have been one skinny dude. ūüėČ

  2. Steve Berven says:

    The way this verse always gets bandied about just sorta irks me at times. The idea that if we all get together and pray, we can bring about radical change in this country. Maybe, but I doubt it. Only if those prayers are part of a genuine repentance and a turning towards God, away from the standards and values of this world. Which I see as a much bigger challenge.

    We can’t have crosses on “public” property? We can have Muslim Week at school, but try having a Bible Week? Muslims don’t have to ring up your pork products at the check out stand, but Christian nurses have to perform abortions or lose their jobs? Even within the “Christian” community you have more and more churches embracing humanist and new age traditions to make themselves more “appealing” and seeker-friendly. “Green” churches dabbling at the edges of this Gaia stuff.

    Don’t get me wrong, prayer is vital and important. But it’s not enough. Until people decide that doing what God wants is more important than what THEY want, things will continue to decline. IMHO.

    • Rebecca says:

      IT IS FINISHED !
      When the Trumpet sounds,
      the jig is up.
      The opinions and rebuttals?
      We all still wear the fig leaves.

  3. Prayer is our way of communicating to God, so let’s not forget to pray to him.And as we pray let’s not forget to follow his teachings.

  4. karean derby says:

    Way to go Steve. You have certainly given me food for thought and a challenge to make change in my life. Thank you!!!! Love Mom

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