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Reading 2 Chronicles 7 today, I came across the familiar words of verse 14: "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land."

I hear this verse used often in conjunction with the National Day of Prayer and other nation-centered prayer movements and I wonder about what this would really look like today.  I'm interested in some responses to these thoughts.

At the time of Solomon's dedication of the Temple, the phrase "heal their land" would have had a quite literal meaning and would have had a significant impact on national prosperity as well as individual livelihoods.  Today, we do not live off the land in the same way - most of us participate in a much more indirect economy.  The phrase "heal their land" doesn't seem to me to carry the same meaning for us as it would have for the Israelites, who were dependent on the land for their very survival.  Not that we don't have a certain amount of dependence on good crops, etc. - but most of us are not farmers and much of our food is manufactured these days.  So, if we were to apply this verse to ourselves today, what would "heal their land" look like?  In what ways is our "land" sick?

Second thought.  We tend to apply this verse nationally, as it was originally applied to the nation of Israel.  But I wonder if that's the best parallel and the best application?  While I don't question that God has blessed America and put this country in a position of unique influence and potential influence in the world, I don't think any of us would argue that America is God's "chosen people" in the same way that Israel was (or is, depending on your viewpoint).  In fact, the closest thing today to a "chosen people" (again, depending on your interpretation) would be the Church, not the United States.  Who would better fit the description of "my people, called by my name?"

So I wonder if today the best application of this verse is to the Church, not to the US.  And I wonder if the "healing of our land" might have to do with the fruitfulness of the Church's ministry - the results of our evangelism, the effectiveness of our community outreach programs, etc.

Obviously, I don't insist on this interpretation, but it seems to me to fit the context and the intent of the original better than the typical application.  Interested to hear some other thoughts.  Thanks!

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Dear Andrew,

Applying texts and promises that were specific to a particular geography or time has always raised  question marks

for me, yet Jesus, and the NT writers, seem to exegete passages in ways we normally wouldn't call good hermeneutics!

Look at Peter on the day of Pentecost!

Here's where I've personally landed on this. If we know God's great ambitions for a specific land, say His chosen land, we can generally know HIs heart and holy ambitions for any land. Israel was intended to be God's exhibit A for all nations.

God healing our land, can include God cleansing the foundations of our land i.e. our well documented injustice toward Native Americans, African American's, Chinese, etc. through corporate identificational confession ... "We have sinned," and intentional walking together ethnically toward the goodness of God. The humility needed is great.

There are documented instances where the land has been healed and produced astounding harvests. See Transformations I by George Otis Jr.  a video of places where this text has come true literally.

All for the Lamb,

Fawn Parish

Interesting thought about "their land." I agree that this is a call for those who are church members who are true believers to pray diligently and to acknowledge sin in their lives to God (confess) and to get right with Him (repent). People, even true believers, can easily be distracted from having their focus on God. He is greedy, and rightfully so, for all of our attention. We are to put nothing, even good things, between Him and ourselves. He is not asking for just a few to be right with Him, although that is a start, but He is asking for His "people" which indicates the whole group who goes by His name. So it needs to be a united effort to confess and repent and then ask. The National Day of Prayer is a start, but from my point of view, in my community, I have not seen a big push for people to be involved in the events of that day.

As for "their land," I think of the land on which I am free to roam without having to have a passport because it is "my land." the nation of my citizenship. That includes the whole land of the nation of the praying believers. That would not be limited to only the private property holdings of the believers, the churches, and ministries. This thought seems to tie in with your thought on the fruitfulness of evangelism and  outreaches for those are ways in which Jesus works His healings.Our land is in desperate need of healing!

While this may not have a direct application to America surely 2 Chron 6 does.  In 2 Chron. 6:32-33 we read, “As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel … when he comes and prays toward this temple, then hear from heaven, Your dwelling place, and do whatever the foreigner asks of You, so that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name and fear You”  One of the struggles that I have is that we as a church (people of God) are trying to get our nation to turn from their wicked ways and the passage says if WE turn for OUR wicked ways.  Sadly, it seems we are still trying to do the work of the Lord with the weapons of this world contrary to 2 Cor 10:4-6 & Ephesians 6:10-20.  One past man of God said that there is a way to bring revival - draw a three foot circle, kneel in it and fervently pray, seek God's face, repent and turn for our wicked ways - when revival falls within that circle the you will experience revival.  If judgment is to begin with the house, family of God 1 Pet 4:17 then we should get our house in order first.  This would also help remove the criticism of our being hypocrites.

I think you correct in your point of view, especially in the "My People" context.  Most preaching I have heard utilizing this text have been terribly convoluted God and Nation sermons, diminishing the place of both God and our nation.  I am a 20-year military retiree, presently pastoring two Southern Baptist churches.  The church is the only modern day appoximation of historic Israel as being God's chosen people.  Our church members must be those to repent and seek God's face.  We cannot expect such actions from the unchurched who do not know Him. 

I think the "heal our land" may include the nation, but, as you suggest, it would apply to a spiritual transformation that would come through our revitalized ministries.  I think your understanding is the only valid application of the verse to today.

I've been reflecting on this passage again, this last month, as well...

 

I believe it's a healing prescription for many levels of "land"...   since the Word is living and active (Hebr. 4:12), when we limit it to the original context, we limit what God via Holy Spirit is saying to us in our current context for today...  I definitely agree that "land" is the Church, as well as our families, as well as the nation, as well as each county, and each state, whatever realm of society you are praying healing for...  When we truly walk in 2 Chron 7:14 ways, we will see God's healing hand...  however, it seems we are a long ways from making this happen... even as believers...

 

First - If My people, called by My Name... yes, that's us, His Children,  it doesn't include those who do not believe in Him... So He's looking to us, we can't look to the gov't and those that are w/out the Holy Spirit and blame them for our problems, He gave us, His followers,  the answer and He gave us His Spirit so we have the power to make it happen... we can only blame ourselves... so when we start praying more on behalf of our leaders as He calls us to do in Timothy, instead of whining and complaining about our godless leaders, we will see hearts change... however, as those on this site are probably aware, one statistic has 95% of believers praying 5 minutes or less a day... 

 so, that's #2 - will humble themselves and pray...  humility is not what America and Americans are known for... we have a very can do attitude, and seem to like being a very self-sufficient society, where our favorite verse is "God helps those who help themselves"  which isn't even scripture (honestly, I just read that was the result of one survey, asking about people's favorite verse - if it's not true, blame Kyle Idleman - I'm rea that in his book, "not a fan"...

so, we struggle with prayer, per the statistics, one being mentioned above, and we struggle with  humility... Humility and fasting are tied very closely together in scripture   - see Daniel 10, Psalm 35, and Ezra 8... fasting is one piece of the walking humbly with our God found in Micah 6:8...  Fasting and prayer are often associated as well...  so, I think fasting is something that would be part of walking in 2 Chron. 7:14...

 

then it says to seek His face...  that means in our free time, our favorite "hobby" if you will is spending time with Jesus, in prayer, worship and the Word... before we spend time on television (read David Wilkerson's testimony in "the Cross and the Switchblade" on when he gave up his tv) , movies, sports, etc...  do we seek His face, do we glory in His Holy Name?  1 Chron 16 - the prayer of David holds keys to teach us how to seek His face...  I just re-read David Wilkerson's book, and do you know that their ministry spent at least 3 hours every morning in prayer, worship and the Word.  1-1.5 of personal time, then 2  hours of communal worship and prayer...  the Church would look very different, if we committed that much time to seeking His face...   believe you me, their ministry, Teen Challenge, accomplished far more than most ministries who do not spend near as much time in prayer, even though these ministries might spend more time on the "doing" part...  another statistic I just read about is that 60% of core leaders (at least in some churches that were surveyed, but the responses showed this was true in many other congregations as well), that 60% of core ministry leaders in the church were only attending church 2x per month... ouch!  these are our spiritual leaders...

 

and then there's and turn from their wicked ways...  the statistics on this in the church are horrible... with 40%-80% (depending on the group being surveyed) of spiritual leaders struggling with pornography, when Eph. 5 tells us there shouldn't even be a hint of such things among us.

 

So, we as the people of God, called by His Name, are falling way short of all of these "guidelines" to heal our "land".  One of my key prayers over the last several weeks, has been "Father forgive us, for we don't know what we do"

 

Yes, if the Church could walk in the 2 Chron 7:14 prescription God gave us (which we can by the power of the Holy Spirit, which is another discussion), the Bride of Christ would be beautiful, as well as the other spheres of influence that we are involved in... 

 

 

I really appreciate your in depth and thorough reply, Bev. It makes it all clear from my viewpoint.

Denis,

I agree completely with your statement that the passage is directed at God's people, not those outside the family.  I also agree with your point that we often try to fight the battles with the weapons of the world - politics, activism, etc. - while neglecting prayer.  I think Christians should be involved in all spheres of society, including politics - but when we start seeing that as our major avenue to bring about change that honors God, I think we're missing the point.  The real battles are spiritual battles and as such, must be fought with spiritual weapons.

Stephen, thanks for the reply.  You have captured the heart of what I was thinking.  Both you and Denis see the church as central in this verse as it would apply today, and I agree.  Now I'm wondering specifically how I should be responding.

Bev,

The point you made about seeking God's face often gets lost in this verse, I think.  We are to seek His face, not His hands.  God is good for who He is, not for what He can do for us.  I think that much of our "seeking" in prayer - speaking generically - has more to do with what we want God to do than it does with just wanting to know Him better.  I believe that this is where the humility and the repentance also come in - these all have to do with seeking to know who God is and wanting Him to develop His character in us.

I think 2 Chron 7:14 is a lifestyle, that we can only live with the power of the Holy Spirit...  if we seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matt 6:33), then we will most likely also be following 2 Chron 7:14, and He promises to take care of all that other stuff like "heal our land", right?.  Hmmm I haven't really looked specifically at these 2 in parallel before...

Does the seeking His face have to be completely exclusive from His hand for this healing to happen?  I'm not so sure based on I Chron 16:11,  should it be the primary reason you spend with Him? probably, since that is what is specifically mentioned in 2 Chron 7:14...  I've heard that phrase before "we only seek Your face, we do not seek Your hand" and I'd be interested in further discussion of that for a better understanding on what is meant by that, is it only in specific situations/context like 2 Chron 7:14, or ???...

God is good for Who He is, and that should be enough for us to worship Him with our highest praise... but He is also good for what He did for us, and for what He can do for us...  however, we do tend to get out of balance on the what He can do for us, as you suggested...  The most enduring reason we have to worship Him is because He is worthy, and that is Who He is...  everything else is a bonus, because He is a loving and generous God... Thank You Jesus!

 

hope that makes sense!! =)

 

 

Andrew R. Wheeler said:

Bev,

The point you made about seeking God's face often gets lost in this verse, I think.  We are to seek His face, not His hands.  God is good for who He is, not for what He can do for us.  I think that much of our "seeking" in prayer - speaking generically - has more to do with what we want God to do than it does with just wanting to know Him better.  I believe that this is where the humility and the repentance also come in - these all have to do with seeking to know who God is and wanting Him to develop His character in us.

Well, yes and no. Why not apply 2 Chron 7 to the Church? It certainly has to be true that if those called by His Name would humble themselves and pray, He would heal THEM too. Yet the current stories of revivals being reported by George Otis Jr and others seems to demonstrate that when God’s people, even just a very small number of them, could be pastors or not pastors, could be children...when they humble themselves and seek His face and turn from their wicked ways, that He does come and do many powerful things INCLUDING restoration of land and rivers and seas and crops and climate and planting/harvest cycles...we’re seeing these very amazing transformations more and more. In any case, the pre-condition is the same. God’s people, the ones called by His name, they do the seeking and repenting and turning and praying...then watch what happens. Just read this from CharismaNews... Prayer: the Key to Pentecostal Revival

Hi Andrew,

As a person who studied this verse for 9 months to figure out what it means.  Here are a few thoughts:

First, the words Heal our land has a precedent in chapter 6.  Chapter 6 is Solomon's prayer for the temple.  He used this phrase several times in the chapter.  In almost every case it was for forgiveness of the people.  Therefore it could easily refer to the Israelites on a national level.  For us, I believe, that although we don't understand the import of the words, it does refer to us as a nation.

Second, but first I believe 2 Chron. 7:14 does refer to the individual first.  I know, I know it says people, but as you read the verse carefully I believe it has to be applied the individual and then the nation.

Third, the verse is ofter read with some haste in order to get to the heal our land.  To me that misses the key import of the verse.  When start with a sermon, talk, etc. about heal our land the prerequistes are ignored.  Let me show a little bit of what I mean. 

"If... " A conditional word that asks the question what is the if there for.  The if is there because it has some things that are coming that need to be payed attention to.

"my..." A word of ownership.  I have a Toyota Camry and it's mine (and well the banks).  It belongs to me, I own it.  It's mine.  You get the idea that the if is there to give impact to the words "my people"  I believe that these words were written to those who have settle the question of ownership.  Therefore if the condition is settled then you are able to go to the rest of the verse.

Well there are my thoughts in brief.  I lead prayer experiences that teach about this verse and also spend time in prayer.

Dale

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