Last night, several of the churches of Siouxland (the general term for Sioux City, South Sioux City, NE and North Sioux City, SD) came together for a time of prayer for our nation. There were two Baptist pastors involved, three Assemblies of God, a Lutheran church and a couple of Reformed fellowships. Each of us had five minutes to introduce a topic related to our national plight, lead in prayer, then give those involved time to prayer in small groups about the issue.
Before I get to my point, some observations:
- 1) I really enjoy doing things like this and I believe that God is pleased when his people unite in prayer like this.
- 2) It isn’t easy to bring all those styles together. I heard someone I’m quite sure was speaking in tongues, and I heard some things said that are not exactly the way I would say them. But it is worth putting those things aside for an evening to unite as the Body of Christ in Siouxland.
- 3) While I am suspicious of the dominionist movement that seems to be gaining steam out there, and I know many are down on “revivalism”, I think it is a good and godly thing to join together to ask God’s mercy on our nation and to beg his reviving grace and restoring mercy.
Can We Claim 2 Chronicles 7:14?
It was no surprise that one of the pastors quoted this verse. It would have been a shock if it were not refferenced in a gathering such as this.
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.
The formula for revival is clear here, isn’t it? God’s people need only repent, pray and seek his face while turning from their wicked ways and God will hear our prayers, forgive our national sins and bring healing and restoration to the United States of America – something we need pretty badly.
There’s one problem with that – it completely misses the context of the verse. This was spoken to Solomon in a vision in the night just after the Temple had been completed. The passage begins with a warning that when Israel sins, God will stop the rains and send the locusts and generally wreak havoc on Israel. But if they turn from their sin and repent, God would restore Israel. It is clearly a promise given to the nation of Israel, not the United States of America. Promises made to Israel were often unique to Israel and in context that seems to be the case here.
So, 2 Chronicles 7:14 Is Meaningless?
Of course not. First, it reveals God’s faithfulness to Israel and that is a great encouragement to all of us. In spite of Israel’s constant propensity to sin and rebel, God was still willing to forgive and restore them when they repented. That is good news for anyone who messes up as often as I do.
And I think there may be eternal principles behind this that can make it not wholly inappropriate when used as a national call to repentance. No, America has no promise from God for our continued existence. God raises up one nation and takes another down. This verse offered Israel, not the USA, a promise of restoration.
But there is an insight into God’s character that is universally applicable. While we cannot claim every promise made to Israel, we can know that God is the same yesterday, today and forever and that he acts on the basis of his character.
While God judges sin and sinners, he responds to repentance. That repentance should begin with the people of God. If we wish to be agents of God’s redemptive work, we need to examine our own hearts and lives and see where we have been walking in sin. When we have repented of our own sin, we can also call sinners to repent and believe. As people do that, as they turn from their sins and come to God, healing comes. God heals lives and families and if the repentance becomes widespread enough, cities and nations.
So, NO, the USA has no promise of restoration from 2 Chronicles 7:14. He has blessed us and used us in many ways, but he is not obligated to continue using us in the future. But if we love our nation and desire to see its fortunes restored, then a call to repent, starting with our own hearts, and an admonition to pray and seek God’s face is completely appropriate.
So, while I understand that the promise of 2 Chronicles 7:14 was not made to and cannot be claimed by patriotic Americans, we can rest in the fact that the God we serve responds to those who repent of their sins and pray and seek his face. It is the right thing to do,with or without a promise of restoration for our nation.