We’re all familiar with 2 Chronicles 7:14, which says:
“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.”
This is a declaration and a prayer that many have brought before the Lord in desperate times for our nation. Of course, that’s the problem. This always seems to be prayed when desperation sets in as we see darkness overtaking us. In a sense, this is the “Hail Mary” of prayers. In football, a last gasp effort by a losing team to score a touchdown through a pass that is thrown into the endzone with the hopes of a lucky catch by a receiver versus by the opposition is known as a Hail Mary. This is what we’ve seen in the last couple years by many in the church as evil has overtaken our land. They’ve hoped and prayed for a revival that God would initiate to push back against all the sin and depravity that has come upon us, so as to bring us back to “normal.”
As with all Scripture, there’s background to this. At the dedication of the temple that Solomon built for Yahweh, he made a great prayer of supplication to the Lord. In 2 Chronicles 6:12-42 Solomon beseeched God to listen to their prayers and to hear from heaven. In fact, Solomon asked God seven times for His intercession in the course of the lives of the people of Israel to hear from heaven.
What was God to listen for and hear? These seven requests came upon Solomon’s acknowledging that the people would inevitably sin (2 Chronicles 6:36 – “There is no one who does not sin.”). He outlined these situations as:
- Sin against their neighbors
- Sin that resulted in defeat by enemies
- Sin that causes drought
- Sin that causes famine, pestilence, or enemies besieging them in the land
- Sin that a foreigner who lives in the land acknowledges
- Sin that might prevent their armies from achieving victory
- Sin that they commit when carried away to foreign lands
In all these circumstances, the necessity that Solomon stressed as he noted in 2 Chronicles 6:38 was that:
“… they repent with all their heart.”
God in response sent the Shekinah Glory of the Holy Spirit which filled the temple (2 Chronicles 7:1). He also described in 2 Chronicles 7:13 the situation that would occur as a result of the sins above:
“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…”
Given these circumstances that arose from His sinful children, God declared in 2 Chronicles 7:14 how He would respond if they indeed came to Him with repentant hearts, truly humbling themselves, and making a sincere effort to put their sinful, wicked ways behind them.
But, God didn’t stop there. As in so many of His statements, they were conditional. The repentance of the people couldn’t simply be worldly remorse. There had to be more behind their contriteness than mere words. What did they actually do after petitioning God for mercy? He says in 2 Chronicles 7:19-20 what He expects and will do if their hearts aren’t steeped in sorrow:
“But if you turn aside and forsake my statutes and my commandments that I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will pluck you up from my land that I have given you, and this house that 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.”
In other words, what’s the fruit of those prayers? Did His people turn away from sin or just make the motions? Were their actions in line with what they said? Did they reject the pagan gods of the surrounding nations, or continue to worship and serve them? This is key.
The people of Israel consistently embraced the sin of syncretism. They blended the reverence and following of other gods with that of worshiping Yahweh. It was something He would not put up with. Either they served Him and Him alone, or they could have their way and pray to the useless gods of the nations.
When the church lifts up this prayer in 2 Chronicles 7:14 for the deliverance of our nation, do you think that God listens and watches any differently than He did with the people of Israel? Does he ignore what His people in the church do before and after such a petition? Have they really repented? Are they truly turning from their wicked ways and the serving of other gods, be they mammon, others, or self? Or is this just another Sunday only request with the rest of the week dedicated to the people doing whatever they please regardless how it impacts their relationship with the Lord?
It’s true that a very few praying people have been known to turn the tide of sin and wickedness through the years into remarkable revivals. Is that even possible now?
Maybe in isolated places around the nation. However, the Bible is clear concerning end times signs. All indicators are flashing red that we have entered the very final days of this age. All signs are operational and converging. Those of us who are watching see the red sky at morning and are taking warning of the approaching storm.
The if-then conditions revolving around 2 Chronicles 7:14 are in play. Some of God’s people have humbled themselves and done that which is necessary to prevent His wrath, but we have reached the tipping point of secular evil and church apostasy for anything other than the plucking up out of the land and God casting His house out of His sight.
That being the case, what should we who remain faithful do in these perilous times?
Remain steadfast in the Lord. Remember His mercies. Seek God’s face more fervently than ever before. Stay in the Word and in unceasing prayer. Never forget that He loves those who love and obey Him. Be awake and ready, alerting others as we can and bringing them the Good News of salvation before it’s too late. As Jesus said in John 12:31: “Now is the judgment of this world.”
Let us always keep our hope alive because of God’s promises. How can we despair, even as the darkness closes in, when Jesus has said He will be with us at all times and deliver us from the time of trouble that is coming upon the whole earth? We must trust God that His Word is true – because it is!