and 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, will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
This is a verse much in vogue these days among well meaning American Christians. They apply it to this country’s current situation of apostasy run amok. They believe that if we do what the verse calls for, the United States will regain it’s Christian heritage and all will be well again.
Revivals are all the rage these days. Many have been held, more will be held, all for the purpose of returning America to our Christian heritage we had at our founding. This verse is used to show that we, as a nation, must repent immediately and the nation will be restored. There is actually a revival coming up during the Democratic National Convention next month called Charlotte 714, named after this verse.
What is the context of this verse? A plain sense reading of 2 Chronicles 7 is that this is stemming from the dedication of the first Jewish Temple circa 964 BC. Solomon had just finished praying at the dedication when “fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the house.” (2 Chronicles 7:1) The presence of God was in the Temple. The people fell to their faces and praised and worshiped Him. Solomon himself offered as sacrifices 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep. There then was seven days of feasting. On the eighth day, there was a solemn assembly in which the altar of the Temple was dedicated. This was followed by two more weeks of observance and feasting. Finally, on the twenty-third day of the month, Solomon sent the people to their tents.
Sometime after this, God came to Solomon saying: “12 Then the Lord appeared to Solomon at night and said to him, “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. 13 If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, 14 and 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, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (v 12-14)
Here God is telling Solomon that He had heard his prayers and that He had chosen “this place” as His house. God also let it be known that there will be times that Israel would turn from Him and God would judge them through droughts, famine, locusts and pestilence. And He did exactly that during the times Israel fell astray, even using the armies of Assyria and Babylon to conquer the land and haul the people into captivity. And, eventually, the people did repent and turned toward God, thereby ending whatever judgment He had placed on them.
The words “this place,” found in verse 12, is very important into understanding verse 14. God is talking about the Temple. When God ends verse 14 with “will heal their land,” the land He is talking about is Israel. And God kept this promise to His chosen people no matter how many times they turned from Him.
Since this verse is directly referring to the Temple and to the land and people of Israel, it concerns only Israel and was only for that particular time in history. No other country on earth has a Temple that God had approved. This is for Israel only and for that time only. To make verse 14 pertain to the United States is not the correct interpretation. The United States is not Israel and will never be Israel and there will never be a Temple to God in the United States. So those who use this verse in their calls for a national restoration, despite most who do are very well intentioned, are in error.
Does this mean we are not to pray for our country and our leaders? No, not at all. God commands this: First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-4)
With all that is going on in the United States, it is safe to say that a revival needs to happen. Our national sins are deep–abortion, homosexuality, our current relationship with Israel, etc. It is our duty to pray and pray hard for the United States and our leaders. Revivals are good, when started by God. But when started by the whim of men, they fail. Only God can begin revival.
Israel is Israel, the United States is the United States. The United States cannot be Israel. Only Israel and God’s Chosen People can ever be Israel. We must remember this and not attempt to be Israel. If God wants revival and restoration in this country, He will do it. And we must pray for our country and our leaders, just like every other country on earth must do. But only Israel has covenant with God. Remember that. Please remember that.