If My people…Part 1
Politically minded Christians are very aware of the promise of God in II Chron. 4:17. At least, they are familiar with part of it anyway. Quite honestly, I dove into this study as a result of the prayers I have heard in Christian circles which relied upon this verse. It seemed to me that there were several problems with its use and certainly with the prayers in which it was referenced. Nearly all of these prayers were focused on changing the nation on a political level. Prayers for deliverance from a particular agenda, President, Congress or Judges. What I failed to hear almost every time the verse was mentioned, was a heart crying out to God in repentance for the sins of His church (let alone the nation). So I decided that I needed to study these verses to discover the who, what, why, where and whens of this promise. What you are about to read is actually an over-simplification of that study.
Let’s examine the passage to see if and how it applies to our political situations here in America.
“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 heal their land.” – 2 Chron. 7:14
Now in the Christian circles with which I am familar, this is usually misquoted to say,
“If My people, which are called by My Name, shall humble themselves, and pray, I will hear from heaven, and will heal their land.” – 2 Chron. 7:14
For some of you this may be a little amazing, but I really am NOT joking! More often than not, this is basically the way I have heard this verse (mis-)quoted!
The funny thing is, that most of those who misquote it, do not even believe that the old covenant has anything to do with them anymore as New Testament believers. They only like this verse, because it fits their agenda. If I were to tell these people that obeying the law and repentance for failing to do so, were THE conditions of these verses, they would cry “foul” – I am not under the law anymore! To which I ask, “Then why are you seeking to live under the blessings of its promises?” God’s Word is holy and pure and should not be misquoted, misapplied or twisted to fit our desires. It is a dangerous thing to take a promise of God outside of its proper context, and thus misrepresent the One Who gave the promise in the first place.
It is very much like those who like to “claim” the blessings of Deut. 28 without realizing that if you do so, you are placing yourself back under the Old Testament law by seeking to be a benefactor of its promises. Most of these people do not realize that the list of curses which will come on you if you fail to perform by the tenets of the law, is many times longer than the blessings given if you do live by them.
In any case, I believe it is safe to say, that if you want to claim the benefits of verse 14, you should first of all know what specifically is being promised. Secondly, you need to be willing to obey the conditions and fall in line with all of the surrounding context as well – after all… it is a package deal.
Let’s see what God actually said,[To make this a simple as possible, the key topics which I believe need to be addressed, have been underlined and color coded.]
“And the LORD appeared to Solomon and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to Myself for an house of sacrifice. If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people; 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. Now Mine eyes shall be open, and Mine ears attend unto the prayer that is made in this place. For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that My Name may be there for ever: and Mine eyes and Mine heart shall be there perpetually. And as for thee, if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, and do according to all that I have commanded thee, and shalt observe my statutes and my judgments; Then will I establish the throne of thy kingdom, according as I have covenanted with David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man to be ruler in Israel. But if ye turn away, and forsake My statutes and My commandments, which I have set before you, and shall go and serve other gods, and worship them; Then will I pluck them up by the roots out of My land which I have given them; and this house, which I have sanctified for My Name, will I cast out of My sight, and will make it to be a proverb and a byword among all nations.” – 2 Chorn. 7:12-20
Due to the length of this study I have divided it into 4 key points which correspond to the four color divisions above. They are enumerated in the list below with a summery title. I will address each of these points in a separate blog in the order listed, beginnng with this blog as point #1.
- The promise was to Solomon as King (and to all subsequent kings of Israel by extension). God had accepted the Temple as a residing place for His eyes and heart. So He answered the prayer of this Godly king and was promising to watch and listen to the prayers offered in this place.
- God is STILL talking to the King. He is affirming to Solomon that He may at times bring calamity upon Israel in response to their sins – just like the king had said in his prayer in 2 Chron. 6:24-31.
- God is STILL talking to His Godly King Solomon. He is responding to his request (2 Chron. 6:24-31), that God hear the prayers of His people when they repent for sins which bring trouble on them by way of judgement.
- God is STILL talking exclusively to the Goldy King Solomon. He is telling him the conditions upon which he and his descendants will continue to rule His people.
So, lets take an honest…unbiased, look at this passage to discover the who, what , where, when and how’s of this promise.
Point #1 – The promise was to Solomon as King (and to all subsequent kings of Israel by extension). God had accepted the Temple as a residing place for His eyes and heart. So He answered the prayer of this Godly king and was promising to watch and listen to the prayers offered in this place.
“ appeared to Solomon … said unto him…I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to Myself for an house of sacrifice.” & “Mine eyes shall be open, and Mine ears attend unto the prayer that is made in this place. For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that My Name may be there for ever: and Mine eyes and Mine heart shall be there perpetually.”
Notice that the agreement was between the ruler and God – NOT between God and His people! God’s people are not brought up until later. The initial conditions for this agreement is a believing, humble, praying ruler who was dedicated to God’s covenant with the nation of Israel and to His worship.
So, we have barely begun our study and already one of the primary conditions for this promise appears to eliminate its primary usage in modern prayers. As I said above, most of the time, this prayer is used in an attempt to get God to remove an ungodly leader. Yet, here we read that the initial conditions of this promise begins with a leader who was godly, humble and who prays.
This is significant because it is not simply a sub-point, it is THE point! This entire agreement between God and Solomon only happened because Solomon as ruler of Israel prayed! To assume that you can begin with an ungodly leader and somehow still get the results of 2 Chron. 7:14 is to both take away from and add to this scripture.
The prayer Solomon prayed took place at the dedication of the Temple and is spelled out word for word in the previous chapter. In fact, all that follows in chapter 7, was a result and response to a prayer prayed IN THAT CONTEXT!
Part of Solomon’s prayer (which really MUST be read in full to even begin to understand this passage) he said to God,
“And said, O LORD God of Israel, there is no God like Thee in the heaven, nor in the earth; which keepest covenant, and shewest mercy unto Thy servants, that walk before Thee with all their hearts” – 2 Chron. 6:14.
If Solomon knew that a heart completely dedicated to God was a condition of enjoying the benefits of the Old Testament covenant and to be a recipient of God’s mercy – doesn’t it follow that God must have had Solomon’s heart as the leader? In fact, what was God’s statement about Solomon’s heart?
God said to Solomon, “Because this was in your heart, and you have not requested riches, wealth, or glory, or for the life of those who hate you, and you have not even requested long life, but you have requested for yourself wisdom and knowledge that you may judge My people over whom I have made you king, wisdom and knowledge are given to you. I will also give you riches, wealth, and glory, such that it was not like this for the kings who were before you, nor will it be like this for those after you.” – 2 Chron. 1:11-12
Next we see that God was now watching. What would be the future actions and prayers of His king(-s)? Would the king hearken to God’s Holy commandments and live a life of dedication to them? Would he seek Him and humbly pray to Him or forget Him until Israel is in national distress?
“Mine eyes shall be open, and Mine ears attend unto the prayer that is made in this place.”
Let’s go over our key study questions so far…
Who… was God speaking to? King Solomon
What… was being addressed? God’s acceptance of the temple as a place for His eyes and heart and for sacrifice to Him.
Why? It was a response to an appeal to God from Solomon at the beginning of his rule following the dedication of the temple.
Where? Before the Temple.
When? Immediately following the Death of King David and so, at the beginning of his rule following the dedication of the temple.