Claiming a Promise God Never Made
IT’S WORTH CONSIDERING
Without a doubt, the most commonly quoted verse in connection with the decline of America is 2 Chronicles 7:14:
“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 I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
For the past twenty years, Christian writers and speakers have been claiming this verse as the cure for America’s ills and the formula for restoration. We have been told, or we have simply chosen to believe that since America is a Christian nation, the phrase “My people” refers to Americans. Since Christians are called by Christ’s name, the phrase “called by My name” refers to Christians. Since we live in America, the reference to “healing their land” applies to America.
A reader and friend recently sent me an article by Tom Riggle (www.revelife.com)
addressing 2 Chronicles 7:14. It confirmed my belief and sent me digging into it again. The result: I have news for Christians and for America. This verse has nothing to do with America and can in no way be stretched to apply to America. Break open your Bible and read chapters 5, 6, and 7 of 2 Chronicles. Solomon was dedicating the Temple. Solomon speaks to the people, prays to God, and then God answers Solomon’s prayer. In 6:26-28 Solomon prays that if Israel’s sin had caused God to afflict them with drought, pestilence, or locust (plague), then God would hear from heaven and forgive Israel’s sin. The Israelites had to do three things:
1. Confess God’s name.
2. Turn from their sin.
3. Pray toward the Temple.
In other verses, Solomon is describing other scenarios in which Israel would be required to do the same three things. In 6:24 Solomon prays that if Israel was defeated because it had sinned against God, the people would have to pray to God from within the Temple.
With this in mind, let’s go back and reread the verse along with the one before it and after it. These three verses are part of God’s response to Solomon’s prayer:
“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, and My people who are called by My name will 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. Now My eyes shall be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place”(emphasis mine).
God takes three of Solomon’s requests (times of drought, locust, and pestilence) and makes a promise to heal Israel’s physical land, which would have been devastated by these three plagues. Israel’s responsibility was to humble themselves and pray, seek God’s face, and turn from their wicked ways. The final requirement was that Israel’s prayers had to be offered in the Temple. These verses are all about Israel, the Temple, and three specific plagues. The existence of the Temple is an inseparable part of God’s promise.
Every attempt to connect this verse with America requires that we:
1. take it completely out of context,
2. ignore the qualifications of previous verses,
3. ignore other verses that speak to the issue, and
4. engage in a subtle form of Replacement Theology by making Scripture intended for Israel apply to the Church instead.
When God says “heal their land,” He means the actual land that had been devastated, not a nation. God isn’t saying He will hear those prayers offered from America. The prayers must be made in the Temple, and since the Temple no longer exists, the whole verse is rendered null and void.
AS I SEE IT
You may be thinking that the verse still applies to America in principle and that God considers those who have trusted in Jesus to be “called by His name.” If Christians would humble themselves and pray, seek God’s face and turn from their wicked ways, God would surely heal America, wouldn’t He? Isn’t it safe to assume that if the Church in America would get its act together, it could pull America out of its moral nosedive and usher in a much needed national revival?
Assumptions nearly always get is in trouble, and the same is true here. Consider Ezekiel 14:13 – 20:
“‘Son of man, if a country sins against Me by committing unfaithfulness, and I stretch out My hand against it, destroy its supply of bread, send famine against it, and cut off from it both man and beast, even though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job were in its midst, by their own righteousness they could only deliver themselves,’ declares the Lord God.”
We can conclude from these verses that if God has decided to bring judgment on America for its wickedness, Christians can do nothing to stop it. All we can do is save ourselves and bring as many as possible to heaven with us. Since we don’t know if God has crossed the point of no return, we must continue to fight the good fight, doing what we can to save our once great nation. Our first efforts, however, should be the restoration of the Church (all believers everywhere). If the Church remains in disarray, no effort, however great, will save America.
We in America would do well to remember that the Lord has committed Himself to one place on earth-one land, one city. He has only dwelt in one permanent location, and He has only one Chosen People. Yet, in spite of that, He had Jerusalem destroyed not once, but twice because of the sins of the people, and during the 70th week of Daniel, it will happen again.
This is one of the most sobering articles I have ever written, but it’s time to deal with things as they really are, not as we would like them to be.