“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 sins and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
This verse has been an inspiration and encouragement to many Christians seeking revival or renewal for their lives, churches, communities, and countries. Here is a promise from God to “heal the land” of His people if they respond to Him with humility, prayer, and repentance.
As we are often reminded, to accurately understand and appropriately apply God’s Word a verse must be understood in its historical and literary context. 2 Chronicles 7:14 is a promise from God to King Solomon after the dedication of the Temple (5:2 – 7:10). After Solomon’s stirring prayer (6:1-42), the Lord responds by sending fire from heaven to consume the burnt offerings and sacrifices (7:1). The people respond with awe-filled worship (7:2-3) and abundant sacrifices (7:4-7). After spending another seven days feasting in God’s presence, the people hold a day-long “solemn assembly” and then return to their homes (7:8-10).
After this memorable dedication service and joyful celebration, the Lord appears to Solomon privately with several promises. The first promise relates to restoring the Israelites (“my people”) if they sincerely return to Him after rebelling against Him (7:14). The second promise relates to Solomon’s royal line; the Lord pledges to establish Solomon’s kingly line “for all time” as long as his descendants walk in God’s ways (7:17-18). Conversely, the Lord promises to bring disaster on Solomon’s descendants and the entire nation of Israel—including the newly-constructed Temple—if they “turn aside and forsake” the Lord and His commands (7:19-22).
So, in its original context, 2 Chronicles 7:14 is a promise to Israel of national restoration after a time of spiritual disobedience. It builds on the promise of blessings and cursings that God previously made in Deuteronomy 28:1-68. The land of Israel would be protected and productive asl long as the nation followed God’s will and ways. Conversely, the nation of Israel would be devasted and deported from the land if turned away from Him to follow other gods.
As we move through redemptive history, we learn the New Covenant established by Jesus (Luke 22:20) fulfills and replaces the Mosaic Covenant. Under the New Covenant, the focus is on a multi-national “people” of God from every nation, tribe, people and language (Rev. 7:9). The emphasis shifts from the physical land promised to national Israel to a new heavens and earth promised to all who are part of Christ’s global Church.
Further, 2 Chronicles 7:14 emphasizes God’s desire for His people to turn to Him with both humble prayer (“humble themselves and pray and seek my face”) and righteous lives (“turn from their wicked ways”). As Isaiah 58 makes plain, He is not moved by religious activities (prayer, fasting) unless they are combined with justice and compassion.
Applying 2 Chronicles 7:14
The question we must ask is: “How should we apply God’s promise in 2 Chronicles 7:14 to our situation today in Canada?” Here are four cautions to keep in mind.
- 2 Chronicles 7:14 must be understood in light of God’s covenantal promises to Israel. Israel enjoyed a unique status as God’s chosen people: “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 7:6).
- There is no one-to-one correspondence between Israel and any geo-political nation on earth. No other nation—past or present—was given the same covenantal promises as those God gave to Israel. So, the promise made to Israel in 2 Chronicles 7:14 cannot simply be appropriated by Canada or any other national entity.
- God’s covenant with Israel included land promises and economic prosperity. Their obedience to the covenant would result in possessing a Promised Land and enjoying economic blessings in the land (Deut. 28). The converse was also true; disobedience would bring both exile and economic devastation. (Deut. 28).
- God’s purpose in choosing Israel was to glorify Himself among the nations and bring blessings to the nations through Israel (Gen. 12:1-3; Psalm 67).
While acknowledging the original recipients of this promise were God’s covenant people Israel, the promise made in 2 Chronicles 7:14 does have application for Christians today.
- Because of the death of Christ, Gentiles who repent of their sins and trust in Christ are now included in the one “people of God” (Eph. 2:11-22). All Christians are now “partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (Eph 3:6). This means that all Christians (Jewish and Gentile believers in Christ) can pray to the Lord as His “people”.
- The Temple (dedicated in 2 Chronicles 7:1-10) was intended to be a “house of prayer for all peoples” (Isa. 56:7). God’s heart was always open to both “Jews and Greeks” who sincerely called on the name of the Lord (Rom 10:12-13). Once again, this means Christians from all nations can turn to the Lord for His help and healing.
- The New Covenant blessings center on spiritual healing (forgiveness of sins—Eph. 1:7) and an eternal home in the new heavens and earth (Rev. 21-22). The temporal blessings of the Old Covenant (physical land; economic prosperity) fade in light of the “eternal glories” that await believers (2 Cor 4:18; Rom 8:18).
- Both the Old and New Testaments emphasize genuine repentance and true faith must be inward realities not simply outward activities. God examines the condition of our hearts and the conduct of our lives to see if our religious acts are sincere or just a show (Amos 5:23; James 1:27). He listens for humble prayers to looks for righteous lives.
While 2 Chronicles 7:14 was not written to us (it was given to Israel), it still has relevance for us (Rom. 15:4; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). While Canada is not Israel, Canadian Christians are part of God’s covenant people through faith in Christ. In this sense, the promises made to “my people” can legitimately be applied to Christians in Christ’s Church. To put it another way, the restoration God promises to those who sincerely turn to Him applies to the Church rather than to any geo-political nation.
The spiritual turning God wants to see from His people is more than outward, religious activity. Humble prayer must be combined with holy lives. There is a striking parallel between what the Lord says to His people in 2 Chronicles 7:14 and what He says in Isaiah 58. In Isaiah 58, the Lord makes it clear that He is seeking more than prayer, fasting, and the study of His Word. These are all important, but they lose their validity if not accompanied by holy lives in our business practices and relational interactions. (See attached summary of Isaiah 58 below).
The healing (“heal our land”) promised in 2 Chronicles should now be understood primarily in spiritual terms rather than in physical, economic terms. As New Covenant Christians, our homeland is now the new heavens and earth (Phil. 3:20-21; Rev. 21-22). However, as God spiritually revives and restores His Church in Canada, we can expect these blessing to have a life-giving, positive impact on our wider society.
My prayer for the Church in Canada (and beyond) is that we would demonstrate humble hearts, repenting of the sin that so easily entangles (Hebrews 12:1-2). May we turn from anything that displeases the Lord in order to seek His face and favour. As we do, we can anticipate that our gracious God will hear our prayers and give us renewed spiritual life and health. As the Lord revives His Church in Canada, we will bring the love and message of Christ to those in our communities and our country. Lord, make it so!