2 Chronicles 7:14 is not a promise to America. I know that when certain days, like the national day of prayer, approach some people like to take what they want to believe and stamp a verse on it. But this verse is not about us. There is no promise that God will heal our land. Could he? Yes!
God absolutely could heal the land of American’s. In fact, I have very little doubt that if all “professing” Christians were to repent, this country would be a different place and as a result it would affect the whole world. If the estimated 270 million (about 77% of Americans claim to be Christians) people who claimed to be Christian would truly repent, as in for real, it would have world changing results. Some estimates suggest that we’d even have the resources to stamp out world hunger.
But, the reality that 270+ million people coming to repentance would change the world, does not make certain promises in scripture specifically for America. The idea that a person would rather grab onto a verse, and “claim it” as a promise for themselves, or their country, rather than understand it in it’s context is an indication of the state of that persons love for God, and His word. 2 Timothy 2:15 encourages us to handle God’s word accurately, making this very important.
Now I’m not claiming that everyone who misuses this verse hates God. But if someone tells you, that this verse does not mean what people claim it means, and that makes you angry instead of interested in examining it, what does that say about you? When we mishandle God’s word, not taking the time to understand it correctly, and then teach it to others that way, we are setting them up to despise God. No God loving son or daughter of God can honestly want to risk that.
None of us can get this thing right every single time without fail, we rely on each other to learn and grow. When I’m wrong, I want to be challenged with scripture that points out how I’m wrong. There have been times I’ve had to change my view, and been times when the person making the argument could change my view. But, in the end, our goal should be to know the Truth, not simply win an argument or debate. So grab your own Bible if you like, I’m going to go through this verse and show you why it is I boldly make the claim that this verse has nothing to do with American’s at all.
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 I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. ~ 2 Chronicles 7:14
Before I get into the scripture, I want you to think through this verse from a logical standpoint. First, if this verse is a promise to American Christians, does it mean that America belongs to Christians? Because in order for this verse to apply to us specifically, at this place, and in this time, we must own this land as children of God. It had to have been given to us. Is that true that he gave it specifically to us, a Christian people? I would argue no.
Something else to think about: If this verse is specifically for Christians, why, or how do we limit it to America? Is this verse true also for Christians living in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other Muslim countries? If they turn from their wicked ways, and humble themselves and pray, does this promise also apply to them? Will God then heal Iraq and Afghanistan?
You see, one of the quickest tests that I’ve found for scripture, when people try to claim it as their own is: “Can this verse be applied to all Christians, in every situation?” This question alone does not always tell you if a verse is used correctly, but it can quickly throw a red flag when it isn’t.
In order to easily understand the context of this verse you need to understand what is going on in scripture when God speaks this promise. But before we get to that, I want to point out here that you can find another red flag on the use of this scripture as an American promise by simply observing a few things. First: Notice that this verse is not the beginning of the statement. It’s the if portion of a statement and it does not begin the statement. This verse is actually in the middle of a sentence. You have to back up a verse to actually grab the whole sentence.
“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 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 I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. ~ 2 Chronicles 7:13-14
Here God states three different times in which this promise is in place. When these things are going on, a plague, no rain, and a locust infestation. Even if someone can teach that there are many more situations where this promise may apply, this is enough to make us realize that something isn’t right with the use of it for American’s. Finally, look at the very next verse.
Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. ~ 2 Chronicles 7:15
Ahh… This place? What place? What place is God talking about? The land? Is there something else going on? We have to spread out even further to figure that out.
Let’s back up to Chapter 1. 2 Chronicles was written sometime after God’s people started to return from the Babylonian exile sometime after 538 B.C. In the first chapter we learn that Solomon establishes his Kingdom (2 Chron 1:1). He takes all the people of Israel to the tent of meeting in the wilderness which was still in existence (2 Chron 1:4). There Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings (verse 6). At the same time, David took the ark of God to Jerusalem and pitched a tent for the Ark to remain in (verse 5).
That night their at the tent of meeting God appears to Solomon and asks what he’d like, and Solomon asks for wisdom and knowledge to govern the people (verse 10). As a result of his unselfish request God grants him not only that, but also great wealth (verses 11-12). The rest of the chapter follows Solomon back to Jerusalem (verse 13) and explains his wealth in greater detail.
Chapter 2 begins with Solomon deciding to build a temple for God, and a Castle for himself. It continues throughout the chapter telling of the plans and preparation for building the temple. Chapter 3 talks about the actual building of it, and chapter 4 teaches on the furnishings.
In chapter 5 we find that the work on the temple is finished and he has the Ark brought into the temple. As the ark is being moved, the assembly of Israel are sacrificing sheep and oxen. Scripture says, in 2 Chronicles 5:6, that so many sheep and oxen were sacrificed that they could not be counted or numbered. The priests brought the Ark to the inner sanctuary of the temple in the Most Holy Place and angels make a covering over the Ark (2 Chronicles 5:7-8) Then in in verse 14 a great cloud fills the temple to a point that the priests could not even stand to minster.
Chapter 6 opens with Solomon saying “The Lord has said that he would dwell in thick darkness. But I have built you an exalted house, a place for you to dwell in forever” (2 Chronicles 6:1-2). Solomon blesses the assembly of Israel, and praises God for the fulfillment of God’s promise to David (verses 3-11).
Then, Solomon gets on his knees before the alter in front of everyone and prays. You should take the time to read the whole thing, but for the sake of teaching on 2 Chronicles 7:14 I will quote only verses 21-31.
And listen to the pleas of your servant and of your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. And listen from heaven your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.
“If a man sins against his neighbor and is made to take an oath and comes and swears his oath before your altar in this house, then hear from heaven and act and judge your servants, repaying the guilty by bringing his conduct on his own head, and vindicating the righteous by rewarding him according to his righteousness.
“If your people Israel are defeated before the enemy because they have sinned against you, and they turn again and acknowledge your name and pray and plead with you in this house, then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and bring them again to the land that you gave to them and to their fathers.
“When heaven is shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against you, if they pray toward this place and acknowledge your name and turn from their sin, when you afflict them, then hear in heaven and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel, when you teach them the good way in which they should walk, and grant rain upon your land, which you have given to your people as an inheritance.
“If there is famine in the land, if there is pestilence or blight or mildew or locust or caterpillar, if their enemies besiege them in the land at their gates, whatever plague, whatever sickness there is, whatever prayer, whatever plea is made by any man or by all your people Israel, each knowing his own affliction and his own sorrow and stretching out his hands toward this house, then hear from heaven your dwelling place and forgive and render to each whose heart you know, according to all his ways, for you, you only, know the hearts of the children of mankind, that they may fear you and walk in your ways all the days that they live in the land that you gave to our fathers. ~ 2 Chronicles 6:21-31
Solomon continues his prayer through verse 42, which finishes up chapter 6.
As soon as Solomon finished, a fire came down and consumed the burnt offering and sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple, and the people worshiped. (2 Chronicles 7:1-3).
Following the people bowing down, worshiping and giving thanks, they offered sacrifices to God again.
144,000 142,000 animals were sacrificed. Ironic number actually if you have read Revelation. The animals were 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep. With this, they dedicated the temple to the Lord (2 Chronicles 7:5).
Fast forward to verse 11 and let’s look at this in context now.
Thus Solomon finished the house of the Lord and the king’s house. All that Solomon had planned to do in the house of the Lord and in his own house he successfully accomplished. Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. 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, 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. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time. And as for you, if you will walk before me as David your father walked, doing according to all that I have commanded you and keeping my statutes and my rules, then I will establish your royal throne, as I covenanted with David your father, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man to rule Israel.’
“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 youc 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. And at this house, which was exalted, everyone passing by will be astonished and say, ‘Why has the Lord done thus to this land and to this house?’ Then they will say, ‘Because they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers who brought them out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other gods and worshiped them and served them. Therefore he has brought all this disaster on them.’” ~ 2 Chronicles 7:11-22
In verse 12 God appears again to Solomon (side note: How awesome would that be!?!) and the Lord tells Solomon, He has heard Solomon’s prayer (2 Chronicles 7:12).
Remember his prayer? The prayer he prayed in Chapter 6? That’s the prayer God is referring to here. Throughout the rest of chapter 7 God is assuring Solomon that he will grant his request, based on conditions which you find in verses 19-22.
So, what is the initial condition? When the Israel nation is under punishment for sin (verse 13). What must they do? Call on God’s name, humble themselves, and pray, and seek His face, and turn from their wicked ways (verse 14). Where will God hear from? Heaven. He’s in Heaven, he’ll hear from Heaven (verse 14). What land will He heal? Israels land. The land of this people The land the temple is built in. How do we know this doesn’t extend past the Israel people? Because look where they have to pray! “Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place (verse 15). How do we know “this place” refers to the temple? The context first, and also verse 16: “For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there forever.”
It’s clear when you study this piece of scripture with a little effort, and desire to know the truth that there is no way we can claim this verse as our own. This promise is for the Israel people of that time. To use it in any other way, is to misuse it.
Further, when God said he would heal their land, what was he referring to? He meant he’d open the heavens again, letting it rain, or drive out a plague, or any of the other things he may have sent on that land as a punishment. He did NOT mean we would bring revival, or that he would stop same sex marriage, or that he would heal division between people groups.
These are not punishments that God has “sent on us” but they are the results of our own sinful natures. The things we’re asking God to heal us from, would be the very things he would have been expecting Israel to repent of before he healed their land. The very things that would have brought on the punishment in the first place.
To reiterate, I am not saying that God can not “heal,” and does not “bless” a land full of obedient people today. I am simply saying that this verse, is not a promise for him to do so, and we should in no way feel as though God is obligated to do it in order to keep His word.
When you gather a group of people together, in front of hundreds of millions of onlookers to pray for revival, and you stamp this verse on the gathering – you repeat it over and over again as some sort of current promise from God, and then God does not heal the land of all the things people think he should, God looks impotent, and it becomes an argument against His people. It is exactly this kind of “name it and claim it” Christianity, a Christianity full of incorrectly interpreted promises, that ends up creating false converts, and causes them to reject God later.