Tuesday, April 2, 2019 -
“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, 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.” These words were spoken to King Solomon, as told us in II Chronicles 7:12-15.
Now I recognize the context in which God spoke these words to His chosen people of Israel, and that our nation is not a theocracy. However, I believe there are profound truths here which the church in our nation must heed. I truly believe these words of God are as much for us today as they were for the nation during Solomon’s time!
However, look carefully to whom the words of God were addressed – HIS PEOPLE! Then, and only then, will God bless our nation once again! It seems that God today is first trying to get the attention of His people (the church), to humble themselves, pray, and seek His face, and TURN from their wicked ways BEFORE He will heal our land! In other words, the renewal of our nation must begin with HIS PEOPLE! The Hebrew word for “humble” is kana, which has the basic sense of being lowly, or meek. It is used of the Lord’s humbling of an uncircumcised, prideful heart. Paul speaks of such an uncircumcised heart in Romans 2. Kana is used of humbling one’s self before the Lord, and the Israelites’ key to success after failure was always to humble themselves before the Lord. We see this over and over again! And the Lord challenges Job that only He can humble and crush the wicked (proud) in due time (Job 40:12). This is the same word – kana!
Time and time again, we see God afflicting those in our nation with headline-grabbing natural and manmade disasters and catastrophes. Just this past month, I heard on the radio of whole towns being wiped away by tornadoes in Alabama, and crops and homes being flooded and destroyed in Nebraska, Iowa, and elsewhere in the Midwest. And when we hear of such things, or of mass shootings, we think God is punishing our nation, and the natural inclination is that our nation needs to repent.
And so we pray for our nation to repent. And we pray for Godly leaders who will call upon the nation to repent, as did King Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joash (to some degree), Hezekiah, and Josiah.
Yet in thus doing, we fail to look closer to home. God, here in II Chronicles 7:14 is addressing HIS PEOPLE, Who are called by HIS NAME! Today, there are many who claim or are labeled Christians. For we as Christians, BEAR THE NAME OF CHRIST.
However, when disasters happen, even when they hit close to home, how often do we humble ourselves before the Lord, fall on our faces (II Chronicles 7:3), PRAY, seeking GOD’S FACE, TURNING from our wicked ways?
For I too, am guilty of failing to look inwardly at my own heart, seeking God’s purification in diligent prayer, as I am so commanded to do.
When we live in such an evil society, it is the natural instinct of one to look around for fault, rather than first examining our own heart for the sins that Satan loves to use to turn God’s children into useless vessels - - pride, self-sufficiency, materialism, idolatry, compromise, justifying sinful behavior, neglecting to spend sufficient time in communing with God, anger, self-righteousness, trusting in our own goodness, selfishness, evil thoughts, not being able to control our tongues, bad entertainment habits, and I could go on and on.
But Paul says we are not to be conformed to the world, but instead to be TRANSFORMED by the renewing of our mind (Romans 12:2). This process of SANCTIFICATION is a lifelong process that happens when the Holy Spirit takes control (Romans 15:16, II Thess. 2:13), and only as we yield our lives to Him completely.
Remember the context of God’s warning and promise in the opening Scripture. He was addressing His chosen people who had taken possession and occupation of a pagan land. In their disobedience, they had allowed pagan influences and apostasy to infiltrate even their worship - - idolatry, child sacrifice, homosexuality, sexual perversions, and other subtle ways of forsaking the one true God, that creeps into one’s life such as pride, self-sufficiency, excessive leisure, and materialism.
Today, in the name of “tolerance”, many in the church, even in leadership, are embracing our own child sacrifices (abortion), sexual perversion (LGBT lifestyles), pornography, drug addiction, and other less obtrusive or blatant turning from God through a consumer-oriented church, based not upon making disciples (the Acts or New Testament model), but of merely filling pews or chairs by playing to a consumer mentality in our churches, to people who merely want to be entertained, rather than be challenging them to become Christ’s disciples and to go out and make more disciples (Matthew 28:19-20).
Keep in mind also, that those who don’t necessarily practice sinful behavior, but condone it (perhaps by our silence), are just as guilty as those who do such things (Romans 1:32). And for that too, many of us need to repent!
God is not mocked, and so the healing of our nation MUST begin with the church - - God’s people who are called by His name - - Christians. Fellow Christian, fall with me on our faces, let us humble ourselves before our Creator, pray, seek His face, and repent - - TURNING from our wicked ways! Only then does God promise to hear, and HE (God) WILL HEAR FROM HEAVEN, and HEAL OUR LAND! He will not heal our land until we ourselves individually humble ourselves, pray, seek God’s face, and repent! That is the conditional message for us today. Unless the renewal of our nation begins with each of His people repenting, our nation is lost! And the consequence for His people, should we fail to heed this warning, is severe, as we see a few verses later (I Chronicles 7:19-22) - - banishment, abandonment, adversity, and exile. Woe to an unrepentant church! But the promises, IF we heed His warning, will be amazing.