In this Scripture it’s NOT the foreigners and unbelievers who have to “turn”!
WHO ARE WE TALKING ABOUT HERE?
First, notice that in this scripture, it’s not us being spoken to directly. Not the USA, not Nebraska, not First Baptist. It’s important to remember: Bible passages were not written to us personally. We are looking over the shoulders of people long gone – trying to learn important things about spiritual life from their experience or their teaching.
BUT often there are pretty obvious, pretty strong, very applicable lessons.
That is true here. So we should not think it was written to us. But we should look over the shoulder of the original hearer (Solomon) and see basic principles, things that no doubt DO apply to us. And then we should respond. The Lord said to King Solomon, 3000 years ago,
“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 7:14)
1. God Promises Great Great Blessing!
God says he will “forgive their sin” – which is a very big deal! AND “heal their land.” Well, our land needs healing. Even though this was not written to us, maybe we should listen seriously to the advice here.
2. God is Attentive.
3. What Must They Do?
1. Humble themselves
2. Pray, and seek God’s face (almost the same thing)
3. Turn from their wicked ways
Let’s be sure to notice – it’s NOT the foreigners and unbelievers who have to “turn”, and “humble themselves”, etc. It IS the ones who think of themselves as “the Lord’s people” – a phrase I hear American evangelicals use about themselves. Today, for us, that is crucial advice for those of us who call ourselves “Christian.” We are today the most obvious target of this warning – and promise.
4. Deadly Dangers
Drought, locusts, plague. Those things have happened in Nebraska in the last 100 years – deadly drought, grasshoppers eating everything, in one year, 1879, 55 children died of diphtheria here in Hastings, NE, in a town and surroundings of a little over 10,000. We have managed through good science and strong cooperation to get some of those things under better control; but it looks like, in the interests of tax cuts, we may be giving up on that; climate and plague horrors may be making a comeback – only probably much worse, and probably more than just climate and plague.
6. The Temple and the Nation are NOT the Protection Needed
Even though God calls them “my people” – they are not automatically protected from those deadly problems. In Jesus’s day he predicted the destruction of the temple of his people, and his own nation – and it happened within a few years. Clearly the requirement for us is not to have the name “God-fearing” or “Christian”, nor to have the “proper” teaching or worship. The requirement for us is “humble yourselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from your wicked ways.”
And THEN wonderful blessings are promised.
“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,
pray and seek my face
then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
forgive their sin
heal their land
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