It’s safe to say that there’s alot that has happened this past year in America. The hatred, bigotry, and wickedness has been blatant. We don’t even blush at the sins we commit anymore, like Jeremiah said to Israel.
Were they ashamed when they committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed; they did not know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among the fallen; when I punish them, they shall be overthrown, says the LORD.
Jeremiah 8:12 (ESV)
What we’re seeing has caused many of us to get together and pray for our nation. We pray that we are healed, and that things are restored to where we used to be. We encourage ourselves, saying that 2 Chronicles 7:14 tells us if God’s people would humble themselves, pray, and repent of sin, that God would come and heal our nation!
There’s only one problem though. This verse doesn’t actually apply to us.
Yet many of you would say it sums up what we’re seeing before our very eyes, and when we as believers come together and pray, we truly see things happening. I’ve personally had prayers answered, and witnessed prayers for others answered as well, so I can understand this feeling too well. I also used to think that this verse applied to us.
Yet if we apply this verse incorrectly to America and the Church, we will misinterpret what is going on around us, and it influences how we pray concerning the will of God for our nation. The difference between a right and wrong application of this verse stems from our understanding of God’s national covenant with Israel.
The Law of Moses is the covenant between God and Israel, and it’s compiled in four books from the Old Testament; which include Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy is more of a rehashing of the main points of this covenant, along with other unique events covered, since this happened after Israel took over the land of Canaan.
The other three books focused on what took place in the wilderness. Near the end of Deuteronomy, we find the blessings and curses God reveals to Israel as part of His covenant with them. This is the background that helps us to read 2 Chronicles in its proper context. Let’s read it below:
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.
2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV)
This verse is God speaking after the temple was completed by Solomon. When God says if His people will humble themselves to pray and confess their sins, He wasn’t talking about the body of Christ, but to the nation of Israel. The healing of the land was the physical land of Israel that ended up suffering due to the curses of the covenant that came upon Israel because of disobedience.
We saw God fulfill this towards Israel after King Solomon and the whole nation went astray. Then there was national repentance from the leaders to the people, as God healed the land. Unfortunately, Israel constantly fell back into sin and apostasy, and by the time of Christ, they were under foreign occupation.
When Christ started His church, there were similarities to Israel, yet things were completely different between the two. It is similar in that the church is formed with the people of God and we are a holy nation like Israel was, while the difference is that we don’t have any land to claim and possess. We also are not a theocracy like Israel. The kingdom of God is currently invisible, and is administered through His church.
As for America, God has never made a covenant with this nation the way He did towards Israel. In fact, many if not all of the founding fathers openly admitted that America was not founded as a Christian nation. So how do we process and deal with what is going on in our nation if that verse doesn’t apply to us?
What we do is we change the way we think about our place in America. Yes, we are citizens of America, and we are supposed to play our part in its progress. But we are also citizens of the kingdom of God, and are sent as ambassadors to this foreign land of America.
Our purpose as Christians is to be salt and light in America, and to pray for the peace of our land so that we ourselves can move freely in doing God’s will. We also pray for the strength to stand strong in these perilous times, that we would be filled with the peace of God.
We also must manage our expectations in this country. Every nation that exists has a time limit, and America is no different. God will call this country to account for the sins throughout it’s history, and I believe we’re seeing some of that before us now. We must reject the idea that America is different from any other nation, and that God will protect the American empire from being ruined in the future.
Let us be the witnesses that Christ ordained His people to be, to a nation that needs revival and repentance. But may we also approach our part to play in what God is doing, and see the true nature of God’s relationship to America.
If it gets worse in this country, it is not because the church hasn’t prayed hard enough or hasn’t repented. We are not the end-all-be-all of America. America and every other nation are under the sovereign discretion of the LORD, and will answer to Him.