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Wednesday, April 8, 2020

The Other Verses in 2 Chronicles 7

When dark days come (such as we are currently experiencing around the world in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic), Christians turn their lonely eyes to a promise in 2 Chronicles 7:14.

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Sounds good. But as we have hopefully learned by now, the vast majority of promises in scripture have nothing to do with those of us in the current age. Yes, we can learn about the Lord's character from the promises to others and we may even be able to glean principles. In this case, it is always wise to seek God and turn from wickedness, but the rest of verse has absolutely no application to us. More importantly, it contains no promise to us.

The verse omits (ignores) what has befallen the land and why. And what do we make of the "land?" The Body of Christ has no land nor any hope or promise of a land. Who has such a promise? Israel! And it is almost exclusively those Christians who claim to support Israel who regularly try to rob from her hope and promises.

Let's look at the immediate context of 2 Chronicles 7:14.

If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people;
-2 Chronicles 7:13

The people of Israel, in that land, when in blessing, when they are "[his] people," should they suffer a curse of drought or a plague of locusts, then they should follow the dictates of 2 Chronicles 7:14. We can even allow this to be representative of any curses resulting from Israel's sins if we want to be generous with the passage, but there is no room to cram in the Body.

Now let us look at the verse which follows 7:14.

Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attend unto the prayer that is made in this place.
-2 Chronicles 7:15 

"In this place." What place? The temple! This entire passage involves the dedication of the Temple by Solomon. The passage is Israel-centric and Temple-centric.

Hearken therefore unto the supplications of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, which they shall make toward this place: hear thou from thy dwelling place, even from heaven; and when thou hearest, forgive.
-2 Chronickes 6:21

Now let's look at some other promises of God hearing from heaven from the same prayer of Solomon. I could single out a number of these prayers, but here are just two.

“When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against You, when they pray toward this place and confess Your name, and turn from their sin because You afflict them, then hear in heaven, and forgive the sin of Your servants, Your people Israel, that You may teach them the good way in which they should walk; and send rain on Your land which You have given to Your people as an inheritance.

Here we have drought as we will in 7:14. Do we dare take "Your people Israel" for ourselves? Do we honestly believe the USA (or wherever a Christian happens to live) is the same as Israel, in her Temple, in her land? Is the USA our inheritance?

“When they sin against You (for there is no one who does not sin), and You become angry with them and deliver them to the enemy, and they take them captive to a land far or near; yet when they come to themselves in the land where they were carried captive, and repent, and make supplication to You in the land of their captivity, saying, ‘We have sinned, we have done wrong, and have committed wickedness’; and when they return to You with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity, where they have been carried captive, and pray toward their land which You gave to their fathers, the city which You have chosen, and toward the temple which I have built for Your name: then hear from heaven Your dwelling place their prayer and their supplications, and maintain their cause, and forgive Your people who have sinned against You. Now, my God, I pray, let Your eyes be open and let Your ears be attentive to the prayer made in this place.

Pray to toward the land you gave their fathers? The city which God has chosen? Toward the Temple? What do we do with that? Soldiers captured by the Japanese or Germans in WWII should have prayed towards Washington DC and London? This long prayer is very specific. Yet we careless rip out one verse and apply it the USA (or Hungary or Russia or Vietnam or wherever Christians happen to live). What if a nation has only 10 Christians, yet it is as pagan and wicked as it can be. Do we believe if the 10 Christians follow 2 Chron 7:14 God is bound to bless the entire nation? This is pure carelessness .

Here is the lead-in to Chapter 7:

Now, my God, I pray, let Your eyes be open and let Your ears be attentive to the prayer made in this place.

“Now therefore,
Arise, O Lord God, to Your resting place,
You and the ark of Your strength.
Let Your priests, O Lord God, be clothed with salvation,
And let Your saints rejoice in goodness.

Can we say, "well, the church is now the living temple" and apply these things? No, it is still nonsensical. If we are the temple, how do we look toward it? To what land is it connected? And in this very prayer, Solomon states that God that temple could not contain God. It was symbolic, yet it was real. It had tied to it strict requirements for sacrifice. It contained the Ark of God. All of that is connected to Israel, HER covenant, and the land.

Lord God of Israel, there is no God in heaven or on earth like You, who keep Your covenant and mercy with Your servants who walk before You with all their hearts... Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!

Grace is not a covenant. Israel's covenants (Old. New, Abraham's, David's) are connected to a land and a kingdom on this earthly. Our blessings are in the far above the heavens. We have no earthly hope.

Now let's move into Chapter 7. We've already looked at 7:13-15. Now consider 7:16-18

For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually. As for you, if you walk before Me as your father David walked, and do according to all that I have commanded you, and if you keep My statutes and My judgments, then I will establish the throne of your kingdom, as I covenanted with David your father, saying, ‘You shall not fail to have a man as ruler in Israel.’

This should end the folly of ripping verse 14 out of its context. But let us finish the chapter and hopefully we will turn from the wicked way of trying to rob from Israel and of forsaking our own calling and hope as revealed in the Book of Ephesians and Paul's post-Acts epistles.

“But if you turn away and forsake My statutes and My commandments which I have set before you, and go and serve other gods, and worship them, then I will uproot them from My land which I have given them; and this house which I have sanctified for My name I will cast out of My sight, and will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples.

The Body has no land, no earthly Temple, and we are already among the Gentiles because we are Gentiles.

“And as for this house, which is exalted, everyone who passes by it will be astonished and say, ‘Why has the Lord done thus to this land and this house?’ Then they will answer, ‘Because they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, who brought them out of the land of Egypt, and embraced other gods, and worshiped them and served them; therefore He has brought all this calamity on them.’ ”

God neither brought me nor my fathers out of the land of Egypt. As Gentiles we were, even as believers, without a hope in this earth. You cannot find a Gentile in scripture, since Abraham, who is blessed without a connection to Israel or a Jew. This holds true all the way through the Lord's earthly ministry and the Book of Acts.

Here we were until this age:

Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

-Ephesians 2:11-13

Let us return to Solomon's prayer and find our place

“Moreover, concerning a foreigner, who is not of Your people Israel, but has come from a far country for the sake of Your great name and Your mighty hand and Your outstretched arm, when they come and pray in this temple; then hear from heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, that all peoples of the earth may know Your name and fear You, as do Your people Israel, and that they may know that this temple which I have built is called by Your name.

-2 Chronicles 6:32-33

First thing we note is that the foreigner (the non-Israelite) is singled out here. He has no place in 7:14. We are not Israel. We are not Jews. Secondly,. Solomon asks that their prayer be heard IF they pray in the Temple (in the court of the Gentiles as they were forbidden from elements of Israel's life).

In Leviticus, Gentiles (foreigners) were able to bring a sacrifice. They could participate in certain aspects of Israel's life (note the Old Covenant was about a nation of priests, not about resurrection life which has always been a gift by grace through faith from the beginning).  But they were forbidden to participate in the Passover.

And when a stranger dwells with you and wants to keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as a native of the land. For no uncircumcised person shall eat it.
-Exodus 12:48 

 We could explore this topic almost endlessly. There are scores of conditional blessings and cursings throughout God's dealings with Israel. Why men choose to isolate this one verse and claim it for themselves, in the age, ironically, puts them in danger of being ashamed at their judgment. For to try to claim 2 Chron 7:14, one must fail to Rightly Divide the Word of Truth. And doing so will result in shame (2 Tim 2:15).

A few related studies:

Prayer in the Present Age
Who is a Jew?
The Present Age - Part 1
The Present Age - Part 2
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
Walking in the Spirit - Part 1
Race, Ethnicity, The Traditions of Men, and Lent
Settling for Less - The Warnings of Colossians 2