2 Chron. 7:11-15, 19-21 - GOD'S METHOD FOR REAL REVIVAL
2 Chronicles 7:11-15, 19-21 (ESV)
If My People Pray
11 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. 12 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. 13 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, 14 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. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. 19 "But if youc turn aside and forsake my statutes and my commandments that I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, 20 then I will pluck youd 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. 21 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?' 22 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.'"
I suppose no other passage in the Bible has been used more often to preach about revival than this verse. That is because it is a revival verse. You will notice to whom the verse is addressed: "My people, called by My Name!". God is speaking to people who have identified themselves with Him and His work. He is speaking to people that we would call saved.
This verse was given to Solomon at the dedication of the Temple. God had warned the people that their disobedience to His Word and commands would bring with it dire consequences, v. 13, for their land. Now, He sets forth the conditions necessary to reverse His judgment and to being revival.
I just want to point out God's Method For Real Revival. This is not a recipe! But, if the conditions are all met God's way, then the stage will be set for real revival.
Friends, we need a revival! This verse tells us how to go about getting one. Notice with me God's Method For Real Revival.
l. REAL REVIVAL DEMANDS REAL REQUIREMENTS
(Illustration - Before revival can ever become a reality, the people of God must meet the four demands mentioned in this verse. Meeting these four demands does not guarantee that revival will happen, but it does create an atmosphere in which it becomes possible and far more likely.)
A. A Call To Preparation (P) - Humility - This word has the idea of being "under another". One of the things God's people must do is remember Who is Lord! When we humble ourselves to the Lord, we are acknowledging His Lordship and headship in our lives. We are admitting our weakness and reaching out for His power. We are saying I can't, but you can! (Illustration. This is the picture seen in Joshua 5:13-15. Joshua is told to remove his shoe. This was an ancient way of symbolizing the relinquishing of control to another. It was a way of saying "I can't, but you can." It is also seen in Ruth 4:5-8.) Those who willingly humble themselves under the hand of the Lord open their lives to His blessings - Matt. 23:12; James 4:6; James 4:10; 1 Pet. 5:5-6. Please note that our humility is to be voluntary! If we do not humble ourselves, there may come a day when the Lord will do it for us. His methods are not always the most pleasant!
B. A Call To Prayer (P) - Prayer - This word means just what it says - pray! It is, in essence, humility in action. The praying person sees his own inability and recognizes God's ability. This causes him to come before the Lord to seek the help he needs. Prayer is an essential ingredient in the mystery of revival! In fact, our praying may seem weak, but it will yield far more fruit than the effort demands! (Ill. "Pastor John Ramsey had grown accustomed to someone providing him with a rose boutonniere every Sunday. That routine took on dramatic new meaning when a young boy approached him after the service and politely asked if he could have the little rose. Ramsey knew the flower was destined for the trash so he offered it to the boy and asked what he planned to do with the used rose. The little guy replied, "Sir, I'm going to give it to my granny. My parents got divorced last year. I was living with my mother, but when she got married again she wanted me to live with my father. I lived with him for a while, but he said I couldn't stay so he sent me to live with my grandmother. She is so good to me. She cooks for me and takes care of me. She has been so good to me that I want to give that pretty flower to her for loving me." Ramsey said tears filled his eyes as he listened to the little boy. He then told the compassionate boy, "You can't have this flower because it's not enough." He pointed to the large spray of fresh flowers at the altar and said, "Please take those flowers to your granny because she deserves the very best." The little boy lit up with excitement and said, "What a wonderful day! I asked for one flower but got a beautiful bouquet." Our approach to God is not unlike what took place that day with this child and Pastor Ramsey. We come in our pain, seeking a small response to our situation, but God points to a greater answer and invites us to take that instead.")
Therefore, let us determine that we will pray for revival! Pray in your homes, in your cars, at you jobs, in the prayer rooms, in the altars. Let us determine that we will take every moment of life as an opportunity to pray! James 4:2; John 14:13-14; Phil. 4:6; 1 Thes. 5:17. More could be said about prayer, but instead of talking about it, we should just do it!
C. A Call To Passion (P) - Devotion - The third requirement is that of "seeking His face". This word means to "desire something earnestly". This idea here is that we come to the place where God is the number one priority and desire of our heart! That is, nothing in life is more important, more precious or more needful to us than having God and all He has to offer.
(Illustration. Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (121-180) said - "The true worth of a man is to be measured by the objects he pursues." What has your attention this day? Whatever it is, that is your priority! It is, in effect, your God! May we determine that we will "have no other gods before Him." May we determine that our love for Him will drive us to pursue Him with every fiber of our beings. When we do, we open the door to His best just a little bit wider.) (Ill. A.W. Tozer said, "If we yearned after God even as much as a cow yearns for her calf, we would be the worshiping and effective believers God wants us to be. If we longed for God as a bride looks forward to the return of her husband, we would be a far greater force for God than we are now.")
One of the problems with the modern church is that we have ceased to desire God. Often we have many pursuits in life and are so fragmented in our devotions that we have no place for a first place (the Lord) in our lives. May that attitude die the death it has long deserved! May the people of God once again fall in love with God to the point that He becomes the focus and the driving force of all of life!
D. A Call To Purity (P) - Repentance - The phrase "turn from their wicked ways" is self explanatory! God wants His people to stop their sinning! We are to examine our lives, identify anything that does not please the Lord or line up with His Bible, and we are to eliminate that from our lives! It sounds harder than it is, because as we humble ourselves, pray and seek His face, our sin will become increasingly clear.
(Ill. Gordon MacDonald offers the following thoughts on repentance, "Repentance is not basically a religious word. It comes from a culture where people were essentially nomadic and lived in a world with no maps or street signs. It's easy to get lost walking through the desert. You become aware that the country side is strange. You finally say to yourself, I'm going in the wrong direction. That's the first act of repentance. The second act of repentance is to go in an alternate direction. It implies that you not only do this but you admit it to your companions.")
We do not like words like repentance. They have the tendency to make us feel as though our lives are lacking in some area or the other. The fact is, before revival can come to a people, that people must be clean! They must be practicing repentance at every level. This is God's command, Isa. 55:7; Eze. 18:31; Acts 17:30.
Friends, we might as well acknowledge the truth that we are guilty, 1 John 1:8-10. That is, after all, the first step in getting right with God!
(Ill. This was the command to the church at Ephesus, Rev. 2:1-7, and it is still God's will for you and me today!)
ll. REAL REVIVAL PROVIDES (P) REAL REWARDS
(Illustration. If we will meet the requirements, then we create an atmosphere in which we can experience some tremendous spiritual rewards from the hand of the Lord.)
A. God Will Hear Us - Sin hinders prayer, Psa. 66:18. However, when sin is taken care of, prayer can flow unhindered to and from the throne of God! There is no more powerful force in the world than an unhindered prayer life! Why? Because it has the ear of God and is used by Him to accomplish His will upon the earth. Ill. Luke 11:2.
B. God Will Help Us - God also promises to "forgive our sins". This means that not only is the prayer line restored, but it means that we can be in close fellowship with Him. Nothing in this world compares with being able to have close communion with God Almighty! The ability to come into His presence, to worship Him, to sense His power, His peace, His joy and His presence is priceless! (Note: If you have allowed a cancer of sin to grow in your life, you need to know that it can be cut out and destroyed. If you will come before the Lord and deal with your sin His way, He will respond in forgiveness and restoration, 1 John 1:9. Like the Prodigal Son, you will find that your Father will receive you and restore you through His amazing grace, Luke 15:11-24.
C. God Will Heal Us - This great verse was given to Israel. They were warned that their sins would be answered by the Lord through drought. This would devastate their land and their population. However, the Lord's promise to them is that repentance equals rain. If they will honor Him, He will honor them! If they will open their hearts, He will in turn open the heavens. In a sense, we are in the same situation today. Our homes, communities and nation have been devastated through a drought of spiritual blessings and power. If God's children will come back to Him in genuine repentance and faith, we will see our nation impacted for and by the glory of God. We need that kind of revival!
III. REAL REVIVAL YIELDS REAL RESULTS
A. Notice that the condition and the promise are given to "God's people". However, when the refreshing comes it would reach the entire nation. The implication is clear: Genuine revival affects those revived and all those around them!
B. If we, as a people, experience a true move of God in revival, we will see God's power touch this world in a tremendous way! Revival in our hearts and church will create a spiritual dynamic that will impact our homes, our communities, our schools, our neighbors, our nation and our world for the glory of God!
C. I don't know about you, but I am tired of seeing what sin is doing to our homes, our churches and our nation! Would you pray to God that His people would get a real vision of what He could do for us and through us in revival. Would you pray to God that we would pay the price to see that take place! If real revival ever came to our lives, we would never be the same! It would change us and everything we touch too! (Illustration. It might be any type of need you can think of, but real revival can remedy that need through the power of God. He promises to "heal YOUR land".)
Revival is a real possibility!
However, while genuine revival is always sovereign in its origin, we can create an atmosphere where it becomes more likely. In that atmosphere, while genuine revival is not a guaranteed event, at least on a corporate level, it will become a reality on a personal level!
The key word in this verse is the word "If". Everything hinges on us being in that place that God desires for us to abide in. If we will meet the requirements on our end, we can be sure that God will move on His end.
Revival will happen to us as individuals "if". Are you willing to consider a few questions before you leave today?
If the Lord has spoken to your heart today about your need for personal revival, or the need for revival in our church, please come before Him right now and get about the business of meeting the requirements!
2 Chron. 7 - EW Commentary
4. (11) Conclusion: the work successfully accomplished.
Thus Solomon finished the house of the LORD and the king's house; and Solomon successfully accomplished all that came into his heart to make in the house of the LORD and in his own house.
a. Thus Solomon finished the house of the LORD and the king's house: 1 Kings 7 goes into more detail about Solomon's palace. It seems that his palace was even more spectacular than the temple, based on the number of years it took him to build it.
b. Solomon successfully accomplished all that came into his heart: It was the end of a well done job, a job that began with Solomon's father David.
B. God appears to Solomon again.
1. (12-16) The assurance of answered prayer from the temple.
Then the LORD appeared to Solomon by 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 heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence 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 will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place.
a. The LORD appeared to Solomon by night: This was actually the second great appearance of God to Solomon (1 Kings 9:1-2). The first is described in 1 Kings 3:5-9. It was good of God to appear to Solomon the first time; it was even better of God to grant a unique appearance to Solomon the second time.
b. I have heard your prayer: The great prayer of Solomon in 1 Kings 8 meant nothing unless God heard the prayer. The true measure of our prayer is if God in heaven answers the prayer. This answer seems to have come many years after the actual dedication of the temple. Yet God also gave Solomon an immediate answer of approval at the time of dedication, when the sacrifices were consumed with fire from heaven (2 Chr 7:1-7).
c. Have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice: The building was Solomon's work, done in the power and inspiration of the LORD. The consecration of the building was God's work. Solomon could build a building, but only God could hallow it with His presence.
d. If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face: This wonderful promise is in the context of God's promise to answer prayer from the temple which He chose to hallow with His presence. God promised something special to Israel when they did humble themselves and did pray and seek God's face.
d. And turn from their wicked ways: This great promise of answered prayer in 2 Chronicles 7:14 also includes the condition of repentance. As the people of God humble themselves, pray and seek the face of God, they must also turn from their wicked ways. It wasn't enough to merely turn their heart to God; they must also turn their life to God.
f. Then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land: God simply promises to hear the prayer of his humble, prayerful, seeking, repentant people. He will bring forgiveness to His people and healing to their land.
ii. "Healing throughout the Old Testament has a mixture of spiritual and physical applications. Sometimes healing is specifically equated with forgiveness (e.g. Hosea 14:4; Isaiah 53:5, 57:18-19; Psalm 41:5); at other times it relates to physical healing (e.g. Genesis 20:17; Numbers 13:20; 2 Kings 20:5, 8). When it is applied to the land, as here, it can refer to bringing the exiles back to the Promised Land (Jeremiah 30:17; 33:6-7) or restoring the land and its people to peace and security (Jeremiah 33:6; Isaiah 57:19)." (Selman)
g. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place: God promised a special attention to the prayers offered from the temple which Solomon, the son of David built. We can be much more confident of His attention to our prayers when we offer them in the name of Jesus, the Son of David. He is better access to God than even the temple was.
h. My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually: "The idea of God having a heart is extremely rare in the Bible, and only other explicit reference speaks of God suffering heart pains because of the evil of humanity (Genesis 6:6; cf. also Genesis 8:21; 1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22). . . It is hard to think of a more intimate way to indicate God's nearness, or a greater encouragement to prayer." (Selman)
2. (19-21) God's warning to Solomon.
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. 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.'"
b. But if you turn away and forsake My statutes and My commandments... then I will uproot them: The positive promise is followed by a negative promise. If Solomon or his descendants turn away and forsake God and His word, then God promised to correct a disobedient Israel.
c. And this house which I have sanctified for My name I will cast out of My sight: God answered to Solomon's prayer was not an unqualified promise to bless the temple in any circumstance. God blessed the temple and filled it with the glory of His presence, but he would cast it out of His sight if the kings of Israel forsook the LORD. With such a glorious temple, Israel would be tempted to forsake the God of the temple and make an idol of the temple of God. Here the LORD made them know that He could never bless this error.
d. Will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples... everyone who passes by it will be astonished: Under the Old Covenant, God promised to use Israel to exalt Himself among the nations one way or another. If Israel obeyed He would bless them so much that others had to recognize the hand of God upon Israel. If Israel disobeyed He would chastise them so severely that the nations would be astonished at the hard work of God among His disobedient people, and they would know that the LORDhas brought all this calamity on them.
i. "The manner in which these disobedient people have been destroyed is truly astonishing: no nation was every so highly favoured, and none ever so severely and signally punished." (Clarke)
2 Chron. 7:14 - EXTR ACOMMENTARY (Got Questions)
The key to understanding any verse of Scripture is context. There is the immediate context-the verses before and after it, as well as the larger context of Scripture-how the verse fits into the overall story. There is also the historical and cultural context-how the verse was understood by its original audience in light of their history and culture. Because context is so important, a verse whose meaning and application seem straightforward when quoted in isolation may mean something significantly different when it is taken in context.
When approaching 2 Chronicles 7:14, one must first consider the immediate context. After Solomon dedicated the temple, the Lord appeared to him and gave him some warnings and reassurances. "The Lord appeared to him at night and said: 'I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices.' 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."
The immediate context of 2 Chronicles 7:14 shows that the verse is tied up with Israel and the temple and the fact that from time to time God might send judgment upon the land in the form of drought, locusts, or pestilence.
A few verses later God says this: "But if you turn away and forsake the decrees and commands I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, then I will uproot Israel from my land, which I have given them, and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. I will make it a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples. This temple will become a heap of rubble. All who pass by will be appalled and say, 'Why has the Lord done such a thing to this land and to this temple?' People will answer, 'Because they have forsaken the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who brought them out of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, worshiping and serving them-that is why he brought all this disaster on them.'"
No doubt Solomon would have recognized this warning as a reiteration of Deuteronomy 28. God had entered into a covenant with Israel and promised to take care of them and cause them to prosper as long as they obeyed him. He also promised to bring curses upon them if they failed to obey. Because of the covenant relationship, there was a direct correspondence between their obedience and their prosperity, and their disobedience and their hardship. Deuteronomy 28 spells out the blessings for obedience and the curses for disobedience. Again, divine blessing and divine punishment on Israel were conditional on their obedience or disobedience.
We see this blessing and cursing under the Law play out in the book of Judges. Judges chapter 2 is often referred to as "The Cycle of the Judges." Israel would fall into sin. God would send another nation to judge them. Israel would repent and call upon the Lord. The Lord would raise up a judge to deliver them. They would serve the Lord for a while and then fall back into sin again. And the cycle would continue.
In 2 Chronicles 7, the Lord simply reminds Solomon of the previous agreement. If Israel obeys, they will be blessed. If they disobey, they will be judged. The judgment is meant to bring Israel to repentance, and God assures Solomon that, if they will be humble, pray, and repent, then God will deliver them from the judgment.
In context 2 Chronicles 7:14 is a promise to ancient Israel (and perhaps even modern-day Israel) that, if they will repent and return to the Lord, He will rescue them. However, many Christians in the United States have taken this verse as a rallying cry for America. (Perhaps Christians in other countries have done so as well.) In this interpretation, Christians are the people who are called by God's name. If Christians will humble themselves, pray, seek God's face, and repent, then God will heal their land-often a moral and political healing is in view as well as economic healing. The question is whether or not this is a proper interpretation/application.
The first problem that the modern-day, "Westernized" interpretation encounters is that the United States does not have the same covenant relationship with God that ancient Israel enjoyed. The covenant with Israel was unique and exclusive. The terms that applied to Israel simply did not apply to any other nation, and it is improper for these terms to be co-opted and applied to a different nation.
Some might object that Christians are still called by God's name and in some ways have inherited the covenant with Israel-and this may be true to some extent. Certainly, if a nation is in trouble, a prayerful and repentant response by Christians in that nation is always appropriate. However, there is another issue that is often overlooked.
When ancient Israel repented and sought the Lord, they were doing so en masse. The nation as a whole repented. Obviously not every single Israelite repented and prayed, but still it was national repentance. There was never any indication that a small minority of the nation (a righteous remnant) could repent and pray and that the fate of the entire nation would change. God promised deliverance when the entire nation repented.
When 2 Chronicles 7:14 is applied to Christians in the U.S. or any other modern nation, it is usually with the understanding that the Christians in that nation-the true believers in Jesus Christ who have been born again by the Spirit of God-will comprise the righteous remnant. God never promised that if a righteous remnant repents and prays for their nation, that the nation will be saved. Perhaps if national repentance occurred, then God would spare a modern nation as He spared Nineveh at the preaching of Jonah (see Jonah 3)-but that is a different issue.
Having said that, it is never wrong to confess our sins and pray-in fact it is our duty as believers to continuously confess and forsake our sins so that they will not hinder us (Hebrews 12:1) and to pray for our nation and those in authority (1 Timothy 2:1-2). It may be that God in His grace will bless our nation as a result-but there is no guarantee of national deliverance. Even if God did use our efforts to bring about national repentance and revival, there is no guarantee that the nation would be politically or economically saved. As believers, we are guaranteed personal salvation in Christ (Romans 8:1), and we are also guaranteed that God will use us to accomplish His purposes, whatever they may be. It is our duty as believers to live holy lives, seek God, pray, and share the gospel knowing that all who believe will be saved, but the Bible does not guarantee the political, cultural, or economic salvation of our nation.