2 Chronicles 7:14 - …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 will heal their land.
Good News Bad News
The Lord was pleased with the Temple Solomon had completed. God said he would take up residence there to receive sacrifices. Then something a little strange happened, at least from our perspective. God mysteriously changed the tone of his words to Solomon by telling him he may shut up the heavens to prevent rain from falling. Or, he may command locusts to devour the land. Or, he may even send a plague on “his own” people (v. 13). It wasn’t good.
It’s hard to understand where God was coming from here. All Israel had just celebrated the dedication of the Temple, the assembling of which, was a community project. And then we get those sobering words in verse 13.
Whatever God’s reasons were, we know this for sure: The sins of a covenant people against the Holy One was no trifle to be winked at. It was a great offense. But our gracious Lord offered hope in verse 14. He declared that when these calamities befall his covenant people, there would be something they could do.
Four Steps of Repentance
First, his people were to humble themselves. There was no room for pride and self-dependence here. Instead, God’s people were to fall on their faces before God as an act of spiritual poverty and brokenness. They had neither strength nor wisdom in and of themselves. God was then, and remains now, the Source for all that and more.
They were also commanded to pray. Prayers of adoration to God, confession of sin, expressions of their helplessness, and complete dependence upon their sovereign God would be a good place to start.
Next, they were to seek the face of God. Imagine that great Day when we will behold the face of God. It is that face which we are to pursue in this life. Therefore, we need to cultivate the character of God in our lives, trust him alone, follow his commands, seek his presence, and enter into intimate communion with him.
God also said his people must turn from their wicked ways. The rest of the chapter gives us a glimpse of what those wicked ways looked like: God’s people had been turning away from and forsaking God and his decrees, as well as serving other gods and worshipping them. This is wickedness in the sight of God and is why God said he might bring disaster on his own people (v. 22). God’s people were to abandon such spiritual adultery at once. That’s repentance.
Forgiveness and Healing Await
If God’s people humbled themselves, prayed, sought God’s face, and turned from their wicked ways, God promised to hear them, forgive their sin, and heal their land.
Ours is a land in desperate need of healing. Whether it’s our country, culture, local church, or family, there is much need for the healing power of God. But it will not come merely because we recognize the need. That’s a good first step, but more is required – genuine change – change that results in humbling oneself before God and clinging to him alone. Saturating ourselves in prayer, grieving over our transgressions and seeking his forgiveness and restoration is essential. Following hard after God – his will, commands, presence, and pleasure – should be our life’s pursuit. And biblical repentance is necessary – turning from our wicked ways and leaving them behind and turning in a Godward direction. Our prayers should include pleading with God to enable us to do just that.
We want to see our land and lives forgiven and healed. But change will have to first take place. Until then, we should expect the discipline of a loving Father – one who loves us too much to let us continue on a destructive path, and who, therefore, will do much to bring us back to the right one. Because he is holy, he will never overlook our transgressions.
And because he is gracious, God will call us away from the gods of this age. He summons us back to obedience and submission to his Lordship. And with that comes his promise to forgive us and heal our land. Thanks be to God – the great Promise-Maker and Promise-Keeper.
Which of the four steps of repentance is hardest for you? Why do you think that is? What are 2-3 ways you could make repentance a more natural part of your life? What are the positive results that would happen if you did?
Grace and Truth,
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