Day 37 2 Chronicles 7:11-22
Beginning in the fifth chapter of 2 Chronicles, we read about the completion of the temple in Jerusalem under the direction of King Solomon. There was great ceremony. Sacrifices like none before or since were offered to the Lord. King Solomon dedicated the temple and offered a sincere prayer. We read how God responded, at one point even filling the temple with a cloud of glory so amazing that the priests could not even perform their service (2 Chronicles 5:13-14).
When it was all said and done – all of the praises and the prayers – the Lord appeared to Solomon at night and responded to all that the king and the people had done. He begins by telling Solomon that God has heard his prayer and has chosen Solomon’s temple as the temple for sacrifices (2 Chronicles 7:12). The Lord then proceeded to talk about what would occur when the people became disobedient. It would be judgment such as the withholding of rain or the sending of locusts or plagues. Then God shared three “ifs” with Solomon – three situations and their consequences that would happen between God and His people.
The latter two “ifs” were personally meant for Solomon. God told him what would happen if he walked with God like David his father. God would establish his rule in Israel. But the second “if” spoken to Solomon was the consequence should Solomon turn to other gods. It was a reminder of the huge responsibility Solomon had not only for himself, but for all those under his rule.
We may or may not be able to relate to these two “ifs”, but the “if” God shared before them was meant for all the people. It includes the very familiar words of 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 will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” It is conditional. It is and “if…then” situation And it begins with an awareness that the people had put themselves in a bad position because of sins they had committed (see verse 13).
“If my people” may have referred to the nation of Israel when God spoke to Solomon, but we can now read them as referring to those who have accepted the new covenant through Jesus Christ. We are called by His name. We can read God’s words and, based on the whole tenor of Scripture, see how they apply to us today.
So, “if” we humble ourselves, pray, seek God’s face and turn from our wicked ways, we also can see God fulfilling the “then” of His words. Then God will hear us, forgive us and even heal our land. So much of life is conditional. If we do this, then that happens. While we may not like how so many outcomes hinge on what we first do, it is a reality of life – a reality that is often realized in our relationship with Christ.
But is there really anything negative in the “if…then” relationship we see in 2 Chronicles 7:14? For us to humble ourselves and pray is a means to drawing closer to God. The more we seek God, the less we find ourselves falling into sin. Everything God expects of us in this verse is for our benefit and the promise of God when we do these things is more than we deserve!
We know that the relationship between God and the people of Israel – “God’s people” – was a rocky one. We know from Scripture how they would often forget to humble themselves and seek God’s face. We know that the consequences of their sinful actions during these times were filled with sorrow and pain. If we, then, are the people of God today, why would we choose to follow their example rather than follow the example of our Lord or even the example set by the first century Church? Rather, let us meditate on God’s words in 2 Chronicles 7:14 – humble ourselves, pray, seek the face of God and turn from our sinful ways – and cling to the promises God offers in return.