Weekly Devotional 4-9-18
The Danger of Misapplying 2nd Chronicles 7:14
“14if 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).
Many pastors and teachers today use these words as an attempt to persuade their congregants to lead a godlier life, but does this verse apply to the church as it did to Israel during Solomon’s time? Certainly, the God of Israel is the God of the church, and just as God forgave the sin of Israel when they turned to Him, He forgives the redeemed of the church when we turn humbly to him. But does He heal the land of the church? Certainly, the mentioned pastors and/or teachers are well intended and truly are attempting to lead their listeners to a more holy life, an admirable pursuit, but is the passage applicable to that intention? When the verse is read in context, it is clear that God was addressing the nation of Israel. Even though the church was ever in His mind, God would not establish it until many centuries later.
We read from the context in which our verse is found; “11Thus 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. 12Then 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. 13When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, 14if 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. 15Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place.16For 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.17As 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, 18then 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.’ ’19But 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, 20then 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. 21And 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?’ 22Then 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’” (2ndChronicles 7:11-22).
In this passage, God is expressly addressing Solomon and the children of Israel. If His people (Israel) will hear His voice and humble themselves, He will forgive their sin and heal their land. This concept was not new to them. In many instances, God issued conditional covenants. In this case, if Israel would honor God, He would bless them. If they did not honor and worship Him, He would bring chastisement upon them. (The Book of Deuteronomy gives an account of these promised blessings and chastisements.)
For the most part, the blessings of the Old Testament consisted of earthly blessings rather than spiritual blessings in the same way as promised to the church of the New Testament. Certain ones of Israel did enjoy spiritual blessings as well as earthly or temporal prosperity, but not the nation as a whole. Men such as Moses, Joshua, Solomon, and many of the prophets enjoyed these spiritual blessings. Also, the land of Israel had boundaries. The church is universal and encompasses the entire earth. The boundaries of Israel are given in Genesis 13.14-18 and 15.18-21.
13.14-18; 14And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him: “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are–northward, southward, eastward, and westward; 15for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever. 16And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered. 17Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you.”
15.18-21; “18On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying: “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates–19the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites, 20the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.”
The church has no such boundaries. The Greek word for church is “ekklesia,” a verb that means to call out. In Matthew 18:16, Jesus said He would build His church, and Paul in Galatians 3:28 testified that the church is comprised of both Jews and Gentiles. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Jesus Christ.” The church is universal, worldwide.
If the healing of the land referred to in 2 Chronicles 7:14 is also applicable to the church, it must have a universal application because the church is universal. The church is the body of Christ on earth. If the church has a land, it must be worldwide; it must be universal.
The church is universal, but not all lands of the church are blessed. Many countries suffer severe droughts, and some are ravaged by storms, and others are under persecution of war. God has greatly blessed our country, the United States, but even it has suffered great calamity, such as the state of Louisiana recently. The hurricane Katrina devastated much of the city of New Orleans even though there were many faithful Christians living there. The healing of the church’s land is centralized to certain areas, certain countries, but not universally. We recognize that our country has been blessed beyond measure, but at the same time other parts of the world, where Christians also live, are under great oppression and suppression. There has been no healing of their land, yet the Christians (His people, who are called by His name) of those countries have humbled themselves, having repented of their sin and have called out to Him. Those who claim that 2 Chronicles 7:14 is applicable to the Church, which has no boundaries, must address this contradiction if they are to be credible.
The Danger of Making 2 Chronicles 7:14 applicable to the Church leads to misunderstanding of Scripture, which ends in false doctrine. Satan uses false doctrine to his advantage, keeping many from the truth and weakening the faith of others. The misinterpretation and misapplication of 2 Chronicles 7:14 will eventually lead to doubt and confusion, and confusion breeds misunderstanding, resentment, and eventual animosity towards one another. Satan, being a reactionary, jumps into this with both feet.
There is always a danger of misunderstanding God’s purposes for Israel and the church. Both have been called to be witnesses, but not simultaneously. God worked through Israel for a period and will again during the tribulation. Today, God uses the church. God blessed Israel with physical blessings as a testimony of His relationship with them. Today, God blesses the church with spiritual blessings. He dwelt with Israel, but today dwells within each individual of the church. He protected Israel and gave them victory over their enemies when they worshipped Him and were obedient. No such promise is made to the church. In fact, Jesus said that the church would be persecuted for faithfulness to Him, even to the point of death.
If we fail to recognize that God dealt differently with Israel than He does the church, we may look for those same blessings promised and granted to them. When those blessings are not realized, it is possible that a person could question his or her relationship with Christ.
It is not always possible to apply God’s promises for Israel to the church of today; including the promises mentioned in 2 Chronicles 7:14. Israel, through the prophets, was promised a return of and to the Promised Land. The church is promised a catching away to heaven. Israel has been forewarned that it will go through the tribulation. The Lord Jesus Christ promised the possessing church that He would keep it from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.
In conclusion; God has established divisions of times and purposes for people and governments, and for Israel and the church.
Transforming Power; The Work of God on Behalf of Man
All Scripture used is from the NKJB