2Chronicles 7:14 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.
How It Is Usually Interpreted
Of all the verses in Scripture, 2Chronicles 7:14 is most certainly overused and taken out of its context. Typically, it is heard in revival meetings and is commonly applied in one of two ways: (1) either a healing of the land in a political sense (i.e., if we elect “godly” leaders the Lord will heal our land of abortion, sodomy, etc.) or (2) a complete physical healing of the land, meaning that God will no longer send drought, famine, diseases, or other ailments that effect our country’s well-being.
Like all other Scripture, 2Chronicles 7:l4 has a context. But before we examine the context, we must examine how to rightly claim a promise given to us in Scripture. There are certain principles that guide us in rightly claiming a promise of God. Five specific questions should be asked of the promise under consideration:
- Is the promise Law or Gospel? That is, does the promise come attached with threatnings if not adhered to or blessings if kept? Often times, these types of promises have to do with God’s blessings of prosperity or poverty, sickness or health, or the general well-being of the person, nation, or land to which the promise is tied.
- Is the promise directed nationally/corporately or individualistic? Many times promises are meant for specific groups of people and sometimes they are meant to be internalized personally.
- Is the promise under a specific covenant? This has major implications. If a promise is meant to be for a specific or certain person under a specific covenant, we cannot rightly claim it as a promise for ourselves.
- Is this promise applicable today? If so, how? There are some promises made under the covenants which can be applied, most times in a spiritual sense. For example, the promise of the Seed of Abraham, which is Jesus, is obviously a promise all can claim. Most times these types of promises will be expounded upon in the epistles or in the Gospels as fulfillments of prophecy.
- If it is an old covenant promise, how does it translate in our modern context? This last question requires that we go beyond the narrative and seek out the theological principles behind the promise. It also requires that we be skilled in understanding how to apply these promises instead of taking it out of context in which the original audience would have understood.
When we ask these questions, it can help us sort through the interpretive pond.
In order to understand how to rightly interpret 2Chronicles 7:14, we must have the full context. Verse 14 is God’s response to an earlier prayer made by Solomon going back to chapter 13:14 and lasting to the end of the chapter. This is too long a portion to paste into this post but I have included the link so that you can read the entire portion for yourself.
However there are four key things to note about Solomon’s prayer and God’s response to that prayer.
First, it is a prayer of dedication for the temple. The temple in Jerusalem would contain the actual presence of God, as the ark of the covenant would exist there. This is an important piece of information as we will examine later.
Second, Solomon’s prayer is in response to the covenant made with Israel. The same language both Solomon and Yahweh use is indicative to the language of God’s covenant with Israel upon bringing them into the land. You will find a cross reference sheet below that you can download in order to compare Solomon’s prayer with that of the initial covenant made by God. You will also find a PDF of a harmony of Kings & Chronicles as they are parallel accounts
Third, the major portion of the prayer deals with repentance from apostasy. Most people recognize this prayer is a prayer of repentance. But most ignore or don’t realize it is specifically dealing with the apostasy of God’s people. The prayer is a confession and return to God after complete abandonment. The Hebrew word used shows this in its context as seen below.
It is not simply a prayer of confessing sin so that God would bring healing to their land once again. Solomon’s prayer and God’s response deal with a complete abandonment of the faith.
Fourth, the promise of 2Chronicles 7:14 is a promise of restoration from exile. We noted in our first point that Solomon’s prayer was a dedicatory prayer for the temple. We stated that it was a key piece of information and now we come to why it is. In Solomon’s portion of the prayer, he states that when God’s people pray towards the city He has chosen and the house (i.e., temple) He has chosen that the Lord forgive their sins and restore them. Note particularly the highlighted portions.
This is too specific to ignore. Solomon’s prayer is parallel to the promises and threats contained within the Mosaic Law, and in particular Leviticus 26:40-42. The language he uses is the same God uses in response to Solomon. This passage cannot be used as a promise of restoration for American soil or any other land, for that matter. But there is an application that can be made.
Application of the Text
The prayer and the promise is tied to apostasy and God’s restoration in response to the apostates’ prayer. This is how the original audience would have understood it. Therefore, we must apply these theological questions (question #5 above) in order to find the application of this verse.
God is gracious and merciful to His people, the Church. We often become disillusioned about who God is and what He should do for us. This may cause some to walk away from God and apostatize. But because God is faithful to His new covenant in Jesus Christ, those who humble themselves and pray and seek [God’s] face and turn from their wicked ways, God is faithful and just to forgive them of all their sins and restore them again unto the land of fellowship with Him through the atoning work of His Son. To God be the glory!