Why 2 Chronicles 7:14 Doesn’t Apply Today

Posted on October 20, 2020


By David Ettinger

Misapplied Verse
For as long as I have been a Christian (since 1986), I have heard many sermons centered on 2 Chronicles 7:14. Every one of these sermons has been well thought out and well-intended, but not scripturally accurate.

In other words, the reason for appropriating this verse is noble and sincere, but I don’t believe its precise meaning applies.

2 Chronicles 7:14 reads: “and [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, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

 The Context
The chapter is 2 Chronicles 7, the year is 759 B.C., and King Solomon has just completed constructing Israel’s magnificent Temple in Jerusalem. A spectacular ceremony filled with exultant music and multitudinous burnt offerings highlighted the festivities, and now God is ready to respond (vv. 1-6). However, He does not do so at the ceremony, but that night, and to an audience of just one – Solomon (v. 12a).

The Lord begins by saying: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice” (v. 12b). This is an encouraging start, however, the Lord takes an unexpected turn when He says: “If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people” (v. 13). Why would the Lord say this? Basically, He is foretelling the future; you can easily change the “ifs” in v. 13 to “whens.” God is addressing Israel at a coming time of disobedience, a time when He will be forced to discipline them. In this case, God will do so by cursing the land, a stipulation of the Mosaic Covenant (Leviticus 26:18-20; Numbers 28:18; 23-24; 38-40).

In this scenario, God tells Israel in v. 14 what they must do to appease Him, and what He will do in return: “and [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, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Key Phrases
Let’s look at three key phrases. The first is “my people,” which is used 217 times in the Bible, and just about every time God utters it, it refers to the very specific nation of Israel. In fact, the Lord often expands this phrase to read, “My people Israel” (1 Samuel 9:16; Jeremiah 12:4; Ezekiel 36:8).  

The second is “called by My name.” This simply means to “belong to God.” This of course refers to the Israelites, but is later expanded to include Gentile believers (Acts 15:14, 17).

The third is “heal their land.” This is a crucial one. Among God’s permanent promises to Israel is that of a very specific mass of land. This land mass is identified in Genesis 15:18-21, and repeated several times, notably in Exodus 23:31. This is the specific land mass God had in mind when he says, “heal their land.”

Church Application
So, can the Church reasonably “claim” this verse and expect it to be fulfilled as written?

The first problem for the Church is that the repentance being called for here is national, requiring the overwhelming majority of a nation to repent. This could not be the case today. Even if all of God’s people (Christians) in a given nation repented, this would add up to but a small portion of the population. It would hardly result in anything resembling a majority national repentance.

In order for there to be a vast majority, huge portions of nations would have to be saved, which is nowhere the case in any nation on Earth. Don’t forget, those being called upon to repent are “My people” “who are called by My name.”

A second problem for the Church is God’s promise to heal the land. Again, this was a very specific promise made to the only nation on Earth – Israel – with whom God ever made a covenant. He never made a covenant with any other nation. He is under no obligation to heal any nation’s land.

A third problem is, why would the Church need to repent? Yes, individual Christians need to repent of their sins, but why would the Church as a whole need to repent? In other words, yes, a large portion of the Church is backsliding, but a large portion, as well, is not backsliding. Are so many Christians behaving so wickedly as to bring judgment upon their nations? Don’t forget, God is calling those “who are called by My name” to “turn from their wicked ways.”

Are huge numbers of Christians (those today “who are called by My name”) really behaving so wickedly as to warrant national repentance and bringing punishment upon their nations? Unbelievers are the ones doing this, not God’s people.

A fourth problem concerns God’s part of the bargain. Even if all BELIEVERS in a nation repent, why would God be obligated to heal and forgive the entire NATION for the actions (repentance) of the small minority? In other words, if a nation has a population of 50 million, and 3 million are believers, is God obligated to heal the entire nation based on that small minority? Of course not.

Based on the above, the Church cannot reasonably apply 2 Chronicles 7:14 to a modern-day context.

However …
The heart and intent of 2 Chronicles 7:14 is sound, noble, and lofty. Christians should always be praying for forgiveness and revival – individual and national. God will always look favorably upon such petitions, and will respond to them as He sees fit.

Read my follow-up: “My 2 Chronicles 7:14 Blog: Addendum