(Bible quotations are from the NIV unless otherwise stated)
If my people will... what?
Those of us who've been around the Christian scene for a number of years will be familiar with the text of 2 Chronicles 7:14. Over twenty years ago, many of us even went to "If My People" - the musical. But - if you're one of the many British and other Christians who once took that scripture to heart - what does it mean to you now?
If we start two verses earlier, the text is:
the LORD appeared to him [Solomon] at night and said: "I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices. "When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 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.
But I fear that many of us have reduced this down to "God will help our nation if we'll just pray more".
I'm sure that this reduced (non-Biblical, or at least inaccurate) version is true (at least in part) but surely those many thousands of us who received it as a real promise from God, should get back to remembering what it actually says, and doing it.
Can we notice first that:
It is God who sends drought, locusts and plague
I expect to have lost a few readers at that point - but that's what the text actually says.
Of course, we can find scientific or pseudo-scientific or socio-political reasons for all kinds of suffering but here's the bottom line: God is in control of all the Earth. Psalm 24:1-2 says "The earth is the LORDís, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it...". And He is a God of judgement as well as of love. Jeremiah 51:56 says "the LORD is a God of retribution; he will repay in full".
Secondly, let's see that the fundamental requirement for the healing of our land's problems is not better government or better education or better heathcare or better criminal justice. Rather, all these things are the result of God's blessing. What we need is for GOD to hear from heaven and ...forgive [our] sin and... heal [our] land .
Thirdly, let's see that God has promised to come as a response to the actions of His people - the Christians. And it follows that:
The state of our country is fundamentally the responsibility
Fourthly, let's realise that God's people are called to do four things - not one. It's more than an encouragement to pray a bit more. God promises to heal our land if we:
Since this is what we are told to do, and since the promise of God is healing for our land if we do it, let's consider seriously what these instructions mean: