Written by Paul J. Bucknell on June, 17, 2019
2 Chronicles 6 and 7:12-15 Revival & Prayer!
God uniquely appeared to Solomon two times. During the first time, upon his private worship at Gibeon, Solomon touched God’s heart by the many sacrifices that Solomon offered to God. “In that night God appeared before Solomon and said to him, “Ask what I shall give you” (2 Chr 1:7). King Solomon became renown for humbly asking for wisdom to rightly rule over the people.
But God comes again to Solomon, this time in front of all the people at the dedication of the new temple that he, David’s son, had completed building for the Lord. Before the Lord sent fire down from heaven to burn up the sacrifices, Solomon had made an even more significant and long prayer (2 Chr 6:14-42). The king had the foresight to establish a prayer protocol if the people sinned and suffered drastic consequences from the Lord to call them back to Himself. Solomon, in his prayer, repeatedly set up various scenarios before the Lord, asking that if they so suffered due to their sin, but they humbly came back to the Lord crying out for His help and facing the temple, then the Lord would hear their prayers and heal them. Later in chapter 7, we see God specifically respond to King Solomon’s extensive prayer providing for a recovery network.
The Lord first appeared to all by burning up the sacrifices by a fire from heaven (2 Chr 7:1-3), but “Then the Lord appeared to Solomon at night and said to him, “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice” (2 Chr 7:12). This dramatic setting forms the basis of our discussion on revival and the two requests King Solomon had brought before the Lord.
God’s Promise of Revival to Solomon (2 Chronicles 7:12-15)
Solomon asked for two things. The first was for royal descendants; the second sought the Lord to be attentive to the prayers of His people, especially when they are in desperate situations.
2 Chronicles 7:12-15 is where the Lord records King Solomon’s second request, the one for revival. God first starts answering King Solomon by telling Solomon that He heard his prayer. God had chosen the temple as the place for Himself as a house of sacrifice (7:12).
“Then the LORD appeared to Solomon at night and said to him, “I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice” (2 Chr 7:12).
God chose to answer Solomon’s second request first in the famously quoted 2 Chronicles 7:14 verse, “And 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.” To clarify the Lord’s promise, it’s important to understand three underlying truths.
(1) My People
(2) Our Responsibility
(3) God’s Judgment
(1) My People
The people of God often forget the importance of being called God’s people which is due to our shallow understanding of God’s covenant. We might use the word ‘covenant’ to refer to the Old and New Testament but never realize that testament is the same word for covenant and therefore have never reflected on its fundamental deeper meaning. All we know about being a Christian is that we believe and are forgiven. We have not understood that our relationship with God is established within a covenant relationship. Perhaps it is like being married for so long that one forgets the actual taking of the oath establishing one’s marriage.
We will not get into the full ramifications of this word covenant, but only briefly introduce it. When God speaks of “My people,” He is clearly not talking about any person who comes to His temple or church.
He speaks, in the New Testament era, about those who through faith in Christ have entered His New Covenant. We enter the covenant through Christ’s blood (see Book of Hebrews) and from being part of this covenant become God’s people in which He binds us to Himself. The Old Covenant (same as Old Testament) is what made God so attentive to Solomon’s prayer. Note what he said in 2 Chronicles 6:11.
“And there I have set the ark, in which is the covenant of the LORD, which He made with the sons of Israel” (2 Chronicles 6:11).
Inside the ark were the two stone tablets first given to Moses, recording the basic covenant oath of God. Being a holy God, He takes it upon Himself to make sure that we, His people, are holy and righteous. Unfortunately, many Christians think only Christ’s righteousness is necessary. However, it is clear that God is greatly concerned with our practical holiness (2 Cor 6:16-17). We only need to think of discipline (Hebrews 12) or examination at communion to observe how some people have actually died because they did not take this topic of holiness seriously.
For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself, if he does not judge the body rightly. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep (1 Corinthians 11:29-30).
In fact, God is willing to make a trade that we are not very keen on. He is willing for our individual lives to suffer to develop a more holy heart and character—He is committed to making us holy.
As God’s covenant people, God pledges that He will make us holy no matter what it costs. Our personal pleasures and comforts will even be denied; even the lives of people will be taken. Remember, this is hardly the first plan of action. Each disciplinary scene has been preceded by other smaller ones, each calling “My people” to earnestly plead before God and humble their hearts. This same pattern occurs today in the New Testament era. Just think for a moment on how many times your pastor has called you to pray, but you instead watch that sport’s game or spend time with your friends?
In the case with Israel and Judah, we find that God gave them many chances. Even when sin multiplied, it was only the northern kingdom of Israel taken captured. 150 years later, however, Judah, the southern kingdom, not learning from the northern kingdom’s doom was captured by the Babylonians. The famines, the evil in the throne room, the injustice of the land, and idolatry in the temple—it’s all there recorded in the Books of 1 and 2 Kings.
I just asked a newlywed couple (just completed one year) whether he prayed with his wife. This first year of their marriage was the most memorable, but the husband hedged saying, “Yes.” With his wife’s prompting, he confessed this prayer took shape as their mealtime grace. How many times did you choose to watch pornographic and violent shows even though you were first prompted not to watch it? You knew of the Lord’s prompting but just turned your back on Him. How many times did you see your Bible but just didn’t read it—you had to do something else. We must confess that we did not respond to His tender invitations.
- Tender invitations cause us to think about how important it is to spend time with our holy God.
- Serious tragedies cause us to think of how important it is to spend time with our holy God.
In the diagram below, the bigger the circle, the more impact the judgment has on our lives. The judgments not only get bigger as time goes on but at a more frequent sequence—just like tremors before a serious earthquake. At that point, we are barely recovering from one when the next one comes upon us.
Verse 13 does not tell us exactly what God will do. It is conditional on whether we have responded to His tender invitations to share in His holiness. This morning I tried sawing logs with my gas chain saw. It just wasn’t cutting. All it produced was a little bit of fine sawdust. The cut was so slow coming that the wood and machine would heat up and spit out dust. The blades were not sharp. Even though I spent lots of time getting ready to cut wood, after a little bit of using this saw, I just gave up. I went back to my workshop and figured how I was going to get this thing properly working. After an hour of studying pamphlets and examining a new blade, I figured out how to sharpen it. I had to take a grinding stone and sharpen it at just the right points.
Can’t we see how God will sharpen His blade if it doesn’t do the job right? He will, however, take action. Don’t interpret lulls in the cycle of judgment as if God does not care. God will get tough with us when we are not properly functioning. The Lord is eliciting from us a proper response in verse 7:14 which we will later discuss. Verse 7:13 is very specific on what we should see around us happening when God has to use a sharper blade to get through.
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 (2 Chronicles 7:13).
We might see droughts, insects invading our crops, and sickness among God’s people. This list is just representative of the full list in Deuteronomy 28. Let’s look at the second underlying truth of responsibility seen in 7:14.
(2) Our Responsibility: Our fault not the world’s
The second part of verse 2 Chronicles 7:14 highlights the responsibilities of God’s people, “humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways.” God carries out His duty as the righteous Judge by judging people and nations. Judgment is the means by which God. The case can be stalled only so long before it comes before the courts.
A good example is the handwriting on the wall. The special handwritten text, “MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN” was interpreted to mean that Babylonian’s empire has come to an end and given over to the Medes and Persians. Right after that, we read some astounding words: “That same night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was slain” (Daniel 5:30). God works with His people in a special way. How do they differ?
God deals with nations and individuals. The prophetic books like Isaiah have whole chapters devoted to the way the Lord works with a nation. Nations in older times, for the most part, are just extended families. The way God judges us is by the nation’s sins. The sins, however, directly relate to how God’s people are living and shining their light into the world. In the Old Testament era, the heathen nations were quite different from the New Testament times. They were judged for their sins but not as God’s people—they had no light.
Jesus in Matthew 5, the Sermon on the Mount, shared the responsibility of being the holy component of society. If God’s people—considered as a whole but also as individuals that can repent—were holy, they would, like salt, preserve the society. Likened to lights on the hill, their purifying effect would be great. Our major task is to make disciples of Christ and thus save people from the darkness. The world does not appreciate light shining in their darkness or salt in their wounds, often persecuting God’s people. Our responsibility as God’s people is to become a holy people so that we can fellowship with our holy Lord and reflect His holiness in this world below.
If we were to pause here and ask, “Whose fault is it that these disasters come upon us?”
God certainly knows that the wickedness of the world is unacceptable. He doesn’t state this because the world is so horrible. It always has been so. Or, could we say it is God who judges? But doesn’t He say that He does not always bring instant, catastrophic judgment? God says that His judgment is correlated to what His people are doing. Our sin levels are directly linked to the problems that we face for God judges the church (1 Peter 4:17). This is why many feared to join the early church! “But none of the rest dared to associate with them; however, the people held them in high esteem” (Acts 5:13).
(3) God Brings Judgments
2 Chronicles 7:14 has a third part to the verse: “Then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” Notice how judgment indirectly comes from the Lord. God can and will interrupt this judgment cycle at any point by hearing from heaven, forgiving their sin and healing the land.
Many people have great difficulty accepting the fact that God brings judgments. They rather blame the devil. Indeed, as the book of Job reveals, the evil one is ever so willing to carry out mischievousness among God’s people, but in the end, the full control still is in God’s hand. This is what we find here in 2 Chronicles 7:14. It is found everywhere in the scriptures. Those who reveal what they assume are superior feelings of compassion reject any thought that a loving God can take part in the judgment of others.
We should be embarrassed to think how weak these arguments can be. Who kicked man out of the Garden of Eden? Who sent the flood? Who pursued the death of Achan? Who brought serious judgment upon the church for sins within the church? Who will come and judge the world? The Lord. He stands unquestionably as the righteous Judge who will thoroughly judge the living and the dead, “But they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead” (1 Peter 4:5).
The fear of the Lord helps moderate our actions so that we would avoid His judgments. Discipline is a refined work of carefully appointed, small-sized judgments to produce in us a fear of the Lord. If we refuse earlier instruction through His Word or pastor, the LORD brings more difficult situations before us. In Hebrews 12, God clearly affirms His oversight of the chastisement of His children. Chastisements are small judgments so that we will not suffer greater ones.
This might seem like a long way to get to 2 Chronicles 7:14, but without this preparation discussion, we might not grasp God’s promises. God desires that His people would turn to Him earlier on so that His people would not suffer judgments, but much like Judah and Israel, we seem to wander and become hardened.
What about you? Have you been listening and obeying the Lord? If God hasn’t been speaking, then it shows that you’ve stopped listening and begun hardening your heart. How about at this point we all stop blaming God and acknowledge every judgment that we receive as deserved. If we rightly understand our situation, we would be sooner convinced that we deserved to be killed off yesterday, humble our hearts, and seek God’s great mercy where we can find relief.
These three underlying truths must be understood and appreciated: My People, Our Responsibility, and God’s Judgment, before we can discover the glory of His promises. The truths undergird God’s general operations, taking place in the background of the Christian life. If we are oblivious to them, then we misconstrue God’s actions and person, even falling into the foolish condemnation of God’s judgments.
(This is an introduction to a 4-part series on revival from 2 Chronicles 7:14.)
Study Questions fro 2 Chronicles 6-7
- Scan chapter 16 and look at the breakup of the chapter. How many parts are there?
- How is King Solomon’s requests in 2 Chronicles 16 different from the one in chapter 1?
- What are the three underlying truths behind 2 Chronicles 7:14?
- What is so significant about the phrase “My people”?
- Is it right to say that our modern nations are like Israel and apply 2 Chronicles 7:14 to our own situations?
- What responsibility do the people of God have to avoid the calamities of judgment?
- Should we conclude that the tragedies that are happening to our nation are a result of Christian people?
- Why do people get offended by God’s judgment rather than applaud it?