A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
Then the Lord said to me, “Do not pray for the well-being of this people. Although they fast, I will not listen to their cry; though they offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Instead, I will destroy them with the sword, famine and plague.”
But I said, “Ah, Sovereign Lord, the prophets keep telling them, ‘You will not see the sword or suffer famine. Indeed, I will give you lasting peace in this place.’”
Then the Lord said to me, “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds (Jeremiah 14:11-14).
I’ve been avoiding this topic for some time, but it won’t go away. It was brought back to mind this week after I read that a man bought copies of a currently popular book that compares ancient Israel with the USA and sent one to every member of his state’s government. I’m sure he was well intentioned, but from the article it appeared that he was using the book to call their attention to the promise God made to Israel in 2 Chronicles 7:14 as a remedy for their state.
“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.”
As you know, I have problems with Christians claiming that promise for the USA. People who live in the United States are not automatically God’s people, no version of our official name contains the name of God, and God’s people in the USA who are called by God’s name are part of the Christian Church which has no homeland in the USA or any other country on Earth. On the contrary, the Church has been called to reject the things of this world and be ready to re-locate to our real home in Heaven. That’s where our citizenship is (Phil. 3:20).
But those who try to invoke the promise of 2 Chron. 7:14 as the remedy for the US ignore this. They also ignore the fact that 2 Chron. 7:14 was first spoken by the Lord to King Solomon long before the destruction that came at the hands of the Assyrians, as noted in the book. Are we to believe there were no Israelites alive at the time who knew about this promise from God? Did no one think to remind Him of it? Because the Northern Kingdom was surely not spared the judgment.
But let’s say it is possible that no one remembered 2 Chron. 7:14 and that’s why the Northern Kingdom was destroyed. What about the Southern Kingdom? It was part of Israel when the promise was given. Wasn’t it also defeated? Consider what God had Jeremiah tell the people there who were praying for His protection as the Babylonians took up their positions outside the city walls.
Then the Lord said to me, “Do not pray for the well-being of this people. Although they fast, I will not listen to their cry; though they offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Instead, I will destroy them with the sword, famine and plague.”(Jeremiah 14:11-12)
These were God’s people, their national name did contain the Name of God, and He had given them a land on Earth. 2 Chronicles 7:14 advocates say it would only take a sincere effort by the faithful to repent and pray our country out of judgment, but as Jeremiah 14 reveals, at least some of God’s people were repenting and praying. Why didn’t that save them?
Did God break His promise to them? Of course not. What happened was they officially broke the terms of their covenant and abandoned Him. And once they had done that, nothing else they did could prevent their destruction. They no longer had a right to His help.
Then the Lord said to me, “There is a conspiracy among the people of Judah and those who live in Jerusalem. They have returned to the sins of their forefathers, who refused to listen to my words. They have followed other gods to serve them. Both the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken the covenant I made with their forefathers. Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘I will bring on them a disaster they cannot escape. Although they cry out to me, I will not listen to them. (Jeremiah 11:9-11)
But even though He’s not obligated to do so, at the appointed time God will keep His promise to Israel. He will forgive their sins and heal their land. And when He does, it won’t happen because of anything they’ve done.
“Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes” (Ezekiel 36:22-23).
The United States has never had an official covenant with God, but we’ve broken all His laws just the same. And we’ve done so with ever increasing audacity in spite of overwhelming blessing, as if daring Him to do something about it. If our leaders speak for us, as the book suggests, then Franklin Graham’s recent comment that our president “shook his fist in the face of God” was a warning for all of us to prepare for God’s response. Can anything prevent our judgment?
This means that for the United States the popular use of 2 Chronicles 7:14 as a cure for our problems is nothing more than a fulfillment of Paul’s “itching ears” prophecy.
For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear (2 Tim 4:3)
Whether they realize it or not those who advocate 2 Chronicles 7:14 as a remedy for the United States are just saying what our itching ears want to hear. It’s a false teaching that gives false hope to the Biblically uninformed, a repeat of the false promises of Jeremiah’s time.
On some level everybody knows things are not OK in the world, and our nature is to want to know things will get better. Having exhausted our human options, we’re finally thinking about turning to God, but claiming the promise of 2 Chronicles 7:14 is going about it the wrong way and it won’t work.
God has always intended to give us hope, but He has never promised to heal the United States, whose national heart is incurably wicked, because He doesn’t have a covenant with the United States. Nor has He promised the United States a future like He does for Israel. But He has promised to rescue the Church by taking us out of the way before He gives the go ahead for the End Times judgments, because He does have a covenant with the Church. And that covenant is not conditional upon our behavior, it’s based on our belief.
In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14:2-3)
Notice He didn’t promise to come here to be with us where we are. He promised to come back to take us there to be with him where He is, in His Father’s house.
Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth (Rev. 3:10).
The Greek word translated “from” in this verse means “out of the place, time, or cause” of the hour of trial. Like 1 Thes. 1:10 it’s a promise to rescue us from the wrath to come.
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever (1 Thes. 4:16-17).
Again, this is not a promise to come to Earth to be with us here. Its a promise to draw us up into the sky and take us to be with Him forever.
If you want to have hope, you don’t have to dig through the Old Testament to misappropriate a conditional promise made to another people for another time, one that even those to whom it was given could not claim. You only have to look in the New Testament and receive an unconditional promise made to the Church for our time that all of us can claim.
As Christians we need to stop confusing our country with our religion. No matter how good our life is on Earth, God has a much better future in store for us in Heaven. On its very best day, no country could ever begin to compare with it. No amount of peace or prosperity could ever be a reasonable substitute.
The only reason we cling to our past is that we know so little about our future. So take a moment and think about it. Heavenly royalty. Mansions in the sky on streets of gold. Unbridled joy. No more death or mourning or crying or pain. The aging process reversed, our health restored, our abilities magnified, all our cares and concerns gone. Each day more exciting and fulfilling than the previous one. Where can you find that here? Where has anyone ever found that here?
Psalm 45 is a wedding song for the Messiah and His bride. When he wrote it, the Psalmist spoke these prophetic words to the Church of today.
Listen, O daughter, consider and give ear. Forget your people and your father’s house. The King is enthralled by your beauty. Honor Him for He is your Lord. (Psalm 45:10-11)
Forget about futile attempts to restore past glories. You’ve got a future ahead of you that’s beyond imagining. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Cor. 4:17-18).
Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace. You can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah. 06-02-12