Man in Anguish13 When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, 14 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 I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.            2Chronicles 7:13-14
 

Satan picked a fight with the church to distract us from the main thing. We have rushed into the political ring – a place where our King never went. In fact, Jesus refused to get embroiled in the politics of His day. In stark contrast, it appears that politics is the church’s primary passion. Consequently, we find ourselves in a place where God has refused to be strong on our behalf.

I recognize this opinion will offend many of my American, church-going brethren. Perhaps I should make it clear that I am not an anarchist – God invented government, and it can be a great blessing. Nor am I a separatist. I believe God calls some to be salt and light in our systems of government. Of the few I know, I trust their hearts to hear His voice, and I admire their courageous obedience. That is not what this is about!

There IS a battle to fight! We just need to be sure we are fighting the right one. Let me explain.

At least two times a year – around the National Day of Prayer and National Election Day – we are blessed to hear politicians and preachers encouraging us to “pray for our nation”. Without exception, we are encouraged with 2Chronicles 7:14 and entreated to “pray, pray, pray”. Politicians and preachers assure us, “If we will only pray, God will heal our land!”

This has become a frustration for me. I just want to know when someone – someone that people will listen to – will have the courage and sense to recognize that our prayers for this country are availing… NOTHING!! I mean, really, how long will we continue the insanity of doing the same thing while expecting a different result? Yes, there is one lesson in the Bible where it seems we are encouraged to refuse “no” as an answer from God. I don’t think that applies here. I think we are missing the point of 2Chronicles 7 entirely. Please consider the following, and let me know what you think.

The nation of Israel and the United States of America are on two entirely separate planes of interest and purpose to God. Biblical principles about the former cannot be directly linked to the latter. America is not the New Jerusalem. If Augustine were alive today, he would tell us, “The city of God is not America, it is that eternal city that cannot be sacked.”

As the LORD explained to Jeremiah, the new covenant is not the same as the old.

31 “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— 32 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.     Jeremiah 31:31-33
 

The new covenant is “not according to the covenant that [God] made with [our] fathers”. The new covenant is not about the “land” of America. Just to be clear, that means it is not about healing “our way of life in this country”, or “this government and its people”, or “the systems of government and commerce that have made America a superpower”. No, no, no.

The land promised to Israel does not equal the land, or national interest, called America. The healing we need is not from radical republicanism or left-wing radicalism. These are not the things that God is interested in for Himself, His Son, or His children. He is interested in so much more. And His promise is so much greater to the people of the new covenant.

In minimizing the promises of God, we are deceiving ourselves into pursuing a false hope; and we are missing a much greater truth.

The Tupos of “Their Land”

Now that we understand what “their land” is not, let’s look at it for what it really is. For the nation of Israel, “their land” is the promised dwelling place for a people to live under the rule and protection of God. As such, it is a tupos (image, foreshadowing, example) of the promise given to the people of the New Testament. The dwelling place of the New Covenant is not geographic. It is spiritual. Our promised dwelling place is the kingdom of God, abiding in Christ; under the good King’s rule – where we are being made righteous to co-reign as His Bride.

Furthermore, this place of our abiding does not need healing, for it is perfect. It is we that are broken; and through our brokenness, so also our relationship with our King. In His New Covenant, God’s focus is the hearts and souls of His children; for their spiritual prosperity; for the promise of our life with His Son. Therefore, the promise of healing in 2Chronicles 7, for His New Covenant people, is a promise to heal our relationship with Him; that we might be “a holy nation, His own special people”.

What the people of God should be fighting for is their dwelling place in Him. What we should be praying for is the promise of healing in our relationship with Him. What we must understand is His requirements for that promise. We will get to that in a moment, but while we are on the topic of tupos,
let’s make sure we understand the other images of 2Chronicles 7:13-15:

No rain from Heaven (v. 13) – God’s water of life; the water of the word; the blessing and power of God. Is the deception so great that we do not realize that God has removed His hand of blessing and power from the church in America? The church in America is declining – in numbers and influence. It has become another subculture of the “American way of life”; and is quickly becoming culturally insignificant.

Locusts (v. 13) – Economic disaster has come upon America and will continue. Ironically (and tragically), the church will suffer with America because it has become a part of her – no longer the called out, counter-culture body of Christ.

Pestilence (v. 13) – Disease and sickness, in all forms, is the obvious reference, but demonic attack is also probable. Plenty of both can be found in all segments of American society. The Earth is under the rule of the Evil One, Satan. Only the church, in the authority and power of God, can withstand his deception and destruction.

My people (v. 14) – this is not “the citizens of America”, but those “called by My name”. God is speaking about His people: Christians, the church of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The place of prayer (v. 15) – This may be interpreted as our places of worship; and we certainly need more effectual prayer there. However, the greater place of prayer is that place where faith is found and our relationship with God is most profound. God’s people are His temple and our hearts are the center of His abiding – the Holy of Holies.

Those that turn to 2Chronicles 7 for encouragement are right to do so; for the greatest hope for America is a healthy church. Contrary to popular opinion, America needs the church. But – and we must be very clear on this point – the church does not need America. The church needs One Thing: Its King. The church needs to be healed of its broken relationship with Him (every other blessing will follow). The King desires that healing. His Father has been gracious to show us the way to prompt His response in the midst of our dire circumstance.

Prompting His Response

Has the church in American ever been so desperate for a response from God to the 2Chronicles 7 prayer? Millions of Christians have been crying out “in prayer” for God to respond. And the Bible is clear: God is not slow to respond to the righteous prayers of His people. So, why no response? God is not responding, because our prayers are not right, much less righteous.

For God to respond to a conditional promise, all the conditions must be met. As important as prayer is to God, it is only 25% of the requirement of the 2Chronicles 7 prayer – and that’s assuming we are praying the way God demands. With that in mind, let’s take a clarifying look at the requirements of the 2Chronicles 7:14:

Humble themselves – “themselves” is the church, not the world. It seems that most in the church assume prayer naturally includes our humility. This is an enormous oversight. In fact, we have been praying “un-humble” prayers – asking God for what we want Him to do, rather than what He wants from us. I’ve often wondered why we don’t have a National Week of Humility prior to the National Day of Prayer.

Pray – God answers every prayer that is prayed in His will. We can only know His will as He reveals it. He only reveals His will to those that are willing to do it. Prayer without surrender (more humility) and without relationship with Him is a shot in the dark, at best. The poor results of past National Day of Prayer events bear this out.

Seek My face – Beholding Christ as in a mirror, we are transformed… (see 2Corinthians 3:18). Let’s face it, most would rather stay the way we are and have God transform everyone and everything else to suit their wants and needs. As the King, He will not respond to such rebellious attitudes. We fear to face Him because we fear what might be required of us.

Turn from their wicked ways – Again, the “their” is God’s people – not the world. Wicked ways? What wicked ways? How about abortion, division, lust, greed, and every other sin listed in Galatians 5:19-21. These have been tolerated – and even welcomed – by the “church” in America. We have become a sub-culture and this is the consequence of desiring the things of the world. The church of America has entered into an idolatrous relationship with America. The American government has become our security, its economy our provider, and its success our passion. We must repent – turn away from these things – before God will respond to our prayers for healing.

We are in desperate straits. But, there is always hope with God. For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him (2Chronicles 16:9). And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

The question that we, the children of God in America, should ask ourselves is this: How painful must it get before we surrender – truly surrender – to God’s way, truth and life?

Humbly yours and forever His,

Rob