Can a person who desperately wants churchwide or national revival claim 2 Chronicles 7:14 as a guarantee that God will send it? We saw in the previous lesson thatthere is no “revival formula” as such. There is no guarantee that if believers follow a prescribed pattern and meet certain conditions, a general reviving in the church will take place. Revivals are not the sure result of bringing into play a combination of proper spiritual exercises. Rather, they are God-sent, and they come at the time of His choosing.
When we speak of revival, we have in mind the seasons of spiritual refreshing that come upon the church. The windows of heaven seem to open. Showers of blessing are poured out. Believers are moved through a deep, Holy Spirit conviction of sin to make private (and sometimes public) confession. It results in a renewal of their dedication to God. And often it is accompanied by the salvation of many souls.
Even though this is true, we should also recognize that revival may come in answer to the persistent prayers of believers who are distressed over lethargy and lukewarmness within the church.We would therefore encourage everyone who names the name of Christ to join in prayer for revival. But in doing so, let’s keep the truth in mind that revivals are not predictable. No promise in the Bible assures us that they will come if only we meet the right conditions. Nor do they occur as the result of following a certain pattern. They come as the blessingof God’s grace upon an undeserving church.
I can imagine someone saying, “What about 2 Chronicles 7:14? Isn’t that God’s promise to send revival if certain conditions are met?” I would like to consider this verse with you in this lesson. It reads:
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.
The significance of this passage can be appreciated only if it is studied in its context. Notice what the two verses that precede it have to say:
Then the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said to him: “I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice.When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people” (2 Chr. 7:12-13).
In verses 19-20, the Lord said this to Solomon:
But if you turn away and forsake My statutes and My commandments which I have set before you, and go and serve other gods, and worship them, then I will uproot them from My land which I have given them;and this house which I have sanctified for My name I will cast out of My sight, and will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples.
Notice that these verses contain God’s promise specifically to King Solomon. They indicate how the nation of Israel might enjoy the Lord’s favor, but they also show how the Jews might become the objects of His wrath.We have in 2 Chronicles 7, a message that relates primarily to King Solomon, the nation of Israel, and the land God had given to them for an everlasting possession. If the Jews would disobey the Lord, His judgment would certainly fall on them. They would be plucked up by the roots out of the land He had given to them. If they would “turn from their wicked ways,” however, they had God’s word that He would “heal their land.” Remember, then, that 2 Chronicles 7:14 pertains to Solomon, to Israel, and to the land which the Lord Himself had given to the Jews. This passage was not given as a promise for revival in the church. Rather, in a very real sense it was given as a pattern for the survival of a nation—the nation of Israel. Even though this is true, some valuable lessons are suggested in that verse for believers today. The Lord God gave His word that if His people (Israel) would humble themselves, pray, seek His face, and turn from their evil ways, He would “forgive their sin.” And Hewill do the same for us today as individual members of the body of Christ. The apostle John assured us that “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn. 1:9). This verse does not give us the assurance that God will heal our land if we confess our sins. But it does assure us of personal cleansing.
Then too, according to 2 Chronicles 7:14, the children of Israel, in order to know God’s favor, were to “humble themselves.” In the New Testament, James said, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (Jas. 4:10).
In 2 Chronicles 7:14, the Lord also gave His word to Israel that He would “hear from heaven” if the Israelites would meet the conditions He prescribed. We Christians also have the assurance that God hears us, for John wrote:
Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him (1 Jn. 5:14-15).
Even though some lessons for today are suggested in 2 Chronicles 7:14, this verse was not intended as a revival formula for the church. Rather, it pertains to God’s dealings with Israel and to their enjoyment of the land He had given them.
To interpret the Scriptures properly, we must determine when they were written, to whom they were written, and for what purpose they were written. The right answers to those questions, when applied to 2 Chronicles 7:14, will keep us from falsely concluding that God would have to bless our “land” (the United States or Canada, for example) if only believerswould humble themselves, pray, seek His face, and turn from their wicked ways. Please don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying that God will not do so. I am simply indicating that He is not compelled to do so on the basis of His promise in 2 Chronicles 7:14.
I must emphasize, however, that God is sovereign. He is free to act according to His own will. We can be thankful that He does answer the prayers of His children when they are in harmony with His allwise purposes. And He does withhold His judgment on the wicked, at times, for the sake of a godly minority. A “land” may therefore be “healed” or be benefited because of its righteous citizens.
I’m thinking about Sodom. When Abraham heard the Lord’s pronouncement of judgment on that evil city, he prayed as follows:
Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city; would You also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it? (Gen. 18:23-24).
Here is God’s answer:
If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes (v.26).
As you know, the aged patriarch continued to intercede for Sodom until he finally said, “Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak but once more: Suppose ten should be found there?” God said, “I will not destroy it for the sake of ten” (v.32).
Yes, if only a small minority, if only 10 righteous souls had been found in Sodom, the Lord would have spared the city.He wasn’t obligated to do so, but He was ready to show mercy for the sake of a godly few.
It is also true of God that when any nation as a whole turns to Him, He will spare His hand of judgment upon it. A good illustration of this can be found in the book of Jonah, where the Lord is described as changing His mind when the Ninevites repented. The prophet Jonah had warned the Ninevites that God would destroy their city in 40 days. But they turned to the Lord, and therefore we are told:
God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it (Jon. 3:10).
Speaking through Jeremiah, the Lord said:
The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it. And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it, if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it (Jer. 18:7-10).
A national turning to God and the repentance of a minority are two different things. A general spiritual awakening of an entire population will bring the Lord’s favor. A partial reviving on the part of a faithful few may stay God’s judgment.
Let’s be careful how we interpret 2 Chronicles 7:14. Don’t make it say too much. As a believer, humble yourself before God, pray, seek His face, and turn fromyour wicked ways. This is how to have a revival—a personal refreshing from the Lord. It may not be earthshaking or spectacular. It may not change your church, community, ornation. But it will result in God’s blessing, His peace, and His power in your life. Yes, Lord, send a revival, and let it begin in me!
Let’s consider one more question: Should we today be looking for the fulfillment of Joel 2? Some Christians, having that passage in mind,are expecting a great outpouring and moving of the Spirit of God with revival blessings. Look at Joel 2 more closely. The Lord is speaking and He says:
It shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord (Joel 2:28-31).
You will recall thatwhen Peter referred to what took place on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2, he said, “This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel” (v.16).We know, however, that only a portion of Joel’s prophecy came to pass at Pentecost. Some of its predictions remain unfulfilled. The complete realization of his prophecy, we believe, will not occur until after the rapture of the church.
The Holy Spirit will be poured out on all flesh during the tribulation period and millennial kingdom. It is then that Joel’s words in chapter 2 will fully come to pass. Therefore, we are not expecting the fulfillment of Joel 2 in this present church age. The Holy Spirit does dwell within us right now as believers.We know His presence. And we can also know His power and His fullness as we surrender to His control.
In the light of what we’ve been considering together, let us pray as never before for our beloved nation. For those in positions of authority. For righteousness to prevail. For justice to be carried out. For compassion on the underprivileged. For love and understanding. For God’s judgment on evil. For the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. For God’s purifying work. And yes, let’s pray for revival!
Remember, as far as your own personal “revival” is concerned, the next move is yours. As you confess your sin, rededicate yourself to doing God’s will, and look to Him for guidance and strength to live for Him, you will know and experience for yourself the refreshing, quickening work of the Spirit of God.