…if my people, who belong to me, humble themselves, pray, seek to please me, and repudiate their sinful practices, then I will respond from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.
This particular verse is about all we ever hear of 2 Chronicles chapter 7 and it’s often quoted about the church and America. I don’t think that is an accurate application of this verse so let’s take a look at the context. The context for this verse starts, at the very least, in chapter 6. In chapter 6 Solomon addresses the Israelite assembly about the completion of the temple. Then he prays to God and to summarize his prayer he points out the sinfulness of Israel and how inevitably God will punish them for their sins by famine, plague, locust, or captivity. He then asks that God would hear their prayers and forgive their sins when he is punishing them. Verse 7:12 starts God’s response to Solomon’s prayer. God tells Solomon he has accepted the temple as His dwelling place, and then confirms in verse 13 that he will punish Israel’s sins with drought, locust, famine, and plague. The good news is God also confirms that if Israel repents he will forgive them and heal the land from destruction He has caused (verse 14).
From the context we can see that this is a verse for Israel regarding the land they were promised. The healing of the land in verse 14 is a physical healing and repairing of a geographic location that God has decimated because of their sins. Verse 19-20 go on to say that if Israel ever turns away from God, He will abandon the temple and remove them from the land he gave them.
It seems the application of 2 Chronicles 7:14 today is if we as the church repent from our sins God will make the sinners will quit sinning, jobs will come back from overseas, gas prices will drop, and it will be the 1950s again. If you want to force 2 Chronicles 7:14 into the context of the church and America you have to say the trouble in America is God’s discipline because of the sins of the church, but you really can’t make that fit. The problems in America aren’t just affecting the church, they are affecting everyone. Not everyone is subject to the discipline of God. For sure, God still disciplines his people. Paul talks about it in Hebrews 12:
Endure your suffering as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline? But if you do not experience discipline, something all sons have shared in, then you are illegitimate and are not sons. Besides, we have experienced discipline from our earthly fathers and we respected them; shall we not submit ourselves all the more to the Father of spirits and receive life? For they disciplined us for a little while as seemed good to them, but he does so for our benefit, that we may share his holiness. Now all discipline seems painful at the time, not joyful. But later it produces the fruit of peace and righteousness for those trained by it.
To say America is under God’s discipline would be to say everybody in America is a son of God. God’s discipline in the Old Testament and the New Testament serve the same purpose; to draw His people back to Him and to form them to His standard of Holiness. The difference is in the Old Testament his discipline was often times enacted on an entire nation whereas today his discipline is more individual. God isn’t going to discipline Christians in Africa for my sins or the sins of my local church body. God is going to discipline me for my sins, and that may have a ripple effect to the people around me and those I influence.
I absolutely believe the church in America needs to repent. Some of it needs to repent from false teaching, departing from our first love, or being lukewarm, but repenting of our sins isn’t going to enact 2 Chronicles 7:14 and turn America around. However, we still have the solution to all of America’s problems; the Gospel. I’m not saying the gospel is going to fix the economy or make jobs for all of the unemployed. But the gospel is the solution for the moral decline in our country and all over the world for that matter. For the things the gospel doesn’t directly fix it gives peace and hope in knowing all things work together for good for those who love God.