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Paul J. Bucknell
God tells us that the problem of backsliding and sluggishness of our spirit begins with His people and ends with His people. If the sin of God's people brought them into this situation, then it is their turning from these same sins that will bring the needed help to deliver them from their situation.
In other words, unless we can identify our sins, acknowledge them and take full responsibility for them, then we have no hope. We can not change this world by political reformation and improved educational funding. A church will only be able to turn back from their spiritual decline by carefully following the principles outlined in 2 Chronicles 7:14. This is not the only place these principles are mentioned, but they are clearly articulated here.
Let's look a bit closer look at precisely what God is and is not saying here in 2 Chronicles 7:14 about revival.
We find that if we want to be reconciled with God, everything needs to be right or normal. The verse 2 Chronicles 7:14 is naturally divided into three parts. Each of them is linked to the subsequent letter in the word 'PAR' which is used in sport of golf to mean a normal and good game. We have the declared Promise, the required Action and the expected Reward. For a exciting look at the context of this passage, start your study in 2 Chronicles 6.
If ... My people who are called by My name (2 Chronicles 7:14a)
This promise has everything to do with the terrible predicament that His people had got themselves in. When they see that they are facing these judgments of God, they have a special promise that can take them out of the most terrible situations.
We would like to think that this is true for all men and all nations. This simply is not true. This is what highlights this first point called 'Promise'. God is speaking only to His people. He makes this crystal clear. "My people" is a highly specialized Hebrew word (ami) that is used 217 times. 210 of these times is from the Old Testament. The beginning of this people came about when God promised to Abraham a great people (literally 'seed'). This would become the nation that He formed from Jacob, later called Israel. They are God's chosen ones.
And the LORD said, "I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings. (Exodus 3:7, NASB).
Although this phrase is not frequently used in the New Testament, we find that the phrase 'My people' has gained a greater meaning to include all believers. Those who believe in Jesus Christ become part of God's true people. We find this true by the context and the quoting of this passage.
FOR THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD: I WILL PUT MY LAWS INTO THEIR MINDS, AND I WILL WRITE THEM UPON THEIR HEARTS. AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. (Hebrews 8:10, NASB).
When an unbeliever sees disasters come upon him, can he cry out and be heard from God? He can and should cry out to God, but he has no assurance that God will hear him. Clearly this promise does not belong to them. We can see this by the term 'My people' God uses. If this is not convincing enough, He again says, "Who are called by My Name." These words do not apply to the unbeliever but to God's people.
However, we have hope that even unbelievers can cry out to God. God heard the cry of the people in the great wicked city of Nineveh in the days of Jonah (read Jonah 3). When they cried out to God, God had mercy and saved them. He doesn't promise mercy, but He might give mercy and save those who cry out to be pardoned from the oncoming judgment. So the unbeliever can't use this promise, but he can hope for God's mercy before the final judgment.
Many wonder if this promise applies to New Testament believers. This promise is not only for Jews but also Gentile believers who are part of God's people. God's promises reveal the way He has promised to work with His people. Through Jesus Christ, we now know on what basis God can forgive His people their sins.
We assert this promise is for all of God's children on two grounds. 1) We find the 'my people' to be applied to New Testament believers, and 2) the approach God takes with New Testament believers is similar as here. One can, for example, study the way Jesus confronted and promised help to the New Testament churches in Revelation chapters 2-3. The church is God's people.(1)
Promises are the backbone of the believer. They are what shapes the whole character of the church. Anytime that the church wants to stand erect, it may. There is no question as if God has once and for all left His people to degenerate. In the bleakest of situations, the church can call out to God, and God will hear.
God will not say that this promise has expired or that we are have gone too far down to be rescued. Verse 13 and all the verses in the preceding chapter all point to the most difficult situations and judgments. This is the beauty of King Solomon's prayer. This promise is a golden key to unlock the most stubborn door we might run into and bring courage to our unbelieving hearts. (2)
If you are a believer, then this promise is for you. You and I need only to follow the instructions, and we will find refreshing renewal come to our lives. These people are associated with Yahweh, God their Maker. They have decided to come back to Him. Experiences might differ, but they know the Lord and now desire His tender compassion rather than His judgments. Let us see what these steps of action that we need to take to find this renewal.
Next => Let's see what those steps are!
(1) Of course we should remember that the external church is made up of true believers as well as non-believers. Those who profess but do not really believe are not truly part of God's church even if they attend or have membership in the church of God.
Not everyone who says to Me, "Lord, Lord," will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 7:21, NASB).
Examples of Revival Water Gate Revival Nehemiah 8.1-12
Call to Revival - Zephaniah"Gathering Before His Throne"
The Process of Revival Understanding Revival's Cycles Judges 2:10-19
Constant Personal Renewal
Reviving Our Personal Devotions
From Revival to Despair Psalm 106:10-15
Revival and the Fear of God in Society Psalm 78
Revival comes from Joining the Church not Abandoning her
Reviving Our Lives and Ministries through God's Word
Reviving our Faith | Deepening our Reflections
Tracing our Life's Journey | Pursuing our God
Exhortation to be Revived Five Misunderstandings Ezekiel 14
Solomon's prayer which initiated the Promise for Revival2 Chronicles 6-7
God's willingness to promise revival2 Chronicles 7:12-15
Revival: God's Promise (Part I)2 Chronicles 7:14
Revival: God's Action Plan (Part II)2 Chronicles 7:14
Revival: God's Reward (Part III)2 Chronicles 7:14