“It is important that we ask ourselves is 2 Chronicles 7:14 really about us? Is it really true that if nations claim this verse, and they pray as we find in this verse, that indeed God will heal our countries from pandemics, from plagues, from sicknesses and all sorts of natural disasters that are afflicting the world today?
Beware of Taking Passages Out Of Context
We need to look carefully at 2 Chronicles 7:14 to find out what it means. And in doing this, we will find that this is one of the most misunderstood, most misinterpreted Bible passages. In fact, it is one of the most misapplied Bible passages by believers across generations.”
It is one of the most misapplied Bible passages by believers across generations
While God does command His people to call on him in times of need, 2 Chronicles 7:14 has been greatly misinterpreted and quoted out of context to explain the unprecedented times we are living through today.
However, if rightly understood and interpreted in its context, this passage is incredibly valuable for teaching us about the character of God and how we can relate to him today.
Lessons From 2 Chronicles 7:14
We can read this passage as a clear warning regarding how we ought to live in response to a holy God and his covenant. It reminds us that our God is a God of grace – the God before whom we can come when we fall and fail. This passage calls believers to earnest lives that continue to seek after God and to pray. For God is faithful and he is able to deliver us from whatever we are going through.
2 Chronicles 7:14 is a call to humility. It is a call for us to yearn after God.
Undoubtedly 2 Chronicles 7:14 is a call to humility. It is a call for us to yearn after God. A call to holiness where believers are told to turn from their wicked ways. It shows us how to depend on God during periods of crisis. We really can learn from the trials that Israel went through, so that we do not live like them and experience the same punishments and judgements.
Is COVID-19 Really God’s Judgement?
“There is so much that 2 Chronicles 7:14 can teach us. But it cannot be used as a blanket statement to stop COVID-19. And it cannot be used as an explanation for COVID-19: that this is necessarily God’s judgment upon the world. Yet from it we can draw wonderful biblical lessons that can build us as believers and establish us in our most holy faith.
God’s word still has power and this passage is part of that inspired work of God. Yet we must understand the context. Only then can it become a blessing for us today.”
Text: 2 Chronicles 7:14
Date preached: May 2020
Location: New City Community Church, Kampala, Uganda
Greetings to you, my brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. I hope this finds you well in the Lord. Especially as we live in a time of great fear and concern and crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Are We Under a Curse?
I can imagine what life has been for you wherever you are. And most likely you have so many questions for God. And you wonder what God might be doing through this crisis. Is he aware of it? Does he have the power to address it? Could it be that this pandemic is coming because we are going through curses or we are under the judgement of God for our sins?
It is common that questions like these will come to each one of us when we are going through trials and temptations. And during this time we look for ways in which we can try to find God’s will concerning the situation we are going through.
We Are All Looking For Answers
Maybe you are listening to preachers on radio or on TV or you are on social media. And you are trying to find out what is God’s will really concerning this COVID-19 pandemic? And how can we get rid of it? There is no doubt that as you’ve been searching for answers, one of the verses that you’ve probably come across is 2 Chronicles 7:14.
Common Interpretations Of 2 Chronicles 7:14
This is a very famous verse that has been paraded by believers from different generations. And it has been used in different contexts for different reasons for quite some time.
A Call For National Revivals
Most likely you have had people who have used this passage talking about national revivals. People who have called out this verse and said: (2 Chronicles 7:14: “if my people who are called by my name 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.”
And you have heard pastors call out their congregations to come and repent. To go into a period of prayer and fasting and believed that when such things happen, then God is going to heal the land. God is going to bring forgiveness of sin, and revival will break forth.
Most likely you have heard that version.
Pointing To Judgement From God on The Land
It is also possible that during such a Coronavirus pandemic, that you’ve heard people say that this pandemic has come because of God’s judgement. That our countries have sinned against god. And God out of anger has unleashed this judgement of pandemic upon the nation.
Recently we had that kind of belief. Especially when Uganda and East Africa were going through a locust attack. And people were using verses in the Old Testament – including this particular passage – to say “you see! Locusts and pandemics are usually a sign of God’s anger and judgement.”
Is National, Multi-Faith Prayer the Answer?
And therefore what is the solution? If we pray, if we rally the nation and pray, God will hear from heaven and will forgive our sins and heal our land. In fact, not so long ago, we’d been having national prayers that are being held at a state house here in Uganda where interface religious groups like Anglicans, Roman Catholics, Orthodox, 7th Day Adventists and Muslims have been gathering together at the invitation of the President and his family to pray for the nation.
And what is the underlying assumption? That because of the locusts, COVID-19 and several other challenges the nation is going through, God must be angry. And if God’s people will gather and pray; if God’s people will seek God’s face, that God indeed will heal our land. And God will forgive our sins.
Is 2 Chronicles 7:14 Really About Us?
Now, as we thing about this passage it is important that we ask ourselves is 2 Chronicles really about us? Is it really true that if nations claim this verse, and they pray as we find in this verse, that indeed God will heal our countries from pandemics, from plagues, from sicknesses and all sorts of natural disasters that are plaguing the world today?
And as we think about this verse we will not only find out what it means, but we will also find out that often this is one of the most misunderstood, most misinterpreted Bible passages. In fact, most mis-applied Bible passages by believers across generations.
Now before we look at what this verse means, allow me to pray.
We thank you precious Lord for your goodness and grace. That you have given us the opportunity to ponder your word. As we look at this Bible passage would you please help us to make sense of it. To know what it means and how best it can be applied in our lives today. To find encouragement through it and several other Bible passages. But above all else, help us that we may not misunderstand it – as has often been the case.
That drawing encouragement from the scripture as it is intended to be, we might be built up in Christ Jesus, we might grow in your word, to the glory of your name. In Jesus’ name we believe and we pray. Amen.
Reading 2 Chronicles 7:14 in Context
As we look at Chronicles 7:14 one of the things that I hope will come out very clearly is that this verse has often been misunderstood. That so many things that people today think it means, are actually not what the passage is about. And when understood rightly in it’s context, we will realise that it almost has nothing to do with the different applications that the Church has given it today.
The goal is not so much to disprove the interpretations and applications of today’s Church. But even more importantly to understand the verse in it’s context, so that it can be used rightly for God’s right purposes, to the blessing of God’s people in our time.
2 Chronicles, Chapter 7
We probably would want to read it so that we can try to see the context in which the verse itself is set. So let’s look at 2 Chronicles 7:1-14. This is what it says:
“As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. 2 And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD’s house. 3 When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”
4 Then the king and all the people offered sacrifice before the LORD. 5 King Solomon offered as a sacrifice 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep. So the king and all the people dedicated the house of God. 6 The priests stood at their posts; the Levites also, with the instruments for music to the LORD that King David had made for giving thanks to the LORD—for his steadfast love endures forever—whenever David offered praises by their ministry; opposite them the priests sounded trumpets, and all Israel stood.
7 And Solomon consecrated the middle of the court that was before the house of the LORD, for there he offered the burnt offering and the fat of the peace offerings, because the bronze altar Solomon had made could not hold the burnt offering and the grain offering and the fat.
8 At that time Solomon held the feast for seven days, and all Israel with him, a very great assembly, from Lebo-hamath to the Brook of Egypt. 9 And on the eighth day they held a solemn assembly, for they had kept the dedication of the altar seven days and the feast seven days. 10 On the twenty-third day of the seventh month he sent the people away to their homes, joyful and glad of heart for the prosperity that the LORD had granted to David and to Solomon and to Israel his people.
11 Thus Solomon finished the house of the LORD and the king’s house. All that Solomon had planned to do in the house of the LORD and in his own house he successfully accomplished. 12 Then the LORD appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. 13 When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, 14 if my people who are called by my name 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.”
Verse 15: “Now my eyes will be opened and my ears attentive to their prayers offered in this place.” And verse 16: “I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my name will be there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there.”
An Old Testament Historical Narrative
So that is 2 Chronicles 7:1-16. And as we consider what it might mean, especially for people believing today, one of the things that jump out of us that we must consider, is that this 2 Chronicles book is part of what we call the Old Testament Historical Narratives. That it describes the history of God’s covenant people and what God is doing among them.
Building The Temple in Jerusalem
And if you look at the passage very keenly, you will notice that it is describing the dedication of the temple. A temple that was supposed to be built by King Solomon. And indeed, he had done his duty.
Originally King David had wanted to build it, but God did not allow him. Instead the privilege was given to his son King Solomon to do so.
2 Chronicles 7:14 comes in after the dedication of the temple. So people have gathered before the finished temple, have given thanks and sacrifices, have dedicated it before the Lord, and as we see in Chapter 6 Solomon begins to pray and ask God to intervene in the lives of his people.
He describes the different scenarios, the different judgements, that can come upon God’s people when they have sinned. And he asks that when people have sinned, and God has sent his judgement and wrath upon them, should these people come before the temple that Solomon has dedicated and pray, Solomon asks that the Lord would relent, the Lord would forgive them, the Lord would restore them.
A Response to God’s Covenant Blessings (and Curses)
As you will listen to that kind of prayer, immediately what comes in mind is that Solomon is actually praying in light of God’s covenant blessings.
If you remember what God had spoken to Moses in Deuteronomy 28-32 we find a description of the covenant blessings and curses. And these blessings and curses are established on the covenant that God had made with his people. That they would be his people and he would be their God. That if they would walk humbly before him and desist from idolatry and serving the God’s of other nations, that God would release covenant blessings upon them.
In the same spirit, God would release covenant curses upon them if they did not walk right with him. If they served the god’s of the other nations. If they indulged in the idolatry that surrounded them, then the curses of the covenant would be applicable to them.
As Solomon makes this prayer after the dedication of the temple he is remembering God’s covenant. He is remembering that blessings and curses are contingent upon this covenant and that God’s people will be blessed or God’s people will be cursed depending on how they walk in obedience to this covenant.
Some Conclusions From Reading The Verse in Context
So, judging from that background, we can make a few conclusions.
1. It is About Israel & Solomon, Not Uganda Today
Number one. 2 Chronicles 7 is certainly about God’s people and God’s covenant. And by God’s people we mean the nation of Israel. The people that he had made a covenant with., We can immediately see that in chapter 7 what we find, especially in verse 14, is God’s response to Solomon’s prayer in chapter 6.
That when it begins it begins by saying “I have heard your prayer.” Who’s prayer? The prayer of believers today? The prayer of christians in Uganda? No. Certainly. The prayer that Solomon had made in 2 Chronicles chapter 6.
So first and foremost we need to understand this passage as primarily related to the dedication of the temple (number 1). Number 2 as primarily as a response to Solomon’s prayer and plea before God. So that whatever answers, or whatever response God is going to give, they are primarily applicable to Solomon and his people.
When believers immediately apply a passage to themselves, they miss the context in which it is set.
When we read of phrase like “if my people who are called by my name” – primarily those words are meant to be understood as referring to Israel as a nation. As referring to God’s covenant people that actually have been gathering with Solomon at the dedication of this temple.
Missing the Context Means We Miss the Purpose
When believers today come across such verses and they immediately apply it to themselves, they miss the context in which the passage is set. They miss the purpose for which the passage was actually written. And they are likely to draw application and principles that are not relevant in terms of today’s application.
And what we are seeing today? Christians applying this verse to themselves to mean that God has promised revival for the nations. Or Christians using this verse during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic to mean that this is God’s judgement and it can be prayed away by claiming 2 Chronicles 7:14.
Misapplication of the passage can only result in discouragement when it does not come to pass.
Clearly this is a misinterpretation of the passage. It is a misapplication of the passage. And it can only result into discouragement, into depression by believers who claim it and they do not see it coming to pass. Because they are trying to apply a right passage in a wrong context.
Very, very important for us to understand.
2 Chronicles 7:14 is Not About COVID-19
We are saying that 2 Chronicles 7:14 was not written to us as believers living today. The circumstances being addressed in 2 Chronicles 7 have nothing to do with the COVID-19 pandemic that we are dealing with today.
The circumstances being addressed in 2 Chronicles 7 have nothing to do with the COVID-19 pandemic
And even if they were, assuming that COVID-19 was actually God’s judgement upon us, it would not be judgement because we broke the covenant promises, since the covenant promises were given to the nation of Israel, and not to individuals Christians that are living today.
Is COVID-19 God’s Judgement on The World?
As we all know, this pandemic is not just affecting Uganda, it is not just affecting selected countries in Africa. It is a global pandemic affecting everyone! Now somebody might come up and say “yah! That means God is bringing judgement upon the whole world.”
But should we conclude then that this is the only judgement God is bringing upon the world? Do we realise that there are several other ways and several times in which God has brought his judgement and not necessarily through the COVID-19 pandemic?
To limit God’s ability to judge sinners to COVID-19, is to underestimate God’s authority and sovereignty.
So to limit God’s judgement or ability to judge sinners by using the COVID-19 pandemic, is to underestimate God’s authority and sovereignty. But even more importantly, is to misinterpret the current pandemic and to try to squeeze it in scriptural passages which it does not belong.
These plaques and pandemics that we find in 2 Chronicles 6 as described by Solomon were part of the covenant curses that had been decreed in the event that God’s people walked away from God’s covenant.
There is no guarantee that this pandemic, these promises apply to every believer at any time or any age. There is no guarantee that just as these pandemics and plaques would had affected the nation of Israel that in the same spirit they must affect every country and nation today. Especially remembering that while in the Old Testament God was dealing with the nation of Israel as a whole – as a covenant people. God is not necessarily dealing with the political nations today.
God’s Covenant In the New Testament
So in other words, there is no specific plan that God is trying to accomplish for Uganda specifically.
When we come to the New Testament we see God dealing in covenant with the Church.
There are no particular scriptures in the Bible that are applicable to the United States of America or to England as a whole. No, no, no. What we see in the Old Testament is a covenant relationship between God and the Nation of Israel. But when we come to the New Testament we see God dealing in covenant with the Church.
We Live Under the New Covenant
New Testament believers as they have found Christ, their salvation in Christ Jesus, now through the body (which is the Church), God working in and through God’s people. And in the context of the Church we do not see any warning of pandemics or plagues or calamities that necessarily will befall believers or will befall specific political nations simply because the Church has sinned.
we do not see any warning of pandemics or plagues or calamities that necessarily will befall believers
Now, of course this is not an encouragement for the Church to sin or to go against God’s will. But still in the event that the Church has sinned, God will not judge any political nations simply because there are people in Church that are not living right.
We Cannot Apply 2 Chronicles 7:14 to Today’s Nations
So people who are claiming this Bible passage to apply it to today’s nations are misinterpreting the scripture. People who are claiming this Bible passage to show that COVID-19 is judgement against all nations of the world are misinterpreting and misapplying this particular passage. And certainly our response to this pandemic, using the same passage, is misplaced and misinterpreted. And therefore, we must go back to the drawing board and re-think.
Back to The Drawing Board
Certainly there are many passages we could use in the Bible to pray for the revival of nations. There are so many passages that we could draw upon in times of pandemics like COVID-19. But what we are saying is that 2 Chronicles 7:14 was not designed for this.
God’s word only yields results – only has power – when it is used in the context in which it was meant.
And when we use it we are using it out of context. We are using it in disregard of the entire meaning of the text. We are disregarding God’s purpose of his covenant with Israel. And we must be very careful because God’s word only yields results – only has power – when it is used in the context in which it was meant.
This Promise Was Not Meant For You
If God made a promise to Israel and you claim it when that promise is not meant for you, the promise will not come to pass simply because you claimed it. It can only come to pass if it is in conformity with God’s purpose and will for a particular context and for a particular time.
And as we look at 2 Chronicles 7:14 we can tell that this promise is context specific. It is addressed to Solomon, it is addressed to Israel as God’s covenant people. It is addressed in light of the covenant that God had already made with his people in Deuteronomy. And in light of Deuteronomy’s promises and warnings, this prayer comes to fruition. This prayer becomes relevant for King Solomon and his people. And this prayer is only applicable within their context.
So What Should We Do?
Now, does that mean that we should not pray and seek God’s face? Does that mean that when we have sinned we should not turn away from our wicked ways? Does that mean that when plaques and challenges like COVID-19 come that we should disregard them as believers and not do anything about it?
As Christians we are called to humble ourselves and pray.
Of course not! As Christians we are called to humble ourselves and pray.
Christians Must Still Pray
We are to pray for our nation. We are to pray for our leadership. We are to pray on behalf of those who continue to live wickedly. We are to pray against problems and challenges that come our way – like COVID-19. Remembering that God is powerful enough even to heal us and even to take away this pestilence.
So we are not saying that believers should not pray – for instance – that God should take away COVID-19. What we are saying is that Christians cannot legitimately claim 2 Chronicles 7:14 as a blanket immunity against COVID-19.
Don’t Assume Catastrophes Are God’s Judgement
That Christians cannot use this Bible passage to come to the conclusion that COVID-19 is judgement from God. There is no ample evidence in this specific passage to support that COVID-19 on judgement from God. For all we know if could just be any natural disaster or catastrophe – like we see todays storms and hurricanes and floods. They might just be natural phenomena that is characteristic of a sinful and fallen world like ours.
we must be very careful not to quickly conclude that anything bad that comes in our lives is judgement from God
As believers we must be very careful not to quickly conclude that anything bad that comes in our lives is judgement from God. And we must not be quick to jump at some Bible passages that we pull out as immediate or quick solutions to what we assume to be judgements of God.
Taking Scripture Out of Context Is A Mistake
While God certainly does judge sin, while God calls believers to repent of their wicked ways and turn to him, 2 Chronicles 7:14 is not a passage you can apply across all time periods for situations like COVID-19 and therefore conclude that because we have claimed the promise, then COVID-19 must go or must stop.
To do that is to live in wishful fantasy. To hurt yourself and of course to do a dis-service to the evidence and testimony of scripture which is God’s inspired word.
Lessons We Can Learn from 2 Chronicles 7:14
So how do we understand this and how do we move on from here? Are there any timeless principles that we can pick from 2 Chronicles 7:14 – even through we are well aware that it is not directly applied to us and was not meant to be applied to everybody living at any time in the history of the world?
How do we draw lessons from 2 Chronicles 7:14 without directly applying it to the Church today, or to the individual lives of believers today?
Well, there are a number of lessons we can learn from here.
1. God Is Merciful
One of the things we learn is that 2 Chronicles 7:14 introduces us to a God of mercy. A God of second chances. That just as Solomon calls out to God asking that God would relent in his judgement – and instead exercise mercy to forgive his people when they repent – we learn that the same God who was faithful and who was merciful to give a second chance to Israel, is still able to do so to people of all times.
And as believers we come to God relating to him as a God of mercy. A God who gives us what we do not deserve. A God who gives us second chances even through he has all the liberty to destroy all sinners. A God, in fact, who has climatically demonstrated his mercy and grace in Christ Jesus, when through Jesus he gave us a second chance at eternal life.
2. God Is Full of Grace
When through Jesus we who were recipients of death have now become beneficiaries of eternal life. As we look at 2 Chronicles 7:14 we recognise that there is room for forgiveness of sin. That Solomon is saying when God’s people have sinned – as they always do indeed because they are sinners – that they can always come to God and they will be sure that they will find God’s mercy and grace.
3. We Are Called to Love Holy Lives
We learn that as believers we cannot afford to live careless lives or even sinful and wicked lives. That we are called to live holy lives. That we are called to be people who pray. That we are called to be people who desire, who hunger and seek after God. And that we have the wonderful promise of God’s restoration.
4. God Will Restore Us Spiritually
We know that when we come before God in brokenness, not only will he forgive us but he will heal us from our spiritual sicknesses, from our spiritual bondages, and deliver us from the shackles of Satan and sin and make us holy and set apart ready for glory in heaven.
the camera is focused on the character of God, which is restorative.
We are also reminded that as we are believers looking at 2 Chronicles 7:14 that the camera is focused not so much on God taking away the plagues and pandemics from our broken and sinful world, but on the character of God, which is restorative.
5. Solomon Believed in God’s Ability to Forgive and Restore
Solomon approaches God with confidence that God indeed has the power and is willing to restore his people. And therefore he prays that god may do so. When people have sinned and have realised their error, and have turned away and have and sought God’s forgiveness and healing, Solomon says “Oh God, would you please do that.”
The reason that Solomon calls out to God to do this is because he recognises that God is able. He recognises that God is willing to forgive them. He recognises that God can actually and does forgive them and restore them. And that’s why he cries out to God – because he believes in God’s ability to do so.
6. God is Still Sovereign Today
As believers we must be reminded that the same God has not changed. That he is sovereign. That he is merciful, that he is gracious. And when we come to him in a broken spirit and we have a contrite heart, that God will not despise us but will receive us, will forgive us, and will restore us.
7. Ours God Is A God of Justice
We must also remember that our God is a God of justice. Solomon is quick to remember that when God’s people sin, God sends plaques and pandemics and calamities to judge them. And in the same spirit, as believers living today, we must remember that God is holy and certainly will not overlook any sin.
There is a final judgement that is coming. A judgement that will hold everyone accountable
And that’s why the New Testament has all sorts of warnings and calls believers to live holy and dedicated lives. Remembering that there is a final judgement that is coming. A judgement that will hold everyone accountable for their sins or the way they have lived their lives.
If God was not hesitant to bring judgement to Israel as a nation when they sinned, how much more will he bring judgment and disaster upon people today when they have sinned? If God was willing to withdraw his covenant blessing to the people called by his own name – the nation of Israel that he had chosen – how much more will he bring all these punishments and judgements to us Gentiles, when we disregard him and his plans for our lives?
Warning (and Encouragement) to Seek After God
This passage serves as a warning for how we ought to live in light of a holy God and his covenant. This passage reminds us of the God of grace – the God before whom we can come and we are reminded that it is not all over. This passages calls believers to earnest lives that continue to seek after God and to pray. Remembering that he is faithful and he is able to deliver us from whatever we are going through.
This passage is a call to humility. It is a call to more yearning after God. It is a call to holiness where believers are called to turn away from their wicked ways. We can learn how to live holy lives. We can learn how to depend on God during periods of crisis.
We can learn from this situation that Israel went through, so that we do not live like them and experience the same punishments and judgements.
2 Chronicles 7:14 and COVID-19
There is so much that 2 Chronicles 7:14 can teach us. But it cannot be used as a blanket statement to stop COVID-19. And it cannot be used as an explanation for COVID-19 that this is necessarily God’s judgment upon the world. Yet from it we can draw wonderful biblical lessons that can build us as believers and establish us in our most holy faith.
God’s word still has power and 2 Chronicles 7:14 is part of that inspired work of God. But it must be understood in it’s context for it to become a blessing for us today.
May God bless you so much as you think about it.