Beloved JAMA Partners,
Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ!
As COVID-19 continues to affect the world, causing fear and hardship, I pray that you all experience the grace and protection of God, as well as the shalom (peace) of Christ.
This morning (March 15), my wife and I shared an intimate worship service in our home, as we were unable to gather at church. As the president declared this day to be the National Day of Prayer, we repented of our sins, repented on behalf of the nation, and prayerfully approached our Father as we meditated upon His Word.
My wife and I read 2 Chronicles 7:1-22. This is a part of Scripture that we know well, and 2 Chronicles 7:14 has served as a key verse for JAMA over the past 27 years. However, God has once again powerfully given me a fresh revelation for repentance through these verses.
When we examine 2 Chronicles 7:1-3, the Bible records the completion of Solomon’s temple and the people of Israel praying and worshipping while giving thanks to the LORD.
1 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.”
This was indeed an incredible celebration. When all the people who gathered returned to their tents, we read that the LORD granted joyful hearts to the people of Israel for what God has done (Verse 10). The country was of one heart, prosperous and peaceful. King Solomon was happy and satisfied that the temple building project was successful.
However, the LORD appeared to Solomon (Verses 12-13):
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 locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people,
Wow! The LORD warns Solomon that it is to “my people,” not gentiles or to enemy nations, that he will send pestilence to kill.
However, God says that if His people would repent and turn back from their ways, He would afford them a renewed opportunity.
The LORD promises in Verse 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 from that point, in Chapter 7:15-22, the LORD continues to reveal His promises and warnings to Solomon.
The LORD reveals to Solomon that if he, like David, submits and obeys to the LORD’s commands, He will establish the royal throne and fulfill His covenant promise with His people. However, the LORD continues to warn Solomon that if he turns aside and forsakes the statutes and commandments of the LORD, choosing to serve other gods and worship them, then the LORD will uproot Israel from His land and cast them out of His sight.
Verses 21 to 22 continue, “And at this house, which was exalted, everyone passing by will be astonished and say, ‘Why has the LORD done thus to this land and to this house?’
22 Then they will say, ‘Because they abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers who brought them out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other gods and worshiped them and served them. Therefore he has brought all this disaster on them.’”
Yet, despite the warnings from the LORD, Solomon chose to raise idols and serve them, although the LORD warned that His wrath would not be imparted upon Solomon but upon Solomon’s offspring. Nevertheless, Solomon did not repent.
Because of disobedience, the LORD divided the nation, resulting in 400 years of conflict between the north and south. As a result of this divide, a once thriving nation was subject to living in poverty and slavery.
As I was reading this passage, I began to reflect on what kind of warnings the LORD is revealing to us today, and how we ought to respond in order to discern what His purpose is for us.
In 1620, the pilgrims and puritans arrived in America, and for 400 years they experienced the abundant blessing of God in their lives. I firmly believe that these blessings were a result of their obedience and commitment to Scripture, Biblically-focused families, Gospel-centered churches, Scripture-based education, and Biblically driven workplaces. I believe these strong Christian foundations provided them with the wisdom they needed to endure hardships.
When we witness hardships and struggles in the midst of God’s people, when people repent and turn from their ways to re-align themselves with the LORD, He has never failed to protect and bless His people.
However, in the last 100 years (especially in the past 60 years), God’s people have failed to submit to the authority of Scripture, dismissing the Christian principles that the Puritans worked tirelessly to instill. Growing increasingly arrogant and proud, they have fallen into continuous cycles of sin. In His anger, God has given signs and warnings in various ways, yet the Church and His people have not awakened.