For many evangelicals, 2 Chronicles 7:14 has become a predictable refrain for run-of-the-mill civil religion, supposedly offering the promise of national blessing in exchange for political purity.
“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 I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
If the nation returns to golden days of godliness, we are told, blessings shall abound and the land shall be restored. If policy follies are fixed and rampant rulers remedied, the garden will once again grow. We are to “take our country back,” saith the Lord, if grace and mercy are to enter the scene.
Yet as Russell Moore reminds us, to apply the verse in such a way amounts to little more than “theological liberalism” – “whatever one’s political ideology”:
This verse is a word written to a specific people – the people of God – who were coming home from exile. They were coming home from a time in which they were dominated and enslaved by a foreign power. At a time when they needed to be reminded of who they were, who God was and what he had promised to do, this passage was given to them to point them back to Solomon’s reign, reminding them of what Solomon did when he built the temple, the house of the Lord, the place of the gathering of the worship of God…
… When God said to them, “If my people who are called by name,” he was specifically pointing them back to the covenant that he made with their forefather Abraham. At a specific point in their history, God had told Abraham about his descendants, saying “I will be their God” and “They will be my people.” That’s what “My people” means.
God reminded a people who had been exiled, enslaved and defeated that a rebuilt temple or a displaced nation cannot change who they were. They were God’s people and would see the future God has for them.
But what future does God promise us?