by Vince D'Acchioli
Two of the most powerful words found in God's Word are if and then. When discovered in the right context they indicate God's promises resulting from man's obedience. These two words are found in this way in many places throughout the Bible but nowhere are they more profound then in 2 Chronicles. Read it with me please:
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 will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)
If My people
The word If in this context is a conjunction introducing a conditional clause - what follows is a clear list of conditions that, if met, will lead to a promised end. My people is a clear indication that God through this writer is speaking to those He would call His followers.
Called by My name
The meaning of called here would indicate that we, as His people, have a calling upon our lives. I am persuaded that our universal calling is, and always has been, to advance His kingdom on planet earth. The statement called by My name is further proof that this verse is directed only toward those who are followers of Christ.
Will humble themselves
This is perhaps the most important statement in the verse. It is interesting to note that the call to humble themselves comes before the call to actually pray. What does this mean? Tyron Edwards (an American theologian from the 1800s) perhaps said it best: Humility is not an abject, groveling, self-despising spirit; it is but a right estimate of ourselves as God sees us.
While the word pray should be understood by most Christians, sadly it is often misunderstood. There has been a lot written about prayer, however our best source is Jesus Himself as He has taught us in His Word. To acknowledge God, ask for specific needs and give thanks.
And seek My face
In my Strong's Concordance for 2 Chron. 7:14, the Hebrew for seek is abash #1245- "to search out (by any method), as in worship or prayer. “Presence” is a common translation of the Hebrew word face. For me this is one of the most important statements in the verse and is a natural follow on to the call for humility. We are called to worship God - to seek His presence. In my walk with Him I can honestly report that experiencing His presence is directly tied to my reaching a place of utter humility before Him.
And turn from their wicked ways
This may be the most critical IF condition on two fronts. First for most of us, especially us men, obedience to God's Word, which is clearly what is being asked for here, is very challenging. But second, we need to understand the relationship between obedience and power. James 5:16 says, The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. In this context righteousness means right standing before God. It carries with it the importance of true repentance. Could it be that our not seeing God more clearly intervening in the affairs of our nation has to do with our lack of spiritual depth stemming from our failure to obey?
Then I will hear - forgive - heal.
So here is the best part. The part where God promises to act as a direct result of our meeting His conditions. Sadly, it is also the part we focus upon without clearly recognizing the price He is calling us to pay to receive it.
Dear friends, we have never been more desperate to hear God, receive His forgiveness and experience His healing in our land (nation). I am convinced that while we understand the message wrapped up in Ephesians 6:12 we continue to try to win the battle through human engineering oftentimes seen in well meaning programs, political posturing and maneuvering. Please read this verse with me and really meditate on what is being said:
Ephesians 6:12 (NIV) For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
The message is clear - evil and dark places are all around us. The struggle against these forces will never be overcome using conventional, human engineered methods. Prayer is the answer but a comprehensive understanding of what is required of the believer who goes to Him in prayer is critical. My question to all of us - while we understand and deeply seek after the promise, how are we doing in meeting ALL of the conditions?
Finally dear ones remember this promise:
The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:5-7