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Road to Restoration and Revival, 2Chro 7: 13, 14

By Nelson Thomas Mumbai

“When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, 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 will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Even when the world was intensely looking for a relief from the COVID-19 pandemic, the second wave hit so swiftly and hard. Many who escaped the contagion so far are stunned to see the coronavirus at their doorstep. God’s people everywhere are sincerely praying for a definite divine intervention. More and more prayer groups are conducting special sessions of intercession for the affected ones across the globe. There is no doubt that in times like these, supplication to the almighty God alone is our recourse. May the Lord be gracious to His people everywhere.

In this situation, it’s good to consider the words of the Lord to Solomon the King regarding what the response of the people should be whenever they face draught, famine and pestilence etc. Here we can notice the path to deliverance from such hostile circumstances, permitted by God Himself. Five things are noteworthy in relation to our prayers.

1. The Lord does listen and respond to our prayers, 2Chro. 7:12

Solomon just concluded the dedication of the newly built temple. 2Chro. 7: 1, 11. In his dedicatory prayer, he referred to the various situations of the people of Israel and the Lord’s response to them. So, he appealed to the Lord to listen them graciously in all such circumstances whenever they plead for mercy from this temple. 2Chro. 6: 26-28.  The Lord appeared to Solomon saying, "I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice.” 2 Chro. 7:12.

       What a comfort it is to know that God attends to our petitions and even answers them. For a believer, prayer is not just a religious ritual or a spiritual exercise. It’s a personal communion with a loving, caring and merciful Creator. He who made us and the innermost part of our being knows everything about us. Psa. 71:6; 139: 13-16. No part of our life is hidden to Him, and even our times are in His hands. Psalm 31:15. Hence, nothing is accidental or unfortunate in a believer’s life, and through prayer, we yield ourselves to God’s perfect plan in life.

       With all assurance of such spiritual truths revealed in the scripture we approach God in prayer. How grateful we ought to be to the Lord Jesus Christ through whose atoning work on the cross alone we have this access to God our Father. Romans 5: 1, 2; Eph. 2: 18; Heb. 10:19.

2. God chastens His people for their disobedience and rebellion, 2Chro. 7:13

When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people...”
Actually, this was not a new revelation to Solomon, he knew this already. God had this revealed even through Moses that just as obedience leads to divine blessings, sin and disobedience would result in God’s displeasure and subsequent disciplinary actions. Leve. 26:14ff; Num. 14:12; Deut. 11: 16, 17.

Remember, not only is our God loving and gracious, He is holy and righteous too. The Lord is always angry at evil whether it happens in the life of a believer or an unbeliever. Rom. 1: 18ff; Eph. 5:5, 6; Colo. 3:5, 6. Of course, there may be differences in connection with the time and method of the outpouring of His wrath on the rebellious.

Wrath on Christ
One can be saved from the wrath to come because the Lord Jesus Christ through His sufferings and death on the cross atoned for the sins of mankind. John 3:36; Rom. 5:9; 1Thess. 1:10. Nonetheless, this salvation from the future wrath of God by faith in Christ does not mean that one can live in sin today.

       Each time we sin, disobey the word of God, we are worthy to be disciplined as any loving father will do with his child. Heb. 12: 4-11 cf. 1Cor. 11: 29-32. The purpose of this divine chastisement is to convict us of our failure and lead us to confess our evil ways and find restoration on the basis of the finished work of Christ on the cross. 1John 1: 7, 9.

       Throughout the life of the Israelites, we see such seasons of chastisement from God. Natural calamities, famine, sword of the enemies, attack by wild beasts, and pestilence were some of the methods of judgment they had to face. Cf. Jere. 15: 2, 3; 30:15; Ezek. 14: 21; Amos 4: 6-12. In the New Testament period also we see the similar hand of God dealing with the unrepentant, disobedient saints. Acts 5: 1-10; 1Cor. 11: 29-32; Heb. 12: 5-11.

       Many believers ignore this truth, maybe due to an over-emphasis of the security of salvation. John 10: 28, 29; Rom. 8:1. If the saints in the first century had to face chastening for their failures, can we suppose we can violate the divine injunctions and live as if nothing will happen? God’s principle is the same whether Old Testament or the New. He hates sin and rebellion. We ought to be holy and obedient to His word. Any failure is surely detrimental for our right relationship with God. Sin will be dealt with, beginning from the household of God. Heb. 2: 1-4; 10: 26; 1Peter 4:17.

3. A believer’s failure has a cascading effect.

Scripture makes it very clear; each one is accountable for their sins. Ezek. 18: 2-4, 20. Similarly, for salvation also each one has to confess and yield to the Saviour. Rom. 10:9. I am responsible for my choice—whether to live in sin or to be saved and sanctified by the work of Christ. Yet, the effect of that choice will come upon not only the individual concerned, but also upon the immediate family, the community and even the land.

       There are many examples in the scripture to prove this. The story of Achan should be a warning in this regard. The entire Israelites had to face the Lord’s displeasure. And the whole family had to bear the consequences of his lust. Joshua 7:5, 24-26.

       David, the man after God’s own heart, reaped the consequences of his sin individually as well as a family, even after confessing his sins. 2Samuel 12: 13, 14. When Israel as a nation went through various judgments as mentioned earlier, there were godly men living among them. Isaiah 3:10; Jere. 15:11; Ezek. 9:4. But they also had to go through the same painful events which Israel as a nation had to pass through.

       Similarly, even today the failure of parents affects the right development of their children; the local congregation is in chaos because of the disobedient leadership. Self-centered and unfaithful ministers lead the local churches in the wrong direction.

       Not only that, the failed life of a believer becomes a bad example and the name of the Lord is defiled. Notice the expression, “My people who are called by My Name”. v. 14. This expression shows that just as God is concerned about His people, He is also concerned about His name. If we who claim to be God’s own people follow after the wicked lifestyle of the world, God’s name will be blasphemed. Neh. 5:9; Ezekiel 36: 20ff; Rom. 2:24.

       The more well-known and influential a Christian is, the more serious and damaging will be their failures. That’s why, to protect God’s own name and glory, He chastens His people, of course, that too in His love and justice. So, we should never neglect this reality that the sins of the saints have far reaching repercussions, affecting many for generations, the land and even the name of the Lord.

4. God always gives man an opportunity for restoration, 2Chro. 7:14

Solomon’s prayer was that whenever a penitent Jew will call upon God from His temple, He would hear from heaven and forgive the Israelite. That’s exactly what the Lord says to Solomon. He is more than happy to forgive and restore one back to His fellowship.

      Often we see that man is so cruel that he refuses to forgive, forget and reestablish a broken relationship. Even certain religious followers and governments have no iota of mercy; hence, they have no option for forgiveness.

       But God our Creator is merciful and compassionate. In His marvelous kindness the Lord is willingly waiting for the fallen one to come back. He wants to renew relationship with the rebellious, unworthy people. Scripture reveals plenty of occasions where we see soon after pronouncing words of condemnation God presents a way out too. Isaiah 1:18; Ezek. 18:32. He wants to revive the dead, bless the accursed and use them again for His glory. Jer. 18: 4-6; John 5:14; 8:11.

       This is the major point of God’s communication with Solomon on that night. Here, the Lord sets the sure pathway to restoration and revival among His people, which is applicable for any age.

5. Restoration is possible only when we fulfill God’s requirements. 2 Chro. 7:14

Merely understanding and acknowledging God’s gracious promises and provision will not bring forgiveness or restoration. We have to follow the steps set by the Lord Himself. Many prefer to consider only selective aspects of the spectrum of divine revelation. They are happy with the love, mercy and grace of God but neglect His holiness and justice. They focus on what touches their emotion, but neglect the divine demands that should affect their volition.

       Consequently, their prayers and spiritual services became a ritual without any response from God. Sadly, nobody is bothered to examine the legitimacy and the efficacy of these services. All are happy and satisfied with the activities irrespective of the motive, method and the consequences.

      Nevertheless, the Lord tells Solomon, it’s not enough to draw near to God in prayer and supplication; certain definite steps must be followed and conditions need to be fulfilled. Elsewhere also we find references regarding prerequisites to approaching God to find His favor.

      However, from verse 14, we can notice three important things that are most essential in this current situation.

i. Humility. if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves,” v. 14a

      Pride is the greatest obstacle between man and God. God hates and resists the arrogant. James 4:6; 1Peter 5:5. In fact, sin itself originated from the haughtiness of Lucifer. Isaiah 14: 12-14. The self-exaltation and arrogance to reach above the Almighty God led to the fall of Satan. Ezek. 28: 12-17. No wonder man who is energized by Satan is haughty and egotistical in his attitude and actions. God will never allow this devilish attitude to succeed. 1Tim. 3:6. Man needs to be conscious of the seriousness of his pride and get rid of it before God can deal with him.

       Remember, the most dangerous form of pride emanate from spirituality found in religious people; for they see themselves as the most godly, holy, prayerful and generous people. The Lord Jesus narrated this clearly in the parable of the Pharisee’s prayer. Luke 18: 9ff. Not only do they consider themselves as the most righteous but they also ridicule and despise others. Many do not even recognize the ugliness of this kind of mindset. Without any shame or hesitation they flaunt their glory and despise others.

For God to forgive and restore His people, they should consciously and purposely humble themselves. Reformers among the Israelites from time to time called upon the people and even led them to humble themselves. Ezra 8:21.

       They knew, that “The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit.” Psa. 34:18. Even Manasseh, one of the wicked kings of Judah finally humbled himself in his afflictions and God heard his prayers graciously. 2Chro. 33:12ff. Such is the surety of God’s promise; God looks upon people favourably when they willingly humble themselves. Isa. 66:2; James 4:9, 10.

       On the contrary, if we exalt ourselves displaying our ability, education, riches, heritage etc., God’s word shows that God will have to put us down! Deut. 8: 2, 16. Apostle Paul’s words are noteworthy in this context, “For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am…” 1Cori 15: 9, 10a cf. 1Tim 1: 12-15.

       A God-fearing believer will be conscious about the danger of self-exaltation and avoid any opportunity to display the same. Even when others appreciate and honour them, they will know where to draw the line. True humility - not the show of it - is the first step towards divine favor and forgiveness.

ii. Pursuit for God. “humble themselves, and pray and seek My face”

The natural man is not only proud of his achievements, he is selfish too. He considers himself as wise and his ways as perfect. Such attitude of man leads him slowly and surely to destruction. Pro. 16:25. That’s why it’s imperative to keep on seeking God and His ways in all humility. We can notice three aspects of seeking God.

a. Longing to know God personally.

Basically, our pursuit for God should never be of self-interest, but to see His glory and purposes. God Himself should be our priority and goal. With such an attitude we should come to His presence to see His greatness and enjoy His majesty. Pro. 8:17

b. Seeking to know God’s will.

Another aspect of seeking God is to search for His perfect will in our day to day life. Every step of a believer should be ordered by the Lord. Psa. 37:23. That’s why we need to seriously seek the sacred pages with prayer. Ezra 7:10. God always shares His counsel with all those who seek Him seriously and sincerely. Psa. 25:9; Isa. 55:6.

c. Discerning the divine hands.

The context here is God’s judgment against His own people. Instead of ignoring the incidents that befall us unexpectedly, we ought to evaluate and discern the divine message behind them. Alas, often we swiftly scheme ways to overcome divinely permitted calamities and unfavorable situations. But very slow do we enquire and find out what God actually wants to communicate in all such circumstances.

       This happened to the people of Israel frequently. The false preachers who spoke of false peace and security were gladly accepted, and the prophets like Jeremiah who spoke of divine chastening and the Lord’s message were sidelined and even persecuted. Jer. 23: 17, 21; 26:11.

Often it takes painful, troublesome experiences for man to realize the value of divine intervention. That’s why God in His wisdom and love allows His people to go through manifold trials. However, it’s foolishness to suppose that we can continue in our unscriptural, unspiritual ways and experience divine pleasure.
      There is an interesting observation mentioned about Asa the king of Judah, “And in the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa became diseased in his feet, and his malady was severe; yet in his disease he did not seek the LORD, but the physicians.” 2Chro 16:12. This means that even as we face unfavourable, painful circumstances, God expects us to seek His counsel and live in His will.

c. Repent and return. “turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear

The third requirement for forgiveness and restoration is to turn from our wicked ways. ‘Wicked ways’ refers to their sinful, selfish and disobedient ways. Anything that is contrary to God’s perfect will. As long as they continue with the same pattern of living, the Lord makes it very clear that He will not hear their prayers.

      For religious people, a show humility and devotion may give a mental satisfaction that God has heard them. But the holy and living God who closely watches the innermost part of our being will never respond to our prayers if we continue to follow the same false and evil path we have been treading.

      It is interesting to notice how few Jewish leaders came to seek God’s counsel from Ezekiel. The Lord told Ezekiel, "Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts, and put before them that which causes them to stumble into iniquity. Should I let Myself be inquired of at all by them?” Ezek. 14: 3.

      They were still keeping idols in their hearts and not willing to forsake their evil ways. Yet they want to show that they are seekers of divine favour. The Lord makes it clear, “Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness,". Ezek. 14;14 cf. Jer. 15:1. If people fail to repent and return to the Lord, even the intercessory prayers of the godly men will fail.

       When indicting Judah for their wickedness, the Lord refers to a number of sins that were taking place among them. We can notice that not only individual transgressions, but the sins committed as a society also were accounted for. Cf. Isaiah 1-10. God who judges man in righteousness will not ignore the cry of the poor and downtrodden. Influential men and even corrupt officers in the government cheated the poor. God listed all such sins of the community and judged them accordingly. Isaiah 5:8ff.

       Remember, it is very difficult for man to realize their own failures. Easily and quickly they may see other’s failures. But when it comes to their own fault, they are not ready to acknowledge. We always think we are right and only someone else is wrong. Pro. 16:25; 1Cor. 4:4. If we have any sincerity before the Lord, we need to plead to the Lord, with the psalmist, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139: 23, 24.

       Throughout the history of Israel we see whenever the people and the leaders took the initiative to repent and return to the Lord, He heard them and restored them back to His fellowship. God is always happy to forgive and restore. He says, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?'” Ezekiel 33:11; 2Chro. 30: 6, 9; 14:6. In the New Testament also we see the Lord repeatedly calling upon the Lord’s people to repent and return if they want to avoid divine discipline. Reve. 2: 5, 16, 22; 3:3, 19.

So, what should be our response to these threefold sure step to forgiveness and restoration presented by God Himself? Shall we blame each other and make a show of our superior spiritual status. Like Nehemiah, Daniel etc., we ought to take up the responsibility. Neh. 1:7; Dan. 9: 5, 6. We need to confess the sins of the people, our community, and our land. Plead with the Lord to sharpen our spiritual insight. Search the scriptures prayerfully to come back to the word of God. Be ready to correct the fault wherever it is, even if it has been introduced by the strong and influential ones.

      Let’s return to the old paths, the scriptural teachings and practices, in their true sense. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1John 1:9




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