“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.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
These words were spoken to the nation of Israel, a theocracy, at the dedication of Solomon’s Temple.
“Then Solomon sat on the throne of the Lord as king instead of David his father” (1 Chronicles 29:23).
“The throne of the Lord” in the verse above clearly indicates that the LORD was indeed the God of Israel who ruled over the nation through King Solomon. At that time Israel was clearly a theocracy ruled by the LORD.
Now during the early days before the birth of America in 1776, the Puritans were in fact seeking God and even called their land “the new Israel.” Later on the founding fathers used the Bible extensively to write the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and most of the founding fathers were born-again fundamentalist believers. This country was the only country founded on biblical principles, and as a result, God did bless America for 200 years. But she was not intended to be a theocracy where Church and State are one. The painful experience with the Church of England which did not allow believers to worship God freely led our founding fathers to amend the Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech…” Although the original intent of the fathers was likely to separate the “Christian” Church (like the Church of England) from the State, the First Amendment is now used to allow for Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and any kind of idol-worship to flourish in America. Therefore she is not a theocracy.
God’s promise in 2 Chronicles 7:14 was given specifically to a theocratic nation. Despite her very godly beginnings America was actually never such, but rather according to the Constitution a democracy (or as some now say a representative republic). Although we may have had God-fearing leaders and Presidents like George Washington who it is said made a covenant with God on behalf of the country, we are still a democracy which elects its human leaders—whether good or bad, whether godly or ungodly.
Perhaps the best illustration of our argument is our current President, chosen and elected by a majority of the American people. Does he fear the LORD? Is he leading America in a direction which pleases God? There may be other such leaders in our nation’s history, but our current president is clearly leading the nation in a direction which contradicts God’s laws. Moreover, he is clearly antagonistic toward the nation of Israel—God’s people in the Old Testament—and instead appears to favor her enemies.
“God’s promise in 2 Chronicles 7:14 was given to a theocratic nation. America was never a theocracy, but rather a democracy since its birth.”
It is therefore arguable that since our birth as a nation in 1776 we were never truly “God’s people” as Old Testament Israel was. Rather we were a democracy and therefore never to be compared with Israel—which had to follow the law of Moses strictly and was ruled by the LORD through His appointed servant Solomon, and not by a popularly elected leader. By contrast, as mentioned earlier, we in America are free to follow false religions and worship any idols or gods we would like—even satan himself. In theocratic Israel, this would have resulted in severe consequences for offenders.
We are certainly not arguing that America should have been created as a theocratic state. Given human nature, theocracies in this present dispensation will also fail as Israel failed God time and time again in the Old Testament. It is not God’s way to force human beings to worship and obey Him. In this present dispensation of grace we are given the choice to accept or reject God’s love through Jesus Christ. Therefore God’s purpose for America was never for her to be “His people” like theocratic Old Testament Israel, but rather a nation where the gospel could be shared freely to sinners who would be free choose to believe or not to believe. God’s purpose for blessing America was for her to send workers to the nations to preach the gospel to those who never heard. She was indeed “blessed to be a blessing.”
Therefore it is arguable whether or not America (or the Church in America) has a “special right” in God’s sight today to stand on the promise in 2 Chronicles 7:14 which was made to Old Testament Israel. A special right for America would of course imply that other nations today do not have that right. What has happened to the formerly great Christian nation of Great Britain with its empire which gave birth to America the foremost of nations? Let us remember that Britain was also the nation which sent out the likes of legendary missionaries Hudson Taylor and William Carey to pagan nations who never heard. One wonders if British Christians also prayed in accordance with 2 Chronicles 7:14 for their nation when the Church began to turn lukewarm around the 19th Century.
Theocracy will work only when Jesus Christ returns to establish His millennial kingdom on earth to rule over the nations, and even then by force “with an iron scepter.” Interestingly, “When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth–Gog and Magog–and to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore” (Revelation 20:7-8). Even after a millennium of unprecedented peace and prosperity under Jesus Christ, the nations will rebel against the Lord as Satan deceives them once again. The only perfect theocracy will come about with the “new heaven and new earth” of Revelation 21:1 after death and Hades are thrown into the lake of fire—the second death. A “Christian theocracy” on earth led by fallible and finite human beings will always eventually fail. It is simply not God’s plan for this dispensation. If there is now a theocracy on earth, it is the Church of Jesus Christ consisting of believers who obey the commands of their King.
Therefore when Christians gather together to pray for the democracy known as America using as a basis 2 Chronicles 7:14 originally applicable only for a theocracy, it’s questionable whether God will indeed “hear from heaven” and “heal our land” if we are to take Scripture seriously. As godly as many of her founders were, America as a democracy with people legally free to obey or disobey God’s moral law was never “God’s people” as Israel was meant to be. Yes, pray for America just as we are to pray for our leaders. But using 2 Chronicles 7:14 as a basis for that prayer might not be scriptural.
Some leaders, like Rabbi Jonathan Cahn who based on prophecy recorded in Scripture and recent events in America wrote The Harbinger, feel strongly that the nation of America will be facing very difficult times ahead. But the Lord will take care of His people who pray and seek His face, turning from their wicked ways. It happens moreover that believers in other countries also apply 2 Chronicles 7:14 to pray for their countries—countries which were never “Christian” at all and therefore could not in any way be considered “God’s people.” Rather their predominant belief was Islam, Hinduism, or Buddhism. But what if God hears and answers the prayer if those believers living in a pagan nation—as we see mentioned in the following announcement based on 2 Chronicles 7:14?
“If my people who are called by my name . . .
“ FRIDAY, JULY 17 at 7 pm the [….] Foundation will be hosting a SPECIAL DINNER with speaker Pastor Vernon Perera from the [officially Buddhist] country of Sri Lanka. Pastor Perera will be speaking on the subject of “Prayer for a Nation.” He understands well what it means to see the salvation of God intervene as He did recently in their country and delivered them from a dictator. They recently have a new President who is now re-establishing justice throughout the land.
God answered the prayer of the Sri Lankan believers not because Sri Lanka is or was ever a “Christian” nation or a nation ruled by God as was Old Testament Israel—therefore it was not on the basis of 2 Chronicles 7:14. Rather it was simply because of the prayer of the believers there who are called by his name. We must differentiate clearly between the Church consisting of believers in a particular country on the one hand, and the political entity which is that country on the other hand. “My people” in 2 Chronicles 7:14 if applied to our New Testament dispensation clearly refers to the Church or body of believers around the world, and not to the countries where they live. Therefore if God is gracious to “heal our land,” it is not because America is or ever was a “Christian” country (which is a highly moot point even among believers) but because God graciously hears the prayers of the believers in America. If believers living in any country on earth—whether Muslim, Buddhist, or Hindu—can (and do) lay claim to 2 Chronicles 7:14 as a basis for prayer for their nation, what gives the nation of America any special right to apply that Scripture for herself as “God’s people”?
Are believers in those pagan countries misapplying 2 Chronicles 7:14 while only believers in America have the right to stand on it? This is a perspective we have gained from ministering in over 40 countries on six continents throughout the world.
Israel in the Old Testament on more than one occasion backslid into idolatry and suffered painful discipline from the Lord. When they repented in accordance with 2 Chronicles 7:14, the Lord was faithful actually to deliver them from their enemies according to His promise. Their deliverance was actual and manifest as recorded in the Old Testament. But today after repeated gatherings of American Christians across the nation praying on the basis of 2 Chronicles 7:14, have we witnessed any positive change in our nation? While prayer may have impacted the Church in some positive way, our nation continues her freefall despite all the fervent intercessory prayer. For some reason, the Lord has not heard from heaven as He promised in 2 Chronicles 7. Is it simply because we haven’t prayed enough? Or could it be because “judgement begins first with God’s household” (1 Peter 4:17)? The Church first needs to “turn from her wicked ways” before she can be healed. But so far this does not appear to be taking place. Pastors are not preaching “REPENT” from our lukewarmness. Some churches are doing the opposite and embracing same-sex marriage. And if judgment begins with us, what will the outcome be for those—the nation of America as an example—who do not obey the gospel of God?
As another example, on the basis of 2 Chronicles 7:14 believers in Muslim Malaysia gathered together in large events to intercede for crucial general elections held in 2013. At stake, among other things, was religious freedom for Christians. (See http://www.necf.org.my/view_file.cfm?fileid=585 as one example of this.) The actual results of the ensuing elections, however, were very disappointing and not what the Malaysian believers prayed for.
Churches in Indonesia, likely at the encouragement of American preachers, have been coming together for large national prayer gatherings year after year after year in accordance with 2 Chronicles 7:14. So far there has been no change to speak of in the predominantly Muslim nation of Indonesia. Church leaders there have wondered about the effectiveness of these large annual prayer gatherings. Apparently God did not hear from heaven.
Just before the 2012 presidential elections in the US a major prayer gathering was held in Houston with Texas Governor Rick Perry present. At the time Perry was running for President and ahead in the polls. Later at a Presidential debate Perry stumbled badly and his poll numbers dropped precipitously. In the ensuing election, many Christians stayed at home opening the way for our current President to be re-elected and to remain in office for another four years during which he did even more damage—perhaps irreversible—to our nation’s interests. Why did not God hear our fervent prayers from heaven and heal our nation according to His clear promise in 2 Chronicles—as He did time after time for Old Testament Israel?
“God’s people” actually consist of the Church, the body of believers everywhere, and not to any particular country on earth today. “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.” What does “heal their land” mean for us New Testament believers if indeed we attempt to apply 2 Chronicles 7:14 as a basis for prayer today? It clearly has to do with healing for the Church and in the Church. It does not refer to healing for the land of America as she exists today, or for any other nation on earth for that matter.
By all means we may pray, but prayer for the nation of America according to 2 Chronicles 7:14 might indicate zeal without knowledge. And one consequence of doing so might be disappointment at what actually unfolds in our country.
Let us instead pray for the harvest in America as Jesus commanded instead of only praying for our nation—something Jesus actually did not command in the New Testament. Let us reach out to the millions of Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists which the Lord has allowed to settle in our land where we are still free to evangelize. (Could the “healing of our land” for us New Testament believers in America have to do with us reaching the lost who have settled in our land? Once they are saved, they can be taught to vote for godly leaders to lead America—counteracting what our President is now doing with amnesty for millions of illegal aliens.) With our immense resources let us also send workers into the vast harvest fields of the world where multiplied billions have never heard the gospel even once.
Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9:37-38)