This explicit question comes to mind every time I hear someone trying to fan up a revival or some kind of emotional experience using the 2 Chronicles 7:14 offer. Neither Canada nor the US is eligible to call itself God’s people and we do not see a snowball’s chance in hell of either nation doing anything close to humbly praying, seeking God’s face, and turning from malevolence. Since we have no “people” to answer this offer the question stands: what does a healed land look like?
If my people, which are called by my name, shall 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
The path to health – IF MY PEOPLE
We do not have to imagine what Solomon’s kingdom went through after hearing this invitation to healing. It was steadily downhill from there on. Steeped in Baalism and dependence on the friendship of superpower entities, Judah had the promise of restoration after exile and humiliation. The dozens (hundreds?) of times we have heard 2 Chronicles 7:14 put forward have had an impression but IF MY PEOPLE is a poor model Church health.
What is in the offer?
The humility, praying, the face, the turning, the wicked ways, the voice from heaven, the forgiveness for sins and a healthy land are all familiar. What does ring a discordant bell are the following lines to interpretation. Some things turn out to be oil on the water of gospel truth, and the rivers of repentance in particular.
- How more humble can one get than to be dependent for everything on Christ, the king of humility and justice?
- There are no wicked ways or corruption from which the disciple of Christ has not escaped. Are we going to invent new sins from whose power the great salvation does not free us? Neither Christ nor the Holy Spirit is in the sin ministry. The latter steers us away from sin.
- One individual (Moses) has had a face-to-face with Yahweh and that practically rules out any face gazing by any other ancient Israelite. We are permanently face-to-face with Christ. How else could we claim to see and be in fellowship with the Father?
- The implications of attaching the pollutions of ancient Hebrew life (Canaanite practices) to the Church’s lifestyle is enormously unseemly (the church is not a wandering assembly. She does have a journey but it is in intimate company with God, not accompanied by angels. Were we not begotten in this very world?
SInce the audience to the IF MY PEOPLE offer did not know what God’s face looked like (we know they did not know because light for the world is only in Yeshua’s face) then we are on our way to understanding why the healing of Israel has not materialized.
It is certain that face was not literal for the ancient Hebrew people. The term refers to the type of the interactions and the relationship that God wanted. The face pinpoints the distinction of God’s identity and his word. God did not call Israel to gaze on his face but to pay attention to his words. He did not call the ancients to receive his Spirit as a seal or downpayment.
If Israel knew God’s face history would have been very different: no exile, no defeat by foreign powers, no seduction into Canaanite abominations. They did not know God’s face. An extreme example of this unfamiliarity is Jonah, a prophet sent on a foreign mission, showed that God’s signature – mercy and pardon – was a foreign concept to him. God’s revelation of himself is in Yeshua’s face. Seeing God’s face means the opposite of returning to Sinai, the Exodus, and the possession of Canaan. It ought to mean a person-to-person reality: God and human.
Pardon and Productivity
Forgiving sins was God’s commitment from the Exodus to the destruction of the temple. All along the pilgrim journey God forgave sins. If he did not it meant that people were not asking for it.
“Lord, if you are pleased with me, please go with us. I know that these are stubborn people, but forgive us for the bad things we did. Accept us as your people.”Exodus 34:9
And He did! There are 9 scenarios in Leviticus 4, 5 and 6 where Yahweh instructed Moses to assure the people that missing the mark will be forgiven.
I think it is wonderful for IF MY PEOPLE to contain a path to mercy (hileos, ιλεως) and health. However the healing of the land, if it is to be faithful to the law, has to be the same old “purge out the heathen” and “rid the camp of leaven”. Even the land of milk and honey has famines, leprosy, widows and pestilence, so its health has to be a factor of something other than fertility. That would mean that the church is tasked with rooting up weeds and, in ignorance, assaulting the grain.
The healed land in prophecy
The healing of the land or people has not happened. The first two of the three pillars of this prescription are familiar to every Christian- quite literally. Hearing from heaven and having sins forgiven are in our heritage. True, we block out the voice with our busyness from time to time and it is silly to propose that anyone can ignore the voice of the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit has the commission and all the means of heaven to help us. He is not failing to keep us for the day of resurrection. We do grieve him, but we are sealed.
The healed land revealed
It is far more likely that the picture of a healed land is something out of prophecy, which is a good thing, but land is locked in on earth or dust: what we are made of the lands where we live. There is no era in the history of Israel where this healing has covered the land and Ezekiel alone among the prophets gets down to the nitty gritty of a healed land and he does so without Gentiles! Was he kidding or just being orthodox?
Magnificence without magnifying the Lord
In the visions of God He brought me into the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain, and on it to the south there was a structure like a city.Ezekiel 40:2
What Ezekiel reports regarding the land, the people and the services of the priests runs counter to the other prophets and is mind-bogglingly oppositional to the Messianic mission and vision. There are more than a few empty cups on the table. If we can see no trouble in Peter telling the Holy Spirit “No” then we should find no reason to support unclean people and a Mosaic temple. Anything that revives a symbol is likely to be polluted.
Empty cups on the menu
- The temple itself. Who needs another symbol?
- The offering of animals for sins cannot be a serious treatment of human need for effective atonement
- Circumcision separates the worshippers
- Regulations about who the priests may marry cannot be anything but partiality
The healed land is definitely one of those things that the wise men and kings of old longed to see and never did, which puts it in the “we have it now” or “we have seen it now” category, or it it one of those things that has not entered into human thought.