“If my people who are called by my name 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.”
-2 Chronicles 7:14, English Standard Version
This election cycle and even since I have seen this verse pop up a lot. It was referenced a lot around the inauguration of President Trump and in the build up to the election. People were using it to say we as a nation need to return to the Lord, pray, seek His will, and He will heal our land. It’s a lovely sentiment, especially for Evangelicals who want to see growth in the faith here in the United States. Here’s an example from evangelist Franklin Graham:
VP-elect @Mike.Pence is using Ronald Reagan’s Bible open to the truth of 2 Chronicles 7:14. This is what can make America great again!
— Franklin Graham (@Franklin_Graham) January 20, 2017
The problem? That’s not what this means in context.
Let me get this all out of the way first – the Bible is filled with promises to various people and, at times, to the Kingdom of Israel. Guess what – these people aren’t you and the nation they’re describing is not the United States. The United States was not a people set aside and selected by God to specifically worship Him (Exodus 6:7). The United States was not selected by God in order to bless the world through our lineage through Christ (Genesis 22:18). How does that apply to this passage? Let’s look at the full context.
The passage in question takes place in the greater context of the dedication of the recently built temple by Solomon. The first section of the passage talks about the dedication. In verse 12 of 2 Chronicles 7, the Lord appears to Solomon in the night. The Lord says that He heard Solomon’s prayer and has chosen the temple Solomon had built as His own. This is then followed with a promise specifically for the people of Israel. The Lord says when plague and pestilence fills the land so long as the Temple exists, for His people to focus on Him, humble themselves, pray, and seek Him through worship in the Temple. When they do so, the Lord will end the plagues and pestilence, hearing their prayer from the Temple.
Here’s a question before jumping into that passage and trying to apply it. Is the United States equivalent to the Kingdom of Israel with King Solomon in charge? Nope. We are not Ancient Israel. Promises in the Bible that apply to the Kingdom of Israel do not apply to us.
This does not mean that there is nothing to learn from this passage? Of course not. There are important lessons in humility and focusing on the Lord we can learn in this passage. However, the promise to heal the land, the promise to forgive the sins of the people en masse, that doesn’t apply to us. America is not the Kingdom of Israel and it never will be.
The story of the Bible is not about us. It’s a God’s story. Don’t change God’s narrative and try to make it about you.