Many people have quoted 2 Chronicles 7:14 as a promise for revival in their own land or country. And while one application drawn from this scripture can be that God will restore a people when they return to Him in repentance and prayer, the context of this scripture was not written as a generic promise to any nation, but as an answer to a wise prayer made by King Solomon.
Solomon was the son of King David, a man after God’s own heart. (Acts 13:22) When the Lord had given David rest from his enemies, he considered the goodness of God as he sat comfortably within his home and said to the prophet Nathan, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells inside tent curtains.” (2 Samuel 7:2) To put this in today’s vernacular, David was saying, “Hey, wait a second, I’m sitting in the lap of luxury, but my church is in shambles.” So David had it in his heart to build a house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord. (1 Chronicles 28:2)
Before David could lay down any brick and mortar God interrupted his plans. You see, David was a man of war. Even if you’ve not read the Bible extensively, it’s likely you have at least heard of David’s conquest over a giant named Goliath. Knocking down that big and hair Philistine was only the beginning of David’s conquests for God. Upon becoming king he frequently led his people into battle against their enemies. So God said to David, “You shall not build a house for My name, because you have been a man of war and have shed blood.” (1 Chronicles 28:3)
God had a different plan. (Isn’t that so often the case?) God said to David, “It is your son Solomon who shall build My house and My courts; for I have chosen him to be My son, and I will be his Father.” (1 Chronicles 28:6) God then told David to make sure he continually observed His commandments so that he would be kept in the good land and hand it down as an inheritance to his son and all future generations. (1 Chronicles 28:8)
David then gave Solomon one of the best father to son pep talks of all history. He told him to serve the Lord with a loyal heart, a willing mind and to seek Him knowing that those who seek God will find Him. David then gave Solomon this stern and firm directive, “Consider now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary; be strong, and do it.” (1 Chronicles 28:10) Any red blooded man would be charged up and ready to go after a good firm rally cry like this from their father.
After 40 years of reign, David’s authority was handed over to his son Solomon. David died “in a good old age, full of days and riches and honor; and Solomon his son reigned in his place.” (1 Chronicles 29:28) With the admonition of his father David, Solomon began to work on building the house of God.
As we fast-forward the story to the book of second Chronicles chapter 6, the temple of God has been built, the ark has been brought into the temple and now Solomon is dedicating the house of God to the Lord. This is where it gets really good!
Solomon stood before the whole assembly of Israel to give a speech and dedicate the house of God. Please don’t miss the fact that this is a HUGE moment in history. In terms of significance, it could be compared to our modern day Presidential Inaugural Speech. It is a moment of great excitement and awe, thrill and wonder.
Solomon starts his speech by blessing the people and blessing God who made it possible. He then explains how David wanted to build a temple for the name of the Lord, but how the Lord had wanted Solomon to build it. At this point, it’s sounding like a good Grammy acceptance speech. (2 Chronicles 6:3-11)
But then Solomon stands before the entirety of people, stretches his hands to the heavens and kneels down before God. Imagine this, the king of the land bowing down before all his own people and humbling himself before the Lord God. (Boy, we could sure use some of that humility in our leadership!)
Solomon then calls out to God with one of the wisest prayers ever recorded in the Bible. Now at this point, if you’ve never read this story, stop and guess what Solomon is going to say. Better yet, think about what you would say before God in a moment like this as you kneel before “the world”. Would you give God thanks? Would you pray for God to bless your church, sanctuary etc?
Solomon looks beyond the moment, the hype and the excitement and gazes into the future. Solomon knows the frailty and short-sightedness of man. He knows that after the glory of the moment wears off people will get back to their everyday lives and in many ways forget the great thing that God has done. Furthermore, he acknowledges that the people will sin. They will break God’s law, they will fight amongst themselves, they will enter into battle without first seeking the Lord, they will have times of drought and pestilence and sword, they will fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
So in the Wisdom of Solomon, he begins to petition and almost negotiate with God.
God, when we sin will you forgive us? (2 Chronicles 6:21)
When we have disputes among us will you act justly ? (2 Chronicles 6:22-23)
When we are defeated by our enemies because of our sins, will you restore us? (2 Chronicles 6:24-25)
When we suffer drought because of our sin, if we repent will you send rain? (2 Chronicles 6:26-27)
When we have famine and our crops are spoiled by pestilence and when we are sick will you heal us and restore us? (2 Chronicles 6:28-31)
When foreigners come to the house of God to seek you will you answer them? (2 Chronicles 6:32-33)
When we go to battle if we seek you first will you give us victory? (2 Chronicles 6:34-35)
When we are taken captives by our enemies because of our sin against you, if we return to you, will you restore us to our land? (2 Chronicles 6:36-39)
Solomon and the people then dedicate the temple and offer burnt offerings to the Lord. The fire of God comes down from heaven consuming the sacrifices and the glory of the Lord fills the temple. (2 Chronicles 7:1) Would you have loved to witness that?! Later that night, the Lord appears to Solomon and says:
I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for myself for a house of sacrifice. If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; If my people, who 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. Now my eyes shall be open, and my ears attentive unto the prayer that is made in this place. (2 Chronicles 7:12-15)
Aren't you glad that God answered the way that He did? He could have said, "Three strikes and you're out." Or, "Fat chance, Solomon, if you blow it, you don't get another try." But that's not our God! It is the heart of God to bring about restoration among his people. As the Lord answered, "YES" to Solomon He answers “YES” to His people today. YES, I will restore my people when they fall short and sin. YES, I will heal broken marriages when the husband and wife humble themselves and ask for my grace. YES, I will deliver those bound by drugs and alcohol when they call upon my name. YES, I will restore and forgive those who are living in sexual immorality when they repent. YES, I will set the hearts of my children back on fire for me when they grow cold and weary. YES, I will forgive my leaders who have become covetous and greedy when they acknowledge their sins before me.
Whatever you are struggling with today, don’t hide it any longer. Confess it. Bring it out into the open before the Lord. “He that covers his sins shall not prosper: but whosoever confesses and forsakes them shall have mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13) “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”(1 John 1:8-9)
Search your heart today and ask the Lord for his forgiveness. Come back to Him and He will restore you and renew you to wholeness. For with the Lord when we come to Him in prayer and seek his forgiveness, the answer is always, “YES”!