Daily Thought for: 24th February
IF MY PEOPLE … HUMBLE THEMSELVES, AND PRAY, AND SEEK MY FACE, AND TURN FROM THEIR WICKED WAYS; THEN WILL I HEAR
2 Chronicles 7. 12-16
The words of our text record God’s response to several of Solomon’s earlier requests. Solomon had prayed, ‘When the heaven is shut up, and there is no rain …if they (the people) pray … and turn from their sin … then hear thou from heaven, and forgive the sin of thy … people Israel… and send rain upon thy land … if there be… pestilence …or… locusts … hear … and forgive’, 6. 26-30. The Lord agreed to do this if the people met certain spiritual conditions. The undertaking which God gave to Israel set the stage for much of what follows in the later chapters of 2 Chronicles.
The history of the kings of Judah is punctuated by four great reformations, led by Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah and Josiah respectively. One or more of the four key words - ‘humble’, ‘pray’, ‘seek’ and ‘turn’ - feature prominently in each of these reformations. For example, (i) in that led by Asa, the people ‘entered into a covenant to seek the Lord God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul’, 15. 12; (ii) in that led by Jehoshaphat, ‘he went out… among the people from Beersheba to the mountains of Ephraim, and turned them to the Lord God of their fathers’, 19. 4 lit.; (iii) in that led by Hezekiah, the ‘prayer’ of the levitical priests was heard on behalf of the people, 30. 27, cf. Hezekiah’s own prayers, 30. 18; 32. 20, 24; and (iv) in that led by Josiah, the Lord bore him witness, ‘thou didst humble thyself before God’, 34. 27.
It is important to note that God’s night revelation to Solomon was given as a promise to Israel with reference to their survival in the land, and not as a promise to the church with reference to times of revival and special visitation by Him. The Lord grants the latter only at such times as He chooses; there is no such thing as a guaranteed ‘revival formula’. Nonetheless, the words of our text undoubtedly hold true at the personal level. If today we nurse unconfessed sins in our lives, the path to restoration and enrichment is still to ‘humble’ ourselves, to ‘pray’, to ‘seek’ God again, and to ‘turn’ from our evil ways.