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,
Throughout the week I like to look on the verse of the day on Biblegateway. I do this for two reasons - to help me focus on a particular scripture verse to memorize, and to read the entire chapter the verse is in, in order to keep it in context. I often find by doing this something else will jump out at me that God wants me to see so that I can write about it here.
The verse above comes after King Solomon had finished the Temple in Jerusalem. He and the people celebrated it's completion for twenty-three days, with offerings and sacrifices, music and praise. It was a joyful time and God had made His presence known by causing fire to come down from heaven to consume the burnt offerings (2 Chronicles 7:1). His glory filled the Temple and because it did, even the priests who were dedicated to Him could not enter the Temple. Try to imagine what that was like. Fire came down from heaven and this fire represented the glory of God. It completely filled the Temple and everyone who was there saw it, bowed with their faces to the ground and worshipped God. Imagine how you would be feeling if you had been there. Certainly you would be afraid. Fire from heaven is not a normal thing you see every day. You would also be in awe. You would be grateful, because as a person in that era, you would know about the gods of the other nations and you would now be comparing them to the Most High God. And you would realize without a doubt that there was only one God and all the rest were fake. You would also feel loved because the God of the universe had blessed your people by showing favour to you. The honour, the implications of that alone would be overwhelming. Would you ever be able to get off your knees?
But the day came when the celebrations ended and King Solomon sent everyone back to their homes. That night, God came to him and told him that He had heard his prayer (2 Chronicles 6) and reminded Solomon that He had chosen the Temple as a place for Himself, a house of sacrifice. Then He said:
When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, 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 will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.
King Solomon knew that if he or the people sinned against God from that point forward, they would need to humble themselves, pray, seek God and turn from their sin in order for God to hear them and forgive them. Notice that the verse does not say "If I shut up heaven", but "When I shut up heaven", meaning, bad things would continue to happen in the world despite the fact that they were His chosen people.
We know sin has consequences and as history and the Bible would reveal, King Solomon led his people into sin by worshipping other gods. Due to this, other kings who came after Solomon continued to sin and because they did not repent, God did what He told Solomon He would do if there was unrepentant sin in the land:
But if you turn away and forsake My statutes and My commandments which I have set before you, and go and serve other gods, and worship them, then I will uproot them from My land which I have given them; and this house which I have sanctified for My name I will cast out of My sight, and will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples.
Unrepentant sin cannot go unpunished, but God in His infinite mercy would set a new plan in motion. He placed the punishment meant for all people on the shoulders of one man. His name was Jesus. He took our sin upon Himself and crucified it on a cross. By His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5) and forgiven. He became the sacrificial lamb for all people. But it wasn't something to take for granted or a "get out of jail free card". We are still required to humble ourselves, pray, seek God and turn from our sin. Jesus Himself said in John 14:6, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
Today we live in an unrepentant world that has thrown the offering of salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord, back in the face of God. In fact, many in positions of church leadership, who profess to know the Lord are, like Solomon, leading their congregations astray. Some, in the name of tolerance, are agreeing that homosexuality is not a sin. They are approving of same-sex marriage and encouraging homosexuals to be leaders in the church. Others don't even bother to hide their beliefs and proclaim that they don't believe God is the only way, while continuing to preach from the pulpit. Still others have given themselves over to full-blown idol worship (FYI - they are singing about the goddess Sophia. Sophia in Greek means wisdom. She is honoured as a goddess of wisdom by Gnostics as well as by some neo-pagan, New Age, and feminist-inspired goddess spirituality groups. Her statue is still standing in a temple in Ephesus. Ephesus was one of the churches mentioned by the Lord in his letters to the seven churches of Revelation).
To these churches, God's Word no longer stands. The church, like the people during Solomon's day, are to set an example of faith in God and love toward others. We are not to approve of sin, nor participate in it. Jesus did not condemn the woman caught in adultery but told her to "Go and sin no more." Why is the church not following His example? We know from today's verses that unrepentant sin cannot go unpunished. The day of the Lord is coming soon. How will He find the church? Will we be in agreement that God's Word is the same yesterday, today and forever and therefore living our lives in obedience to it? Or will we be so worldly that He won't recognize us at all?