A gracEmail subscriber asks whether God’s conditional promise in 2 Chronicles 7:14 to forgive his people and to heal their land applies today to Christians living in the United States of America.
Today we frequently hear people quote the second half of this promise (verse 14) while omitting the first half (13). In this way, they suggest that if Christians living within a nation (such as the USA or elsewhere) humbly seek God in prayer that God will remedy the ills that plague their land and restore the nation to divine favor. Certainly God still forgives sinners in any nation who repent, turn to him and reform their ways. However, no nationality of people today can rightly claim to be God’s covenant people in God’s promised land. “My people” in verse 14 therefore does not mean Americans as such, or New Zealanders or Italians or the Swiss. If this passage did fit any nation today, “My people” would not be citizens of that nation in general but Christian believers within that nation. However, in that case this promise would mean only that if the Church within a nation went into sin and was suffering temporal judgment as a result, that God would forgive those believers and remove their judgment if they truly repented and changed their ways.
It is a pious mistake, it seems to me, to lift statements and promises addressed to ancient Israel as God’s covenant people living in his promised land and to apply them to any nation of people living today. A better Scripture supporting the abiding value of intercessory prayer for one’s nation today would be Jeremiah 29:7, a word addressed to the Jews taken captive by Babylon some 300 years after Solomon: “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its peace you will have peace.” Wherever we live, we can pray for the well being of our city or town, county or township, district or state, country or nation. To the extent that God blesses our neighbors, we will share in the benefits. However, we must always remember that our citizenship is in heaven, that God is not an American, and that our own country exists before God on exactly the same level with every other country around this fallen world.