Terry R. Baughman
“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 I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV).
There is something in the human psyche that tends to favor independence and self-reliance when it comes to working through a problem. When all efforts are in vain some will seek outside assistance while others will doggedly persist in their endeavor to figure things out on their own. That illustrates the ancient history of the nation of Israel. They were drawn away from God by pagan practices and idol worship, but they continued in their sins trying to pretend they were still living under the covenant with the Lord God.
In the process of time Israel was permitted to have a king and natural leadership according to their desire
to “be like all the nations” (1 Samuel 8:19-20). Eventually it was King Solomon that was allowed to build the Temple to be the center of worship for the nation. Following the dedication of the Temple Solomon had a dream in which the Lord revealed that plagues and judgment would befall the people of Israel, but He gave this promise, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray, … I will forgive their sin” (text above).
God, knowing all things, was aware that Israel would fail to follow the covenant and would persist in sins. Yet, He faithfully promised forgiveness and renewal to this backsliding nation.
We draw hope from the same promise for our nation. As we approach the general election and vile attacks of political opponents pervade every form of media, we are made aware of how far we have drifted from the God-fearing foundation of our nation’s fathers. There is no fear of God and it appears we are speeding on a downward slope toward a day of reckoning.
We sing, “God bless America,” but He cannot bless a nation who fails to seek Him and blatantly embraces sins that separate us from Him. It is true that “God shed His grace on thee,” but His blessing will not continue when we scorn His commandments and exclude God from the public consciousness. We say, “In God we trust,” then banish Him from our schools and forbid His name to be mentioned in public ceremonies. We remove the cross from memorials and purge Christian symbols and references from our educational curriculum. Acknowledgment of God is reserved for the really big tragedies, the national catastrophes, when we sanctimoniously include a sympathetic phrase, “Our prayers and our thoughts are with the victims.”
It is time for a renewal of prayer and an acknowledgment that we have left God out of our most desperate hour.
There are conditions for renewal and restoration. There must be a change of mind and heart for there ever to be a national blessing. Let us cling to the promise of Scripture as we, “Humble [our]selves and pray and seek [His] face and turn from [our] wicked ways.” Even now we may hear from heaven and receive an intervention of the Holy One bringing righteousness and peace back to our nation.
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 33:12).