“If my people, which 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” (2 Chron 7:14).
In 1992 the Supreme Court of the United States handed down two surprising decisions for what was supposed to be a conservative court at the time. The first ruling said it is constitutionally permissible to burn a cross in the presence of a black man in the name of free speech. The second ruling handed down the same day said it was unconstitutional to allow prayer at public school graduations. Today, we are perilously close as a country to striking the phrase “In God We Trust” from our currency and having the words “One Nation Under God” removed entirely from the Pledge of Allegiance. In fact, on June 26, 2002 the entire Pledge was declared “unconstitutional” by the U.S. 9th Circuit of Appeals based in San Francisco, California. These are just a few of the “constitutional” rulings of our nation.
Freedom of religion, guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, has become freedom from religion. It is rulings such as these which testify that America is committed to a course of self-destruction. Indeed, what Nazi-Germany could not do, what the Imperial Japanese Navy could not do at Pearl Harbor, what the Evil Empire of Communism could not do during the Cold War Era, America is willingly doing to herself.
America is being conquered not by external acts of aggression but by internal policies of a spiritual suicidal nature. And to that we cry, “America, you are too young to die!” It is not wrong to ask in a historical context, “Why do nations self-destruct?” It is wise to ask more specifically, “Why is America as a nation committed to policies and practices that weaken the government, attack traditional family values, and bankrupt the economy?”
I would suggest three factors that will help to explain the sad spiritual state of our nation.
First, sin has affected the moral outrage of many Americans. As a national body America is afflicted with the disease of sin which is more devastating in results than the AIDS virus or cancer. Speaking to the generation of another nation in another era, the prophet Isaiah said “From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it, but wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores: they have not been cleansed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment” (Isa. 6:1). These words apply to America today. James 4:1 asks, “From whence comes wars and fighting among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members.” America is a nation of many lusts because of sin.
Sin fans the flame of rebellion, lawlessness, and anarchy. Sin blinds spiritual eyes so that no beauty can be seen in holiness, righteousness, and self-sacrifice. Sin perverts the feelings so that there is no pleasure in thinking first of others and seeking the kingdom of heaven. Sin has a ravenous appetite that is self-centered. Sin has spawned the self-esteem philosophy in religion and the self-help psychology that prevails in our counseling institutions. But a nation absorbed with itself cannot survive for long.
Second, America is engaging in self-destruction because many Americans ignore history. It has been said that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. If the Lord tarries and America stays the course she is now on, you can mark it down, this great nation will cease to exist. It is not hard to envision civil war once more among the states creating smaller nations much like the civil wars that raged in Eastern Europe of the last few decades and the fighting that continues today. The great “melting pot” has become the “salad bowl.”
Many years ago, a Frenchman by the name of Alexi de Tocqueville visited our young country and remarked, “America is great because America is good. If America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” Because our public schools and public institutions have continued to hammer away at the historical principles of goodness upon which America was built, America has ceased to be as great as she was or could be.
The nation that proclaims to lead the world in human rights and morality kills over two million of her children each year.
The nation that once led the world in the war against child abuse, is today the leading exporter of illicit child pornography feeding the perverted passions of the rest of the world.
The nation which once denounced drug addiction has become the number one market place so that developing nations have as their economic basis plants which are not grown and harvested as food for the table but poison for the mind.
The nation which once valued the home is now reconditioning the children of America to accept homosexuality and transgenderism as alternative lifestyle that must be celebrated as intrinsically good.
This re-orientation is being done through laughter in comedy programs on television and sex education classes in the schools. Why does it take so many years to learn the facts of life? Because there is a philosophy of life that also needs to be instilled. The homosexuals celebrated Gay Pride Day each year openly, which has now morphed into an entire LGBTQ+ month and multi-billion dollar industry. These people are on the move. They are bold and brazen in their sin and demand to be accepted on their terms.
Then, third America engages in self-destructive behavior because so many have turned their backs on God.
The year can be traced when America officially turned away from God—1962. A woman named Madeline Murray O’Hare legally challenged the right of children to begin the school day with Bible reading and prayer. In a surprised decision the Supreme Court agreed with Mrs. O’Hair and ruled in her favor.
In 1962, America officially and legally turned her back on God—consciously and deliberately, America turned her back on God. We have to wonder: Would life in this country been different if the Supreme Court had ruled differently? Would there have been more than 50,000 lives lost in Vietnam? Would there have been a Watergate or Roe v. Wade? If God had not been cast out of the classroom would our nation be addicted to drugs, murdering the babies, rampant with homosexuals, and full of violence and divorce without remorse and repentance?
What all of these elements mean is that America is not coming under Divine judgment. America has been committed to Divine judgment and what we have witnessed for the past more than a half century is the outworking of a judgment that has already been passed. Such is the teaching of Romans 1:18–32 by way of application. Is it any wonder we have a society who loves to believe lies? Is it any wonder we have unjust judges ruling over us, suppressing us? Like Rome of old America is a great Empire but, knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit evil acts are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them (Rom. 1:32).
Does the nation have to die? The answer is an emphatic no. In fact, we say again, “America, you are too young to die!”
Despite the enormous sins this nation officially sanctions, despite the ignorance of our spiritual heritage, despite our legal and official turning away from God, there is still hope.
I call you to attention to a historical precedent in the city of Nineveh and the promises of 2 Chronicles 7:14.
Historically, the graciousness of God towards Nineveh offers hope for America. Nineveh was a wicked city. Nineveh was full of violence and crime. Yet the people repented at the preaching of the prophet Jonah and God spared the city. God might also spare our nation if we observe the conditions of 2 Chronicles 7:14.
“If my people, which 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.”
On the day that the Temple was dedicated to the Lord, God spoke to Solomon by night. Knowing the future, knowing the heart of His people God foresaw acts of sin and rebellion and He wanted to establish a principle of grace. And so God said, “If my people, which 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.” There are in this verse five conditions and three promises. In order for a people to find favor with God, five conditions must be met.
First, people must enter into a covenant relationship. God said, “If my people.” Who are the people of God? Only those who have been called by God’s name. Have you entered in a new covenant relationship through faith in Jesus Christ? It is foolish to think that God will honor those who break covenant with Him. If any person, any church, any community or any country is to be healed, there must be a covenant relationship with the living God.
Second, there is the need for humility. “If my people shall humble themselves.” Humility has two directions. There are outward acts of humility which can and should be used such as fasting,
putting on ashes and kneeling before the Lord. These are outward signs of humility. But true humility is inward. Spiritual humility is simply being honest to God regarding sins and failures and a crying out to God for grace, mercy and help.
The third condition for spiritual renewal is prayer. There are form prayers and then there is true praying. God wants individuals to speak to Him from the heart with a halting voice of necessity, and with tears that produce groanings that cannot be uttered. The best attended religious service in the Church to produce spiritual renewal must be the service where prayer is offered in a formal way and there is a pleading with God.
The fourth condition for spiritual renewal is to seek the face of God. The implication is that the face of God is hidden. It is interesting that whenever relationships begin to deteriorate, the first sign is eye contact. There is a natural avoidance of the face.
In America it is obvious that people have turned away from God for their faces are not turned towards the church on the Lord’s Day. But then, it is impossible for people to come rightly before the Holy One apart from repentance. Nevertheless, individuals must seek God because only God can solve our problems.
Only God has the power to replace peace for violence. Only God can subdue the passions of lust. Only God can restore pride to those who hate themselves.
The heart of many have offended God’s moral sensitivity and He cannot look upon evil. But God will forgive if He sees an earnest and sincere desire to be fundamentally and forever different.
The fifth Divine condition for spiritual healing is a turning away from wicked ways. This turning from evil includes internal thoughts and external actions. If God’s people ever get serious about sin, there are three wonderful promises.
First, the Lord promises, “I will hear from heaven.” Here is fellowship restored. Here is sweet communion. Here is God listening to His people.
Second, the Lord promises, “I will forgive their sin.” Sin is the singular in the Bible is usually a reference to the sin nature from which sins are manifested. God must deal with the sin nature of man and He does this through the process of regeneration.
Third, God promises, “I will heal their land.”Would to God that the sickness of AIDS would be erased, disease of cancer should find a cure, passions of pornographic addition should be put out, unreasonable violent acts would cease, insidious root of racial hatred would not find soil in which to grow, children be allowed to pray each day, babies in the mother’s wombs would be born unharmed, harmony of the family would be maintained, homosexual perversion would be silenced forever.
The year 2020 was an election year. All the candidates were listened to. All the promises were made on behalf of both parties. Now, let this truth be remembered. The true stability of a nation does not lie in its elected officials. God has never promised to meet with any particular political party. God has promised to meet with those who have a broken heart, and a contrite spirit.
With this in mind, individuals are encouraged to seek to meet these five conditions set forth in 2 Chronicles 7:14. Let God’s people enter afresh into a covenant relationship with the Lord, practice humility, engage in an active prayer life and seek the face of God while turning away from all known sin. Only then can it be expected that God will honor His Word.