Maybe you’ve heard 2 Chronicles 7:14 before. The concept of “repenting” can feel vague, but the Bible has this verse to take out some of the guesswork. Of course, we can’t just take a verse out of context, but the principles outlined are transferrable after some care. To aid our studies, let’s see what the Moody Bible Commentary has to say.

if my people who are called by my name 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.”

– 2 Chronicles 7:14

Repentance during trials

This awesome promise placed a compelling responsibility on the nation. The Lord anticipated a time of trial, one that would have been real to any nation in that time and place—a period of drought, pestilence, and famine (7:13). There is no indication that this eventuality was necessarily the result of sin—it might have been so, or it may simply have been an experience under God’s providential direction. In any case, the promise meant that the nation had recourse to alleviate such disasters.

In what is perhaps the best-known verse in all of Chronicles, the Lord outlined the proper attitudes and actions to regain and enjoy the blessing of the Lord. Although the promise was specifically directed to My people, the principles are applicable to all who call upon the name of the Lord (cf. Jl 2:32; Zph 3:9; Ac 2:21; Rm 10:13; 1Co 1:2).

The facets of repentance

The four actions listed in 2Ch 7:14 were not intended to be understood as “steps in a process” but as contemporaneous “facets of an active attitude given tangible expression”. These acts would be illustrated by several of the exemplary Davidic kings in the narrative to follow in 2 Chronicles, giving proof to the truth of this promise.

A repentant people are to:

  1. humble themselves, that is they must refuse the stubbornness and pride so ever-present in the nation’s history.
  2. pray and afford themselves of the great privilege represented by the temple itself.
  3. seek My face, again one of the key themes of the Chronicler; seeking God’s face means the people are to reject self-seeking and self-reliance.
  4. turn from their wicked ways—this is repentance.

These acts indicate that the Lord expects nothing less than a deeply felt rejection of self-reliance, self-trust, self-seeking, and a conscientious dependence upon Him, an active submission to Him, and a determined and active alteration of lives to be lived for Him.

The Lord’s promise in response to this “active attitude” was threefold:

  1. He again promised to hear from heaven—an overwhelming reality if understood
  2. to forgive their sin—the necessary step to restoration of the relationship with Him and the enjoyment of His covenant blessings
  3. to heal their land. This last element not only recalled the tangible aspect of the Abrahamic promise—the land—but also would have been especially encouraging to the Chronicler’s generation as they were struggling in that very land—one badly in need of restoration.

Whose land gets healed?

These promises were addressed to His covenant people Israel and reflect the Deuteronomic blessings and cursings promised in the law (cf. Dt 27, 28) and are therefore not appropriately enjoined for believers who do not live in a theocratic nation. Certainly God would long for the people of the United States (or any other country) to humble themselves and pray, and turn in faith to Jesus the Messiah. Although God would certainly forgive the sins of those people who turned to Him, there is no promise here that God would restore their respective nations or heal their lands.

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Moody Bible Commentary 2 Chronicles 7:14

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