We have probably all done it before. I know I have. In fact, I have even made the mistake of doing it in a published work. I used a Bible verse improperly by not paying close enough attention to its context.
This is a common problem among both Christians and non-Christians. Many skeptics and other unbelievers will pull verses out of context in their efforts to attack the Bible. Many Christians have heard or read a verse that they really like, so they quote it as though it was given as a divine promise just for them. However, we must be careful to examine the context of a passage and make sure that when we quote a verse, we use it in a way that the original author meant for it to be used.
In this particular post, I want to examine one of the verses that Christians regularly misuse. In some future posts, we will look at some more verses misused by Christians and some misused by unbelievers. I realize this will upset some of my readers, but before getting upset with me, you need to take some time and study the context of the verse and then ask yourself, “Am I using this verse appropriately, or am I guilty of misusing it?” I’ll close by sharing the verse that I misused at the end of one of my books.
Commonly Misused Verse #1: 2 Chronicles 7:14
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. (NKJV)
Well-intentioned Christians (especially in the U.S.) love to cite this verse as a promise from God that if believers in this nation would humble themselves and pray then God will fix our nation. Before you get upset with me for implying that this is not what this verse is about, ask yourself, “What is the context of this verse?” Do you know when these words were spoken and to whom they were addressed? Do you know the occasion for these words or have you just repeated them thinking that they were meant for your particular situation?
Let’s take a quick look at the context. The construction of the first temple in Jerusalem had just been completed. King Solomon led a massive week-long celebration to dedicate the temple. When the people returned to their homes following the celebration, we read this:
Then the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said to him: “I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. 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. (2 Chronicles 7:12–16, NKJV)
These words were spoken to Solomon, the king of Israel, and God promised Solomon that when the land suffered from drought or pestilence, that if the people would humble themselves and pray, then God would hear those prayers and heal their land. The Lord specifically said that His eyes and ears would be attentive to the “prayer made in this place,” a reference to the temple in Jerusalem. As you continue reading the remaining verses in 2 Chronicles 7, it becomes extremely clear that this was a specific promise made by God to the Jewish people at the time of the first temple.
This is quite a bit different than Christians using this verse as a promise from God to fix the problems in the United States of America (or any other nation). Before you get too upset with me, let me point out that I think there are certainly principles we can draw from this. It is always a good thing for God’s people to humble themselves and pray for their nation. As Christians, we absolutely should pray for our nation. We should pray for our neighbors, friends, loved ones, and even our politicians–even the ones we don’t agree with (see 1 Timothy 2:1–4). I think it would be wonderful if every Christian would humble himself or herself and pray for our nation. It can’t hurt, and I think we would see God do some amazing things. However, 2 Chronicles 7:14 is not a divine promise to Christians in the United States that God will fix our nation. We don’t have such a guarantee in Scripture.
So which verse did I misuse? Near the end of my book, God and Cancer: Finding Hope in the Midst of Life’s Trials, I discussed how wonderful heaven is going to be. So I cited a verse I have heard used in this context several times. 1 Corinthians 2:9 states, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” Doesn’t that sound like a wonderful description of heaven? It sure does, except for the fact that Paul was not talking about heaven.
A few months after the book came out I was studying that passage again and noticed, to my embarrassment, that it wasn’t about heaven at all. How do I know? Look at the very next verse: “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10). Verse 9 was a quote from the Old Testament book of Isaiah. Paul told his readers that although God had not revealed in the Old Testament some of the wonderful things He had in store for His people, He has now revealed them to us by the Holy Spirit.
I’m looking forward to this being fixed in the next printing of the book. I still believe heaven will be far better than we can possibly imagine, but I would not use 1 Corinthians 2:9 in support of that belief. 2 Corinthians 12:2–4 and Revelation 21–22 would be better passages to convey that idea.
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One biblical verse holds the key to solving America’s deadly division. We must know what it actually says!
United States Vice President Mike Pence has twice misquoted a vital verse in recent months. The way he said it sounded nice, but he left out the most important part—the part that actually shows how to heal the country’s deadly division!
Jesus Christ commands us to live by every word of God (Matthew 4:4)—not by shortened versions of biblical verses. Here is the verse misquoted by Mr. Pence: “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 Chronicles 7:14). He left out the parts about repentance!
America desperately needs healing. In an August 25 article for Newsmax.com titled “There Will Be No Winners in the Second Civil War,” Michael Laitman wrote (emphasis mine throughout):
Earlier this week, cnn news anchor Don Lemon stated that the president “is clearly trying to ignite a civil war in this country.” In response to Lemon’s words, historian and former house speaker Newt Gingrich said in an interview on Tucker Carlson Tonight: “I think we should take the threat of civil war very seriously.”
Referencing Dennis Prager’s piece “America’s Second Civil War,” Gingrich added, “What you’re seeing with Antifa, what you’re seeing on college campuses, what you’re seeing, to some extent, in the bureaucracy, is a real division of the country.” …
any people see war not only as imminent, but as virtually inevitable. If that’s the case, we’d better get busy digging ourselves bunkers … and graves.
And not just in the U.S. A civil war in America will not end in America. If the country plunges into battle, many will be vying for the loot. China, Russia, North Korea, Iran and others will destroy whatever the war doesn’t, the American empire will become history, and a third world war, with multiple nuclear powers, will follow.
The Philadelphia Church of God, and Herbert W. Armstrong before it, has been warning of World War iii for over 80 years! That is in your Bible. Prominent news commentators are finally catching up.
“I wholly agree that America requires massive infrastructure projects,” Laitman continued. “But the real infrastructure of the country is its people, not its asphalt roads or railroads.” God promises to heal our land, but the people must heed His warning. The minds of the people must be healed!
“Any decision that Trump’s administration and Congress make from here on should first and foremost promote unity and solidarity because this is truly the only realistic option,” Laitman concluded. Time is running out!
An Unbreakable Promise
The book of Chronicles is for three end-time nations of Israel primarily: America, Britain and the Jewish state. The first two received the birthright promises of unmatched national abundance; the last one received the scepter promise of a kingly line destined to endure until Jesus Christ’s return. (Request Mr. Armstrong’s free book The United States and Britain in Prophecy to learn more.) The warning in Chronicles is for our day!
Ancient Israel suffered from horrible national division. They found a way to reunite, but they didn’t do it by following a misquoted scripture. They did it by following every word of the prophecy in 2 Chronicles 7:14. Here it is again: “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.”
The wonderful, loving God tells us exactly how to avoid suffering. Continuing in our ways and rejecting His Word won’t do the trick.
As originally organized, the Old Testament concludes with the book of Chronicles. This message is filled with hope. It is not just history, but prophecy too. God makes an unbreakable promise in this book: If we turn from our sins, He will heal us! This applies to the dangerous present as well as the glorious future!
God healed ancient Israel. “Then all Israel gathered themselves to David unto Hebron, saying, Behold, we are thy bone and thy flesh” (1 Chronicles 11:1). The nation had learned its lesson from the ungodly leadership of King Saul. David was anointed king but couldn’t ascend the throne for another 17 years because Saul was chasing him everywhere, trying to kill him!
God blessed Israel with a new king, a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). David strove to fulfill every tiny detail of God’s will! He thought like God and lived by His every word!
“So David waxed greater and greater: for the Lord of hosts was with him” (1 Chronicles 11:9). With God on our side, we can solve any problem!
Curses and Captivity
Hurricane Harvey has wrecked the Houston area. Hurricane Irma is just getting started in the Atlantic. When you see horrific crises like these, do you really think that God is blessing America?
Maggie Astor wrote for the New York Times on August 28:
is one of the largest disasters America has ever faced. Emergency dispatchers were overwhelmed. Tens of thousands of people spent the weekend in shelters. …
What set Harvey apart was its rain. Once the storm made landfall, it essentially stalled, turning roads in Houston and elsewhere into raging rivers. …
“This event is unprecedented, and all impacts are unknown and beyond anything experienced,” the National Weather Service tweeted Sunday morning.
Houston was deluged by a year’s worth of rain in just three or four days. Fifty inches of rain—roughly 9 trillion gallons of water—has caused nearly $200 billion in damages. How will our debt-ridden government pay the bill?
Could God have a part in these hurricanes? Is He trying to wake up our sinful people?
National curses are followed by captivity, both historically and presently. “And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia” (2 Chronicles 36:20). The ancient kingdom of Judah refused to turn from its wicked ways. Babylon took it captive in 585 b.c.
“To fulfil the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah …” (verse 21). God sent a prophet to warn the Jews of their coming captivity. Jeremiah told them how to be healed, but they wouldn’t listen.
But the book of Jeremiah is specifically addressed to Israel (America and Britain)—not the Jews. Jeremiah never delivered his message to ancient Israel. His warning is for our nations today!
Raising the Ruins
“Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the Lord God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The Lord his God be with him, and let him go up” (2 Chronicles 36:22-23).
The conclusion to the Old Testament is incredibly hopeful. Bible scholars are befuddled by the ending of Chronicles because it is the same as the beginning of the book of Ezra. So, they rearrange the books so that Ezra comes after Chronicles.
Chronicles centers around David’s throne, which Jesus Christ will rule from when He returns to the Earth. Ezra, who wrote the book, is trying to get us to focus on Jerusalem—the future headquarters of the Earth and the universe! (Request my free booklet The Book of Chronicles to understand this inspiring truth.) Look to the future! What a perfect transition to the New Testament.
After being freed from slavery, the Jews returned to Jerusalem, constructed the second temple, and built a wall around the city. God healed their land and allowed them to raise the ruins—a type of God’s Work today and of the healing that will soon spread across the planet and throughout the entire universe!
2 Chronicles 7:14 is a consoling Bible verse from the Old Testament we desperately need to hear and obey now in these end times.
It is interesting that God promises to heal “their land.” Back in Genesis, when Cain became jealous and killed his brother, Abel, God said to Cain, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground” (Genesis 4:10).
Can you just imagine what God hears from the ground (our land) now in this day? There is so much injustice and wickedness, as 2 Chronicles 7:14 says. “Wicked” in Hebrew lists this meaning: bad (physically, socially or morally).
The devil has been very effective at stirring up multitudes of people, and pitting them against each other—groups, nationalities, races and genders. His power of evil, along with the lusts of our flesh make for a very volatile combination. This is what we see daily in the media. It seems impossible to overcome; it is so much bigger than we are.
But thankfully, there is still a God in Heaven Who hears, sees and understands. His mercy endures forever, and oh how we need it!
The first order of business from 2 Chronicles 7:14 is to humble ourselves. “Humble” in Hebrew means: to bend the knee, bring down into subjection.
We must first recognize the need for God to act. Man cannot save us from ourselves, no matter how strong or how noble. We must submit ourselves to God and acknowledge our need for His supernatural power.
Jesus humbled Himself to the point of being tortured and murdered by those He was sent to save. He gave us the ultimate example.
Next, God tells us to pray. How quickly things can change when His people lift their voices and their hearts to Him in prayer. God not only calls us to pray, but to seek His face. “Seek” in Hebrew means: to search out, strive after.
This is more than a just a prayer. It is a way of life. To seek His face is to walk with Him daily, enjoying His companionship—His friendship. He is our Best Friend, and His heart rejoices when we spend time with Him.
Unlocking the Truth – Spiritual Nourishment
Next, is turning from our wicked ways—repentance. While we can’t control what those around us do, we can set the example and be an influence. More importantly, we can pray for them.
This kind of prayer gets God’s attention like nothing else—compassion and mercy for our fellow man—not just for those we love, but for those who are unlovable. After all, God loved us when we were unlovable.
Remember how God blessed Job after Job prayed for the three friends who accused him of wrongdoing (Job 42:10).
Then thankfully, we can trust God to be faithful to His promise in 2 Chronicles 7:14—to hear from heaven, forgive our sin and heal our land. May the sound of the prayers of the saints far exceed the cries from the ground.
“Heal” in Hebrew means: to mend, to cure, physician, repair, make whole. In response to our prayers, the Holy Spirit comes to earth with great power to make our land whole again.
Just like a doctor treats a person’s sickness, the Holy Spirit treats our parched land with the spiritual nourishment it is so thirsty and hungry for. Praise God for His unmistakable mercy and steadfast love!
Study the Bible verse of 2 Chronicles 7:14, and be encouraged by God’s promise to heal our land.