With election time being over it is time for some reflection on some of the commentary thrown about during and now after. One of the things that stirred me was a plea for people to vote Republican, because this was the party God was going to use to see that the United States, as a land, would be healed. Interestingly enough not many know what exactly it is about the land God is saying he will heal. The typical reference is to 2 Chronicles 7:14 which states;
“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.”
One problem with this kind of interpretation of the text is that it is not, in context, a reference to America. It was a reiteration of the covenant between God and the nation of Israel. Israel as a nation was the physical marker of the time of the spiritual reality of God possessing a people for Himself. The New Testament clarifies that true Israel is always those who have believed in and followed after the heavenly promises of God to redeem. So although the marker is removed the promise still stands and remains unbroken because it has a higher spiritual reality associated with it.
Americans have a sense of entitlement to God as if He belongs to us and our nation almost exclusively, if not just shared with Israel of today. But as described above God is not speaking to America and thus not relating any promise to her about her land. To the Jews the call to repentance went unheard and so into exile they went time and again, and the more desolate this land, once described symbolically as flowing with milk and honey, became. The land slipped out of their possession as within the covenant of works man was not able to live up to their end of this deal. Yet within the covenant of Grace the people who did individually repent and seek God saw past their physical land ownership and development problems and claimed a Heavenly country to come (Hebrews 11:10). People of faith then are the true people of God and the healing of land is something that has already passed away. The desire of heaven superseded the desire to have a tangible land right according to the old marker of Jerusalem as seen in new converts in Acts willing to sell their land in order to support the ministry of heaven, the Gospel (Acts 4). Returning to land like promises or trying to reestablish new land markers is not to be found in the New Testament or something we are ever, as Christians, instructed to associate. We are to keep our minds on things above, and not upon the tangibles of this life and world.
Now I understand that America is to some extent founded upon Christian ideas and a drive for religious freedom, yet this does not make the land somehow holy. If it were holy land, then why were the first inhabitants treated as they were? Instead, the sin of greed and oppression drove mostly European explorers to conqueror the land and take it by force, and not because it was holy, but for gold and resources. It is sad and yet the consequence of most world powers that when you win enough wars, you begin to think that God is on your side and blessing you. I would think the history lessons of fallen empires would instruct us more than imposed interpretations.
Certainly if we can deduce anything from the passage it is that elections will not bring about the healing of anyone’s land, but conditionally the repentance of a lands entire people. So then to practically apply the passage what are we really being asked to do? The church as the people called by God’s name, are to be humble seekers of God, and as such be people who turn from wickedness. This is the conversion of sinners into Christians. Even the best evangelical means and techniques are only effective if the Holy Spirit is present and working through them. So we see this is something exemplified by Israel that people do not and will not repent on their own. God then takes the conditionality upon Himself to make of sinners a people for Him. In doing so our sins are forgiven, not because we followed the prescription and repented all on our own, but recognizing that God performed a work within us.
What then can we make of the condition for God to heal our land? Simply we have to put the concept of land out of our minds and drive home the reflection of heaven that the land is. A new heavens and earth awaits those who remain in Christ. This is a divine healing that is hard to imagine. The Jews could only partially enjoy this when coming out of exile for a time, which again is a picture for us of having come through our wilderness experience and bondage to be set free into a land that will eternally be ours, one that is never to be conquered or riddled with sin ever again.
The application then is that we promote this heavenly country by the same means. We encourage faith in God, stress the good news that God saves and has healed the land for all those who trust in Him. We look past who is and is not in office and trust that God will handle the cares of this world, and weather we are physically or socially in real captivity still the promise of God set free those who trust in Him to look past their current life situation and know that they belong to a better world to come. We do not need to then abandon this world, and hand it over to the wicked of this world, but we act and walk in a manner as fitting the children of God. We make use of the freedoms we have in America just as Christians in other lands make the most of the persecutions and trials they face. We may concede that God is no respecter of land and may be turning His face away from America as a nation, and yet we can depend always that His face is always upon and looking after His children.