By Dr. Scott Young, CCC-A, FAAA
I have heard pastors and teachers utilizing a verse that I have memorized: “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” (II Chronicles 7:14). I have committed thirty-five years to studying Eschatology (the study of the End Times ahead for our world). But in the last nine years, God has begun a new process of bringing me deeper into the ideas of the End Times. I am relearning all that I used to believe. Many verses have new meaning to me.
The Church and many prophecy teachers wish to claim this verse for America, and why not? It seems that God is speaking to the Church over the hourglass of time when He mentions His people. It’s so inviting to create that level of ego-centricity. Does the Bible seek entrance into your Soul and Spirit? Absolutely, but it is not the job of the Church to push our way into the Word to apply a verse without considering the history of the verse as well as the context of the verse! The Scriptures must be placed and applied in context within a rigorous level of study to determine whether it might be referring to a specific people group.
The Bible rarely dialogs about any nation in a positive light. The Scriptures typically indicate words of destruction as to their sinful ways in the eyes of the Lord. That’s where we first go wrong in attributing a Biblical verse to a conglomerate of the public. Jesus isn’t returning to earth for the American culture, or the propagation of the ideals upon which the country was founded. Now, I can already hear the screaming levels of criticism, “You are unpatriotic; you don’t love America as we do; you hate the American Church!” All are completely untrue. The Holy Spirit asks us to “…rightly divide the Word of God” (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV). This means we need to effectively find the directed meaning to all that the Word says without bias. I ask that you also delete your bias before reading further; it helps.
There is a much simpler reason that we cannot apply II Chronicles 7:14 to America. What if this verse could be applied to Afghanistan? What if Afghanistan were to “humble themselves?” Wouldn’t that mean that it’s a South African verse as well? What about a Spanish verse? You see, the reference loses the specificity with each question I ask. What if the license for this reference pertains to the nation with the highest percentage of Christians per capita? Where does America rank on that list? Is our desire to apply this verse to ourselves based upon the hope that we will have a risen tide of our spiritual boats? To wish for something to be is beautiful, especially in this case. I could even pray for this to be a reality, and God would love this supplication. But to divine the Word in a teaching paradigm is an entirely separate interpretation.
So, if we cannot say definitively that II Chronicles 7:14 is an American verse, then to which nation does it refer? Pastor Bob Yandian of Grace Fellowship Church before he retired used to espouse an easy mantra: read ten to twenty verses before and after a verse to know its order and interpretation. We should liberally practice this Scriptural approach that necessarily comes from Literature studies as well as the Journalistic fields.
If I were espousing the lack vices of Adolph Hitler as compared to Churchill or Franklin D. Roosevelt in that Hitler had almost none compared to the giants of the western world ridding the world of the mass chaos and evil perpetrated, you might be able to take me out of context on pages 56 of a 150-page book in which I might have extolled Hitler’s nocturnal virtues. But of course, an idea taken out of context is not useful – it allows the reader to miss the entire point of the statement and even runs the risk of allowing one to believe and invest in something that is clearly not true. Context, therefore, is everything. We shall attack the meat of this profound verse that has Eschatological eventualities from which the whole world will certainly benefit.
IF MY PEOPLE WILL HUMBLE THEMSELVES, PRAY AND SEEK MY FACE…
I have already stated that I do not believe that America is the point of this verse. So, about whom is Jehovah referring? The Lord was speaking about the children of Israel as He does so often in the Old Testament. King Solomon had just finished his impressive Temple, in II Chronicles 7, which had the golden amenities that would rise into the billions of dollars if it were in today’s currency. He was troubled by the people and their response to the Temple he was destined to build, so he began to fast and pray for the guidance of the Father. This was the beginning of that guidance that will not be fulfilled in Solomon’s time. Why? Because the Jews had not completed the context of this verse.
God converses with His people, be they religious Jews or believers in Christ, inside of a timeless window called the Bible. There are approximately four references in the New Testament regarding “from the foundation of the earth” that indicate the eternal nature of the Lord. He views His people with a finality that we cannot grasp. When I consider my son’s future (in 2018 he is 19), I perceive for him a wife, children and a bright career filled with blessings inside Jehovah’s leading. I don’t see him only as he is today. I observe him through the lens of his entire life. That’s so similar to how our Father in Heaven perceives His kids. In this thought, when God speaks of His people, He is not restricting Himself to a single time or place.
If they humble themselves is next phraseology. Humbling oneself refers typically to addressing the pride exerted by the individual and choosing to serve the Lord over their causes. The people of Israel (and yes, the Church today as well) tended to project sincere confidence in themselves because of their position with the Lord as the only nation under God making them deaf to His call. But this slice of the verse is not whole without the connection to the processes of “pray and seek my face.” Unfortunately, we, in the Church, miss this vital piece of information while gliding through the informal understanding that people need to get down on their knees before the God of Abraham. Humility and seeking the Lord ups the ante of the dialogue.
Ancient theologians understood that the Bible was more like an onion in the interpretative level of communication from God to man. The surface meaning for the majority of the Word is straightforward for the reader to take upon his or her daily use, as this verse does. We can all go along with the nature of humility and seeking Christ in our lives.
What the modern reader misses is the depth of the Hebraic culture, within the verses, that the Church superimposes on themselves. There was a pastor with whom I would converse about Eschatology postulating, correctly I might add, that the Church cannot possibly interpret the End Times without knowing the heritage of the Jewish idioms within the texts. On this level, we completely agreed with one another. From that time on, I endeavored to study more about the hidden semantic references within the Bible, so that I could glean the deeper connotations and applications.
There are seven major religious holidays in the Jewish calendar. The first four of Passover (Christ’s death), the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Jesus’ burial), Feast of First Fruits (Jesus’ resurrection) and Pentecost (the entrance of the Holy Spirit forty days later) all occurred in the spring and summer of the year. They were all fulfilled, as indicated above, by Jesus’ First Coming to the earth in the same year of 33 AD. It has long been revealed that Christ will fulfill His next three feasts, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Feast of Booths, in His Second Coming.
In the tradition of Rosh Hashanah, the Jews, on one of their highest Holy Days, begin a ten-day journey to seek forgiveness. They consider their family, neighbors, and friends to make sure that they are right with them before the new year is initiated on Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement. Of the three groups within the tradition, the Wicked, the Righteous, and the Intermediate, the religious Jew celebrating this holiday perceives himself as an Intermediate in need of forgiveness during the next year. They would realize that they were not “right” (or righteous enough) with the Lord. The process of reconciling themselves with their God was the point of the Ten Holy Days, so that they could be considered blessed in the next harvests of the year. Intermediates would offer the proper sacrifices and ask for forgiveness for their misdeeds to God and their fellow man whom they may have wronged.
The Wicked would be those Jews or Gentiles who didn’t care about what God thought of their sin, so they don’t even try to reconcile themselves with anyone. The Wicked found themselves outside of the Will of God and would, therefore, be in danger of a horrible growing season, or cursed for the next year. The Righteous Jew, while a part of the tradition, could not be anyone who celebrated the Holy Days. No one was Righteous, because all sinned and needed forgiveness. But, interestingly, each of these three positions of people is a portion of this holiday tradition.
Many prophecy teachers would love to place Rosh Hashanah as the Rapture of the Church (I will not discuss the different Rapture theories here or postulated upon any dates) at the beginning of the Tribulation as a fulfillment of that holiday. It is a common understanding by many prophecy teachers that the Feast of Trumpets (or Rosh Hashanah) occurs when Jesus takes His Church away in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture. While I do believe genuinely in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture, I cannot scripturally support the notion that the Pre-Tribulation Rapture occurs on the Feast of Trumpets. One of the most primary reasons is the nature of the Fall Holiday in its seeking of forgiveness and culminating in the Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) event ten days later. If you cannot fulfill the second portion of these tied Holidays, then they are not fulfilled together. These two Holy Days must link together in perfect harmony to be fulfilled. To some, I have just committed heresy in one breath. But hear me out.
Rosh Hashanah is the celebration of the King. When Jesus returns for His Bride in I Thessalonians 4:16-18, He is not crowned King (of course, Jesus is already the King but isn’t crowned yet, and this is an important conclusion to make of the I Thessalonian’s verse). Another Scripture arises in beautiful contrast to the Thessalonian’s verse in Revelation 14:14 & 16, “Then I looked, and there was a white cloud, and One like the Son of Man, was seated on the cloud, with a gold crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand…” So, the One seated on the cloud swung His sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested. I could speak on this verse for days, and I do within the classes I teach Hope in the End Times that takes about fourteen weeks to accomplish. The point is that there are two timeframes of which the verses above are referring: one as the King and one before He is crowned King.
Above, we have a view of Jesus crowned King. He already is but consider the ancient traditions of a prince that the Jews propagated: the prince had to marry first before He could take the thrown to be the King. Jesus has to have a Bride before He can take the sickle over the earth. I know some of you might be screaming, “Who is He taking here in Rev. 14:16?” That can be answered better in one of my books upon my site (www.DrScottYoung.com).
Leave the Rapture discussion aside for a moment. Consider that two-thirds of the Tribulation Jews will be persecuted to death during the worst time in human history in which Matthew intimates of Jesus’ own words “Unless those days were limited, no one would survive. But those days will be limited because of the elect” (Matthew 24:22). The Remnant, as is commonly referred to correctly by prophecy teachers, is the last known population of Jews who survive the Seven-Year Tribulation period by God’s grace and His hand intervening. They are promised from Moses’ time to inherit the Millennial Reign, while those dead in Christ and Raptured will rule and reign with Christ.
Revelation Six makes a fascinating statement that the Jewish people at one point in time during the Tribulation will come to know Christ all at once. After Jesus had died and was coming down from the Cross in the newest account of the Gospels by John in 19:37, there is another prophecy that Jesus fulfills from Zechariah 12:10, it was stated “Then I will pour out a spirit of grace and prayer on the house of David and the residents of Jerusalem, and they will look at Me whom they pierced. They will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child and weep bitterly for Him as one weeps for a firstborn” (HCSB).
What John was indicating was a prophecy that started when Jesus died but will be fulfilled, I believe, when Christ is seen by the whole world. Usually, when a person comes to salvation by humbling oneself, it can be tearful and joyful all at once. I do not believe that this will occur on that day during the last portion of Rosh Hashanah of the Tribulation. I believe, therefore, that II Chronicles 7:14 is speaking of the Rosh Hashanah approximately ten days before the end of the seven-year Tribulation. The King will be viewed by the whole world in another display that will cement that He is the Lord (Romans 14:11). My further supposition is that those who mourn Him who are the Jews will believe in the One they have pierced. The majority of the world will not. They will represent to the Father in Heaven that they finally understand that He is the King but not their Lord (needed as Romans 10:9-10 indicates).
AND TURN FROM THEIR EVIL WAYS…
I love this part of the verse for several reasons. Most people believe that what they are doing is potentially a good work in their lives, whether they are Christians or not. The world loves to discuss large good works. But the Bible has a radically different idea about what is a good work and what is an evil work (or way). This is also something I have been learning over the years much to my own humiliation in what I thought I was supposed to do with my life.
All must read Paul’s quotation very slowly in Romans 7:14-25. It is filled with “I do what I don’t want to do…” type statements that made my head spin for years. Let me make it easy for you though. Paul was essentially pontificating for the audience of every generation that we think we do right when we are in the flesh. But the real work that we are supposed to do, we don’t do. We do what we think is right which is in reality evil, because it is done outside of the Lord. Paul expertly sums it up these verses by a brilliant statement that most miss: “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this dying body?”
Most of the work that we are supposed to do in Christ is from the Spirit man. It has NOTHING to do with the work we think we are supposed to accomplish. There are many examples of resting in Christ. This is one of the toughest things to do for almost any Christian in today’s world. We think we are to get after the work in the church…do…do…do! But are we being with Christ? Matt Redmond, when he wrote the song “The Heart of Worship” in 1998, requested his church to stop the music for worship for months. They were silent before the Lord their God, and then this gorgeous song came forth. It’s simple and sublime. It typifies what Christ wants us to do: be in Him.
This is the work that we must do in Christ: trust Him for all things. Stop trying to fix all the situations that come up. That’s one of the primary reasons for the Tribulation. Their work; the world’s work must cease. “All is stripped away…” as the above song continues. In the last ten days of humanity in their sin state upon the earth before Yom Kippur, which I believe is a beautiful representation of the Great Day of the Wrath of the Lamb written about more than three hundred times in both the New and Old Testaments, there will be a darkness (part of the Bowl Judgments) that goes on for the last twenty four hours which makes people gnaw their tongues in pain. God will force all mankind to halt all their work and see the glory of the King.
THEN I WILL HEAR FROM HEAVEN AND FORGIVE THEIR SIN…
Nowhere in the New Testament does a salvation experience ever really state this kind of response. In the Old Testament, the Israeli nation was the only one who ever received this type of reply. This is another reason that Solomon was hearing from the Lord about the Jews rather than a later group of people. In Revelation 14:14, Jesus is in the heavens. Paul talked about different levels of heaven in many of his Epistles. One of those planes was the air above us where the clouds exist. Most who study Revelation miss the sequence of chapter fourteen. There are interposed angels with the “One” all using a sickle. The angels are dispensing the slaughtering of those choosing against the forgiveness of sin, whereas Christ is rescuing the saints of that timeframe. Let’s call them what they really are that the angels are killing at that end time: the Wicked.
Revelation 22:11 gives a chilling Scripture I have never been able to shake. “Let the unrighteous go on in unrighteousness, let the filthy go on being made filthy; let the righteous go on in righteousness, and let the holy go on being made holy.” The New Testament commonly doesn’t refer to keeping people as they are. The books therein are screaming for us to come to a repentant nature. But only the above verse is given to the harshness it implies very similarly to the Old Testament when the children of Israel were commanded to kill all people great and small in conquered territories. I believe that this mystifying verse relates to the two Holy Days we have been discussing. The Wicked keep on inside of their wickedness. They are doomed by their choices.
I deal with these complex concepts more in my Rapture book I indicated above. But Jesus will be in the clouds and can do more than one thing at a time. He can use His sickle to reap the harvest of the grapes while hearing the prayers in humility of the people of the earth as well as the reason for the Tribulation (the Righteous) and the reintegration of the Jewish nation as the dominant race during the Millennial Reign (the Intermediate).
The portion of the passage then notes that Jesus is hearing the prayers and can forgive the sin in the same way that Rosh Hashanah is celebrated. It’s another indication that this day would be the fulfillment of one of the Jewish Feasts.
AND HEAL THEIR LAND…
What sealed the deal for me upon this multifaceted verse was the last word. Land in the Aramaic means the earth. It can refer to a piece of land, but it is not used to refer to a nation. I believe that the context of the Scripture indicates that the healing of the land can only happen when the Jews come to a saving knowledge of Christ when He appears in the clouds in Revelation 14:14 and 16 at the last Rosh Hashanah.
At the end of the Tribulation, by my calculation would be after the Day of Atonement or the Great Day of the Wrath of the Lamb (which would be a whole other teaching), the earth will be in shambles. There will be no more mountains, no islands, no green grass, no hills, all the freshwater will be bitter, all the seas will be filled with blood, and most of the world’s inhabitants will be dead. Daniel 12:11-12 designates a forty-five-day period that follows the end of the last day for humans to reign on the planet.
During the forty-five days, Jesus will be separating the Sheep and the Goats (a terrifying judgment in its own right), and I believe making the earth livable again. But the Land cannot be hospitable without a full restoration. Think of it this way. If you had an F4 tornado tear through your house, the foundation is still set but the rest of the structures would need to be pulled down except for a precious few items which can be salvaged. The F5 rips even the foundation out of place. It is my belief that during the Tribulation, the earth will be continually rocked spiritually and physically in which Jesus uses His Word to bring down foundations to recreate the earth again.
After the Millennial Reign and after the White Throne Judgment (of which you will not want any part of, but we will be watching), Jesus destroys the foundations from their moorings by fire, and then we have our F5. A new Heaven and new Earth drop in their place.
In the ending portion of the verse though, Jesus makes all things new again with the planet, creating a Garden of Eden everywhere that the world will repopulate which is commonly referred to as the Millennial Reign that starts after the Seven Year period and after the forty-five days I listed above. II Chronicles 7:14 shows a depth of the fulfillment of an important Feast of Trumpets, and the restoration of the Jewish people to their rightful place as masters of the world. We will have a part in that kingdom, as I said before, when we are ruling and reigning with Christ. I had a friend in ministry who is a wonderful woman of God who was bothered with the ruling and reigning concept. I gave her a slightly different picture: She will be serving humanity with hospitality, which is Jo’s gift in which she will do in a resurrected body. The Master “did not come to be served, but to serve, and give His life up as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).