“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” (v. 14).
At several points in old covenant history, God sent fire from heaven to consume sacrifices, demonstrating His approval of the people’s worship (e.g., 1 Kings 18:20–40; 1 Chron. 21:26). Since the temple in Jerusalem that Solomon built was the location our Creator designated for Israel to offer sacrifices to Him, it is not surprising that God wanted to show His approval of that place at the dedication of the temple. He did this by sending fire from heaven to consume the sacrifices made at the temple’s dedication, as we see in today’s passage (2 Chron. 7:1). Moreover, He manifested His glory in the temple so strongly on that occasion that the priests could not stand to enter the sanctuary for a time (v. 2).
What followed was a grand celebration that lasted seven days. Solomon and the people expressed their joy and gratitude to the Lord for His receiving their worship and approval of the temple by offering so many sacrifices that they had to make room for extra altars in the temple’s court. A celebratory feast followed that lasted a week (vv. 3–10). The Jews who returned from the Babylonian exile, the first readers of the Chronicler’s account, needed to know this information in order to encourage them in rebuilding the temple and in restoring worship in Jerusalem. Today, we need to read of this celebration and sacrifice to be encouraged in our wholehearted participation in worship and to understand that seeing God’s promises fulfilled should be an occasion for celebration.
Lest God’s people have any doubt that the Lord accepted the temple Solomon built, the Lord appeared to Solomon after the temple’s dedication, confirming that He would hear the prayers of His people there. But He also warned Solomon that the mere presence of the temple was no guarantee of blessing, that if the king and people fell into flagrant, impenitent sin, then they would be removed from their land (vv. 11–22). God saves His people by grace and preserves them by grace, but those who have been redeemed show their gratitude by seeking His face and doing good. To fail to do so impenitently manifests a heart that is far from the Lord (Eph. 2:8–10).
Still, God promises to heal and restore His people when they turn from their wicked ways and seek His face. That is the message of 2 Chronicles 7:14, which applies primarily to the community of God’s people—the church in our new covenant era. When God’s people go astray, He will restore them if they return to Him.
Coram DeoLiving before the face of God
Matthew Henry comments on 2 Chronicles 7:14 that “pardoning mercy makes way for healing mercy.” We cannot expect the Lord to fix the problems in the church if we are unwilling to turn from our sin and rest in His grace. But if we turn from our wickedness and commit ourselves to following God’s ways, He will heal divisions in the church, expose false teaching, and do all else necessary to restore His people.