"...forgive their sin and heal their land"

What a well-known passage in 2nd Chronicles has to do with the present moment

For years, I’ve heard preachers proclaim the powerful promise of 2 Chronicles 7:14 in reference to the problems plaguing our world. It’s a promise that has always brought me hope:

“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.”—2 Chronicles 7:14

We often think of this verse in terms of our culture of immorality. Our nation has fallen away from traditional values—which just happens to be a major sign of the end times. (I have major sections in my upcoming book Tipping Point on the decline of truth and morality among humanity.)

This passage in 2 Chronicles has been on my mind in recent weeks. But it’s not only because I’ve been thinking about our nation’s “wicked ways” and our need to humble ourselves before God. I’ve been thinking about the verse that precedes that promise. As with everything else in the Bible, context is important.

The well-known verse 14 is the second half of a full sentence that begins in verse 13. You’ll see verse 14 everywhere, including t-shirts at the Christian bookstore and wall hangings you can buy at Hobby Lobby. But hardly anyone knows verse 13.

Here’s the entire statement:

13 When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, 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.”—2 Chronicles 7:13-14

In other words, God is saying, “When you experience drought…when you experience a plague of locusts…when sickness spreads among your friends and families…if you will humble yourselves, pray and seek My face and turn from your wicked ways, I will forgive your sin and heal your land.”

Locusts, Pestilence, Drought

Did anything in that passage capture your attention?

An enormous swarm of locusts is devastating Africa right now and threatening famine.

The world is in the midst of a worldwide, once-in-a-lifetime pandemic (“pestilence”). The United States has been hit harder than any other place on earth. As cases continue to rise, more than 2.7 million Americans have tested positive for the disease, and sadly, 130,000 have died.

What you may not have heard about are the droughts.

In Europe, the winter of 2019-2020 was the warmest on record, with much less snowfall than usual. Drought conditions began in eastern Europe in the early spring and continue across the region. Major rivers like the Danube are far below their usual flow, and meteorologists predict below-average precipitation for southern and eastern Europe through August.

One German scientist put it this way:

“The fact that some regions have experienced drought conditions in several consecutive years has already caused significant damage to forests (due to bark beetle infestation) and declines in groundwater levels.”

It’s not just Europe. Remember the fires in Australia a few months ago? They were fueled by “record-breaking temperatures and months of severe drought,” according to this article. More than 27 million acres of the country burned.

In the United States, a recent study says we are in the beginning of a “megadrought,” considered to be the worst our part of the world has experienced in more than 1,200 years.

“The naturally occurring megadrought has been historically tied to upheaval in the area and will certainly impact the daily lives of those living in the western US.”

The U.S. drought has caused drops in the water levels of Lake Powell and Lake Mead, led to increased wildfires and begun to impact the agricultural community in the western United States. Researchers expect these drought conditions to last for decades more.

The “Beginning of Sorrows”

This passage in 2 Chronicles isn’t typically read in the context of end times predictions or Bible prophecy, though certainly I believe drought, disease and even locusts represent the “beginning of sorrows” Jesus says will precede His return.

But it does remind me that God is still in control. We can still turn from our “wicked ways.” We can still humble ourselves before Him. We can seek His face.

2 Chronicles 7:13 implies that God sent pestilence as a judgment for sin. Now, I am not the kind of pastor who will say with certainty that COVID-19 is a judgment from God. The same goes for locusts and drought, which are related to climate and have often occurred in cycles throughout recorded history. Honestly, I think part of the idea of “humbling ourselves” means acknowledging that we are not God. His ways are higher than our ways.

We only know what He tells us in the Bible. That’s why I take Scripture seriously. That’s why I’m paying attention. When 2 Chronicles 7 says healing is possible for a people who humble themselves before the Lord, I believe it.

I hope you’ll join me in seeking His face and praying—not just for our nation, but for our entire world. We are living during a fascinating moment in human history.