2Chronicles 7:11 Thus Solomon finished the house of the LORD and the king's house; all that Solomon had planned to do in the house of the LORD and in his own house he successfully accomplished. 12 Then the LORD appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: "I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. 13 When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, 14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. 16 For now I have chosen and consecrated this house so that my name may be there forever; my eyes and my heart will be there for all time. 17 As for you, if you walk before me, as your father David walked, doing according to all that I have commanded you and keeping my statutes and my ordinances, 18 then I will establish your royal throne, as I made covenant with your father David saying, 'You shall never lack a successor to rule over Israel.' 19 "But if you turn aside and forsake my statutes and my commandments that I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, 20 then I will pluck you up from the land that I have given you; and this house, which I have consecrated for my name, I will cast out of my sight, and will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples. 21 And regarding this house, now exalted, everyone passing by will be astonished, and say, 'Why has the LORD done such a thing to this land and to this house?' 22 Then they will say, 'Because they abandoned the LORD the God of their ancestors who brought them out of the land of Egypt, and they adopted other gods, and worshipped them and served them; therefore he has brought all this calamity upon them.'"
2 Chronicles 7:14 is a very well known text, mostly used to encourage people to return to the ways of God. Various countries – including South Africa – have witnessed national calls to repentance, followed by pleas for God to fulfill his promise to heal our land. While this is understandable, we need to remember that this is history, written after the Israelites returned from exile to explain why they were conquered. As the rebuilding of the temple was undertaken by Ezra, the question loomed large: “what must the people do to avoid a repeat of the destruction of the next temple?” The Chronicler goes back to the dedication of Solomon’s temple and records the injunction to “be humble, pray, seek God’s will, and turn from wicked ways”. Hope is found in the promise that God will forgive and heal the nation.
We who follow Jesus can learn from the history of our faith: spiritual arrogance is not blessed by God. Our faith teaches that healing is found through humility and repentance.
Ordinary 30 / Pentecost +23
52 True Humility
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 317.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.