Covenantal Repentance

repentance3This blog does not officially begin until January 1, 2015. However, I thought I would periodically recycle some old devotions here until that time. Enjoy.

2 Chronicles 7:14

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 will heal their land.

The Lord was pleased with the Temple that Solomon had completed. God said he would take up residence there to receive sacrifices. He then mysteriously (seemingly) changed the tone of his words to Solomon by telling him that he may shut up the heavens to prevent rain from falling. Or, he may command locusts to devour the land. Or, he may even send a plague on “his own” people (v. 13).

It’s hard to understand where God was coming from here. All Israel had just celebrated the dedication of the Temple, the assembling of which, was a community project to say the least. And then we get the words of verse 13.

Perhaps it was the nature of that (the Temple) which they were celebrating – the place from which God would receive sacrifices. The sin of a covenant people against the Holy One with whom such a covenant was made was no trifle to be winked at. It was a great offense. But God offered hope in verse 14. He declared that when these calamities befall his covenant people, there was (is) something they could do.

First, his people must humble themselves. There is no room for pride and self-dependence here. Instead, God’s people must, as it were, fall on their faces before God as an act of spiritual poverty and brokenness. They have neither strength nor wisdom in and of themselves. God is the Source for all of that and more.

They must also pray. Prayers of adoration, confession of sin, expressions of their helplessness, and complete dependence upon the sovereign God come to mind.

Next, they must seek the face of God. Imagine that great Day when we will behold the face of God. It is that face which we are to pursue in this life. This idea expresses our need to cultivate the character of God in our lives, trust him alone, follow his commands, seek his presence, and enter into intimate communion with him.

God also said that his people must turn from their wicked ways. The rest of the chapter gives us a glimpse of what those wicked ways look like: Turning away from and forsaking God and his decrees and commands, serving other gods, and worshipping them. This is wickedness in the sight of God and is why God might bring disaster on his own people (v. 22). God’s people must abandon such spiritual adultery at once.

But when they humble themselves, pray, seek God’s face, and turn from their wicked ways, God promises to hear them, forgive their sin, and heal their land.

Ours is a land in desperate need of healing. Whether it’s our culture, our denomination, our local church, or our family, there is much need for the healing power of God. But it will not come merely because we recognize the need. That’s a good first step, but much more is required – genuine change – change that results in humbling oneself before God and clinging to him alone. Saturating ourselves in prayer regarding our transgressions before God and the need for forgiveness and restoration is essential. Seeking the face of God – his will, his commands and decrees, his presence, his pleasure – should be our life’s pursuit. And biblical repentance is necessary – turning from our wicked ways and leaving them behind and turning in a Godward direction. Our prayer should certainly include pleading with God to enable us to do such.

We want to see our land and our lives forgiven and healed. But change (renovation) will have to first take place. Until then, we should expect the discipline of a loving and holy Father – one who loves us too much to let us continue on a destructive path, and who, therefore, will do much to bring us back to the right one. Because he is holy, he will never overlook our transgressions. He loves his own character and glory too much for that.

God calls us away from the gods of this age. He calls us back to obedience and submission to his Lordship and Word. And with that comes his promise to forgive us and heal our land. Thanks be to God – the great Promise-Maker and Promise-Keeper.

Grace and Truth,