Calling God’s People 

When we look around at the world, we continue to see so much chaos and trouble.   The continuing war In Ukraine,  the new war in the middle east,  drought in Africa and the devastating hurricane in Mexico.   

When we see trouble all around us we need to be able to look through the eyes of God, to see what He is doing.  

Today I want to focus on a passage of scripture from 2 Chronicles.  This scripture passage is probably one of the best known in the Old Testament.  It is a beautiful picture and reminder of God’s promise to his people.   

2 Chronicles 7:14    

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. 

To a devout Jew this section of scripture describes what they once had as a nation and reminds them of what they have lost.  At the time when the temple was completed, the kingdom of Solomon covered all the current land of Israel.  It also included much of modern Syria and Jordan and parts of northern Egypt.  The Kingdom of Solomon was wealthy and mostly at peace with its neighbors.  The construction of the temple according to 1 Kings had taken about seven years to complete.  

The construction was a huge project.  Solomon had assigned 30,000 workers and 3,300 supervisors.  He also had 80,000 stone cutters and 70,000 people carrying materials to the temple site.  The finest materials were acquired to build and furnish the temple.  It had much gold, a large number of precious stones and jewels. It had the finest wood that was available and beautifully carved stone.  When it was finished, it was a magnificent building and all of Israel was ready to celebrate.  

At the dedication ceremony for the temple, Solomon assembled all of Israel to the dedication of the temple. He also brought the ark of the covenant into the temple. This amazing dedication ceremony lasted for 14 days:  

2 Chronicles 7:8-9 (ESV)

At that time Solomon held the feast for seven days, and all Israel with him, a very great assembly, from Lebo-hamath to the Brook of Egypt. 9 And on the eighth day they held a solemn assembly, for they had kept the dedication of the altar seven days and the feast seven days.  

When the dedication ceremony began, the ark was brought to the temple and placed in the Holy of Holies.  And thick smoke filled the temple so that priests could not stand to stay inside because the glory of the Lord filled the house.   

Then Solomon offered a prayer of dedication for the temple to the Lord.  Solomon knelt on the platform he had made and blessed the Lord.  Solomon called on God to hear the prayers of his people.  He asked God to forgive his people when they sinned. Solomon asked God that if Israel was defeated and the people carried away as captives, that if the people would ask forgiveness and turn back to God that God would deliver them and bring them back to their land.   

Solomon’s prayer is a lengthy prayer recorded in 2 Chronicles 6:14-42.  

14 …“O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you, in heaven or on earth, keeping covenant and showing steadfast love to your servants who walk before you with all their heart, 15 who have kept with your servant David my father what you declared to him. You spoke with your mouth, and with your hand have fulfilled it this day. 16 Now therefore, O Lord, God of Israel, keep for your servant David my father what you have promised him, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your sons pay close attention to their way, to walk in my law as you have walked before me.’ 17 Now therefore, O Lord, God of Israel, let your word be confirmed, which you have spoken to your servant David.

18 “But will God indeed dwell with man on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, how much less this house that I have built! 19 Yet have regard to the prayer of your servant and to his plea, O Lord my God, listening to the cry and to the prayer that your servant prays before you, 20 that your eyes may be open day and night toward this house, the place where you have promised to set your name, that you may listen to the prayer that your servant offers toward this place. 21 And listen to the pleas of your servant and of your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. And listen from heaven your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.

22 “If a man sins against his neighbor and is made to take an oath and comes and swears his oath before your altar in this house, 23 then hear from heaven and act and judge your servants, repaying the guilty by bringing his conduct on his own head, and vindicating the righteous by rewarding him according to his righteousness.

24 “If your people Israel are defeated before the enemy because they have sinned against you, and they turn again and acknowledge your name and pray and plead with you in this house, 25 then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and bring them again to the land that you gave to them and to their fathers.

26 “When heaven is shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against you, if they pray toward this place and acknowledge your name and turn from their sin, when you afflict[a] them, 27 then hear in heaven and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel, when you teach them the good way[b] in which they should walk, and grant rain upon your land, which you have given to your people as an inheritance.

28 “If there is famine in the land, if there is pestilence or blight or mildew or locust or caterpillar, if their enemies besiege them in the land at their gates, whatever plague, whatever sickness there is, 29 whatever prayer, whatever plea is made by any man or by all your people Israel, each knowing his own affliction and his own sorrow and stretching out his hands toward this house, 30 then hear from heaven your dwelling place and forgive and render to each whose heart you know, according to all his ways, for you, you only, know the hearts of the children of mankind, 31 that they may fear you and walk in your ways all the days that they live in the land that you gave to our fathers.

32 “Likewise, when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes from a far country for the sake of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm, when he comes and prays toward this house, 33 hear from heaven your dwelling place and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to you, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your people Israel, and that they may know that this house that I have built is called by your name.

34 “If your people go out to battle against their enemies, by whatever way you shall send them, and they pray to you toward this city that you have chosen and the house that I have built for your name, 35 then hear from heaven their prayer and their plea, and maintain their cause.

36 “If they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—and you are angry with them and give them to an enemy, so that they are carried away captive to a land far or near, 37 yet if they turn their heart in the land to which they have been carried captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their captivity, saying, ‘We have sinned and have acted perversely and wickedly,’ 38 if they repent with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity to which they were carried captive, and pray toward their land, which you gave to their fathers, the city that you have chosen and the house that I have built for your name, 39 then hear from heaven your dwelling place their prayer and their pleas, and maintain their cause and forgive your people who have sinned against you. 40 Now, O my God, let your eyes be open and your ears attentive to the prayer of this place.

41 “And now arise, O Lord God, and go to your resting place,
you and the ark of your might.
Let your priests, O Lord God, be clothed with salvation,
and let your saints rejoice in your goodness.
42 O Lord God, do not turn away the face of your anointed one!
Remember your steadfast love for David your servant.”

As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the sacrifice.  This signified God’s acceptance of Solomon’s prayer and demonstrated God’s power and glory to the people.  And it says that the people bowed down and worshipped.  

Then we see in the next chapter of 2 Chronicles that God comes to Solomon in a dream.   God tells Solomon that he has heard his prayer.  God tells Solomon in response to his prayer:

2 Chronicles 7:14:

“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.” 

In God’s response to Solomon’s prayer, God gives Solomon his plan of redemption and renewal.  God’s response covered 6 key things: 

  • My people 
  • Humble themselves. 
  • Pray 
  • Seek my face. 
  • Turn from their sin. 
  • If the people do this, then God would hear & forgive & heal 

Let’s look at each of these one by one. 

First, let’s start with who are My people?  When we see so much tragedy, crisis, and horror in this world we should not be surprised.  The world is full of sin, wickedness, greed, and corruption.  Everyone doing what is right in their own eyes.   

In this room we have people from Ukraine and the United States, and maybe other countries.  We are citizens of specific countries, regardless of where we are currently living.  But as believers we are more than this.  We are God’s people.   

Jesus tells us in John 18:36

“My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 

Now let’s look at 1 Peter 2:10

“Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”  

And in then in Philippians 3:18-20 it says

“18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.  

Our citizenship is in heaven.  Our kingdom is not of this world.    

1 Peter 2:9-10 tells us:

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” 

We can understand that we, the redeemed in Christ, are his people, we are a Holy nation.  Our kingdom, our country is not of this world.  Our kingdom is the Kingdom of Christ.  That is where our heart should be focused.   

Second God calls us to humble ourselves.   

But what does this mean?   Let’s turn to Philippians 2:3-8 and read what Paul tells us: 

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” 

So, what does humility look like? 

  • It is to: Consider others to be more important than yourself. 
  • It is to: Look out for the needs of others. 
  • It is to: Be a servant. 
  • It is to: Be obedient to the tasks God is calling us to do. 

Next God tells us to pray.   

Let’s read Isaiah 6:5:

“Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” 

Isaiah knew the condition of the people of God.  The people were far from God.  The people were not seeking God first.  The people had gone after other gods.  The people had put many things before the Lord their God.  Isaiah also knew that he was sinful, and he was in the presence of God.  Prayer is to be open with God, to open your heart and soul to him.   

Prayer is to be honest with God.  It is to lament or cry before him for the injustice in our world.  It is to confess the world’s sin. It is to confess our national sin and it is to confess our individual sin.   

Prayer is to be honest with God, withholding nothing.  It is to let God know how we feel.  Our prayers could be to tell God we are angry.  Or that we are feeling forgotten or forsaken, or that others are taking advantage of us, and more.  We need to pour out our hearts to our God.  He already knows everything about us, but he wants us to bring it to him in prayer.   

He wants us to realize that we need him.  Let’s read James 5:16:

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”  

There is power in prayer.  There is power in the sincere humble recognition that we can do nothing, but God can do anything. 

Then God tells us to seek His face –  

John Piper, a US pastor and writer, wrote in a book called Desiring God that seeking God’s face “is to set your mind and heart” on God.  Seeking God’s face is focusing our mind’s attention and our heart’s affection on God.”  This attention or focus can be found in both the old and new testaments. 

1 Chronicles 22:19 says:

“Now set your mind and heart to seek the Lord your God.”  

And in the New Testament in Colossians 3:1–2 we read:

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”  

Piper goes on to say: “The heavens are telling the glory of God.  So, we can seek God by contemplating the glory of his creation.”  Piper reminds us that God reveals himself in his word.  “So, we can seek God through the study of his word… God shows himself to us in his grace in other people.  So, we can seek God through fellowship with other believers.  Seeking is a conscious effort to get to God himself.  It is to constantly set our minds toward God in all our experiences.  Seeking his face is to direct our minds and hearts toward him through his revelations. This is what seeking God’s face means.” 

Then God says for us to turn from sin: 

So how do we turn from our sin?  The Bible tells us that repentance is turning away from our sin and turning to Christ.  We need to understand that without Christ we are hopelessly separated from God.  In Romans 7:24 we read:

“Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” 

It is only Christ that can take away our sin and put us into a right relationship with God.  Turning from our sin does not mean that we will never sin again.  It does mean we begin, through Christ, the process of drawing closer to God and becoming more like him.   

Let’s look at Romans 8:12-15

“12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”” 

In Christ we have an advocate before God when we sin.  As believers, when we sin, we confess our sins, so we do not break our fellowship with God.  To turn from sin, we need to constantly confess our sin and seek to draw closer to God.  In summary, God tells us that if we: 

As his people if we:

  • humble ourselves 
  • and if we seek his face 
  • And if we pray 
  • And if we turn from our sin  

Then God will hear our prayers & forgive our sins and heal us.   

Our world is falling apart all around us because of the weight of sin.  God is earnestly calling us to come back to him, as individuals, communities, nations, and the world.   

Will you hear God’s call today?  If you have not accepted Christ as your savior, will you accept him today? 

If you are a believer, are you ready to humble yourself, pray, seek His face, and turn from your sin?