The following verse from the Bible is often quoted as a directive for people from the current generation of today. But let’s consider the context of the passage, along with the context of the gospel.
“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” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
Religion has taught that the target audience here is pointing to believers belonging to any nation, but look through the entire chapter (and the previous chapter) and begin to see where this was clearly addressing “my people” who were in a covenant with God at that time—referring to the nation of Israel.
We’re told to pray, seek God, and turn from sinning so that we will be forgiven, and our land will be healed. In other words, according to covenant clashers, forgiveness and blessings for us would be based upon certain conditions. Some might say, “If it was meant for Israel, it’s good enough for us.” That would be fine and dandy—if there had only been one covenant. The passage continues:
“Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time” (2 Chronicles 7:15-16).
The context in this chapter centers around prayer being heard from the temple that was just constructed. God said his ears would hear the prayer being made in that place and he declared it would be a house of sacrifice. Solomon dedicated the temple with a sacrificial offering of 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep (gulp!). This has nothing to do with those today who are under a New Covenant established upon better promises. God proceeded to tell Solomon to do according to all that he commanded, including the keeping of his statutes and rules from the law that came through Moses. Turning aside from any of the commandments would result in the need to be seeking the face of God and His forgiveness all over again. That’s just how it was in the Old Covenant.
“Religious” repentance is often linked to 2 Chronicles 7:14, and I agree that we should repent. The way to do this is by changing our thinking and seeing the Scriptures through a new set of lenses, because under a better covenant established upon better promises, forgiveness and blessings for us did not arrive by seeking God’s face through prayer or improving our behavior to a higher standard through works of the law; nor did it come by sacrificing animals, but rather through Jesus Christ and his shed blood. Under the first covenant, the Jews would continuously seek forgiveness that was temporary, but now we no longer need to seek the face of God at the temple in the hopes that He will hear us from heaven.
Today, we do not seek an “elusive” God, nor do we have to petition Him for his love, acceptance and forgiveness. Why? With the final sacrifice of Christ, the temple veil was torn in two from top to bottom and he abides in us by the life of his Spirit. Thanks to the blood of Christ which brought forgiveness once, for all, we’re not under the first covenant as Israel once was. Therefore, God is no longer repeatedly forgiving the sins of people in a new covenant where He remembers sins no more (see Hebrews 8 & 10). We simply believe He did enough to deal with it. He has now located us in a place of permanent refuge—in Him.
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