FORGET NONE OF HIS BENEFITS
volume 18, number 44, October 31, 2019
“If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people…” -2 Chronicles 7:13
The abduction and murder of little three year old Kamille “Cupcake” McKinney has rocked our city of Birmingham and the nation. This cute little girl with an amazing smile was smothered to death and then discarded in a garbage dumpster. Thankfully her alleged murderers have been apprehended and we are told that the state of Alabama will seek the death penalty for both of them, and that is precisely what should happen if they are convicted.
On August 13, 2018 Christopher Lee Watts confessed to strangling his pregnant wife, and then smothering his two daughters, ages three and four, and tossing the children into an oil tank and burying their mother nearby in a shallow grave. Motive? He was having an adulterous affair and his wife and children got in the way. Watts was convicted on three counts of murder and given life imprisonment without parole. How could the state of Arizona not give him the death penalty?
Who does things like these? What great wickedness exists in our nation! Why does this happen with such regularity? Paul the Apostle tells us that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. They do not honor Him as God and they have exchanged the truth of God for a lie. Thus, God gives them over to the lusts of their hearts. God then gives them over to degrading passions which yield homosexuality. And then when they refuse to acknowledge Him any longer, He finally gives them over to a depraved mind (they don’t know their left hand from their right, they have lost all sense of right and wrong) which leads to a whole litany of things (Romans 1:28-32) including wickedness, greed, evil, envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice.
At least 16,214 murders occurred in the United States in 2018. The city of Chicago had 561 murders in 2018. Bessemer, Alabama, a town near Birmingham, has a higher crime rate than 99.7% of U.S. cities, 4.6 times greater than the U.S. average.
And then, what about you? What are the trials you currently are experiencing? Everyone has them. Is it wayward children who are breaking your heart with their rebellion, unbelief, and consequent ungodly living? Is it a chronic health problem which sucks the physical and emotional life from you or a loved one? Is it the threat of financial ruin? Are you living with the fear of losing your job and therefore the means by which you provide for your family? What is the root cause of these trials?
Over the next several weeks I hope to take up the wonderful promise in 2 Chronicles 7:14, a powerful passage about revival, “. . . and 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, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
This, of course, is a well known passage of Scripture which many love to cite for the benefit of our nation. However, in order to apply this properly we must understand the context of the passage. Solomon has just completed the construction of the temple in Jerusalem. After the dedication of the temple, after the prayers of thanksgiving were offered to Yahweh, the glory of the Lord (the Shekinah glory) fell on God’s covenant people and they humbled themselves, bowing down to the ground, and praising Him saying, “Truly He is good, truly His lovingkindness is everlasting,” (2 Chronicles 7:1-3). Sacrifices were then offered on the altar and the magnificent feast of dedication was offered to the Lord. After all of this, Yahweh then appeared to Solomon and said to him, “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice.”
However, Yahweh then says that the lack of rain will be a sign of judgment to them, as will the visitation of the locust, as will the devastation of pestilence which would kill many people. Yahweh is making clear to Solomon that so called natural calamities are not happenstance. Yahweh declares that He is the one who brings them. He says the same thing in Isaiah 45:7, Amos 3:6, and Daniel 9:12-14. There are always consequences for idolatry and the exchange of the true and living God for false ones.
Please note the structure of the marvelous promises in 2 Chronicles 7:14. This is vital for our understanding if we are likewise to take full advantage of what He is saying here. Yahweh is promising three things—He would hear from heaven, He would pardon their sins, and He would heal their land (remove their affliction). Furthermore, Yahweh lends further clarification to these three promises. He makes two designations as to the recipients of His promises. He calls them “My people.” They are the covenant people of God, those whom He had chosen, the apple of His eye. And they are the ones who call upon His name for help and deliverance, “who are called by My name.” And then He makes clear the four necessary conditions for these three promises to be fulfilled. One, if they humble themselves. Two, if they pray. Three, if they seek the face of God. And four, if they turn from their wicked ways.
In addressing Solomon, Yahweh goes further to say that if he will walk before Him as David, Solomon’s father did, then Yahweh would establish His royal throne with Solomon and he would never lack a man to rule in Israel. If, however, he or his descendants were to turn away from Yahweh then He would uproot them from the land and cast them out of His sight.
So the 2 Chronicles 7 passage is an instructive paradigm for anyone, any family, and any church or nation. Note these two vital principles—trial and hardship are the norm, not the exception; and the rejection of God unleashes untold wickedness, perversion, and murder which all too often invade the homes of God’s people.
Concerning physical, familial, or financial woes, please note that these are not accidents. They are not from the devil. They are not happenstance or random. God allows them. But why? I propose to answer this “million dollar” question next week, but for now, please understand this vital point—in the afflictions which befall God’s people, He is always tender hearted and full of compassion (James 5:11, Psalm 103:8-13). When Yahweh calls you “My people” He is saying that He cannot, will not forget you. He will never leave you “high and dry.” He will never desert you. He is always your very present help in time of trouble. When you call upon Him in a day of trouble He promises to deliver you so that you may, in turn, glorify Him (Psalm 50:15).
And when you are on the receiving end of untold wickedness, as are the parents of little “Cupcake”, always remember that our Lord is with you when you walk through the valley of the shadow of death. He will never leave you nor will He forsake you. He always sticks closer than a brother. He promises to make all things right on the day of His return. He will sum up everything in Christ (Psalm 23:4, Ephesians 1:10, Romans 8:38,39, Revelation 213,4, Proverbs 18:24).