By Ray Jewell
This phrase from 1 Chronicles 7:14 is, once again, taken out of its scriptural context. The scene is the dedication of the temple that Solomon built. These words are a part of God’s response, not primarily about the people of Israel receiving God’s blessing, but about the repentance necessary in order for that blessing to happen.
I have heard this verse used in a way that makes the United States the Promised Land, God’s chosen people. But the expectation is that God will bless without the part about repentance. Irving Berlin’s patriotic hymn, God Bless America, captures the essence of the American view of God. God should continually bless America, not because America has repented of sin and turned from their wicked ways, but because America is great.
Well, God has blessed America over and over again. Yet repentance is not seen often let alone turning away from their wicked ways. Look at the whole context of this passage.
“I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices.
“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 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 I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there. (1 Chronicles 7:12-16)
The way many use this phrase lends itself to provincialism, prosperity, patriotism, and pride. Unless we as a nation collectively and individually fall on our knees in repentance and denounce sin, I’m afraid the demise of the United States Empire is at hand.
The church in America needs to be at front of a movement to repent and transform. God promises blessings, but not without change. Let us be about a metamorphosis that comes about when we totally turn ourselves over to God the Holy Spirit. It is by His power in us that this change will take place.