Many of us are familiar with 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.
Solomon had just completed the construction and dedication of the temple. God used the occasion to reaffirm his covenant with Israel, reminding them that there will be consequences for their response to his covenant commands – blessings for their obedience and curses for their disobedience.
A description of these blessings and curses is detailed in chapters 27 and 28 of Deuteronomy. But be forewarned: the curses are very unsettling to read. God fully explained them to Israel through Moses, before they crossed the Jordan River and entered the Promised Land. In Deuteronomy 11:26-28 he said,
See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside from the way that I am commanding you today, to go after other gods that you have not known.
Ancient Israel’s history was characterized by cycles of sin. As long as Israel honored God and did as he commanded, their nation was blessed with abundance, peace and prominence among their neighboring nations. But repeatedly, they would get used to those blessings, take them for granted, forget to teach their children about God as the source of their blessings and begin to live in rebellion to his commands, even accepting the worship of false gods.
When this happened, God removed his blessings from them, and allowed them to suffer from famine, disease, warfare, poverty and all the curses he had told them about through Moses. But whenever they returned to God, changed their ways and began living in righteous obedience to his commands, he again would heal them of their curses and bless them with new blessings.
Sadly, even Solomon’s reign ended in disaster, leaving the once great nation splintered, weakened, and subjected to foreign conquest and the forced relocation of the people. The cycles of sin just wouldn’t stop.
Finally, when the survival of Israel as God’s people was at a low ebb, Christ came. But what did he do? Did he kick the Roman conquerors out of the Land? No. Did he reestablish the Kingdom of David? Not in an earthly sense, but from the throne of David, he established the kingdom of God, with a new covenant.
The Messiah first came to save his people, the Jews. And that was good news. But very soon, he made the same offer of salvation to all people. In John 10:16 Jesus said it this way,
And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.
Those “other sheep” are the gentiles, and I’m one of those guys. But notice something very important: Jesus says, “there will be one flock, one shepherd.” That means the people of God, the people he refers to when he says, “my people who are called by my name”, consist of all – Jew or gentile – who have received Messiah (the Word) and believe in his name, as stated in John 1:12:
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.
God’s children are God’s Kingdom. That is why in Matthew 18:3 he said,
Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
That’s what being born again is all about. As a child of God, you are one of God’s people. So when God refers to his people, if he is living in you, he’s talking about you. That means God’s promise of 2 Chronicles 7:14 is not just for ancient Israel. It’s for all Christians today.
God’s People Are To Be Holy
Romans 8:9 tells us,
You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
If we who belong to him have the Spirit of Christ, then we are to be a holy people. A consistent principle throughout both the old covenant and the new covenant is that God’s people are called to be holy. Leviticus 11:44 says,
For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy.
1 Peter 1:15-16 quotes that very passage, saying,
but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
Holy means to be separated and set apart for God. From 2 Corinthians 6:16-17 we read,
…As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord…
“Them” refers to idol worshippers, false religions.
America: Founded For The Furtherance Of Christianity
From the outset of the founding of the United States of America – from the first pilgrims, to the colonies, to the adoption of our constitution – this nation began as a haven for Christians, with governments and institutions designed to foster, teach and spread the Christian religion in a free, predominantly Christian society. This fact has been clearly documented in many sources.
Today, secularized attitudes try hard to hide the Christian roots of our history. Nevertheless, the reality of our Christian foundations is very discoverable. Two sources I often cite are: lessons 9 and 10 of The Truth Project, by Focus on the Family, and One Nation Under God, Ten Things Every Christian Should Know About the Founding of America, by Dr. David C. Gibbs, Jr.
Princeton’s founding statement of 1747 included, “Cursed is all learning that is contrary to the cross of Christ.” Noah Webster (1758-1843) said, “In my view, the Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government, ought to be instructed.” Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) wrote, “The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and liberty so intimately in their minds that it is impossible to make them conceive one without the other.”
Ignorance abounds on this issue today. America was never designed to be so secular as to exclude the influence of Biblical religions. Equally, America was never designed to be a theocracy. Christians who want to enjoy the God-given right of the free exercise of religion don’t want anyone else to suffer under religious oppression. In the spirit of 2 Corinthians 6:16-17 our founders separated themselves from the oppression of official State religions in Europe because they wanted the freedom to worship as they chose, not as governments told them to. That separation of church and state meant to keep the government out of religious affairs, not to keep religious values out of government.
Accordingly, the Constitution was designed so that non-Christians are equally free to enjoy religious freedom. However, that freedom does not warrant the restructuring of moral norms, as is currently happening in the courts as a result of utilitarianism and positivism (relativistic philosophies of law). By using law to force moral change on society, the original purpose of America’s foundation – to create a safe haven for the free expression of the Christian religion – is thwarted.
Christianity, the Bible and the God of the Bible are being denied as authoritative sources for moral standards. Rather, the government and law is assuming the authority to set moral standards for society. When that happens, we are no longer a free country because Christians, other Bible believers and traditionalists will not be allowed the free exercise of their religion. They will be forced to accede to a State-mandated morality, which is tyranny, pure and simple.
The Free Exercise Of Religion Requires Moral Restraint.
The legal argument for gay marriage is perverted and unholy. There is nothing “equal” about homosexuals “marrying” one another. God has established marriage between a man and a woman. Homosexuals want to throw out God’s definition of marriage and redefine it to include them. In order to accomplish that, they disregard the fact that God calls homosexuality an abomination (Leviticus 18:22). Denying God’s absolute authority to call sin sin, they redefine homosexuality as an acceptable, “alternate” lifestyle.
Since God is holy, to treat his word so cavalierly is an assault on his holiness. And because we too are called to be holy, if the Supreme Court of our nation decides that the Constitution permits a powerful central government to stand in opposition to the will of holy God and force all its citizens to comply with immoral laws, then Christians must make a choice: either quietly go along with everyone else who is ignoring God, or be separate from them and be holy in all our conduct.
And how, exactly, do we do that? Will pastors be forced to perform wedding ceremonies for gays under fear of losing their positions? Will para-church ministries be forced to hire and work with people who do not share their values or beliefs? Will Christian business owners be forced to do business with and even hire individuals who flagrantly disregard Biblical morals?
These questions are not hypothetical. These kinds of situations are already happening. Christians right now are being denied their freedom of conscience, freedom of religion and freedom of association by their own State and federal governments. Here in California, State law illegally requires churches and other religious organizations to pay for abortion coverage in their insurance policies, in violation of the federal Hyde-Weldon Conscience Protection Amendment.
Yet many Christians don’t say anything, for fear of losing their job or being sued. They cower behind the silent witness of “nice” masks. How will God react to this kind of go-along to get-along attitude? Some have said that America will reap God’s judgement and that we will suffer greatly for the sins of our nation. But even prior to God’s total destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, he told Abraham that if he found just ten righteous men in Sodom, he would spare the city (Genesis 18:32). So, if there remains only a remnant of righteous persons in America, we may escape total destruction.
Some Christians comfort themselves with the hope of a pre-tribulation rapture. But surely there is something more important than escaping tribulation. There are so many verses that give us hope, not the least of which is, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5b). In anticipation of heavenly rewards (Matthew 5:12; Luke 6:23; Philippians 3:14, etc), shouldn’t God’s people be content to abide in Christ, regardless of what happens?
If God finds us not living as he commanded, even if he spares us from destruction, he will withhold his rewards and blessings from us. As in the days of the old covenant, there are blessings for the good that we do and curses for the evil that we do. Even Moses was denied the reward of entering the promised land because he “did not believe in me to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people” (Numbers 20:12).
God is still holy, and he still calls his people to be holy. What reward or blessing will God withhold from us if we, as the people of God allow unholiness to be the law of the land? As you pray for the Supreme Court to do the right thing, remember also to pray for God’s people. We, too, must do the right thing. The issue of what the body of Christ does has far greater implications than the issue of Man-made laws.
As Dr. Laura used to say, “Now go do the right thing”.