As we look back at disaster’s that have affected our nation, we may have questions in our minds such as:
- ‘Why didn’t God stop the Tsunami wave as it killed over 35,000 people?’
- ‘How could God let the Easter bombings happen and take away lives of those who were worshiping Him?’
- Or, ‘fail to stop the worst economic crisis since 1948 which has plunged many into suffering?’
Now a similar question was asked by Anne Graham, the daughter of Billy Graham, after 9/11. And in this interview, she responded to the question, “How could God let something like this happen” by saying;
“In light of recent events…terrorist attacks, school shootings, etc. …
- I think it started when Madeline Murray O’Hare said she didn’t want prayer in our schools, and we said OK.
- Then, someone said, do not read the Bible in school… the Bible that says thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor. And we said, OK.
- Then, Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn’t spank our children when they misbehave because (it) might damage their self-esteem and we said, it’s OK..
- Then someone said, let our daughters have abortions if they want, and they won’t even have to tell their parents. And we said, OK.
- Then some wise school board member said, since boys will be boys and they’re going to do it anyway, let’s fix condom machines at school, and we said, OK.
- Then some of our top elected officials said it doesn’t matter what we do in private, including the President, as long as we do our jobs. And we agreed with them.
- And then someone said let’s print magazines with pictures of nude women and even nude children on the internet, and call it wholesome, the beauty of the female body. And we said, OK.
- And then the entertainment industry said, let’s make TV shows and movies that promote bad language, violence, and illicit sex. And let’s record music that encourages rape, drugs, murder, suicide. And we said it’s just entertainment.
And now, (we ask) why our children have no conscience, why they don’t know right from wrong, and why it doesn’t bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves”.
In 2 Chronicles 5 – 7 we read how Solomon had constructed and dedicated a magnificent temple for God. And the Lord assures Solomon that He would answer prayers made in the temple by God’s people in 2 Chronicles 7:14
“And if My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves, and pray over, and seek My face, and return from their wicked ways; then I will hear from heaven; and will forgive their sin, and heal their land”.
THE CHANGE GOD CAN BRING FOR A NATION TO EXPERIENCE GOD’S BLESSINGS
“and if My people, who are called by My name,
Before the assurance God says in verse 13 that when God judges the nation in the form of shutting off the supply of rain from the skies, or, ordering the locusts to eat the crops, or, sending a plague on God’s people or even disasters such as illness or defeat in war and being captured and ruled by foreign nations, or, being taken into exile, or, the nation being destroyed including Jerusalem and the temple,
(Then), if God’s people (not the corrupt politician or policeman, or, the drug peddler, or the idolator, or the immoral, or the sorcerer, but God’s people) will humble themselves and pray and seek God’s face and turn from their wicked ways, God will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.
Although God’s invitation is initially given to “my people” referring to the people of Israel, this promise, is not just for the land King Solomon lived in, but also for the land we live in. Therefore, if we who have made God the Lord of our lives, turn to God (not the IMF!) in humility and prayer, God promises that Sri Lanka would receive relief from hardships caused by sins such as corruption and bad governance.
THE CONDITIONS GOD LAYS DOWN FOR A NATION TO EXPERIENCE GOD’S BLESSINGS
will humble themselves,
National judgments must result in God’s people responding with national repentance, which in turn will result in God extending national forgiveness. Now God laid down four conditions for an individual or for a nation seeking God’s forgiveness. The first is humility or ‘bringing down self’.
Humility, acknowledges that answers are not in ‘self’ or politicians or economist or the IMF but in God. In the Old Testament we read that when God’s people humbled themselves, that God did not destroy them, as God’s anger turned away and He soon gave them deliverance.
The second condition for an individual or for a nation seeking God’s forgiveness is intercessory prayers.
and pray over (or, intervene over; or, intercede over),
Now just as Moses prayed for God’s people to be saved from been bitten by poisonous snakes (Num. 21: 7); And just as Samuel interceded without giving up for Israel (1 Sam. 12: 23), we too in times like this, interceding without giving up!
The third condition for an individual or for a nation seeking God’s forgiveness is seeking God’s face and His favour.
and seek My face,
In the Old Testament, most people stood before God in the temple praying, seeking God’s favour or help or God’s presence. In the Hebrew, the word ‘seek’ also can have an emotional colouring to it more than an intellectual seeking, about our nation, His church, and His people. If so, on Sundays do we worship God mechanically or with our whole heart and soul? One Bible commentator writes:
“Much of the church’s activity, it is cynically said, would carry on regardless even if the Holy Spirit were departed, or God were dead. But the kind of service described here is plainly nonsensical unless God is as really present as the human participants” (Michael Wiolcock).
And the final condition for an individual or for a nation seeking God’s forgiveness is to turn from sinful behaviour.
and return (or, turn back) from their wicked ways;
Again, not the politicians, but we (‘God’s people’) must turn away from living proud and self-centered lives. The meaning of the verb in the original is ‘movement back to the point of departure’. If so, ‘WE’ must spiritually return back to God.
THE CURE GOD OFFERS FOR A NATION TO EXPERIENCE GOD’S BLESSINGS
then I will hear (or, I will listen) from heaven;
In Solomon’s prayer of dedication, he had prayed
May you hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place (2 Chron. 6: 20).
Now just as God promised to hear Solomon’s prayers, God promises to hear our prayers whether we are
- persecuted or suffering, or,
- facing afflictions, such as illness or disease, or,
- facing troubles or hardships, or,
- facing abuse, or misery, or,
- distress, such as sorrow, grief or agony.
God promises to hear the prayer of His humble, prayerful, seeking, and repentant people. In fact, Bible scholars state that maybe months or years had passed since King Solomon prayer of dedication, in chapter 6. In fact, several other building projects had been completed after the temple. But it was much later on that God told Solomon that He had heard Solomon’s prayers.
Often, we look for instant answers to our prayers, and when nothing happens, wonder if God has heard us? But God does hear us and we must trust God to answer at the proper time.
and will forgive their sin,
Another promise God makes is to forgive our wickedness and our sins. In the Old Testament, a believer was assured of forgiveness based on animal sacrifices while today, forgiveness is made available based on the sacrifice of God’s Son on the cross. We can pray and ask God’s forgiveness, not only of our sins, but also the sins of this nation.
and heal their land.
The word ‘heal’ means to ‘restore to normal’, which is an act that God can perform. Just as there are a large number of verses appealing to God for healing, there are a large number of verses that refer to the healing of the nations.
The Bible states that when a nation repents God offers grace and forgiveness. And at times, God’s discipline of a nation leads to repentance and healing. In Hosea 6: 1 we read;
“Come and let us return [in repentance] to the Lord, For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. (AMP)
No Executive Presidents, nor, international financial agencies, but only God, can restore our land to health, and our people to peace and security.
BIBLE TEXT AND HYMNS:
Sermon Text: 2 Chronicles 7:14
and if My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves, and pray over, and seek My face, and return from their wicked ways; then I will hear from heaven; and will forgive their sin, and heal their land.
- 2 Chron. 7: 11 – 18
- God bless our native land
- Pass me not, O gentle Saviour
- Hymn for Sri Lanka