Michael Boling – If My People Who Bear My Name: Exposition of 2 Chronicles 7:14

“then, if my people, who bear my name, will humble themselves, pray, seek my face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

A new leader has assumed the office of the Presidency of the United States. While his assumption of power has not been without angst and outright anger (and unbridled destructive fury in some areas), we nevertheless have a new occupant of the White House.

Often when a period of newness or change such as this takes place, 2 Chronicles 7:14 is presented and rightly so. It is a passage ripe with a promise from the Ultimate Ruler regarding the response He will give to His people. With that said, while a popular passage to invoke, I often wonder if the flow of the passage and in particular, the vital to grasp if/then statement provided are grasped.

So let’s break down this passage, paying special attention to what is required of us and in turn, the promise provided if that requirement is met.
This declaration commences with “if my people”, presenting a point of action on the part of a group. The word “if” means that something must take place before a follow on action can begin. Without the action required in the “if” statement, nothing further will happen.

Before what is required in the “if” statement is explored, it is necessary to engage to whom this declaration is being presented. Adonai is talking to those who “bear my name” or in some translations, those who “are my people”. Quite often 2 Chronicles 7:14 is used, especially during times of national transition such as we are currently in, as a passage that speaks somewhat of the United States as a whole. The belief is centered on the idea that we are a nation blessed by God and thus we can invoke this passage in an overarching way for all people. While this passage does have a definite impact (provided the “if” statement is obeyed), Adonai is focused on a specific group – His people.

Who then are “His people” and what is required to be part of that group? The term “my” is one of possession and relationship. Furthermore, this people bear his name”. This is familial terminology. As His children, we bear the family name of our Father. In keeping with this idea of family and relationship, as the bride of Yeshua, we also bear the name of the Bridegroom. We know not everyone is part of the Family of Adonai and we know not everyone is part of the bride of Yeshua. This means the Father is speaking to a specific segment of the nation. The actions of this segment by extension can and will have an impact on the greater whole.

So what are we then called to do as the people who are His and who bear His name? We are called to do four things: 1) Humble themselves; 2) Pray; 3) Seek His face; 4) Turn from their evil ways.

Let’s take a look at each requirement.

1. Humble themselves. To be humble, according to the Hebrew word kana’ used in this passage, means to “be humbled, be subdued, be brought down, be low, be under, be brought into subjection”. Yahweh is the Ultimate Ruler, regardless if one is part of His family or not. He controls all. Those who claim to be His recognize that authority and Kingship. Thus to humble yourself is a declaration of subservience to the Almighty. It is the complete opposite of the attitude expressed by the enemy who sought to exalt himself above the Almighty. Those who are His and who bear the name of the Father understand who God is and our relationship to Him, namely the fact He is King of the Universe and we are His humble servants.

2. Pray. The term used for pray in this passage does not describe your average everyday pray over a meal. It describes a much deeper aspect of prayer and that description is noted in the definition of the Hebrew word palal which means “to intercede, to supplicate”. This is at its core intercessory prayer. It is focused, purposeful prayer on behalf of the nation, a call to the Almighty to be merciful.

3. Seek His face. To seek the face of the Almighty involves a desire (baqash) the face (paniym) of the Father. Paniym involves an active motion that is to be focused on God. When the creation is properly focused on God, the result is God’s favor being poured out on creation. Conversely, when the creation rejects God and turns their face and actions away from God, His favor is also turned away from the creation. The seeking of God’s face should be a hallmark of those who are called to be His bride. This perhaps begs the question of how we should seek God’s face. Two important elements are the daily washing of our hearts and minds in the word of God through consistent purposeful Bible study and through a consistent posture of bowing before God in prayer.

4. Turn from their evil ways. I think this is the part of the “if” requirement that is most often ignored or overlooked. The word turn is the Hebrew word shuwb which depicts a specific method of movement. It is a return to something, namely the ways of the Father, specifically the commands provided by the Father to His children in His word. If we are not being obedient to the Father’s commands, we are involved in evil and wickedness. The term ways is the Hebrew word derek which describes a course of life or a pattern of behavior.

If we follow the train of commands contained in the “if” statement, we see a clear course of action that must take place in progression. First is humility. Until we humble ourselves under subjection of the rule of the Almighty, our prayers will be futile, we will have no desire to seek His face, and there will be no turning from evil because our hearts are still lifted up against the Almighty.

If we have humbled ourselves but are not focused on intercessory prayer for our nation, we are yet again not in the right frame of spiritual mind. If we humble ourselves and pray, but are not seeking His face, we do not have the proper focus to our prayers and actions. If we humble ourselves, pray, seek His face, but do not turn from wickedness, we are continuing to thumb our nose at Yahweh.

Thus, all elements of the “if” command must be obeyed. I know obedience is not a popular term in a time when “greasy grace” is so often taught, but unless we humble ourselves, pray, seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways through the work of the Holy Spirit, we cannot hope to see the blessings that are noted in the conclusion of 2 Chronicles 7:14. We so often want the quick route to God’s favor. To be quite frank, it does not work that way.

If we desire healing for this increasingly fractured nation and if we want to see forgiveness of our sins which are promised in this passage, those who are His and who bear the name of the Father must in humility pray, seek His face, and turn from evil. It is time to take stock of our spiritual condition as the people of Yahweh. Spend time in His word, be a people who desire to obey His commands and pray with a humble heart for this nation. Moreover, be a people whose light shines in a dark and hurting world. This can only happen if we root ourselves in the proper foundation which is Scripture and only if we are obedient to the “if” declaration provided to us in 2 Chronicles 7:14.

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Thomas Boston – The Danger of Delaying Repentance

“Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep. So shall thy poverty come as one that traveleth, and thy want as an armed man.” — Proverbs 6:10-11

In this text we have the sluggard’s picture drawn in reference to his eternal concerns, which is the main thing here aimed at. He is one that puts off his great work from time to time, “Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep.”

In the sixth verse, the slothful sinner is sent to school to learn a lesson of the ant, which, though she has not the advantage that he has, yet has so much natural sagacity1 as to provide for winter in the time of summer and harvest, when meat is to be got. In the ninth verse, there is a rousing call to the sinner to follow that example. But behold [how] he entertains it: as a person that is loath to arise, he begs a little more sleep, a little more slumber, a little more folding of the hands to sleep!

The point I intend to speak to from these words is: the delaying and putting off of repentance is a soul-ruining course among gospel-hearers.

In discoursing this doctrine, I shall show: first, why it is that gospel-hearers delay and put off repentance; second, that this delaying is a soul-ruining course; third and lastly, make application.

1. Why Gospel-hearers Delay Repentance

I shall show why it is that gospel-hearers delay and put off repentance. There is a generation that are not resolved never to repent, never to ply for salvation; but only they are not for it yet. They hope to amend and reform afterwards, but for the present they have no heart to it; so by cheating themselves out of their present time, they put a cheat on themselves forever. They are called by the Word and by their own consciences to make ready for another world, to work out their salvation; but their hearts say, “Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep”; and their practice is conformable. Why is it so?

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A. W. Pink – The Fruits of Repentance

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To help the exercised391 reader identify true repentance, consider the fruits that demonstrate godly repentance.

1. A real hatred of sin as sin, not merely its consequences. A hatred not only of this or that sin, but of all sin, and particularly of the root itself: self-will. “Thus saith the Lord God, Repent, and turn from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations” (Ezek. 14:6). He, who hates not sin, loves it. God’s demand is, “Ye shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for all your evils that ye have committed” (Ezek. 20:43). One who has really repented can truthfully say, “I hate every false way” (Ps. 119:104). He, who once thought a course of holy living was a gloomy thing, has another judgment now. He, who once regarded a course of self-pleasing as attractive, now detests it and has purposed to forsake all sin forever. This is the change of mind that God requires.

2. A deep sorrow for sin. The non-saving repentance of so many is principally a distress occasioned by forebodings of divine wrath; but evangelical repentance produces a deep grief from a sense of having offended so infinitely excellent and glorious a Being as God. The one is the effect of fear, the other of love. The one is only for a brief season; the other is the habitual practice for life. Many a man is filled with regret and remorse over a misspent life, yet has no poignant sorrow of heart for his ingratitude and rebellion against God. But a regenerated soul is cut to the quick for having disregarded and opposed his great Benefactor and rightful Sovereign. This is the change of heart that God requires: “Ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner…for godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation” (2 Cor. 7:9-10). Such a sorrow is produced in the heart by the Holy Spirit and has God for its object. It is a grief for having despised such a God, rebelled against His authority, and been indifferent to His glory. It is this that causes us to “weep bitterly” (Mat 26:75). He who has not grieved over sin takes pleasure therein. God requires us to “afflict” our souls (Lev. 16:29). His call is, “Turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your hearts and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful” (Joel 2:12-13). Only that sorrow for sin is genuine that causes us to crucify “the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Gal. 5:24).

3. A confessing of sin. “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper” (Prov. 28:13). It is “second nature” to the sinner to deny his sins, directly or indirectly, to minimize or make excuses for them. It was thus with Adam and Eve at the beginning. But when the Holy Spirit works in any soul, his sins are brought to light; and he, in turn, acknowledges them to God. There is no relief for the stricken heart until he does so: “When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long, for day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer” (Ps. 32:3-4). The frank and brokenhearted owning of our sins is imperative if peace of conscience is to be maintained. This is the change of attitude that God requires.

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Thomas Watson – Examining Our Repentance

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If any shall say they have repented, let me desire them to try themselves seriously by those seven…effects of repentance which the Apostle lays down in 2 Corinthians 7:11.

1. Carefulness: The Greek word signifies a solicitous diligence or careful shunning [of] all temptations to sin. The true penitent flies from sin as Moses did from the serpent (Ex. 4:3).

2. Clearing of ourselves: The Greek word is apology. The sense is this: though we have much care, yet through strength of temptation we may slip into sin. Now in this case, the repenting soul will not let sin lie festering in his conscience, but judges himself for his sin. He pours out tears before the Lord. He begs mercy in the name of Christ and never leaves until he has gotten his pardon. Here he is cleared of guilt in his conscience and is able to make an apology for himself against Satan.

3. Indignation: He that repents of sin, his spirit rises against it, as one’s blood rises at the sight of him whom he mortally hates. Indignation is a being fretted395 at the heart with sin. The penitent is vexed with himself. David calls himself a fool and a beast (Ps. 73:22). God is never better pleased with us than when we fall out with ourselves for sin.

4. Fear: A tender heart is ever a trembling heart. The penitent has felt sin’s bitterness. This hornet has stung him and now, having hopes that God is reconciled, he is afraid to come near sin any more. The repenting soul is full of fear. He is afraid to lose God’s favor, which is better than life. He is afraid he should, for want396 of diligence, come short of salvation. He is afraid lest, after his heart has been soft, the waters of repentance should freeze and he should harden in sin again. “Happy is the man that feareth alway” (Pro 28:14)…A repenting person fears and sins not; a graceless person sins and fears not.

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Christina Fox – Learning Repentance from the Psalmist

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I broke my arm two years ago. It was the first broken bone of my life. I thought it would be fun to expose my kids to the joys of roller skating at the local roller rink. I wanted to share the fun of skating to sounds of the latest pop music, eating roller rink fare, and participating in in the Hokey Pokey. After all, that’s what I did most Saturday’s growing up. The only problem was that I hadn’t skated since I was a teen and falling down as an adult brings greater consequences than it did when I was a child.

I knew right away something was wrong. The pain was intense. I clutched my arm close to my abdomen. I had to drive home using one arm. After enduring an emergency doctor’s visit, I learned that I had broken my elbow. Needless to say, I haven’t been skating since.

Psalm 51 and Broken Bones

The excruciating pain in my arm was my body telling me something was wrong. Our emotions function in a similar way for us. They also tell us something is wrong. Whether we are angry at an injustice, fearful of the unknown future, or grieving a loss, our emotions reveal the turbulence broiling in our hearts.

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Thomas Watson – No Rowing to Paradise Except Upon the Stream of Repenting Tears

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Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.“ Revelation 3:20

There is no rowing to paradise except upon the stream of repenting tears. Till sin be bitter, Christ will not be sweet. Why are the wells of repentance stopped? Do not the sinners of the land know that they should repent? Have they no warning? Have not God’s faithful messengers lifted up their voice as a trumpet and cried to them to repent? But many of these tools in the ministry have been spent and worn out upon rocky hearts. Do we think that God will always put up with our affronts?

Some bless themselves that they have a stock of knowledge, but what is knowledge good for without repentance? Learning and a bad heart is like a fair face with a cancer in the breast. Knowledge without repentance will be but a torch to light the way to hell. Repentant tears may be compared to myrrh, which though it is bitter in taste, has a sweet smell and refreshes the spirit. So repentance, though it is bitter in itself, yet it is sweet in the effects. It brings inward peace.

We are to find as much bitterness in weeping for sin as ever we found sweetness in committing it. Surely David found more bitterness in repentance than ever he found comfort in Bathsheba. Tears have four qualities: they are moist, salt, hot, and bitter. It is true of repenting tears, they are hot to warm a frozen conscience; moist, to soften a hard heart; salt, to season a soul decaying in sin; bitter, to wean us from the love of the world. And I will add a fifth, they are sweet, in that they make the heart inwardly rejoice.

David, who was the great weeper in Israel, was the sweet singer of Israel. The sorrows of the repentant are like the sorrows of a travailing woman: “A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world” (John 16:21).

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Theodore Van Der Groe – The Publican’s Prayer

Publican's Prayer

And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. Luke 18:13

O wonderful love of heavenly mercy which sleeps so long, until the day dawns and the daystar arise in the hearts of poor lost sinners! Mercy rains indeed like manna about our tents; but God then gives to His poor believing ones both the hunger and the strength as well to go forth without the camp of this vain world and of self-righteousness, and there to gather into their lap that heavenly manna and to bear it home with joy, while the water from the rock flows like a stream behind them. And then it is thus: “They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them” (Isa 49:10). How a merciful Christ stands here, even today knocking upon the doors of those who, alas, are still bound with the yoke of unbelief upon their jaw bone, and crying: “If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Rev 3:20). What excuses shall they make if they let their Beloved stand any longer there while His head is filled with dew, and His locks with the drops of the night (Song 5:2). Now that they have seen a publican going before unto the throne of grace, shall they remain behind? If even the harlots and the publicans have gone before them into the kingdom of heaven, shall they not now follow? What would then be said of the matter? Let them but read attentively what is written: “For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him” (Heb 10:37-38).

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John MacArthur – Calling the Church to Repent (Part 1)

I had the opportunity to speak to the conference that’s called Together for the Gospel, and I was assigned the responsibility of speaking on the subject of “Christ’s Call for Reformation.” We are essentially 500 years past the Reformation itself, back when Martin Luther pinned his Ninety-five Theses to the door of the church at Wittenberg and launched the Protestant Reformation. And so they were kind of celebrating the Reformation at that conference, and this was the particular responsibility that fell to me to speak about Christ’s call to Reformation.

There’s only one place you would go with that assignment in the Bible because there’s only one place in the Bible where Christ actually calls His church to reformation, and that is in the opening chapters of the book of Revelation. And that is why I wanted to read those to you, or at least a portion of it, chapter 1. His call gets specific to His church in chapters 2 and 3. And I will confess to you that the more familiar you are with Revelation 2 and 3, the more you’ll be able to track with me as I speak to you, because we’re not going to go down into those chapters and into those seven letters specifically, but rather to look at them in general. And I think it’ll be very helpful for us.

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John MacArthur – Calling the Church to Repent (Part 2)

Revelation 1 through 3 is the setting for last Sunday’s message and the message this Sunday as well. And I started off last Sunday by asking a couple of questions around a similar theme: “Have you ever heard of a church that repented, a church that repented? Have you ever been part of a church that repented? Have you ever led a church in repenting?” And the answer is, “Not likely. Not likely.”

Rarely do churches repent. I mean collectively, rarely do they repent, repent of their collective sins and unfaithfulness to the truth written and incarnate, to their compromises, to their tolerance of sin; very rare. But there are thousands of churches that need to repent. There are a lot of ways that we know that. We can know that by how they have deviated from the truth of the Word of God, how they have made other things their priority, how they have embraced the culture, how they become tolerant of sin and iniquity, and how they have made a comfortable place for sinners.

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Josh Squires – A Recipe for Repentance

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There are fewer deceptions that are more confounding than that of false repentance. When someone pretends to confess and turn away from sin, but in the depths of his heart means only to appease anger and escape consequences, it leaves in its wake an especially sensitive kind of confusion and pain.

“Do they really mean it?” is a question that I’m asked frequently. My response is that I do not know for sure, and I am vulnerable to deception. However, genuine repentance tends to be more like mountains on the horizon than a pit on the path — that is, it tends to be easily discernible and not something for which you have to be on the lookout. The more you feel like you have to go find it, the less likely it is authentic.

Why Do We Repent?

“My bad.” Those words got me out of more trouble as a young man than any other two-word combination I can imagine. Guys especially have a tendency to think that repentance almost solely consists of admitting a fault. Once the fault has been admitted, even if in the most lexically concise way possible, the assumption is that everyone should just get over it and move on.

However, when repentance is given the short shrift, so is the relationship that is supposed to be repaired. Our repenting of sin is the first step toward rebuilding trust with those whom our sin has harmed or affected. If we seem irritated or rash in our repentance, then the wound which that sin created can stay open and become infected with bitterness.

More than that, the reason that we prioritize repentance is because our Lord and Savior tells us to (1 John 1:9). The gospel is on full display when we repent. Its light shines forth for us as we perceive our moment-to-moment need of a gracious Savior, and it penetrates into the painful darkness of others as it illuminates the route to restoration grounded in the good news of a holy God. As Tertullian once said, “I was born for no other end but to repent.”

The famous seventeenth century pastor Thomas Watson wrote a treatise on repentance with six “ingredients” to show us what genuine repentance looks like.

1. Sight of Sin

By this, Watson means that we rightly perceive ourselves as sinners. How often have you heard the phrase, “I know I’m not perfect but . . . ” which in nearly every circumstance means, “when it comes to this, I’m perfect!” Genuine repentance starts with the understanding that we are desperate sinners whose sin touches nearly everything we do (Romans 3:10). It means that we should not be surprised when we find it necessary to repent, nor should that exercise undo us.

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