2020 will go down in history as the year of the plague. Will a spiritual revival heal our land of the coronavirus?
All across social media, many followers of Jesus are promoting the idea that Covid-19 is a plague, a judgment of God on a nation and world that has abandoned the Lord and adopted all sorts of ungodly behavior. A corollary to that is that if the United States would repent and experience a revival, then God would relent and heal the land of this plague. The verse used to support these ideas is 2 Chronicles 7:14. Here’s how it reads: “And if my people, who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.” The problem is, this verse isn’t speaking about our situation or our nation. Let’s take a closer look.
First, the context indicates that this is about the ancient temple in Jerusalem, not about Washington, DC or the United States. The verse falls in a chapter of Scripture detailing Solomon’s dedication of the temple he built for the Lord. In 2 Chronicles 7:12-22, God gives His response to the temple dedication. He keeps emphasizing the temple, saying He has “chosen this place as a temple of sacrifice” (v. 12), He will hear prayer “from this place” (v. 15), and that He “consecrated this temple” (v. 16). God also promises to destroy the temple in response to sin (v. 20). Of course, we have no temple in the United States and in fact, no temple exists anywhere today.
Second, the phrase “my people, who are called by name” refers to the people of Israel not to Americans. Throughout the whole Hebrew Bible, the phrase “my people” refers to Israel. But, specifically, in 1 and 2 Chronicles, the phrase usually adds the word “my people Israel.” In fact, in Chronicles God declared that David would be leader “over my people Israel” (1 Chron 17:7), that He would “appoint a place (of worship) for my people Israel” (1 Chron 17:9), and that He chose Jerusalem for His own namesake and the Davidic dynasty to lead “my people Israel.” So the phrase “my people” in 2 Chron 7:14 clearly refers to the people of Israel.
Third, the sins described in 2 Chronicles 7:14 refer to disobeying the Torah. In v. 19, the sin of Israel is described as abandoning God’s “statutes” and “commands,” words that describe the Law of Moses. Even the disciplines in the passage, “no rain” or “pestilence” (v. 13) are promised in Deuteronomy 28:21 and 24, as consequences of disobeying the Torah. In fact, ultimately, Israel would be dispersed from the land for their failure to obey the law of Moses. This isn’t about the sins of our nation but the sin of Israel.
Fourth, the land that will be healed is the land of Israel, not the United States. When God says He will heal their land, He is referring back to the promises in the Torah telling Israel that when they repent, God will restore them to their land (Deut 30:1-6). This will yet take place “at the end of days” (Deut 4:30), when the nation of Israel will turn to their Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) in faith and God will circumcise their hearts (Deut 30:6), so the whole nation will experience the New Covenant.
All this to say, 2 Chronicles 7:14 doesn’t really address the Coronavirus or circumstances in the United States. But even though a principle of biblical interpretation is that there is only one meaning to a given text of Scripture, there can be many applications. And we certainly can apply 2 Chronicles 7:14 today.
As a nation, God desires revival here. He would love for the United States to have a mass return to Him by faith in Jesus. And if we do, God will heal our land of sin and unrighteousness, not Covid-19.
We can also apply this verse as individuals. If we come back to the Lord and trust in Jesus, then God will heal our lives of sin. This doesn’t mean we’ll be protected from getting Covid-19 or promised to recover if we do. It just means that the greater disease of sin will be cured.
So should we pray for revival in the United States? Absolutely! In Psalm 120:1 it says, “I cried to the Lord in my distress and He heard me.” God wants to use the distress of the Covid-19 pandemic to cause all people to see their need for a Redeemer and turn to the Lord Jesus. Then our nation, even our world, will be healed of far greater pandemic, it will be healed of sin.