2 Chronicles chapters 4-8; parallel passage 1 Kings 8-9. The recounting of the dedication of Solomon’s Temple to the LORD. Many times when we read this passage we get fixiated on 2 Chronicles 7:14, the renown verse used for Revival preparation. However, the verse “If my people which are called by My name will humble themselves, seek My face, turn from their wicked ways and pray; then I will hear their prayers, forgive their sins and heal their land” has become more of a carte blanche prayer than an actual living out of the “conditions” Solomon referenced earlier before the people in 2 Chronicles 6. The verse is not a PRESCRIPTION for Revival, but a DESCRIPTION of what happens when revival occurs. There are other passages that are treated the same way; for example Acts 2:41-45 has been a prescription for church growth and out-pouring of the Holy Spirit. Rick Warren’s book Purpose Driven Church [copyrighted] was used to identify the five functions of the church- worship, fellowship, service, discipleship and evangelism. During the 1980’s and 90’s pastors all over used the “Warren Formula” to try and grow churches – specifically following Warren’s book verbatim. Even though Warren tells the reader/pastor not to do it, so many attempted the formula for church growth expecting the same results that Saddleback church experienced and were greatly disappointed when it didn’t happen. The same phenomena happened when preachers tried to replicate Charles Finney’s revival techniques in the 19th century. Solomon was dedicating the Temple to the LORD, a place where God said He would put His name. Solomon’s prayer is a great prayer! He uses the “If . . . Then” statements to issue his request from God. Solomon wise as he was, knew that no matter what the people of Israel said, they would succumb to temptation to be like the world around them and go on sinning. The IF is not to say the condition Solomon expresses Could happen, but more realistically WHEN the condition happened. Solomon’s prayer is one of prophetic utterances. He knew the people and it would be just a matter of time before they fell back into apostasy.
“Your people Israel” is used over and over to describe the audience. IF your People do . . . ; when they PRAY to You in this place, will You hear and forgive? While these are question statements, I think Solomon was more outlining conditions that denotes a disciplined people crying out in humility and sorrow for their sins and wanting forgiveness. Today, and in the past, believers have used 2 Chronicles 7:14 as a pattern for revival, I believe the verse should be seen as a description of what happens when revival occurs. Solomon describes a wayward condition of the people that invoked a discipline from God; in the disciplined posture Israel was to be “driven” back to the LORD. The whole prayer of Solomon is about relationship reconciliation with Yahweh. Revival is for those of us that have been redeemed and saved through faith in Jesus Christ. Lost people cannot experience revival; they must experience Salvation.
I hear churches talk about having revival services; I find this very interesting because they see it as an opportunity for the LOST to get saved. But the opposite should be understood. It is a time where the church/believers can be reconciled back to God their Heavenly Father! If the Church will be humble and broken over their sin, the restoration of fellowship with God will result in the Church being on mission to evangelize the LOST. Years ago, REVIVAL meetings would last two weeks. Many people never understood why. The first week was to get the CHURCH right, the second week was to bring the LOST to faith and salvation. Today, we have minimized “revival” to a three or four day event; then we wonder how come God hasn’t moved!
Revival is a work of God on the people of God! Revival rarely happens with the masses; it usually starts with the few and spreads to the masses. The only other word that is used over and over again in this passage is the word PRAY. When people pray. . . . but that is the problem; people don’t pray. Churches don’t pray and pastors don’t pray. Yet they expect God to do something because they applied a “formula” that is descriptive of God moving; but have applied it in a prescriptive way. Revival is a movement of God, period. The best we can do is raise our “sails” and pray for the winds of the Holy Spirit to blow. When we pray could be viewed as “WHILE WE ARE PRAYING” God will hear and forgive. We must quit talking about prayer and revival and get after repentance and confession to the Lord; then He will hear and forgive.