PALESTINE — 2 Chronicles 7:13-14 (NIV): When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
This passage contains my grandfather's favorite verse. In it, God directly ties Israel's difficulties to its devotion. In other words, God said he would stop the rain or send financial ruin or physical illness among the people when they began to forget about him. Sure enough, after this was written the people would ignore God when things were going well and God would send difficulties, and they would repent and turn back to him, then repeat the pattern again.
Does God have the right to send a famine or sickness among his people? Can he do this and still be a good and righteous God? We must remember that God is more interested in our holiness than our success or comfort. God is a holy God and he demands total allegiance to himself. When we stop seeking to know him and start sinning, he will allow the natural forces he created to get our attention.
This is not because God is a mean or unjust God, but because he loves us and desires to keep us pure in heart. He demands that we be a holy people, different from the world, and in love with him. He is the God of the universe and has every right to do this. It angers God when our devotion is only half-hearted.
So the remedy for our difficulties is to humble ourselves, which means we realize we need him, spend time in prayer, and desire to know him more. We must stop habitual sinning and turn back to him. When we do this, God will hear our prayers and heal our land. We cannot expect God's blessings if we ignore, reject, or disobey him. We need this verse today more than ever.