Author's Note: Due to positive reader response from Vol. 4, Vol. 3, Vol. 2, and Vol. 1, this occasional Sunday series continues. However, in the "Christian War Room" (otherwise known as the comments section), I kindly request that fellow readers display love and tolerance towards commenters with conflicting beliefs. No joke, non-Christian friends tell me they enjoy reading the comments to observe Christians fighting among themselves and bashing others. (I can hardly wait for loving comments about that.)
Moving along, today's "compelling" Scripture is 2 Chronicles 7:13-14 from the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible.
Unlike the passages discussed in Volumes 1 – 4 that I felt "called" to write about – the genesis of Vol. 5 was an earthly phone call from Russ Breault — president of Shroud Encounter and recognized as one of the world's leading Shroud of Turin speakers.
Russ is also a Bible expert who said, "Myra, there’s a warning that you must write about in your next Bible study.” I listened, and because I am easily excitable, proclaimed his Scripture suggestion, a "sign from God." (And after reading to the end, you might agree.)
Remember around 2004, when 2 Chronicles 7:14 was all the rage in pop culture? Stacked on the shelves of every Hallmark gift and Christian bookstore were coffee mugs, posters, and any sellable item with enough space to accommodate the 41-word verse. (Over a decade later, all that stuff is still popular online — Google: “2 Chronicles 7:14 gifts.”)
But before we read the passage together, it is essential to note that 2 Chronicles 7:14 is displayed below precisely as it appears in Scripture — starting with the word "if" not capitalized.
"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 I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land" (2 Chronicles 7:14).
But, on merchandise, it always reads, "If my people," — incorrectly capitalized.
What is the big deal with "if" vs. "If" you ask? Immensely significant to understanding the verse’s warning.
The answer is found in 2 Chronicles 7:13 which precedes "if" with a comma, but is never displayed on the usual paraphernalia. Furthermore, when 7:13-14 is read as written, you realize this is one long sentence that was never meant to be separated because separation diminishes God's warning message. For emphasis below, I have underlined where popular verse 7:14 begins, connected to 7:13:
"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 I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land" (2 Chronicles 7:13 -14).
Let's examine the three dooming actions ripped from today’s headlines that God says He will perpetrate on "my people" in 2 Chronicles 7:13.
1. "When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain," — scroll through the National Drought Mitigation Center chronicling all the "shut up the heavens" activity that is happening around the world.
2. ".. or command locusts to devour the land" – last week in Vol. 4 "End Times" edition, I linked to headlines about the catastrophic locust problem in Africa. These crop-eating swarms that "devour the land" are now moving toward the Middle East. (But miraculously “passing over” Israel in April during the Jewish holiday of Passover.)
3. ".. or send a plague among my people," — also translated as pestilence, sicknesses, and epidemics — Yikes! Our nation (and the world at large) is currently fighting a pandemic that is triggering cataclysmic health and economic conditions, potentially rivaling the Great Depression.
Now let’s revisit 2 Chronicles 7:14 understanding why the small “if” is a transition word, not the beginning of a new sentence.
After “if,” God issues specific instructions about how to get right with Him to avoid the drought, locusts, and plagues. These easy to understand action steps are why the passage remains a pop culture favorite.
I concur with Russ’ “warning” that time is running out for us to collectively take the action that God states in 7:14. Specifically, "my people" (mankind) must "humble themselves and pray." Not just lip service, but deep within your heart and soul. Humbling yourself and making time to pray to Him, will for many, be new and challenging behavior in an American culture that has mocked and minimized His public presence over the last decades.
Then, "seek his face" is Russ’ and my favorite part of God's 7:14 action steps.
We believe that in the Bible, "seek his face" means the face seen on the Shroud of Turin — but others can seek His face in prayer.
However, the majestic face on the Shroud — believed by millions to be Jesus Christ — is the outstanding feature of the full-body, front-to-back-mirror image on the linen burial cloth housed today, and since 1578, in Turin, Italy.
Did a brilliant flash of light create the Shroud face and body image during His resurrection? The mystery remains unsolved, but perhaps the Shroud still exists for such a time as this.
Full Disclosure: Russ Breault is also my colleague and board member at SignFromGod, a Shroud of Turin education ministry. Our team is currently advising the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. with developing a groundbreaking exhibition about the Shroud of Turin targeted to open in Feb. 2021.
If you want to learn more about the Shroud to “seek his face,” I recommend reading, "Shroud of Turin - Facts and History Everyone Should Know." This comprehensive primer, which I co-authored with Russ in 2019, is posted on Christianity.com. (A Salem Media site — the parent company of Townhall.) The piece is also displayed on the first page of Google when searching "Shroud of Turin."
Finally, back to 2 Chronicles 7:14, the verse concludes with God telling his people to "turn from their wicked ways, [you know yours] “then I will hear from heaven” [our collective prayers] “and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
Can we all agree that repentance and prayer are urgently needed to heal us and our land at this perilous time? Ask yourself, is 2 Chronicles 7:13 -14 a warning from God?
What action are you taking?