I Will Heal Their Land

“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 will heal their land.” So promises God in 2 Chronicles 7:14. To anyone who’s been around American Christianity for a few years, it’s a well known verse. It’s also a wildly misunderstood and misapplied one.

2 Chronicles 7:14 tends to get trotted out at prayer breakfasts, July 4 and Memorial Day celebrations, and all sorts of other nationalistic, Christian-ish moments. Problem is, it’s not about America or Americans. “My people” in this verse are the Jews. “Their land” is Palestine. Americans as a whole have never been God’s people called by His name, and America is not a land God has ever obligated Himself to heal and bless. In fact, America is not even “our land” for Christians. While we love the USA, thank God for her, and pray for her, theologically aware Christians know they are aliens and exiles on earth (1 Pt 2:11), citizens of a different kingdom altogether (Phil 3:20), loyal to a King who specifically said His kingdom is not of this world (Jn 18:36).

It’s easy to get all this wrong though, isn’t it? That promise of divine help and healing offers so much hope, it’s hard to resist reading it as a blanket offer. We want so badly for it to be true for our own(!?) country. Just like some people want so badly for the Prosperity Gospel to be true for their own lives. And therein lies the problem: the prosperity gospel is no more true for a nation than it is for a person.

The solution, as with most mistakes in biblical interpretation, is to read this verse in light of Jesus Christ. He is the True Offspring of Abraham (Gal 3:16), the one to whom God’s covenant promises were made. God’s people today are the church (Hb 8:10, 1 Pt 2:10)—a vast, multi-ethnic, multicultural group who are all Abraham’s offspring by faith (Gal 3:29). And all the healing we could ever want has already been bought for us through the stripes on the back of our nation’s Founding Brother (Is 53:5).