Heal our land.
That is a prayer in and of itself. God, would you heal our land?
And so this verse connects with the cry of our hearts.
After all, it’s God saying that He wants the same thing His people want…for their land to be healed. That’s the whole goal of the communication. Do you want your land healed? Then do these things.
Yet if we want to grasp how this verse fits in *our* story, we’ll want to meditate on how it fits in *God’s* story:
God had made a partnership with the family of Israel. A lot of it had to do with the land. From that particular parcel of land – “the Promised Land” – *all* the families of the earth would be blessed.
Their very purpose in living in that land was to partner with God in blessing the rest of the world. It started by living according to God’s wisdom. And He hadn’t been stingy with it.
This is an echo back to the Garden of Eden. That was the original land of partnership. God’s people had a choice there, too. Live by God’s wisdom or decide for yourselves what is good or bad (this word – *ra* – shows up as wickedness in this verse.)
So God had a vested interest in His people living according to His wisdom. If they weren’t practicing His wisdom, He would get their attention by withholding His blessing. He specified that He would let them know He had judged their ways as bad through allowing locusts and plagues to attack them.
And He is speaking this directly to a young king who had expressly asked for His wisdom. So God gave it to him:
When – not if – it happens, subdue yourselves. Bring yourselves low. Come to this temple – the one you just built – the one God’s presence just came to live in, knocking everyone low to the ground in the process. Turn your attention to God’s presence. Ask for His help. And change how you are living.
But here is the real rub in this story. The Chronicler is recounting this to a people whose ancestors hadn’t done this. They hadn’t humbled themselves, they hadn’t prayed, they hadn’t sought God’s presence. They hadn’t changed their ways.
This story indicted them.
Instead of partnering with God to bless the world through that land, they had to leave the land altogether. And when God brought them back, His presence wasn’t in His temple. Because there wasn’t any temple. It had been destroyed.
They rebuilt the temple – but they were still waiting for God’s presence to come fill it and live with them again. Meanwhile, they lived in poverty under the rule of a foreign nation.
And so this verse connected with the cry of their hearts even more than it connects with ours. God’s conversation with Solomon focused on the blessings of His presence dwelling among them.
When they prayed “Holy be your name!”, they were pleading with God’s presence to enter His temple again. Because the temple was the place where heaven met earth and God heard from heaven. It was his footstool.
By the time of Jesus, the recipients had done much to take the Chronicler’s stories to heart. They dug into God’s wisdom, many of them putting a focus on memorizing and being hyper vigilant in carrying it out.
Their cry for Messiah was also connected with God’s presence filling the temple and healing their land.
Hundreds of years went by. Many of them thought they were doing very well. John the Baptist disagreed.
When he took up this cry, he didn’t call for the Romans to change their ways. He called for *God’s covenant people* to change their ways.
He called for them to humble themselves.
And he taught them to pray.
And he pleaded with them to seek God’s presence.
They found it in Jesus. And from that land Jesus began to bless the whole earth – by continuing to partner with people who humble ourselves, pray, seek His presence, and continually choose allegiance to His ways over asserting the right to rule our own lives.
Jesus redefined everything in Himself. The temple. The land. The covenant. And 35 years later, the land God had spoken to Solomon about lay destroyed.
God has not promised us a quick fix to everything plaguing us in 21st century United States. We cannot “claim” this verse. Nor can we put the onus on those we have judged as evil to repent.
But we can recognize that if have entered into a covenant with Jesus, then we get to partner with Him in laying down our rights, seeking God’s presence, and examining *our* ways.
All for the purpose of blessing the families of the world.
Heal our broken ways, Lord. Heal our broken ways.