In a prior post, I made the observation that the work of the Church includes the work of worship and the work of education. It is through these two fundamental works that culture will be changed and the nation will be saved. However, to make this point completely, I need to provide a foundational, conceptual grid.
Those of us who want to see this nation reclaimed to its Scriptural heritage often quote the language of 2 Chronicles 7:14. The larger context reads as follows:
All that Solomon had planned to do in the house of the Lord and in his own house he successfully accomplished. 12 Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. 13 When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, 14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. 16 For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time.
But what does this look like? What is the substantive change God is proposing here?
There are several things to note about this passage. First, this is just one in a continuous line of frequent reminders to the people on how they should conduct their lives, especially after being subjected to the curses in the covenant. One of the first and primary predictions of the people’s falling away was in Deuteronomy 30. There God predicted that His people would turn away from him, and He would have to send them into exile. The 2 Chronicles passage is perhaps more explicit in its description of the process of returning to the Lord, but the Deuteronomy passage is more explicit in its recognition that the exile would occur. As a result, we should learn God sees what we cannot, but that we need to be prepared.
Second, the proper response involves primarily worship. The context of this passage describes the completion and dedication of the temple, the worship center for the people of God. God points out that he has chosen this place as a house of sacrifice, i.e. his house of worship. The entire sacrificial system in the Old Testament was a worship system. We can see this most simply in Exodus 24. In that covenant renewal worship service, Moses offered whole burnt offerings and peace offerings on behalf of the people. The worship service transformed Mount Sinai from a place of wrath to a place where the elders of the people feasted upon the peace offerings in God’s presence. God says that he will be attentive to what goes on in the place of worship.
Third, and finally, when the people worship, God hears and responds. It is God who will heal the land. It is God who changes things.
God can act in an instant. How many times have we been told in the last decade that we will run out of energy? And yet, upon the discovery of shale gas, that prognosis changes completely. But God also works slowly. It took 1400 years from Constantine and God’s changing the heart of a Roman emperor
to the American founding. Would Constantine every have recognized the English legal system, founded upon the Law of Nature and of Nature’s God? While we worship, we must wait on Him.
- The Church’s Work: Worship and Education (blackstoneinitiative.com)