“…if I send pestilence among My people, and 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, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:13-14).
Today, with so many weather disasters, diseases, and much moral shame having come upon the USA, this Scripture is often cited by the church. But usually, its exhortation is aimed at our country, rather than its intended target–My people, the church of Jesus Christ. 2 Chronicles 7:13-14 is actually God’s healthcare plan for His church. This plan contains an “if” and “then” promise–if we turn from our wicked ways, He will then hear our prayers and grant us healing. God sends pestilence as a way to get our attention in order to discipline us, so that we may come to our senses, turn from our sin and be healed. And as the church goes, so goes our nation.
For us to see our need for discipline from God’s perspective and be healed, we must ask ourselves: “What is it that masters me?” Scripture admonishes: “For by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved” (2 Peter 2:19). “Do you not know that… you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness” (Ro. 6:16). Ask yourself, “Am I personally overcome by anything? Do I lack self-control? Am I a glutton? Do I overeat or continuously eat what is habit-forming and lacks nutritional value? Or is debt my master? Have I fallen into the world’s trap of buying what I cannot afford or what I do not need, bringing upon myself and others unnecessary stress? Is it an addiction? Am I under the master of tobacco, alcohol or drugs (prescription or illegal?) Am I addicted to my computer, phone, T.V. or other media, neglecting my God-given responsibilities? Have I been carried away by my own lusts, immorality, impurity, pornography, evil desire or greed? Is it pride? Are my looks, dress or career the focus of my life? Am I ensnared by the system? Do I look to the government for my support, rather than the Lord’s provision? Is evil speaking and grudge-holding found in my heart? Do I ignore the Word of God most of the time because busyness is my master?” The apostle Paul taught that many in the church do not examine or discipline themselves rightly and “for this reason, many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep [have died]. But if we judged ourselves rightly, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord in order that we may not be condemned along with the world” (1 Corinthians 11:30-32).
Scripture warns us not to regard lightly the discipline of the Lord or grow weary of it. “For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives. It is for discipline that we endure… But if you are without discipline, of which all [true sons] have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons… He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness” (Heb. 12:6-8, 10). It may seem to some that their lack of discipline is not having any ill effect whatsoever, but nevertheless, it is. Lack of discipline always brings a destructive consequence – it works in you like a slow eating moth. Even Jesus Christ, who never gave in to His temptations, was taught discipline by His Father. “In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from [sin resulting in] death, and He was heard because of His piety. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered” (Heb. 5:7-8). Discipline involves suffering – not doing the things which we please (Galatians 5:17; 1 Peter 4:1-6).
God is calling His church to repent from all the things which encumber us (Heb. 12:1). But for so many of us, the troubles of life and worries of the world, along with the deceitfulness of pleasure and our desire for it, have entered our lives and choked the Word from bearing the fruit of righteousness in us. The prophet Isaiah warned about this pitfall saying that we will keep on hearing the Scriptures, but will not take them to heart. “For the heart of this people has become dull, and with their ears they scarcely hear, and they have closed their eyes lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and return, and I should heal them” (Mt. 13:15).
God’s Word never changes. Partaking of God’s healthcare plan involves an “if” and “then” promise, which any person may appropriate who will lay aside their old life and be disciplined by God’s Word (2 Chronicles 7:13-14). Jesus Christ is our healer (Exodus 15:26). “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, for by His wounds you were healed [from both sin and disease]” (1 Peter 2:24). True repentance brings God’s forgiveness and with forgiveness comes healing. “He Himself took our infirmities, and carried away our diseases” (Matthew 8:17). “Bless the Lord, O my soul and forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities; Who heals all your diseases” (Psalm 103:2-3).