Updated: May 2
Over the past few weeks, people have been sharing certain Bible texts and applying them to the current global pandemic. In this article we would like to take a look at one particular verse:
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. 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, 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.
2 Chronicles 7:12-14
Taken on its own this verse seems to indicate that pests, pestilence and droughts are a judgement from God and that we can "fix" the situations by repenting and seeking God. However, it is incredibly important that we always read Scripture in context:
The immediate context (surrounding verses)
Book (preceding and following chapters)
Author's writings (what did the same author write elsewhere?)
Entire Bible (the entire Bible must cohere).
So let's see what we can learn from 2 Chronicles 7. Readers will be quick to realise that this almost seems like a reiteration of what God was telling the people of Israel since Deuteronomy 28:1-68. This passage is a tad bit too long to quote here, but the general idea is that God is telling Israel, "If you are a nation for me, I will be your God", "Follow my commandments, and you will prosper". This formed part of what is known as the Old Testament.
The ultimate purpose of the Old Testament was to point people to Christ:
The law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.
One truth that must not be missed is that we are no longer under the Old Testament. Many false teachers today call on people to keep the Law, or at least part of it, as a means to please God. Christians must stand firm in the grace that God has given us and reject such legalism. Before the fall, God made a covenant with Adam titled the covenant of works, this covenant failed when Adam and Eve decided to rebel against God. In His grace, God then established a new covenant called the covenant of Grace. The Westminster Confession explains it as follows:
This covenant of grace is frequently set forth in Scripture by the name of a Testament, in reference to the death of Jesus Christ the Testator, and to the everlasting inheritance, with all things belonging to it, therein bequeathed.
Chapter VII, Of God’s Covenant with Man.
Now this covenant of Grace was differently administered throughout history. The Westminster Confession states: under the law (Old Testament), it was administered by promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the paschal lamb, and other types and ordinances delivered to the people of the Jews, all fore-signifying Christ to come.
We are not under this testament anymore, we are in the New Testament. The Westminster confession continues: Under the gospel, when Christ, the substance, was exhibited, the ordinances in which this covenant is dispensed are the preaching of the Word, and the administration of the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
With this in mind, the problem that the modern-day, “Westernized” interpretation encounters is that current nations do not have the same covenant relationship with God that ancient Israel enjoyed. The covenant with Israel was unique and exclusive. The terms that applied to Israel simply did not apply to any other nation, and it is improper for these terms to be co-opted and applied to a different nation. 
A further problem arises when we start applying these terms to us today. Take for example the stories of King Ahab and King Josiah. These two Kings were the antithesis of each other. King Ahab was an idolater, murderer and did everything wrong in the eyes of God. Of King Josiah, it is said that "and he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and walked in all the way of David his father, and he did not turn aside to the right or to the left." Now how did these two men meet their fate? Of King Ahab, it was prophesied that he is to die in battle by Micaiah and indeed he did. How did King Josiah meet his fate? He also died in battle. So in one case, dying in battle was judgement for Ahab's sins, but can we say the same for Josiah? Of course not. And this is in the same book of 2 Chronicles from which we get our text that is under consideration.
This should be enough to shed some light on our current situation. Must we view the current pandemic as a judgement from God? It is entirely possible, but what did Jesus say specifically about wars, disease and natural disasters?
And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.
Matthew 24: 4 - 8
Jesus did not teach that these things are because of judgement. Rather He encouraged Christians to endure these things, saying that through them the Gospel will be proclaimed to all the nations as a testimony! It is precisely in times like these that as Christians we must not be like the world or panic like the world - rather we must remain calm, place our trust in the God who is Sovereign over all.
It is unfortunate that modern Christianity has come to view any form of hardships as an evil that God has nothing to with or only happens because we did something wrong. The apostles, hand-picked by Jesus Himself endured incredibly difficult lives and suffered at the hand of many perils. Was God judging them? Of course not. Job was a righteous man yet he was stricken with all kinds of calamities we can't even imagine. Was God judging him? Well, Job asked these very questions and rather than answer him, God questioned Job until Job was all but silent! The writer of Ecclesiastes in all his wisdom knew that:
When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other.
But we as Christians have Hope. Can you imagine the fear people must live in knowing that their death might be just around the corner? As Christians, we don't fear death. The sooner death comes the sooner we can be with the One who has loved us more than any human ever could or would. We get to be with the One who formed us in the darkness when no one even knew we existed. We get to be with the one who sacrificed Himself for our sins. There is no greater pleasure we can possibly enjoy on this earth that would keep us here.
Pictures are circulating the internet of empty Bible shelves in the supermarket. This is indeed good to see that people are returning to the Bible for guidance in these trying times but remember to allow the Bible to interpret itself. Read the entire Bible, multiple times. This will allow you to appreciate the broader context and prevent misapplications of texts.
People have also been asking a lot of questions relating to the end times. It is a shame that they only now realise what Jesus has taught 2000 years ago. The time to repent is getting less and less. Do not presume upon God.
 GotQuestions.org. 2020.What Is The Meaning Of 2 Chronicles 7:14? | Gotquestions.Org. [online] Available at: <https://www.gotquestions.org/2-Chronicles-7-14.html> [Accessed 27 April 2020].