Some biblical scholars believe the books of 1 and 2 Chronicles were originally one scroll, authored by the scribe Ezra, and contained a history that centered on the descendants of King David.
It is thought that these books were written to the Jewish exiles returning from decades of captivity in Babylon. As these expatriates came back into their devastated homeland, the scribe wanted them to be reminded of the people and principles that had once made Israel great. That is why most of the history centered is on David and Solomon, who represented the Jews’ best memories.
The zenith of this history was the dedication of Solomon’s Temple, the finest structure ever erected for the worship of Jehovah.
These exiles did not have the resources of David and Solomon, so how were they supposed to restore such a magnificent house of worship? Ezra 3:12 reported that when they were able to lay the foundation for the new shrine, the younger generation shouted for joy, but those who were older and had seen the original temple wept with despair. Their efforts seemed to be a mockery of the majesty of Solomon.
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But, in 2 Chronicles 7:14, the chronicler described the dedication of the original temple, and how King Solomon bowed in worship and humility as he presented this structure to the Lord. Ezra reported God’s answer to the king’s dedicatory prayer. “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 forgive their sin and heal their land.”
This refreshing reminder of their history was telling these exiles that if they would adopt the attitudes and practices that brought about the blessing of God upon their forefathers, they would experience the same results. This was not a promise of a duplicate Solomon’s Temple, but God’s favor would abide on them, just as the people of that era enjoyed.
I have meditated on this lesson from history as I view, with great concern, the downward trajectory of our nation. As the presidential election season begins in earnest, I find myself disconcerted about our national future. Apparently, I am not alone in this apprehension. Some polls indicate that most Americans believe our country is headed in the wrong direction. If that attitude prevails, then there should be a concerted self-examination. Why are we headed in the wrong direction? After all, eventually people get the kind of leadership they deserve. Our elected officials are only a reflection of the majority of the voters.
If we are suffering from egomania, an egomaniac would not alter our national direction, for self-serving leaders would only accelerate our decline.
The humility of a kneeling population confessing their sins would be the only antidote to a declining culture. That prescription would probably be scorned in most political discussions, but our national history has described humble, kneeling leaders seeking God’s guidance. Those confessions were a major contributor to days of divine blessing our nation has enjoyed.
While I encourage every citizen to vote and participate in the selection of our leaders, I think it would be more important for us as individuals and groups to be kneeling and confessing our need of the God from Whom we have strayed. Praying leaders only arise from praying voters. And people who sincerely pray for guidance are more likely to be united.
As crazy as it may seem to some, maybe our voters’ caucuses should include an old-fashioned prayer service. All other prescriptions don’t seem to be working.
Loren A. Yadon is pastor of New Life Fellowship of Boise.
The Idaho Statesman’s weekly faith column features a rotation of writers from many different faiths and perspectives.