“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.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV)
The very first action God says His people must take is to humble themselves. Humility and pride are polar opposites. The humble are never proud and the proud are never humble. I’ve heard it said that pride is the mother of all sins that is pregnant with the rest. One of my commentaries had an interesting take on humbling ourselves as it meant here. The commentator said, “The word “humble” means “to bend the knee; to bring down; to place self under another.” Pride will not allow the prideful person to bow their knee to the Lord!” (Alan Carr The Sermon Notebook) This makes really good sense given the context of the passage. The people have been rebelling against the Lord refusing to “bow” to His rule in their lives.
I think we can learn a lot about our problem with pride by studying about the nation of Israel. Take the book of Judges for instance. It follows a predictable pattern.
God blesses His people
The people rebel against God
God calls them to stop rebelling
They reject God’s call
God allows them to be conquered
They suffer for a period of time
They call on the Lord for help
God sends a deliverer
Israel experiences a time of peace and prosperity
The cycle repeats.
Part of what stands out to me in Judges is that many times we are told how long they suffered before they turned to the Lord. The time varies, but there is always a period of time where they are suffering and refusing to humble themselves before the Lord. I’ve often wondered why this is the case. Having asked this question while reading all of the Old Testament. I’ve come to the conclusion that they thought they could fix it themselves.
Many times they saw what was going on, they had to know it was God doing it, and rather than humbling themselves before the Lord, the sought to fix it themselves. They looked for human solutions rather than turning to the Lord.
If they were about to be invaded, they made alliances with other nations rather than turning to the Lord.
If they were already conquered, they tried to embrace the conquerors and live peacefully with them.
The Israelites consistently refused to humble themselves before the Lord choosing rather to look for human solutions to their problems. They were saying, “We don’t need God. We can handle it ourselves.” This is nothing but pride.
When we bring this to our day, and look at the spiral our culture is making into depravity, you find that many in the church are doing the same thing. We have this huge problem of the culture spiraling into depravity. Ultimately, we know that this is a spiritual problem. Yet, we look for human solutions to our spiritual problems. The most common way we do this is through politics. We put our hopes in a party or a politician and trust that if they are elected they will bring the hope and change needed to make America great again. When we look to human solutions to spiritual problems we are saying, as Israel did, “We don’t need God. We can handle it ourselves.” This is nothing more than human pride and it is ultimately unable to slow the cultural spiral into depravity.
In the end, there are no human solutions to the spiritual problems we face in our culture. Let’s say for a second that we elected all the right people to all the right offices and they passed all the right laws. Would that really fix the problems of the world?
Would that usher in the Kingdom of God?
Would the hearts of the parents be turned toward their children?
Would all marriages be models of faithful love?
Would greed and pride be legislated out of existence?
Would human beings now at last be able to master our impulses in areas of sexuality and anger and narcissism?
Would the anger, hurt, and hopeless that are so rampant in our culture disappear?
Would racism, sexism, and hatred vanish from human hearts?
Would you finally become the man or woman you know you ought to be?
Of course we know the answer to these questions is no. It is so easy to get caught up in the hype and start to think that human solutions to spiritual problems are the fix but they aren’t. Thinking that human solutions will fix spiritual problems is nothing but pride and it must be repented of. We humble ourselves by recognizing that we CANNOT fix what’s going on. We desperately need God to do something.