Will Humble Themselves
In 2nd Chronicles 7:14 the Hebrew word that “humble” is
translated from is kana. It means “to bend the knee; to
humiliate, or vanquish—to bring down low into subjection… subdue.”
Kana is used mainly in the Old Testament; let’s examine several passages
'But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers,
with their unfaithfulness in which they were unfaithful to Me, and that
they also have walked contrary to Me, and that I also have walked
contrary to them and have brought them into the land of their enemies;
if their uncircumcised hearts are humbled, and they accept their guilt-
then I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and My covenant with Isaac
and My covenant with Abraham I will remember; I will remember the land.
So it was, when Ahab heard those words, that he tore his clothes and put
sackcloth on his body, and fasted and lay in sackcloth, and went about
mourning. And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,
"See how Ahab has humbled himself before Me? Because he has humbled
himself before Me, I will not bring the calamity in his days. In the
days of his son I will bring the calamity on his house."
1st Kings 21:27-29
So the leaders of Israel and the king humbled themselves; and they said,
"The Lord is righteous." Now when the Lord saw that they humbled
themselves, the word of the Lord came to Shemaiah, saying, "They have
humbled themselves; therefore I will not destroy them, but I will grant
them some deliverance. My wrath shall not be poured out on Jerusalem by
the hand of Shishak.
2nd Chronicles 12:6-7
When he (King Rehoboam) humbled himself, the wrath of the Lord turned
from him, so as not to destroy him completely; and things also went well
2nd Chronicles 12:12
And the Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they would not
listen. Therefore the Lord brought upon them the captains of the army of
the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh with hooks, bound him with bronze
fetters, and carried him off to Babylon. Now when he was in affliction,
he implored the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God
of his fathers, and prayed to Him; and He received his entreaty, heard
his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom.
Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God.
2nd Chronicles 33:10-13
because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before God when
you heard His words against this place and against its inhabitants, and
you humbled yourself before Me, and you tore your clothes and wept
before Me, I also have heard you," says the Lord.
2nd Chronicles 34:27 (spoken to Josiah)
Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned
eleven years in Jerusalem. He did evil in the sight of the Lord his
God, and did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke
from the mouth of the Lord.
2nd Chronicles 36:11-12
When I look at the verses above, I notice the following:
1. Often, the leaders and people of Israel chose to humble themselves
because of a direct, no–holds barred confrontation from God of their
2. After two of the most wicked men in Scripture, Manasseh and Ahab,
humbled themselves, they received mercy. (This gives us great hope!)
3. The consequences of the refusal to humble oneself are severe,
especially after receiving God’s warning.
4. God hears those who “bow the knee.”
5. We must choose to humble ourselves. God doesn’t force us.
6. The act of humbling includes:
* Confession of sin and unfaithfulness to the Lord, and acceptance of
* Tearing clothes, wearing sackcloth, fasting, and mourning.
* Agreement that God alone is righteous.
* Tears and a tender heart.
I had to swallow hard when I read the components of the humbling
process. Confession of sin isn’t too bad… as long as I don’t have to
open up about something I’m embarrassed about, like a full blown act of
selfishness or pride (okay, maybe confessing sins isn’t that
easy). But mourning, sackcloth, fasting, and crying? These people were
broken. This is no mere head exercise; they’re hurting.
What it took to get most of them to choose humility is frightening: God
forcefully told them of coming judgment, and even then
some didn’t get it.
“The fear of the Lord” comes to mind. So does the fear of my own
stupidity. I could easily be one who needs “hooks and bronze fetters”
before the message gets through. I can be dense, and proud; caught up in
getting what I want as soon as I can get it.
I am also fearful for the body of Christ. My main concern is that we’ve
become so sophisticated, so packed with knowledge, so busy, that our
hearts are hardened to the warning signs of God’s impending judgment
that are all around us. We desperately need to hear what God is saying
and humble ourselves. We need to be broken.
Our culture wants to turn us into Christian marshmallows. Those who
speak the truth, especially those who believe the only way to Heaven is
through Christ, are branded as narrow-minded, mean, religious fanatics,
or bigoted. Topics like sin, hell, and judgment are to be eradicated
from cultural discourse.
We must be careful that the culture doesn’t dull our edge to the point
where we know longer cut against the grain of the lies of this world. We
must not go with the flow.
I hear often of the grace and mercy of God, and that’s good. Without
God’s passionate love and mercy, we have no hope. And there is another
side of the coin. God is powerful, majestic, and holy; He does not
compromise with sin. When He condemns our sin, we must humble ourselves,
listen, and obey.
I have heard it said that without the fear of the Lord, there is no fear
of sin. When we have a healthy fear of the Lord, we will do what it
takes to turn away from our sin quickly. Perhaps this is why God’s word
calls the fear of the Lord “the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10,
So what sin might the Lord want us to turn from?
To find the answers we’ll fast forward to Revelations. In chapters two
and three, the Lord provides a report card on seven churches; His words
mirror our struggles today:
I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
(To the church of Ephesus.)
I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold
the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before
the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit
(To the church of Pergamum.)
Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that
woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My
servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.
(To the church of Thyatira.)
I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are
dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are
ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God.
(To the church of Sardis.)
I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you
were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold
nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, 'I am rich,
have become wealthy, and have need of nothing'--and do not know that you
are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked-- I counsel you to buy
from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white
garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may
not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and
(To the church of Laodicea.)
Although God rebukes and chastens those He loves, His purpose is not to
condemn, but to restore. (And actually, there are rewards for those who
humble themselves, but we’ll get to that later.)
Let’s look at the sin Christ confronted:
1. They left their first love.
The church of Ephesus had done many good works, and they refused to
tolerate wickedness. It appears that on the outside they were a good
church that did the right things. Yet in all their “doing,” the
relationship with Christ was choked.
Matthew 22:35-38 gives us the greatest commandment:
Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him (Jesus) a question, testing Him,
and saying, "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" Jesus
said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great
Note how the “first and great commandment” has nothing to do with works.
Our relationship with God must come first, before ministry, family, work
or pleasure. Today there are many Christians who are spinning their
wheels “doing for God,” trying to please Him with their works when He
just wants them to stop, sit at His feet as Mary did, and listen (Luke
10:39). They’re weary, and their hearts are dry. The joy of knowing God
is gone, and life is drudgery. More dangerous than this, they’re
starting to operate more from the flesh than the Spirit; which is a
setup for moral failure.
Jesus provides the answer, and a warning in verse 5:
Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first
works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from
its place--unless you repent.
God is serious about His relationship with His people; He will not
compete with other gods—including those of ministry or good works done
in the flesh for the approval of others.
2. They did nothing about sexual sin.
In Revelations 2:14 & 20, the churches of Pergamos and Thyatira are
confronted for not dealing with sexual sin in the church. “Jezebel” had
been allowed to teach and seduce God’s people to commit sexual
Our church of today has allowed our pornified culture to corrupt the
church, and we’re doing little about it. In a recent survey of 1000
pastors, 43% declined to estimate how many of their members might be
viewing porn. This either ignorance or an ostrich mentality; either way,
the results are the same—a church that is afraid to confront the truth.
Survey after survey shows that at least half of men in the church are
viewing porn, in addition to at least 20% of women. This doesn’t include
adultery, strip bars, promiscuity, or homosexuality.
Then there are the consequences of ruptured marriages and families,
destroyed lives, hurting wives, children born out of wedlock, STDs, and
lukewarm Christians who are in bondage to sexual pleasure.
The truth is that any church with half of its members engaged in sexual
immorality is corrupt.
Corrupt churches don’t last long; in the end they lose their salt.
Eventually, the nation implodes from moral depravity, which is what
we’re on the verge of today—and is exactly why we need to follow the
steps found in 2nd Chronicles 7:14.
We must confront the truth that the church is corrupt with sexual sin.
3. They were dead.
I don’t know which is more shocking about the church of Sardis: that God
called them “dead,” or the depths of their delusion that they were right
in His eyes.
Sardis was the ancient capital of Lydia, known for its trade and mining.
Perhaps they had a nice building, consistent cash flow, and mid to
The church of Sardis “had a name,” meaning they had a reputation as a
spiritually vital church. Other churches approved; perhaps they even
wanted to emulate Sardis.
The essence of the problem is that man looks on the outside. We polish
our reputations by focusing on the externals, such as the size of
buildings and membership, programs, how people look and how nice they
are, and what part of town they’re located in. We equate prosperity,
“nice people,” and good works with God’s blessings.
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any
two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and
of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of
The Lord bores into the inner chambers of each person’s heart. What’s
really there? Have they really “bowed the knee” in surrender of their
lives to Him, or are they playing church to feel good about themselves?
Are they walking in obedience to God, or following their own “vision”
for they want to do? Are they leading a double life, or do they follow
Christ Monday through Sunday?
Most importantly, what’s their relationship with the Lord like? Do they
really love Him with all their heart, mind and soul?
We must go beyond the Sunday smiles and get into what’s really going on
in the heart of the church. As we do so we will discover the blind, the
lost, and the hurting in our midst… and open doors to healing and
4. They were lukewarm; in danger of being “vomited out of God’s mouth.”
If this isn’t a “fear of the Lord” rebuke, I don’t know what is.
Like the church of Laodicea, the U.S. is prosperous. We have plenty of
food, world class health care, unlimited opportunity, and freedom to
worship and live our lives as we want. Many of us own or rent a house.
Billions of dollars are spent on sports and recreation; we have an
abundance of toys and gadgets to choose from. We have it made.
Or do we?
It’s easy to slip into a life of comfort. Church can be only about
getting fed. The teaching of God’s word isn’t the problem, it’s when
we’re so self-absorbed that life is “all about me.” In this context,
church can be more about feeling good than true worship and love for
If we slip into a life of comfort for too long, our spiritual muscles
atrophy. “As long as I have my Ipod… football on Sunday… can spend a few
dollars on my hobbies here and there, I’m good.” We become content with
the wrong things and cease to realize our desperate need for God, losing
sight that we are “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.” We get
flesh-y… and then enter the danger zone of pride.
To such a church, God says I will vomit you out of my mouth. This
is no empty threat; it’s an industrial strength threat of judgment.
Churches that have “gone comfortable,” need to hear this warning. We
need to be reminded that life isn’t about our stuff, blessings, or,
especially, us. It’s all about our Creator and what He wants to do.
Settling into the comfort zone is dangerous to one’s spiritual
health, as this parable from Luke 12:16-21 shows:
Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: "The ground of a certain rich
man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, 'What
shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?' So he said, 'I will
do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will
store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you
have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and
be merry." ' But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul will be
required of you; then whose will those things be which you have
provided?' So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich
When Jesus told the comfortable church they were on the verge of being
spiritual vomit, it was because He loved them, and wanted to steer them
back on course:
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and
repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice
and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with
Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I
also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an
ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Let’s review the components of the humbling process:
* Confessing of sin and unfaithfulness to the Lord, and acceptance of
* Tearing clothes, wearing sackcloth, fasting, and mourning.
* Confession that God alone is righteous.
* Tears and a tender heart.
If we will humble ourselves by admitting the true state of the church
today and allowing God to break us, we’re ready for