from the Old Testament–
1 Kings 10 – 11:
Today we’re reading about the visit the queen of Sheba made to Jerusalem.
Sheba, that is the land of the Sabeans in southwestern Arabia. This reagion, the eastern part of modern Yamen, controlled the caravan routes of the spice trade between southern Arabia and Palestine.
This legendary queen came bearing gifts, accompanied by a huge entourage, a caravan of camels loaded with spices, gold and gems, and an agenda. She wanted to see for herself if the stories of Solomon’s great wisdom and wealth were true. Who knows what she had planned if what she was hearing proved to be fact. But, when she had seen for herself—she was overwhelmed by it all. She presented her gifts, assured the king she would be his ally, not his enemy, blessed the Lord God, and took her leave. (verses 1-13)
Blessed be the Lord your God who chose you and set you on the throne of Israel. How the Lord must love Israel—for he gave you to them as their king! And you give your people a just, good government!”
Then she gave the king a gift of $3,500,000 in gold, along with a huge quantity of spices and precious gems; in fact, it was the largest single gift of spices King Solomon had ever received. 1 Kings 10:9-10 (TLB)
The material splendor and opulence described in these passages is so enormous I wonder if even Hollywood, with all the special effects available today, could adequately portray the wealth of the kingdom.
The like of it was never made in any kingdom. 1 Kings 10:20b
Wisdom is one thing…but now I’m beginning to wonder if King Solomon was as wise as we’re being told.
In this chapter we find an old man turning away from his first love for God. He has defied God’s commands and allowed his foreign wives to worship their detestable foreign gods within the kingdom, bringing their influence into his life. His close proximity to the Canaanite goddess of fertility, Ashtoreth; and Molech, the god of Ammon, to whom living children were being sacrificed eventually infiltrated his heart and mind, putting Solomon in direct conflict with the God of his fathers. (verses 1-8)
God warned him. (verses 9-13)
But the wisest man in the world didn’t listen. The results are not pretty. (verses 14-40) King Solomon’s peace was gone. The respect of his kingdom officials and servants was gone. There were adversaries within his own family. And, after a forty year reign in Jerusalem over all of Isreal, the kingdom was snatched from his hands. Solomon died a broken man, and was buried in the city of David his father. (verses 41-43)
The lesson is this sad story seems to be a warning that turning your back to God prevents any genuine fellowship with Him. There are other Bible stories of men who moved away from their “first love” and yet were restored. David—who committed adultery and murder. Peter—who denied Christ, not once, but three times. Samson—who walked as close to rebellion as possible throughout most of his life, but turned back to God before his death. Thankfully God is merciful, and as we read in Romans chapter 8, nothing can separate us from His love except our unwise choice to turn our back and walk away from Him.
from the New Testament–
Romans: 9 – 10:
In this chapter Paul writes of his sorrow [bitter grief and incessant anguish in my heart (AMP)] for his Jewish brethren, who do not receive the message of grace, and continue to deny that Jesus is the Christ. (verses 1-5)
Next Paul distinguishes between the physical and spiritual descendants of Abraham. He clarifies the “the children of promise,” as was Isaac, born as a result of God’s promise when it was impossible, humanly speaking, for him to be conceived. So those who share Abraham’s faith in God’s promise, Jew or Gentile, are Abraham’s real spiritual descendants. (verses 6-33)
So what can we say? We can say that non-Jewish people who were not trying to gain God’s approval won his approval, an approval based on faith. The people of Israel tried to gain God’s approval by obeying the laws in Moses’ Teachings, but they did not reach their goal. Why? They didn’t rely on faith to gain God’s approval, but they relied on their own efforts. They stumbled over the rock that trips people. As Scripture says,
“I am placing a rock in Zion that people trip over,
a large rock that people find offensive.
Whoever believes in him [Jesus] will not be ashamed.” Romans 9:30-33 (GW)
The theme continues in these verses. “My heart’s desire and prayer to God for them (his people, the Jews) is that they may be saved.” But in his heart of hearts, Paul knows the Jews are a stiff-necked and self-righteous people.
Self-righteousness shuts out God’s righteousness which is bestowed through faith in Christ and replaces it with a plausible but false righteousness of man that has NO standing before God. (Isaiah 64:6; Mark 10:18) It is based on the false notion that man in himself is right with God or can make himself right by his own efforts. Rejecting God’s righteousness and substituting for it man’s pretended righteousness is sinful folly.
For Christ is the end of the law, that every man who has faith may be justified. Romans 10:4
Again, I urge my readers to thoroughly and prayerfully consider this chapter of scripture, casting off the religious trappings of doctrine and denomination, so as to clearly understand that—
…faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ.” Romans 10:17
The basic truth of this chapter can be stated very simply: one must have faith, but faith is not possible unless the gospel (good news) is communicated, and the good news comes by preaching about Christ.
In 2015 we are bombarded with preaching about the Christian religion, about doctrine and about denominations. What Paul is saying here is faith can only grow when we hear the good news about Christ and his finished work on the cross. Anything more, or less, leaves us on the same page as the disobedient and contrary people over whom Paul was in anguish.