First of all, Happy New Month! Can you believe we are already in the month of December? It feels like it was just yesterday, I wrote ‘A Space of Optimism – New Year’s post. Nevertheless, here is to many more to come this month.
Earlier this week, the inhumane atrocity that is the news of modern day slavery in 2017; where black people were being sold into slavery in Libya came to light. The anger and burden I felt was so heavy that I spent the day convincing myself to contribute more than just a 30 second ‘God, help them’ prayer as I carry on scrolling through my unending Instagram feed. I say convincing because ‘sometimes, we can find ways of denying the struggles that other people face as something we ought to not care or be burdened by’. Yet, we must help those who are unable to help themselves.
With that being said…
There are many promises in the Bible. One of which stood out to me in a very unusual way. I, like this world is in a very weird place at the moment. We are in a state that very much resembles the saying ‘you have to go through Hell to get to Heaven’. It is in times like these, I like to remind myself of the promises of God. To build my faith, to latch onto, to hope. For I don’t believe this is it for this world, there must be more and indeed there is.
Growing up, my siblings and I would always hide the shoes of family members and guests we liked. We, for whatever reason did not want to see them leave our home. I remember the liked ones would always try to bribe us to get their shoes for them. They would say things like ‘if you bring my shoe for me, when I come again next time; I will bring gala for you’ or ‘do you want me to buy biscuit for you? – okay, let me go and buy it for you’ or ‘next time I come next time, I will come and sleep here and spend more time with you’. After a while, we would cave in and get said person shoes. Usually, we caved in because after about 15 minutes of our antics; our parent would usually steps in and instruct us to get the shoes in a ‘nice but stern’ manner.
There was always some sort of promise attached to our act of obedience.
In my time with God, I asked the question, ‘is there anyone in the Bible who has had a promise attached to their obedience?’ He took me to the story of the Queen of the South herself, the queen of Sheba. Her story can be found in 2 Chronicles 9 and 1 Kings 10.
The story begins with this inquisitive queen, who heard of the fame of king Solomon. A king who had been blessed by God with ‘a wise and understanding heart. That there would be no one like him; before and after Solomon. He was also blessed with riches and honour, that there shall be no one like Solomon among the kings of his days’ (1 Kings 3:5-15).
She travelled all the way to Jerusalem to test King Solomon with hard questions. She met with King Solomon and spoke with him concerning everything that was in her heart. He answered all her questions; in fact, there was nothing so difficult for Solomon that he could not explain to her (2 Chronicles 9:1-2).
When she had seen the wisdom of King Solomon, the house he had built, the food on his table, the seating of his servants, the service of his waiter, his cup bearers and their apparels and his entry way by which he went up to the house of the Lord, there was no more spirit in her. (2 Chronicles 9: 3-4).
‘…. There was no more spirit in her?’ Another translation describes it as ‘she was breathless’.
Her response to the king was “it was a true report which I heard in my own land about your words and your wisdom. However, I did not believe their words until I came and saw with my own eyes; and indeed, the half of your greatness was not told to me. You exceed the fame of which I heard” (2 Chronicles 9:5-6).
At the end of her visit, King Solomon gave the queen of the South all she desired. Whatever she asked for and much more than she brought to the king. At the end of her visit, she turned and went to her own country (2 Chronicles 9:12).
**If you’re like me, at this point, I still didn’t see how this answered my question.**
Jesus, in the new testament referenced the queen of the south. He applauds the fact that she travelled from a distant land to Jerusalem to hear the wisdom of Solomon; yet He said, someone greater than Solomon is here – but you refuse to listen (Matthew 12:42).
** I still didn’t see how this answered my question.**
Leaving no stone unturned and trying to find out more information about this queen. I found out that according to its origin and the Hebrew language, Sheba actually means Oath/Promise.
** It still didn’t answer my question.**
Then, I was reminded of the ‘promise’ in Matthew 6:33 which many of us chorus so frequently; and it reads “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you”.
To answer my question ‘is there anyone in the Bible who has had a Promise attached to their obedience?’ The story of the queen of Sheba demonstrates the promise foubf jn Matthew 6:33 so well. How? – I hear you asking.
She, queen of the Sheba (Oath/Promise) travelled all the way to Jerusalem, to SEEK for herself (to test everything she had heard about the king) only to find out that the report she had heard was not only the TRUTH but also that she had ONLY heard about HALF OF THE GREATNESS of the king’s wisdom. Her encounter EXCEEDED the fame she had heard. She had even brought with her camels that bore spices, gold in abundance, and precious stones. *rich people talk* Yet she left with ‘all she desired, whatever she asked and much more than she had brought to the king’s’.
She even said to king Solomon, “blessed be the Lord your God, who delighted in you, setting you on His throne to be king for the Lord your God! Because your God has loved Israel, to establish them forever, therefore He made you king over them to do justice and righteousness”.
Her story spells out the promise in Matthew 6:33 so well. She legit sought the king’s fame and his kingdom and she left with everything she desired and much more. This story represents an exemplary tale of seeking after God. The queen of Sheba had questions about this king, she has heard so much about and went to seek for herself. At the end of her visit, King Solomon gave her everything she desired and more. And So also God promises to give those who seek His Kingdom first.
I have come to realise that honesty trumps hard questions. Being honest with God about those hard questions only exposes you more to His greatness. Knowing God just through the words of your mum, dad or even pastor, prophet is walking in the knowledge of HALF OF THE GREATNESS! Imagine if the queen of the south, only ever relied on that which she heard from others, she would have only known HALF!
Just deep it.
We are invited to someone much greater than Solomon and like the queen of Sheba, we too have a promise attached to our obedience; if we would only seek first the kingdom of God.