Bible Experiment II Chronicles

Bible Experiment II Chronicles
Welcome back to another installment of This Old House. Wait. That’s not right at all. Let me come in again. This is my semi-weekly (meaning, semi-occassionally, meaning rarely on time) look back through every book of the Bible. My goal is to read every book and write at least a thousand words on the purpose, meaning and details of the book and I cogitate about its possible relevance in our lives today.

II Chronicles Overview
As I mentioned back in I Chronicles, I and II Chronicles is a rewind, and rehash of topics already covered earlier in the Bible. In Second Chronicles we are seeing Solomon’s coming to the throne, the building of the temple and the splitting of Israel into the Northern and Southern Kingdoms. We are also re-encountering the Babylonian captivity.

II Chronicles Deep Dive On the Queen of Sheba Interview
The first eight chapters of the book detail out for us once again, the efforts of Solomon to setup God’s temple, and the bringing in of the ark and the consecration and dedication. In chapter nine we see that Solomon’s fame as the most wise man to ever live has spread far and wide.

“When the queen of Sheba heard of Solomon’s fame, she came to Jerusalem to test him with hard questions. Arriving with a very great caravan—with camels carrying spices, large quantities of gold, and precious stones—she came to Solomon and talked with him about all she had on her mind.”

This passage is very interesting to me. We saw something similar back in I Kings I believe, but here it really jumped out at me as very significant. Sheba, I believe is where modern day Yemen is… and would have been a 1500 mile journey. Just randomly assuming the caravan could make what, 15 miles a day? Maybe more? It would have taken her over a third of a year… maybe even half a year, to make the trip. It most likely was a trade delegation coming to setup trade routes and trade partnerships… but it was clear that the Queen was also determined to interview Solomon as well while she was in the neighborhood.

And while there, they talked about “all she had on her mind”. Reading a few commentaries it seems like these were not riddles or tricks that she was posing to Solomon, but rather they were more like issues or moral concerns facing her own rule and reign. She probably wanted advice as well as partnership between their two kingdoms. But more importantly she wanted to know what to do in her reign. Verse three gives us an even clearer picture of this encounter,

“When she came to Solomon, she spoke with him about all that was in her heart”

shebaSo it wasn’t just what the Queen of Sheba was thinking… but it was also the thoughts of her heart. For me this is a critical distinction. You know the difference between the two right? Consider conversations you have had about the War in Afghanistan maybe. Or Serbia, I don’t know. Whatever you intellectually argue about with your friends. Kim Kardashian. Whatever. And then consider a conversation wherein you discussed what was on your heart. They are two totally different types of conversations.

An intellectual conversation is titillating. Clever maybe. Like if you and I started talking about the contract labor working on the Death Star at the time of its explosion. Right? We could have a ton of fun arguing about their individual moral rightness, or wrongness and whether they deserved today. We could bring in corollaries to Nazi Germany and the moral rightness and wrongness to those who chose not to object, and yet they didn’t actively participate. And then we could spin it on its head and discuss the rebel alliance and when is it Right to object to the governing authorities over us. We could have another beer and continue debating the rightness and wrongness of Jar Jar Binks.

But all of that would be an intellectual exercise. Fun, but kind of pointless.

And then there are those conversations that come from the heart. Discussions that may revolve around a dying loved one, or possibly your being laid off at work. Or better yet, maybe the conversation goes to the meaning of life, the universe and everything? That is when conversations really begin to matter. This is when they go from being 100% trivial to, 100% relevant. Considering the purpose of life is a matter of the heart… and I wonder if maybe the Queen of Sheba saw Solomon’s house, and more importantly the Temple, (“and his entryway by which he went up to the house of the LORD”), and she began to really ponder Solomon and his relationship to his God.

Are you like the Queen of Sheba? Are you curious about this God thing? Maybe its just a fascination, like it was for the Queen or maybe its real… but have you:

  1. come a great distance to enquire
  2. come to learn and to ask your questions
  3. inspected the riches of the king
  4. stayed for an elongated duration
  5. communicated what is on your heart

She really did want to know about Solomon and his God. She was eager to learn and to see the wisdom that God had given to Solomon. She literally give Solomon boatloads of riches and treasure in order to be given access to the answers that she desired.

I love it when the Bible comments on itself because the Bible is the best commentary that anyone could ever ask for. And of all the figures in the Bible, the single best commentator of all is definitely the Christ. In Matthew chapter 12 the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law ask Jesus for a sign. These guys loved fireworks. They wanted to see the show. But they didn’t believe. So what was Jesus’ response to their request for fireworks?

“A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here. The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon is here.”

Say what? Let’s break these verses down a bit. You remember the story of Jonah and the Whale, right? God tells Jonah to go to Nineveh, and he runs the opposite direction. Hops a boat and sales as fast as it can go away from where God wanted him. Why did he run? He ran because he knew that God was going to extend His grace and love to the Ninevites and Jonah wanted nothing to do with that. The Ninevites were evil, evil people. And Jonah thought they should be wiped off the planet. So he booked it. Enter a whale. Jonah repents. Tells the Ninevites to repent… in possibly THE WORST sermon ever preached… ready for it? Here it is… the sum of it:

“Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.”

And just like Jonah feared, the Ninevites repented… and God relented. They worshipped God, and begged for forgiveness from their evil ways. Jonah? Yeah, he wanted God to kill him he was so frustrated. But the point here is that Jonah brought the word of God to them, and they listened. There were no fireworks. There were no signs. Just a grumpy preacher that hated them. They listened to the prophecy and repented.

But what does Jesus say about the Queen of Sheba… He says that she will appear at the Judgement, the end of days… and she will be like, “Really? You had the Christ… really? And you couldn’t be bothered to come and inquire? Seriously? You had the creator of the universe at your disposal and you didn’t come with your questions, you didn’t come with your heart and ask?”

So the question today is, have you even bothered to ask your questions – the questions that have been tumbling around in your head, but are too embarrassed to say out loud? When was the last time you really investigated the truths of this God? Are you going to just keep those questions to yourself and not even ask them critically. Maybe you are angry? Or hurt and so you wouldn’t dare share your vitriol with another person. Well, guess what, the Bible is pretty clear that you really should ask your questions. You really should seek out the truth. Because if you do, God will answer you.  The Bible is all about seeking after God… grappling with Him… wrapping your brain around His ideas and seeing if what He is saying is true.

“Sow with a view to righteousness, Reap in accordance with kindness; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the LORD Until He comes to rain righteousness on you.” Hosea 10:12

“I love those who love me; And those who diligently seek me will find me.” Proverbs 8:17

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Matthew 13:44

Are you diligently seeking for the meaning of life and the purposes of our existence? Do you actively search after the one thing that matters… God and your relationship with Him? Are you like the Queen of Sheba, spending vast quantities of your wealth, if not all of it, in order to learn the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven?

Which ultimately takes us back a few chapters, to chapter seven: “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 I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

So my prayer for you, the one person who has bothered to read this entire mental rant, is that you really will search for Him. He is not hiding from you.