“As Christians we are tempted to make unnecessary concessions to those outside the Faith. We give in too much. Now, I don’t mean that we should run the risk of making a nuisance of ourselves by witnessing at improper times, but there comes a time when we must show that we disagree. We must show our Christian colors, if we are to be true to Jesus Christ.”

C. S. Lewis

TODAY’S READING: 1 Kings 10–11; 2 Chronicles 9

At his best, Solomon represented God’s intention for blessing: the nations will see how good it is to serve Jehovah, be struck with divine jealousy and holy hunger, and come ask to be a part of God’s family on God’s terms. This is what happened with the queen of Yemen. Sheba was a kingdom that originated at the southwestern tip of the Arabian Peninsula (Yemen) and spread north to current day southern Jordan. Because Solomon developed a navy that sailed the Red Sea, there was access to his news through camel trains and sea trade. The Queen of Yemen heard of Solomon’s wealth, wisdom, and order and desired to come see for herself. Her kingdom was impressive in its own right, apparently “sophisticated, having large urban centers, irrigation systems, and a myriad of trade connections throughout the Near East and southern Asia.”[1] Indubitably, there was a business/trade component in her visit, but by her own admission there was something grander, for she said to Solomon: “Blessed be the Lord [Jehovah] your God, who delighted in you, setting you on His throne to be king for the Lord [Jehovah] your God (2 Chr. 9:8). The Yemeni Queen used the covenant name for God: Jehovah. She further recognized that the throne was Jehovah’s (not Solomon’s) and that Solomon is king for Jehovah. In other words, the Yemeni queen was missionized and evangelized. She saw the real root of everything was relationship with the God of Israel and that blessing came in being His vassal, His daughter, His tool, His instrument. Yes, she saw the wealth (the result of blessing), but she heard of Solomon in the context “concerning the name of the Lord [Jehovah]” (1 Kings 10:1) and the “the half…not told” (v. 7) was linked to the blessings of intimacy with Jehovah. This wise queen realized that wisdom and wealth, order and fame were results and consequences of being in covenant with Jehovah. This was Solomon at his best, attracting all the kings of the earth to Jehovah’s throne (2 Chr. 9:23).

At his worst, Solomon represented what happens when we lose the plot. God wants a diverse family, people from every nation around His throne. But it is Jehovah’s throne, the throne of the God who made covenant with Israel, the throne of rule so pure and so holy it cannot share space or flavor with any false god. And it is Jehovah’s rules. Yes, indeed, God commissions His people to be a light and an invitation to all peoples, but that invitation insists that all peoples come on Jehovah’s terms. Solomon became enamored and beguiled by multi-culturalism. His wisdom drove him to the madness of thought that irreconcilable spiritual entities can be united. There is an arrogance to pluralism and universalism, an arrogance that thinks it’s enlightened because it’s blind and broad in its inclusivity. Jehovah’s wisdom is that true thrones are of pure gold and true worship is exclusive. It must be the worship of Israel’s God, Jehovah, on Jehovah’s absolute terms. Solomon’s wives were never required to worship Jehovah which seemed enlightened. But it was actually disastrous, for it led Solomon to embrace a deadly inclusion so that at the end of his life he not only tolerated but worshiped Ashtoreth of the Sidonians; Milcom and Molech, the abomination of the Ammonites; and Chemosh the abomination of Moab (1 Kings 11:5–7). God’s missionary people are inclusive without worshipping inclusion, for they soberly know that Jehovah must be exclusively worshipped.

At our missionary best, the people of God live in such a way that our ordered lives confess the beauty of His peace. The spiritual union that we enjoy with God marks us. We beam with His blessing, even if we are poor, and the lost are drawn to us. We then open our mouths and declare both halves of the reason for the hope that we have. At our missionary worst, we forget that the way is narrow; that the Bible is supra-cultural; that the real test of Christian orthodoxy is how all peoples graft themselves into the story of Jehovah and His particular people Israel; and that inclusion of all peoples demands exclusion of all their gods. We do the Muslim peoples of the Swahili coast no favors if in loving them we accept their gods. We only are a blessing to the nations, only truly missionary, and only retain our wisdom and the blessing of Jehovah by being radically exclusive in our inclusion.

[1] The Chronological Study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008. 513.

Prayer Focus: Tanzania (30 UPGs)

Today’s Unreached People Group: Swahili
Population: 752,000
Language: Swahili
Primary Religion: Islam
Evangelical: 0.8%
Estimated Workers Needed: 15

[Source: Joshua Project]

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