“The Queen of Sheba A Sign”

Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard.

 Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom.

 Blessed be the Lord thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the Lord loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice.—1 Kings 10:7-9

I think we may truly say that the queen of Sheba is a sign even to this generation, for each generation, though differing in some respects from others, has many points of resemblance to them. When you perceive what other men have been, you see very much what you yourself are. It is a commonly admitted truth that history repeats itself and it does so because it is the result of the same sort of passions and the same sinful tendencies in wicked human hearts. So I believe that the present age is, in many points, very like the one in which Christ Himself appeared. And if He were corporeally here, at this moment, He could with great accuracy say, “The queen of the South shall rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here.”

[….] She will also condemn many because she believed the report of Solomon’s wisdom when she heard it. She was not only interested in hearing it, but what she heard, she believed. I do not know who brought the report to her, but Solomon was a great merchant and traders came from all parts to do business with him. So one and another who had stayed at Jerusalem and heard of the marvelous wisdom of the great king, and had seen some of his matchless architectural feats, his vast reservoirs, his wonderful ascent by which he went up to the house of the Lord, carried the report of all this to the queen of Sheba and she believed.it.

I do not say that it was very amazing that she should believe it, yet her belief condemns the skepticism of this age and condemns it all the more because, in some respects, this is a very credulous age. We readily believe what travelers tell us. There have been some very extraordinary stories told which once were not believed, yet afterwards were found to be true and, now, we generally accept the testimony of a man who comes back and says that he has seen such-and-such things. Our learned Societies invite these men to visit them and tell their story. There may be some who doubt but, on the whole, they are believed. Yet, when we give our report concerning the Lord Jesus, we have often to ask, “Who has believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” We tell men not only what God says in His Word, but what we ourselves have tasted, handled and felt—yet even when we get them interested in our message, they do not always believe it. Nothing appears to be more popular, at this present time, than the casting of doubts upon everything that is sacred! And he seems to be reckoned the cleverest man who takes a tar brush and goes through the sanctuary daubing all the holy vessels!

And whereas, of old, “a man was famous according as he had lifted up axes upon the thick trees,” that he might use them in building for God, it seems now as if every man’s axes were for breaking down the carved work and damaging the cedar of which the temple of the Lord is constructed! The queen of Sheba, in her belief of the report which, I do not doubt, bore upon its face some degree of improbability—for marvelous stories were told about Solomon—yet, believing it because it came to her upon good, fair, honest testimony of men who had no objective in deceiving her—she shall rise up in condemnation of the people of this generation who will not believe Christ Himself, nor God Himself, but even say that this Book is God’s and then deny the things which are most plainly taught therein—and so make God Himself to be a liar! “

The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.—[Jesus] Matthew 12:42

Source: Charles H. Spurgeon’s Sermon, “The Queen of Sheba A Sign”:

Artwork by Getahun Assefa

Lamentation For The Lions

Moreover take up a lamentation for the princes of Israel, and say:

‘What is your mother? A lioness:
She lay down among the lions;
Among the young lions she nourished her cubs.
She brought up one of her cubs,
And he became a young lion;
He learned to catch prey,
And he devoured men.
The nations also heard of him;
He was trapped in their pit,
And they brought him with chains to the land of Egypt.

When she saw that she waited, that her hope was lost,
She took another of her cubs and made him a young lion.
He roved among the lions,
And became a young lion;
He learned to catch prey;
He devoured men.
He knew their desolate places,
And laid waste their cities;
The land with its fullness was desolated
By the noise of his roaring.
Then the nations set against him from the provinces on every side,
And spread their net over him;
He was trapped in their pit.
They put him in a cage with chains,

And brought him to the king of Babylon;
They brought him in nets,
That his voice should no longer be heard on the mountains of Israel.

‘Your mother was like a vine in your bloodline,
Planted by the waters,
Fruitful and full of branches
Because of many waters.
She had strong branches for scepters of rulers.
She towered in stature above the thick branches,
And was seen in her height amid the dense foliage.
But she was plucked up in fury,
She was cast down to the ground,
And the east wind dried her fruit.
Her strong branches were broken and withered;
The fire consumed them.
And now she is planted in the wilderness,

In a dry and thirsty land.
Fire has come out from a rod of her branches
And devoured her fruit,
So that she has no strong branch—a scepter for ruling.’ ”

This is a lamentation, and has become a lamentation.Ezekiel 19

Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee.

Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?

The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. Genesis 49:8-10

He crouched, he lay down like a lion
and like a lioness; who will rouse him up?
Blessed are those who bless you,
and cursed are those who curse you
.Numbers 24:9

The Word of God can take care of itself, and will do so if we preach it, and cease defending it. See you that lion. They have caged him for his preservation; shut him up behind iron bars to secure him from his foes! See how a band of armed men have gathered together to protect the lion. What a clatter they make with their swords and spears! These mighty men are intent upon defending a lion. O fools, and slow of heart! Open that door! Let the lord of the forest come forth free. Who will dare to encounter him? What does he want with your guardian care? Let the pure gospel go forth in all its lion-like majesty, and it will soon clear its own way and ease itself of its adversaries.—Charles Spurgeon

Artwork: Vincent van Gogh: Vase with five sunflowers

Lively Stones

Christ’s enemies are but breaking their own heads in pieces upon the Rock laid in Zion; and the stone is not removed out of its place. Faith hath cause to take courage from our very afflictions; the devil is but a whetstone to sharpen the faith and patience of the saints. I know that he but heweth and polisheth stones, all the time for the New Jerusalem— Samuel Rutherford

Joseph is a fruitful bough,
A fruitful bough by a well;
His branches run over the wall.The archers have bitterly grieved him,
Shot at him and hated him.
But his bow remained in strength,
And the arms of his hands were made strong
By the hands of the Mighty God of Jacob
(From there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel),
By the God of your father who will help you,
And by the Almighty who will bless you
With blessings of heaven above,
Blessings of the deep that lies beneath,
Blessings of the breasts and of the womb.―Genesis 49:23-25

O you afflicted one, Tossed with tempest, and not comforted, Behold, I will lay your stones with colorful gems, And lay your foundations with sapphires. I will make your pinnacles of rubies, Your gates of crystal, And all your walls of precious stones. All your children shall be taught by the Lord, And great shall be the peace of your children. In righteousness you shall be established; You shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear; And from terror, for it shall not come near you. Indeed they shall surely assemble, but not because of Me. Whoever assembles against you shall fall for your sake.―Isaiah 54:11-15

To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,

Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.―1 Peter 2:4-5

Further In
By Tomas Tranströmer

On the main road into the city
when the sun is low.
The traffic thickens, crawls.
It is a sluggish dragon glittering.
I am one of the dragon’s scales.
Suddenly the red sun is
right in the middle of the windscreen
streaming in.
I am transparent
and writing becomes visible
inside me
words in invisible ink
which appear
when the paper is held to the fire!
I know I must get far away
straight through the city and then
further until it is time to go out
and walk far in the forest.
Walk in the footprints of the badger.
It gets dark, difficult to see.
In there on the moss lie stones.
One of the stones is precious.
It can change everything
it can make the darkness shine.
It is a switch for the whole country.
Everything depends on it.
Look at it, touch it…

The Stones
By Tomas Tranströmer

The stones we have thrown I hear
fall, glass-clear through the year. In the valley
confused actions of the moment
fly howling from tree-top
to tree-top, quieting
in air thinner than now’s, gliding
like swallows from mountain-top
to mountain-top till they
reach the furthest plateaus
along the edge of existence. Where
all our deeds fall
to no ending
except ourselves.

Artwork: Sister Gertrude Morgan: New Jerusalem Rev. 21:2

I Will Weep in Secret Places

I would comfort myself in sorrow;
My heart is faint in me.

Listen! The voice,
The cry of the daughter of my people
From a far country:
“Is not the Lord in Zion?
Is not her King in her?”
“Why have they provoked Me to anger
With their carved images—
With foreign idols?”

“The harvest is past,
The summer is ended,
And we are not saved!

For the hurt of the daughter of my people I am hurt.
I am mourning;
Astonishment has taken hold of me
Is there no balm in Gilead,
Is there no physician there?
Why then is there no recovery
For the health of the daughter of my people?

Hear and give ear:
Do not be proud,
For the Lord has spoken.

Give glory to the Lord your God
Before He causes darkness,
And before your feet stumble
On the dark mountains,
And while you are looking for light,
He turns it into the shadow of death
And makes it dense darkness.

But if you will not hear it,
My soul will weep in secret for your pride;
My eyes will weep bitterly
And run down with tears,
Because the Lord’s flock has
been taken captive.—Jeremiah 8:18-21; 13:15-17

O Lord my God, You are very great:
You are clothed with honor and majesty,
Who cover Yourself with light as with a garment,
Who stretch out the heavens like a curtain.—Psalm 104:1-2

Artwork: Artwork: Garment of a Grateful Heart by William Hemmerling

Murmurings and Manna

To grumble about the world and its unhappiness is always easier than to beat one’s breast and groan over oneself.― Søren Kierkegaard

Between the murmuring and the grievances
in our wilderness of Sin
we scurry greedily in the gathering
of every good and perishable thing
hoarding imprecise portions ―Yahweh
had opened up the heavens, raining down
divinely numinous things
Billowing east and powerful south winds
He rained down flesh upon them like dust
―of manna and corn from heaven
angels food, too recondite for us

In fatness of soul we say come, eat, drink
and be merry, let us delight in material goods, and
if we die tomorrow―twas beauty misunderstood
Wine is a mocker, strong drink denies
in the end it bites like a venomous serpent
whoever is led astray by them is not wise
Wretched, poor, blind, and naked
we grope obliviously, stumbling in the dark
recall righteous Noah, straight out of the Ark
Champions of drinking wine
lovers of prophets, speaking wind and lies, they
prophesy of strong drink and wine
no recovery of sight, just the blind leading the blind.

And while the meat yet fills our mouths
God grants us our desire, binding us to our lusts
hearts consumed by vanity of vanity
for in the Branch―the True Vine, we do not trust.
So do not boast about tomorrow
―where you will go, what you will eat and drink
for the day is soon over, and the night is far spent
the darkness is encroaching, the bell tolls―repent
Between the suffering and the groaning
is every good and pleasant thing
hidden manna for overcomers, a white stone
and a new name, redeemed from the wilderness of Sin.

Artwork: Suwit Avirut 3D model of the Starry Night, Vincent van Gogh Museum