Based on 2 Chronicles 9:1-12
Allow us to dive into some interesting history, given our reading today from 2 Chronicles. Because of our close relationship with the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus, the largest Lutheran church body in the world, we have had the chance to send visitors to Ethiopia regularly. It is interesting to learn the history of the Solomonic dynasty in Ethiopia which lasted from Menelik I in the 10th century B.C., for 3000 years uninterrupted. How did Solomon exert such an influence in Sheba/Ethiopia?
In our reading about the visit of the Queen of Sheba to Solomon, “to test him with hard questions,” it ends that Solomon gave her “all that she desired, whatever she asked…” However it happened, she returned pregnant with Solomon’s son. He became Menelik I, first emperor of Ethiopia. According to tradition, when Israel was threatened, Menelik, with divine assistance, brought the Ark of the Covenant to Ethiopia for safekeeping, with a forgery left in Jerusalem. To this day, it is said that the Orthodox Church in Ethiopia keeps the Ark in the Church of Our Lady of Zion in Axum. Why share this as our Lenten daily devotion? First, it relates to our reading for the day. Second, it’s interesting historically. Third, it reminds us of the mystery of the Lord God’s will throughout history.
Prayer: O Lord our God, keep our eyes on Jesus and Jesus only, giving thanks for the great history of our salvation! Amen.
Lenten response: Pray today for our brothers and sisters in Ethiopia, for stability and peace.
This year’s devotional was prepared by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, NALC assistant to the bishop for ministry and ecumenism. To learn more about A Lenten Walk Through the Word, visit thenalc.org/lent.
Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
2 Chron. 9:1–12
9:1 When the queen of Sheba heard about Solomon, she came to challenge him with difficult questions. She arrived in Jerusalem with a great display of pomp, bringing with her camels carrying spices, a very large quantity of gold, and precious gems. She visited Solomon and discussed with him everything that was on her mind. 2Solomon answered all her questions; there was no question too complex for the king. 3When the queen of Sheba saw for herself Solomon’s wisdom, the palace he had built, 4the food in his banquet hall, his servants and attendants in their robes, his cupbearers in their robes, and his burnt sacrifices which he presented in the Lord’s temple, she was amazed. 5She said to the king, “The report I heard in my own country about your wise sayings and insight was true! 6I did not believe these things until I came and saw them with my own eyes. Indeed, I didn’t hear even half the story! Your wisdom surpasses what was reported to me. 7Your attendants, who stand before you at all times and hear your wise sayings, are truly happy! 8May the Lord your God be praised because he favored you by placing you on his throne as the one ruling on his behalf. Because of your God’s love for Israel and his lasting commitment to them, he made you king over them so you could make just and right decisions.” 9She gave the king 120 talents of gold and a very large quantity of spices and precious gems. The quantity of spices the queen of Sheba gave King Solomon has never been matched. 10(Huram’s servants, aided by Solomon’s servants, brought gold from Ophir, as well as fine timber and precious gems. 11With the timber the king made steps for the Lord’s temple and royal palace as well as stringed instruments for the musicians. No one had seen anything like them in the land of Judah before that.) 12King Solomon gave the queen of Sheba everything she requested, more than what she had brought him. Then she left and returned to her homeland with her attendants.(NET Bible)
79:1 A psalm of Asaph.
O God, foreigners have invaded your chosen land;
they have polluted your holy temple
and turned Jerusalem into a heap of ruins.
2They have given the corpses of your servants
to the birds of the sky,
the flesh of your loyal followers
to the beasts of the earth.
3They have made their blood flow like water
all around Jerusalem, and there is no one to bury them.
4We have become an object of disdain to our neighbors;
those who live on our borders taunt and insult us.
5How long will this go on, O Lord?
Will you stay angry forever?
How long will your rage burn like fire?
6Pour out your anger on the nations that do not acknowledge you,
on the kingdoms that do not pray to you.
7For they have devoured Jacob
and destroyed his home.
8Do not hold us accountable for the sins of earlier generations.
Quickly send your compassion our way,
for we are in serious trouble.
9Help us, O God, our deliverer!
For the sake of your glorious reputation, rescue us.
Forgive our sins for the sake of your reputation.
10Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?”
Before our very eyes may the shed blood of your servants
be avenged among the nations.
11Listen to the painful cries of the prisoners.
Use your great strength to set free those condemned to die.
12Pay back our neighbors in full.
May they be insulted the same way they insulted you, O Lord.
13Then we, your people, the sheep of your pasture,
will continually thank you.
We will tell coming generations of your praiseworthy acts.(NET Bible)
7:36 Now one of the Pharisees asked Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. 37Then when a woman of that town, who was a sinner, learned that Jesus was dining at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfumed oil. 38As she stood behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. She wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the perfumed oil. 39Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.” 40So Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” He replied, “Say it, Teacher.” 41“A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed him 500 silver coins, and the other 50. 42When they could not pay, he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43Simon answered, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.” Jesus said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44Then, turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house. You gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45You gave me no kiss of greeting, but from the time I entered she has not stopped kissing my feet. 46You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with perfumed oil. 47Therefore I tell you, her sins, which were many, are forgiven, thus she loved much; but the one who is forgiven little loves little.” 48Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”(NET Bible)
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.
In regard to the Church Luther says in the same writing: “The Church also has no power to establish new divine promises of grace, as some foolishly speak, that everything which the Church ordains is of no lesser authority than that which is ordained of God, since she is guided by the Holy Spirit. For the Church comes into being through the word of promise through faith … God’s Word stands incomparably high above the Church, in this Word she, as a creature, cannot resolve, order, or execute but can only be resolved, ordered, and carried out. For who generates his father, who has rst called his Creator into being?” (18)
–Johann Michael Reu, Luther on the Scriptures
This daily Bible reading guide, Reading the Word of God, was conceived and prepared as a result of the ongoing discussions between representatives of three church bodies: Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC), The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). The following individuals have represented their church bodies and approved this introduction and the reading guide: LCC: President Robert Bugbee; NALC: Bishop John Bradosky, Revs. Mark Chavez, James Nestingen, and David Wendel; LCMS: Revs. Albert Collver, Joel Lehenbauer, John Pless, and Larry Vogel.