We read three remarkable chapters today, all had different but meaningful lessons. Ezekiel has a vision of the future Temple in action and the holiness of those who enter and minister there. John records the heart-warming but challenging account of the raising of Lazarus after being dead for four days, and such is the stubbornness of human nature that the religious leaders are determined to put him to death. And in 2 Chronicles 9 we read of the visit of the Queen of Sheba to see the glory of Solomon and to hear his wisdom.

The Queen brings him many presents. She sees him surrounded by golden objects and gives him even more! The record says “the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was 666 talents of gold” (verse 13). It has always intrigued us that this is the only place the number 666 occurs apart from in Revelation where it is “the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666” (13:18) and “that no one can buy or sell unless he has … the number of his name” (verse 17).

This has caused many speculative interpretations over the years but the divine perspective is, as Jesus bluntly put it, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:24). There are just two options in life, there is no middle path, money gives power; the Pharisees were “lovers of money” (Luke 16:14). The great majority in our world love money and the ‘blessings’ it can bring to their lives. In the end Solomon was destroyed by the blessings it brought after beginning so well (1 Kings 11).

Jesus taught the principle “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more” (Luke 12:48). Whether we have been given or acquired much or little, let us make sure we effectively serve our Lord with the talents we have.