42 “The Queen of the South will rise up with this generation at the judgment and will condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. 43 “Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. 44 “Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came ‘; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. 45 “Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation.”
The Queen of the South is a reference to a story in 1 Kings 10 about a queen that came to investigate about King Solomon:
1 Now when the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to test him with difficult questions. 2 So she came to Jerusalem with a very large retinue, with camels carrying spices and very much gold and precious stones. When she came to Solomon, she spoke with him about all that was in her heart. 3 Solomon answered all her questions; nothing was hidden from the king which he did not explain to her. 4 When the queen of Sheba perceived all the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, 5 the food of his table, the seating of his servants, the attendance of his waiters and their attire, his cupbearers, and his stairway by which he went up to the house of the LORD, there was no more spirit in her. 6 Then she said to the king, “It was a true report which I heard in my own land about your words and your wisdom. 7 “Nevertheless I did not believe the reports, until I came and my eyes had seen it. And behold, the half was not told me. You exceed in wisdom and prosperity the report which I heard. 8 “How blessed are your men, how blessed are these your servants who stand before you continually and hear your wisdom. 9 “Blessed be the LORD your God who delighted in you to set you on the throne of Israel; because the LORD loved Israel forever, therefore He made you king, to do justice and righteousness.”
Jesus, referencing this story from the Old Testament scriptures, is revealing to the Pharisees that their encounter with Him is similar, but that in their presence of the Son of God, they are experiencing something even greater: the Kingdom of God. They heard the rumors of this man speaking with authority, wisdom and power and now they have seen and spoken to Him face-to-face. Think about the queen’s response to her interaction with Solomon but change the characters to be the Pharisees (or even yourself) encountering Jesus after hearing all these rumors of wisdom and power. She was able to recognize the blessing over Solomon’s life from God and yet Jesus is far much greater than he. Jesus brought God’s Kingdom; Solomon only had his own.
It might seem that verse 43 is a different topic, but it is still part of His explanation of our final judgment and how our sinfulness will be revealed. Read the end of verse 5 from the 1 Kings reference. The bible says, “there was no more spirit in her.” This doesn’t mean she was dead, but that the spirit of doubt that inhabited her was gone. She finally believed what she had been hearing about. This is the same desire that Jesus had for the Pharisees and doubters of His generation. Jesus’ warning in Matthew is to not let the moment of clarity and faith dissipate. When we experience the moment of faith and belief, we must begin to be transformed. Too many “Christians” have “accepted Christ” but have continued living their lives as if nothing changed. This takes us all the way back to quenching the Spirit or blaspheming in our hearts against the Spirit. When God opens our eyes to His truth, we must take action and walk into it.
Picture it like a door that God opens for us to enter into a relationship with Him and live in the Kingdom of God, but we must make the decision to walk through it. If we decide to not walk through it, we turn our back on Him. It’s the most regretful decision we can make because now that Satan knows the door is open for us, he will work even harder to convince us that we shouldn’t walk through the door. The spirit of doubt will return along with his friends and chain us, maintaining our slavery in doubt and sinfulness when freedom is within our grasp. Jesus explains that this is what would happen with that “evil generation”. Now we have grown up amidst generations of doubt and unbelief. We are influenced by our upbringing instead of allowing Jesus to influence us with His truth.
Jesus was constantly challenging people to believe but they remained controlled by fear. I have always said that the best way to learn about God is to take Him at His word and see what happens. While He told Thomas that those who believe without seeing are blessed, sometimes our lack of faith makes us have to see in order to believe. That is ok, but if we do not even try to see…then what of our faith? Why don’t we seek out God’s face? Why don’t we put His principles to the test and see what the result is? If we start with the Beatitudes back in Matthew 5 and strive to be poor in spirit, meek, and humble we will begin to experience God’s Kingdom in our lives. If we pray without ceasing, if we surrender our doubts and worries, if we work to stop lusting after things we don’t have, if we refuse to serve money…we will begin to live in the freedom that God created us to live in!