By: Burning Bush Boy
“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” – Jude 3.
INTRODUCTION: The Christian faith is such that has been under one form of contradiction or the other over the years. It has experienced both internal and external manipulations, but of course, the Body of Christ is greatly injured by its own members.
Jude, the writer of our opening Bible verse, had to urge men in his days as he may as well be addressing contemporary Christians, to earnestly contend for the faith. Why would Jude urge us to contend for the faith if the faith isn’t under a form, if not forms, of attack?
If he had not observed certain subtle moves of the enemy against the Body of Christ, I am too sure there wouldn’t have been the need for him telling us to rise and take our stand for the faith. Just like his days, I can see great manipulative and deceitful moves of the enemy against members of this Household of Faith.
Did Jude not say – “What has happened is that some people have infiltrated our ranks (our Scriptures warned us this would happen), who beneath their pious skin are shameless scoundrels. Their design is to replace the sheer grace of our God with sheer license- which means doing away with Jesus Christ, our one and only Master”. Jude 4 The Message
Jude was privileged to have observed the creeping in of some strange men into the corridors of the Christian faith. He identified what others could not see – the wolves dressed up as sheep. Jude read their lips and discovered deceits. He scanned their hearts and what was revealed baffled him. He saw the conspiracy to make true Christians trade eternal truth for worthlessness. He was very observant to unfold the plot of making the fake looking almost as the original.
To press Jude’s wakeup call further, I beseech you to meditatively read the following story as originally written in the book of 1st Kings 21:1-4. Therein, you have the subtle attempt of King Ahab to have Naboth exchange or sell his fathers’ vineyard.
At the end, I hope you will find the courage to humble yourself as you plead that the Holy Spirit will help you contend more for the Christian faith. You may not know it, but the world and its systems are restlessly scheming to have you trade away an eternal inheritance. Please do not sleep!
THE STORY: His name is Naboth and he is well known for possessing a greatly-priced vineyard located next to the King’s palace in the very heart of the Government Reserved Area (GRA) in Jezreel, Israel. I wouldn’t know what could be in a vineyard, but this vineyard, which was an inheritance from his fathers, made all eyes set on him. I guess its attractive location made it the toast of notable property owners and developers in Jezreel; who all disregarded the “Caveat Emptor” (Let the buyer beware) he erected at the entrance of the vineyard. I am sure that you are familiar with such signs as, “This property is not for sale. Please beware of 419”. Well, this didn’t help to keep intended buyers away from Naboth. As long as he had something precious, the pressure against him to compromise never came to an end.
How do you explain this? After a stressful labour in the vineyard one day, Naboth decided to have a rest in the cool of the evening. He found a good spot under one of the vines, but not too long into his well-deserved relaxation, an intimidating figure appeared in his vineyard.
From the distance, Naboth could not easily identify this person, but he could tell he had an aura around him; probably from the way he walked. He walked alone, but he walked majestically. However, getting closer, he suddenly realized that he had been visited by the most usual of guests. How could he have imagined that he would one day be playing host to the King of the land, His Royal Majesty (HRM), King Ahab the Great. Shocked, yet he took time to wonder what could have brought the king to his vineyard.
You wouldn’t expect him trying to find an answer to his question on his seat; not when the king was standing. He immediately jumped off his slanted chair and went down to pay due homage to the king. With his head facing down and blood vibrating through his arteries, he could hardly say if the king responded to his greetings. Anyway, the king could choose not to answer his subject.
His tension was, however, relaxed when he felt the hand of the king on his shoulder. The king, thereafter, beckoned on him to stand. Stand? How dare he stand side-to-side with the king? Nevertheless, with the expression on the king’s face, it was obvious he wanted a man-to-man talk with Naboth.
With the way the king opened up his statement, you will conclude that a king will always be a king. He didn’t beat about the bush as he confidently declared: “Give me your vineyard that I may have it for a vegetable garden, because it is near, next to my house and for it I will give you a vineyard better than it. Or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its worth in money.”
He wasn’t too sure he heard the king too well. Did he mention something about his vineyard? Was His Royal Majesty also interested in his vineyard? Did he say he was going to turn his vineyard into a vegetable garden? Must the king have everything near his palace?
Naboth cried within him for help. Did he just hear King Ahab proposing to give him another vineyard in exchange for his? ANOTHER? “Excuse me, but did he not now speak about giving me the worth of my vineyard in money?” Naboth asked. Money! Mammon! Must money appear in every discussion? Must everything end up in money? Here again comes mammon at play! Efura o!
If seeing the king made his blood dashed then hearing his demands surely made his heart vibrate. Naboth vibrated from his head to his feet. Why? Dear reader, from this point, it can only be Naboth telling you exactly how he felt hearing the king’s request for his vineyard.
Naboth’s voice: From the reverse order, did Ahab really offer me money for my vineyard? Hmm! How could he possibly think my inheritance in Christ could be valued in money? While majority will do and sell anything for money, I, Naboth, cannot imagine quantifying or valuing this great and valuable inheritance in terms of money.
It is good to have money, but certain things are simply impossible to be valued monetarily; such is the Christian faith I inherited from my fathers. Ahab should be aware what it means to be a child of the living God through the acceptance of the finished work of grace in Jesus Christ. Money cannot buy that which is inestimable. The finished work of grace over my life is highly inestimable; too enourmous for gold and silver to buy.
Didn’t I hear Ahab promising to give me a better vineyard? Better? If he truly had a better vineyard than mine, please help me out why would he still be interested in mine? He should know that I know that there is nothing he gives that can be truly better than what I have freely in Christ Jesus. Whatever he gives may initially appear to be better, but the truth is, Ahab (the enemy of my soul), has nothing better to offer me. “Every good and perfect gift”, the Bible says, “is from above and comes down from the Father of lights with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning”. James 1:17.
Hail to the king, but my God has already given me the perfect gift in the person of Jesus Christ. It is, therefore, definitely impossible for Ahab to improve on what is already perfect. There is no such better vineyard anywhere; no better life outside the life in Christ. Whatever Ahab offers me will only be to his own advantage and not mine. Let this truth resound in your heart as you read my story that the devil has no consideration at all for your happiness and eternity. There is no free meal with him.
Ahab will also indirectly ask for your salvation. He wants it in exchange for something lesser, because he knows not the value of salvation. He is damned and doomed; neither can he repent nor be saved. The devil cannot sing the redemption song you sing joyfully and as such, he is not in any position to quantify your salvation in terms of any material gain. How much is the death of Jesus worth in Naira, Dollars or Pounds sterling? Ahab must be silly to think that I will sell my inheritance in the Lord for mere money. If he thinks he’s a king, then I will tell him that there’s nothing I need that the KING of kings, Jesus Christ, has not made provision for. I have it all in Christ. Did you get that?
Ahab will always want vineyards that are so near/close to his palace. So what? Is he afraid of my presence? Am I too close for comfort? Is the enemy of my soul afraid that I may grow to take over his palace? I am very sure that Ahab is not comfortable having me around him; he is very much afraid of my future in Christ, but instead of allowing him to send me far away, he should rather relocate his palace. I will surely, definitely, certainly and absolutely not shift my grounds! Tell him loud and clear.
If he chooses to stay next to my vineyard, then he must be compelled to listen to and watch me worship the only living God. I won’t stop my worship because he sees me as a nuisance. Well, he should shut his eyes and ears if this bothers him. Ahab, you will have to bear with listening to my prayers because very soon, your kingdom shall give way to the expansion of this vineyard you seek to take over. Mr. Ahab, (for I call you no longer a king), I am too glad to inform you that you cannot expand with my vineyard next to your palace. As long as I have my vineyard next to your seat of power, your expansion is restricted and your lordship is threatened.
(Friends, we are not talking about disturbing our neighbours with the noise of our worship; this is more spiritual than physical.)
Knowing that he cannot intrude or trespass into your own vineyard, he will seek to deceive you into handing over this great inheritance voluntarily – this is the same inheritance, the Christian faith many died over the years to hand over to you. He wants you to be the reason the next generation will starve.
How do you explain Ahab desiring to have an entire vineyard converted into a garden of vegetables? Kai! He surely has no intention of reserving the vineyard for the production of wine (lives); he will rather bulldoze these aged, but lasting trees for mere vegetables. This can only be the devil!
Who else, but the devil would be interested in uprooting eternal work for cheap vegetables. Will the vine trees which must have been in existence for years; they must have been preserved and reserved by the sweat and blood of the fathers, now be turned into something ordinary? Why is Ahab seeking to make a bastard out of me? Who, but a bastard will offer perennial trees to a man intending to plant mere shrubs; mere vegetables that would come up and perish at the same speed they germinated.
This is the error of the Church today. We desire a quick fix to everything; hence we have done away with all ancient landmarks. Lord, for the sake of fast food and satisfaction, we are no longer producing lasting souls for eternity; nothing eternal is coming from us again.
Today, all that we see planted as Christians are mere perishables – vegetables! They, these feeble Christians, spring up at the sight of wonderful auditoriums and orators/ eloquent preachers and lovely musical shows, but within a short while, they wither; just before they fruit, they dry off. These are mere annual shrubs planted by Ahab in former vineyards of Once-upon-a-great ministers; ministers who once vowed never to exchange their inheritance for money or any acclaimed better vineyard. Ahab overpowered them! What a pity!
And so Naboth replied, “The Lord forbid that I should give the inheritance of my fathers to you!”
Author’s prayers: Like Naboth, I cry out to God that He should forbid me from this terrible bargain. Ahab is surely asking for the inheritance of my fathers; he is craftily asking that I give him what I must hand over to the next generation. I am bringing God into the matter because even if my heart will play a quick one on me by considering this offer, God will forbid such move in Jesus’ name.
Did I catch you laughing? Well, I believe that for me, I need God’s grace and I need Him to take His stand for me to stand against Ahab’s tempting offers. In such mouthwatering situations, Lord, please assist me to disappoint this earthly king.
While Ahab came with his face lifted, he left facing down, having lost his boldness and confidence. His bargaining prowess for the first time failed him. Good! Lord, send more men like Naboth to us. Let us have such men in our Churches and I offer to be one myself.
Nobody told Ahab that there was yet a man in his kingdom who would rather keep his inheritance and ignore the splendor and riches of the king. Ahab discovered that evening that all men were not the same. Even though Naboth eventually lost his life, at least he died not selling the inheritance of many generations because of fleeting pleasures and selfish gains. He died just as I pray to, if need be, not disappointing the next generation. By divine grace, I also will fight a good fight of faith. I will finish my course in faith and I will also keep the faith; the ancient faith of our fathers.
Hymn: Faith of our Fathers (8s) – Fredrick W. Faber 1814-1863
- Faith of our fathers, living still. In spite of dungeon, fire and sword. O how our hearts beat high with joy, Whene’er we hear that glorious word.
- Our fathers, chained in prisons dark, Were still in heart and conscience free; And blest would be their children’s fate, Though they, like them should die for Thee.
- Faith of our fathers, we will strive, To win all nations unto Thee; And though the truth that comes from God, Mankind shall then indeed be free.
- Faith of our fathers, we will love, Both friend and foe in all our strife; And preach Thee, too, as love knows how, By kindly words and virtuous life.
Chr: Faith of our fathers! Holy faith! We will be true to thee till death.