by Pastor Afolabi Oladele
Jewelry is made from varying metals such as gold, silver, copper and bronze. The women folk who wear jewelry regularly would be quite familiar with the colour of these metals. The colour of the copper metal is reddish brown; the colour of silver is white while the colour of gold is yellow. In our climate here, silver and copper jewelries turn black and greenish respectively, when exposed to the atmosphere (environment) overtime. But gold jewelry does not change even after exposure to the environment because it is INERT with the environment. There is a difference between inert and non-inert metals, and that determines their reaction to their environments. Copper has no ability of its own to resist the effect of oxygen and water on it. Silver has no ability of its own to resist the effect of humidity on it. Gold also does not have the resistant ability, but its own internal inner characteristics—the structuring of all the atoms in it—is such that it does not react to its environment.
I remember the excitement I had the first time I had to perform the litmus test in the laboratory, as a chemistry student. The litmus paper turns from blue to red when it gets in contact with acid. In the spiritual sense, when your nature or your carnality conspires or connects with your environment, a new product is produced, not the original anymore.
The inspiration for this message came to mind concerning a comparison between Noah and Lot. The scriptures in Luke 17:26-29 says, “And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.
Each time that I had looked at this scripture, the focus had always been on the activities in the environment, I had never really considered the nature of the two people. Metals react with the environment, some of the changes are irreversible, no second chance, no restoration! And so if your nature and you are unwilling to cooperate with God, there is only so much that God can do with you, other than that He would kick you out in His mercy and find someone else.
Genesis 6:1-8 says, “And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.”
The people in Noah’s time were totally disobedient to God’s ways so much so that God decided to wipe them off the face of the earth. That is the first aspect I see in this story. Secondly, Noah’s reaction is of note. The Bible does not explicitly tell us what the man Noah did, but as students of the word of God who are charged to study to show ourselves approved unto God, we glean much from looking at what Bible commentaries have to say about this.
One of such commentaries is the Works of Josephus, a Jewish historian. This is what he tells us about the man Noah and his environment: “For many angels of God accompanied with women, and begat sons that proved unjust, and despisers of all that was good, on account of the confidence they had in their own strength; for the tradition is that these men did what resembled the acts of those men whom the Grecians called giants. But Noah was very uneasy at what they did; and being displeased at their conduct, he persuaded them to change their dispositions and their acts for better;–but seeing that they did not yield to him, but were slaves to their wicked pleasures, he was afraid that they would kill him, together with his wife and his children, and those they had married; so he departed out of that land.”
Firstly, we must take note that Noah did not keep quiet, he told the people they were wrong and persuaded them to change. There is a reality that every one of us would we have a responsibility to do something about our environment. What is your response as a child of God if you understand that the environment around you is bad?
Secondly, Noah separated himself from the evil. His family was on the same side of righteousness with him because they also separated themselves together with him. They stood for righteousness; spoke against it even though it came with the price that they could be killed.
The active word that describes Noah’s reaction when the wicked people would not change their ways is SEPARATION. Noah separated himself; but too many of us do not understand the responsibility of separation. Noah first of all preached the message—the Bible calls him a preacher of righteousness; he did not keep quiet like many of us do, and even when we do speak, its either we also are frail, or we are accomplices in the evils in the land. Noah first of all spoke, and when they will not hear, he then separated himself from the evil in his environment.
The name ‘Noah’, comes from the Hebrew word ‘comfort’; his father said he would give comfort from the curse on the earth (Genesis 5:24). I strongly believe that his parents would have told him why he became a son of comfort, and he must have been often taught that God is to be honoured and feared. But I found one fundamental difference between this man Noah and the man Lot which we would shortly look at. God eventually spoke out His mind to Noah about His plan to destroy the earth, because Noah was separated unto righteousness. We must note that God will reveal the counsel of His heart to His friends. So when we call Abraham a friend of God, he was not the only one; Noah was also a friend of God.
Are you a friend of God in such a way that He can speak the counsel of His heart to you freely? Can God tell you the intents and the plans in His heart? Are you a friend of God, separated from your environment unto God in the manner that He knows that you are different? God told Noah about his intentions for the earth, and also told him how to prepare for it. I pray by the Spirit of the Lord that you will begin to do an introspection of your own nature; how you are reacting to your environment and the resultant effect of your reaction on your personality.
Genesis 6:13-22 says, “And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it. And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die. But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with thee. And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female. Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive. And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them. Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.”
God gave specific step-by-step instructions (with dimensions) to Noah. And except Noah was a whizkid, that he could retain all these things in his head, something tells me that he would have written down all the instructions so that nothing was forgotten because he now knew that his life depended on it. I do not know if there is any such seriousness in you, that your life depends on the steps you take concerning the instructions that God has given you as to how to escape from this wicked generation. You would understand then why it was also mandatory for people who aspired to become kings in Israel to not only get a hold of the book of the law, but also to write and read it, so that they do not forget.
I know that many of us children of God today have formed a habit of writing notes during sermons, but the issue is, how many go back to read after they have written? And beyond reading, how many follow what they have read? Noah’s response to God’s instruction is that He was ready and willing to obey. He recognised his environment and took steps not only in confronting the evil, but in separating himself and became an object of love for God such that God could tell him His plans, and Noah was willing. How many of us are willing? Some of us are wishing for Jesus to delay His coming so that we can get married, or fulfill our dreams, etc.
Taking a look at the man Lot, let’s look at Genesis 18:16-33: “And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way. And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; … And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD. And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?”
Lot was living in the land of Sodom, but God was speaking to Abraham who was not living in Sodom, about Sodom. What was Lot’s offense that God could not speak to him? God speaks to His friends; He does not speak to people who are living in disobedience, except He wants to punish him. There is something about the nature of man—Lot initially lived on the plains close to Sodom, but by the time judgment was coming on Sodom, Lot had become an elder in Sodom, sitting at the gates with them. He drifted gradually until he became a part of them.
My earnest prayer is that every single one of us will get to that point in our lives when we become friends of God. it is not only the pastors that can hear God, His Spirit is given to all to profit withal, but there are those steps we must take in our lives, for us to become the friends of God; that He can speak to you in clear terms and instructions.
Going back to my analogy of the metals and the effect of the environment on them, what can we say was the effect of the environment on the man Lot? His structure and the makeup of his nature was changing as he drew closer to His environment. When he lived with Abraham, there was no chance of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Queer) because it could not stand around Abraham. Righteous Lot, even though he tried to dissuade the men in his environment from sleeping with the men (angels) who visited him, he also offered them his daughters. This tells us that he had accepted the environment around him and played along with them, but what struck me the most is in Genesis 19:15-23 (MSG): “At break of day, the angels pushed Lot to get going, “Hurry. Get your wife and two daughters out of here before it’s too late and you’re caught in the punishment of the city.” Lot was dragging his feet. The men grabbed Lot’s arm, and the arms of his wife and daughters—GOD was so merciful to them!—and dragged them to safety outside the city. When they had them outside, Lot was told, “Now run for your life! Don’t look back! Don’t stop anywhere on the plain—run for the hills or you’ll be swept away.” But Lot protested, “No, masters, you can’t mean it! I know that you’ve taken a liking to me and have done me an immense favor in saving my life, but I can’t run for the mountains—who knows what terrible thing might happen to me in the mountains and leave me for dead. Look over there—that town is close enough to get to. It’s a small town, hardly anything to it. Let me escape there and save my life—it’s a mere wide place in the road.” He said to him, “All right. If you insist. I’ll let you have your way. And I won’t stamp out the town you’ve spotted. But hurry up. Run for it! I can’t do anything until you get there.” That’s why the town was called Zoar, that is, Smalltown. The sun was high in the sky when Lot arrived at Zoar.”
For the angels to push Lot out of Sodom, it tells us that he was unwilling to leave the place. And that is what puzzles me about Christians today, they have a blatant unwillingness to heed the instructions that have been given to deliver us and keep us free. When he was eventually dragged out of Sodom, he still had the guts to tell them where he wanted to go. Until you as a Christian gets to the point where by the grace of God you have restructured yourself and your personality such that you become impervious to the things surrounding you, you will also change; your carnality will change you.
Placing these two men (Noah and Lot) side by side as we look at their natures, ask yourself where you fit in this environment that we are in. Is our environment any different? Is there no wickedness in our lands? I was stupefied when I learnt that some evil school proprietors even sacrifice some of their students in order for the school to prosper! Are we not aware of how young girls are lured with job opportunities only to be killed and their body parts used for rituals? The very poignant question is: you say you are a Christian, what are you doing to confront evil around you? And more importantly, how are you as an individual responding to your environment? Are you inert to your environment or has your environment changed you?
How is your life demonstrating the fact that you are a Christian? This takes me to the story of Samson. Judges 13:2-5 says, “And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bare not. And the angel of the LORD appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son. Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing: For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.”
There was a calling upon the life of Samson even before he was conceived, which his parents were aware of. He was called to be a Nazarite unto God. There are four characteristics that define a Nazarite which are: No cutting of the hair, no drinking of wine or strong drink, no touch of an unclean thing (dead thing) and a separation unto God (See Numbers 6). A man who understands his calling ought to pursue it (for Samson it was the deliverance of Israel), and to maintain the relationship needed to fulfil it. Put yourself in that position as a Christian: you say you have been called, are you separated from the environment in which you are? And if you are truly separated, are there evidences of that separation, obvious and clear that you are constantly maintaining your calling in order to be able to do what God has called you to do?
Judges 14:1-4 says, “And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines. And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife. Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well.”
On the road to Timnath, Samson saw a woman and liked her and told his parents to get her for him, because she pleased him. The first thing we see about Samson is self-will. He just wanted to please himself, and this he did repeatedly. Verses 4-5 says, “But his father and his mother knew not that it was of the LORD, that he sought an occasion against the Philistines: for at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel. Then went Samson down, and his father and his mother, to Timnath, and came to the vineyards of Timnath: and, behold, a young lion roared against him.”
Because of self-will, every occasion that Samson went back and forth, he passed through the vineyard of Timnath. Were there no other routes? Does this not infer that he may have touched or taken the vine fruit to eat? For many of the things that God did in the life of Samson, God was merely overruling his ways. So the very first vow that says he was not to touch wine or strong drink, he broke it. How many of us are constantly breaking the vows we made to God? You who say you have a call of God upon or life, what will it take to maintain that call?
Judges 14:5-9 says, “Then went Samson down, and his father and his mother, to Timnath, and came to the vineyards of Timnath: and, behold, a young lion roared against him. And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand: but he told not his father or his mother what he had done… and he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion: and, behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcass of the lion. And he took thereof in his hands, and went on eating, and came to his father and mother, and he gave them, and they did eat: but he told not them that he had taken the honey out of the carcass of the lion.”
Why did he not tell his parents what he had done? He knew that his parents would chastise him for touching a dead thing, and only that, but also eating from it. Vow breakers, truce breakers! Because the call of God was on his life and the Lord God Almighty was intent on bringing deliverance unto his people, he was still with the call. By now he has broken two of the four vows. Then next, “Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in unto her.”( Judges 16:1).
The key thing phrase here is that that he saw. The other woman he took to wife, he saw her and she pleased him. Here again, he saw another woman. This is what the environment does to you when it conspires with your nature. Samson had no business passing through the vineyard; there must have been other routes. His undoing was that he saw, and whatever he saw, he wanted because he became open to his lust. What I find distressing is that Samson was gambling with the anointing of God upon His life, putting it at stake in an unholy relationship. But eventually the atmospheric pressure was too much and he cracked, and then the remaining of the vows that retained the presence of God on him, he gave away when he told Delilah that the source of his strength was in his hair. What struck me here was that Samson did not know that the Spirit of God had left him. Samson lost all sensitivity to the Spirit of God. What about you, what about me who are contenders for the faith in these times?
Looking at the larger picture, there was an overriding effect from the environment throughout the time of the judges which is recorded thus: “The People of Israel did evil in GOD’s sight: they served Baal-gods; they deserted GOD, the God of their parents who had led them out of Egypt; they took up with other gods, gods of the peoples around them … When GOD was setting up judges for them, he would be right there with the judge: He would save them from their enemies’ oppression as long as the judge was alive, for GOD was moved to compassion when he heard their groaning because of those who afflicted and beat them. But when the judge died, the people went right back to their old ways—but even worse than their parents!—running after other gods, serving and worshiping them. Stubborn as mules, they didn’t drop a single evil practice…” Judges 2:11-19 (MSG).
Judges 17:6 says “In those days there was no king in Israel. People did whatever they felt like doing.” This phrase was also repeated in Judges 21:25, shows us the environment in which Samson grew up—everyone did what was right in his own eyes. Is that not what is prevalent in our environment today, everyone doing what seems good in their own eyes? Looking at the nature of Noah and Lot, my question to you is; what is your nature? Is it inert to your environment? Have you separated yourself from your nature in the manner that the calling of God can stand upon your life and the power of His Spirit can continue to operate in your life? Remember, the nature of the Noah and Lot was so crucial in determining their end, so will yours.
I know that many of you see Samson as a hero, even Flavious Josephus spared him a thought: “Now when Samson had slain many of the philistines in the plain of his country, he dwelt at ether, which is a strong rock of the tribe of Judah. But the Philistines at that time made an expedition AGAINST the tribe, but the people of Judah said that they did not act justly with them, in inflicting punishments upon them while they payed their tribute. And this, only on account of Samson’s offences. They answered that in case they would not be blamed themselves, they must deliver up Samson.
So they being desirous not to be blamed themselves, came to the rock with three thousand armed men and complained to Samson of the great insults he had made against the Philistines, who were men able to bring calamity upon the whole nation of the Hebrews. And they told him that they were come to take him to deliver him unto the Philistines.
Now they did deliver him and this man took the jawbone. Upon the slaughter, Samson was too proud of what he had performed and said that “this did not come to pass by the assistance of God, but that his success was to be ascribed to his own courage and vaunted himself, that it was out of the dread of him that some of his enemies fell and the rest ran away upon his use of the jawbone.
But when a great thirst came upon him, he considered that human courage is nothing and bare his testimony that all is to be ascribed to God and besought him that He would not be angry.
Samson was full of self-will and self-centeredness. There is no person with self-will who vaunts himself, that will be acceptable in the presence of God. I observed that for over twenty years that Samson was ruler in Israel, only two times did we see him explicitly praying to the God who called him and by whose Spirit he was able to do all that he did. And for other several of the judges, they tended to be charismatic, but without character and regard for the God who called them.
I am challenging you that is called by the name Christian, what has your environment done to you? And if that environment has done something to you, this is time for you to seek the Lord and ask for grace to be free to serve Him acceptably. The first occasion where Samson prayed was when God struck him with thirst, and the second was in Judges 16 when his hair began to grow; and by then that carnal nature in him was flushed out. But for a season, he was an object of mockery in the Philistine temple where they praised their idol god who had delivered their enemy Samson into their hands. And that is exactly what we do; we give occasion to satan to glory when we fail to honour the obligations of God in our lives. Samson was a man who broke every vow that was needed to establish and make him fruitful in his calling. And all God could do was overruling. And in the last moment, God granted his prayer to die with the Philistines. He was kicked out of the call!
The responsibility for you to ensure that your nature does not compromise with your environment is yours. Noah built the ark for about 50 and 75 years. And in that time there is no record that God spoke to him again about when time was up, until the ark was finished. It was when it was seven days to the time that God told Noah that the flood would begin. If the ark was not ready, it would have to be a miracle for him to finish it in seven days. That is why I am saying to all of us that have the call of God on our lives, let’s get the job of spreading the gospel that God has committed to us done!
I am just urging us as the Spirit of the Lord urged me, let’s live confronting the evils in our society, separating ourselves to God, and carry out our calling with all our energy while maintaining every step and every instruction that God has given us. That is my charge to you.