What do you go out to the wilderness to behold?

(Concluded) Matt. 11:10

This is a description of someone without character, who is pliable to any given doctrine or ideology.

So, Jesus was asking them if they went in search of a man that does not have a character or belief. No, they went to see a prophet who gave then information of a coming Messiah, the Christ, and the coming King.

 So, having gotten this understanding, let us returned to the significance of the question as it relates to our generation of Christianity.

What did you go into the wilderness (Church) to behold? More directly asked; why did you come to Church; here it does not matter what denomination you attends?

Did you come to church for healing of any ailment, to be free from satanic oppression, to be free from poverty, to gain admission to a higher institute, to travel abroad, to have a life partner, or to be free from bareness? The reasons of our coming to church are endless.

On the other hand, do we come to church to worship God, to have fellowship with Him, or to prepare our life for the Kingdom of God?

If we will be truthful to ourselves, we will agree that very few people come to church for the second reason; to worship God and have fellowship with and prepare for eternity.

However, one certain truth is that, for any reason giving above that brought us to the wilderness (church), we are here to meet the Prophet; we come seeking God to help us solve the myriad of problems that we cannot solve on our own.

As the disciples of John come to Jesus when they heard of the miracles he was performing, and the world was coming to Him to heal them of all their diseases; so are we running to churches today for Him to heal and deliver us of all our infirmities.

He is able and willing to do that, but on one condition; “seek ye first the kingdom of God and its righteousness, and these things will be added….” (Matt. 6:33).

Some of us find these conditions repulsive so we prefer to stand at the gate watching others going in, or persuading them not to go in, that the whole gospel is a scam.

They are like the rich young man who, though was captivated with the working of Jesus and showed a willingness to follow Him, could not, when Jesus asked him to sell off his possession to follow Him. The Bible recorded that the man became very sorrowful. (Matt. 18:23)

Gallery Images of Jesus and all his disciples.

Others thought they could act the seeking of the kingdom by coming to church and acting out as true believers; but because they would not retain Him in their heart, they are still going around living all the abominable lifestyles of the world, for they think they can mock God; they are playing the game of Ananias and Sapphira, his wife…. (Acts 5)

If not, how can one explain the present state in the world where millions of people are professing to be Christians and yet the crime rate and violence has increased astronomically?

It has gotten so bad to the extent where places marked as worship centers have become culpable in some evil practices as the killing of human beings to lay the foundation of the supposed church building; sure, you heard me right, ‘pastors’ are being arrested for laying the foundation of their church building with corpse: ABOMINABLE.

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The good news however is, there are still millions and millions of people who are genuinely following after the Lord with the heart, their soul and their might; for such is the kingdom of God.

For those believers are one that heard the call of the Lord, and the warning and admonition of Jesus Christ.

In John gospel 14: 1-4, Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go and prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye will may be also. And wither I go ye know and the way you know.”

So, the true believers heard this saying and abide in the Word. They are not swayed by the new refrain of the later day religion and teachings that have become prevalence in our churches today.

A new crop ‘pastors’ have turned the church of God to mercantile shops, healing centers, solution centers. They have made the gathering of the believers, social clubs for all their worldly pursuits.

Jesus said to the congregation that if they need to see a man dressed in soft raiment, they would have to go to a king’s house.

In the same vein, if anyone want to be millionaire let him go to the bank and establish a business; for healing, let him go to the hospital, for business break through, go to an investment expert.

But if must need all of these; and surely we need them, and in the house of God, we must, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness…” and they will all be added unto us.

 In some instances, even when we have the blessings of God, we tend to lose focus in the kingdom goal; that we must not. We should remain focus and continually looking unto Jesus Christ; for He also passed through the situation we are now when he came to us in human form, suffered the same affliction, persecuted even on to death; and now sits at the right hand of God. (Heb. 10:12)

For if we lay our emphases on things we possess, then, we may rightly put our desire of the Kingdom of God into a secondary position.

His admonition to us in this regard is that, “where your treasure is, there your heart is also …” (Matt.6:21) So “Put your treasure where moth and ant would not touch…” (Matt.6:19)  For all things in this world, gold, silver, the riches, wealth, our knowledge, houses will pass away, but only the word of God would remain. (Matt. 24:35). This does sound pleasant, is it?

 We are not only called believers, but we also have an inheritance that the Lord had promised us in his father’s house, on account of our believing in the name of Jesus Christ, wherefore, He has begotten us as His sons and Daughter. (John 1: 12). Now that sounds pleasant, isn’t it?

The icing on the cake is that, Christ is returning to takes us to his father’s presence; and he enjoins us to remain spotless and without blemish until he comes.

But yet again, with a proviso, “If there is any of you having this hope in him, let him purifieth himself even as he is pure.” (1 John 3:3)

Inclosing, let us refresh our selves of the question Jesus asked, “What do you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind…But what you went out to see? A Prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet?”(Mat. 11:1-10

What Do you Go out to the Wilderness to behold

Matt. 11: 1-10

In these days when the strive for earthly possession and status of recognition has become the trait in our society; and where believers are also drawn into the mesh, the above question cannot be more promptly asked.

Let’s pause briefly to ponder on what prompted this question from Jesus Christ.

From the verse 2 of Matthew chapter 11, John the Baptist, now in prison on account of Herodias instigation, heard about the ministry of Jesus Christ, his miracles and all his great deeds, sent his disciples to inquire about the true identity of Jesus.

In verse 4-6, “Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and show John these things which you do hear and see. 5. the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers cleansed, and the deaf hears, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6, and blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.

These verses clearly state the mission statement of our Lord Jesus Christ. That his ministry is to preach the good tiding unto the meek to bind up the brokenhearted……. Is. 61: 1-4.

After the disciples of John have left, Jesus taught and preached to the congregation, and asked them the question, “what do you go out into the wilderness to see; a reed shaking by the wind, a man dressed in soft raiment…?” That if they need to see a man dressed in soft raiment, they would have to go to the house of a King.

No; they have gone out to see a Prophet, and more than a Prophet- yes, that was what John and his preaching represent – and the people went out to listen to him in the wilderness, and to be baptized and wash away their sins while waiting for the Messiah.

But, alas! When he came, they could not recognize him and acknowledged him as such.

The significance of that question of Jesus Christ is still relevant today in our church and Christian belief.

I will pause here briefly to throw in some light into the significant of the 2 words in the question; the wilderness and reed.

Wilderness could be attributed in a Christian’s life as the period of wandering about in search of the truth or solution to the way forward.

The Children of Israel wandered in the wilderness of Sinai in search of the promised land; so it is associated with time in our life when we are searching for our true calling in life.

The Jews went in search of a way forward in search of the Messiah, and when they heard about the exploit of John, they went to him to be baptized.

Reeds, on the other hand, is a plant or type of grass that does not have vertebrate that is blown about by the wind – it has no strength to resist the wind; thus it is blown to any direction.

This is a description of someone without character, who is pliable to any given doctrine or ideology.

So, Jesus was asking them if they went in search of a man that does not have a character or belief. No, they went to see a prophet who gave then information of a coming Messiah, the Christ, and the coming King.

(To be Contd.)

The Conflicting Realities 2: My Guidance Angel 4

(Concluded)

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I looked back at the old man and continued. “What we need for the production of salt at the time of the war was a mere rectangular tin pot measuring about five feet long, three feet in width, and three feet depth. We then prepared a cooking stand with two big mangrove tree logs arranged side by side to make a fire.

“All the raw materials that we need were the salt water from the sea and a steady supply of firewood; the mangrove forest has an unlimited supply. One can prepare as many pots and fire as he is capable of managing.

“As the water dries up, the salt will be left behind as sediment in the pot. The more water one keeps filling the pot with, the larger the quantity of salt produced.

“On getting the desired amount of salt, it will be emptied into a large bamboo weaved baskets. The pot will then be filled with fresh water and the salt poured back into it.”

“Why do you need to do that?” He asked.

“The saltwater we got from the river carries with it a large number of residues,” I explained. “Though, we often collect the water when the river has stopped flowing in full tide or at ebb tide when all the muddy dross has settled into the depth of the river. We will still carry some along with the water to the pot; this gives the prepared salt a brownish color.

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“We, therefore, use the fresh water to wash off this brownish appearance to give it a somewhat brighter look.”

“This would be quiet a labor-intensive activity.”

“It was. The fire must be on, all day and all night until you have got the desired quantity of salt in the pot, and you want to remove it. You’ve got to have a regular supply of firewood to keep the fire burning and be filling the pot with the salt water.

“You would have to wake up in the middle of the night to make sure that the fire does not burn out, or the salt burnt black. There was also the additional labor of getting the fresh water from another fishing camp across the estuary where there was a bush, every time you need to clean the salt.”

“How do you sell off the product after this rigorous exercise?” he asked.

“There was a total trade blockade into the Eastern part of the country as a result of the war. This resulted in a lack, or shortage of the supply of salt, among other essential marine products.

bird s eye view of seashore during daytime
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“Though the salt we produced was not of the grade of fine refined type, it was able to compensate for the total lack of the product and the resultant health effect on the people. We will then package the salt into the baskets which we take to the border market at Akpede for sale.” I concluded

“How’s that possible?” He asked.

We both turned to look away into the far southern end of the river where a flock of parrots was descending into the groove of the giant mangrove trees: their chirping sounds filling the evening air.

“After producing the salt, do you have to shut down production until after you have done the sale then you go back and start another round of cooking?” He turned to look at me inquiringly.

“You are only asking me to say how this is possible or do you truly want to know?” I asked with a smile.

“Well, you have been explaining the process, and I truly want to know how you concluded this salt production business at a time of strife.”

“While the men and the children are involved in the main working at the camp, the wives would take the finished product to the market. It was also a period when various trading activities were also going on.

“Some traders would come from the hinterlands to buy salt and other marine products to go and sell at the market; they also brought food items and other things to sell in the camps.

“Though I would want to accept your assessment to the extent that we were not directly in the epicenter of the war to have a severe effect, we, none-the-less, felt it in different ways. We exploited the situation to stay alive. Our life patterns were also greatly displaced.”

“If you have been listening to me since I came here, you would realize that is what I have been saying,” he looked at me. And now I can see the shade of weariness in his face quite plain.

“War is a dangerous adventure for anybody, people, or nation to undertake. Even now, I can hear the sound and drums of war very loud and clear all over the world.

blue loungers on beige balcony beside sea landscape photography
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“It is not the sound that you hear from a distant land and would want to dismiss as tales by moonlight. I can hear it even in your country. The general meetings and assemblies of all the world organs are not meeting on global development, but about alignment, about wars, and about the production of the weapon of wars of the destruction of the human race.

“Are you paying attention to the news of the world? There is an alarming trend of events tilting into war. I am afraid your nation and the world are in the periphery of a catastrophic cauldron. And with the advancement of technology, the wars in the last century will be mere flake compared with what you will have in your hand.”

I could feel his eyes piercing into my heart as he was talking, his voice droning like a giant bird in the distance drawing my mind into a picture sometime in the past. I can see the flashing lights in the night like a dozen touch lights.

“What’s happening?” His voice cut into my thoughts. “Why are you looking as if you’ve seen a ghost?”

“I was thinking what we suffered during the war,” I looked at him as he raised his eyes inquiringly at me. “We left the village at dusk to travel to Owukubu on our salt production business.

“We were two canoes comprising the whole members of the family and some workmen of my father. He had mapped out the route we were to take as to fit with the flow of the current. His estimation was to take us to this camp at about the time when the water was to flow downstream.

“That would have given us a smooth ride down Sibokubu-bio to Juju point, then follow the current down the St. Barbara River to the estuary at Owukubu, and we would be home and dry. We would come out from that river, are you seeing that entrance upriver from here?” I pointed to the river that comes out from the midsection before the main river curves to the left.

“That point is called Okonikiri – named after a certain man that set up a fishing camp at the point.” From the fading light of evening in the distance, I could see two or three canoes returning to the camp. I looked at the old man. He was also staring at them.

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