Joseph’s Apostolic Gifts

by Morris Ruddick on September 15, 2013


(c) Morris E. Ruddick

“Joseph is a fruitful bough by a well; his branches run over the wall.”
Gen 49:22

An apostle establishes order, God’s order.

The Word of God describes the office of apostle. It also notes the gift of apostle. Apostles pioneer and pave new ground at national and global levels. They have a clear, appointed sphere in which they are to operate; and within that sphere they wield much authority with the potential to bear much fruit. Apostles flow strongly with complementary spiritual gifts, augmenting the potency of their apostolic calling

Jacob’s blessing over Joseph yields great insight into the interacting dynamics of an apostolic mantle. The sequence in the opening scripture begins by describing Joseph as a fruitful bough. A bough is a main branch of a tree or vine. As such, it’s a conduit for growth for other branches. “Being by a well” adds to the fruitfulness, as the source of life is being tapped. “With branches running over the wall” illustrates an unconstrained influence.

Then in verse 23 the analogy shifts. It describes Joseph as being persecuted for what his gift, his life-giving fruitfulness offered. Joseph was persecuted for righteousness. Despite that, Joseph was steadfast in the wake of the persecution and because he held steady and trusted God, God made Joseph even stronger.
“The archers have bitterly grieved him, shot at him and hated him. But his bow remained in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the Almighty.”
Gen 49:23-24

Then Jacob’s blessing on Joseph reveals an even deeper dimension to the dynamic of his calling. The Lord, who brought Jacob out of serious dilemmas, is the one who helped and navigated Joseph through insurmountable challenges and bestowed His blessings on him along the way.

Within this context, Jacob describes the blessings that accompany Joseph and his mantle. The blessings of the heaven above are the blessings from the Lord; then the blessings of the deep that lie beneath are the blessings to be yielded from the earth. Then Jacob makes reference to the blessings of the breast and the womb. The breast and the womb offer an analogy in the time of one’s life when one is totally dependent on their mother, as their source of life. The blessings of the breast and womb are blessings of self-sufficiency and protection.
“By the God of your father who will help you, and by the Almighty who will bless you – with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies beneath, blessings of the breasts and of the womb.”
Gen 49:25

The concluding verse of Jacob’s blessing over Joseph notes that Jacob’s own blessings have exceeded those of Isaac and Abraham. Abraham was the father of many nations; the forebear of lives tied to God whose influence could not be stopped. Knowing the richness with which God took care of and blessed Abraham as he reestablished his family in a foreign land and then Isaac in famine; Jacob indicates that God’s blessings on him had been even greater and that these dynamics of God’s hand on his heritage was being fully transferred to Joseph.

The Complement of Gifts
The gifts of an apostle are multiple because the apostolic mantle extends beyond ordinary community expectations. The requirements are more and so the gifts must complement and augment one another. Paul described himself to Timothy (2 Tim 1:11) as a preacher, an apostle and a teacher. The gifts are described on three key levels: individual, community and national or Body corporate.

Individual (Motivational) Gifts. Romans 12 outlines the individual gifts available to every believer. They represent how a person is spiritually motivated and wired. Of these seven gifts (mercy, service, giving, teaching, exhorting, leadership, prophetic), most people have a primary and secondary gift, which describes the way they normally operate.

Community Gifts. In the first part of 1 Corinthians 12 is a description of gifts of the Spirit operating within a congregational-community setting. They include three main categories: revelation, power and discernment.

Body Corporate. However, the last part of 1 Corinthians 12 describes the dimensions of the gifts of the Spirit with their application in a broader level, to the Body corporate. They include apostle, prophet, teacher, miracles, healing, helps, administration and tongues.

Ephesians 4:11 describes still another dimension. It is the mantle itself in terms of the primary functions of service, bestowed by the Spirit by which the Body is to grow and operate. Some refer to these dimensions as the “office gifts,” while others label them as the “five-fold ministry gifts.” They include apostle, prophet, teacher, pastor and evangelist.

Joseph’s primary motivational gift was that of a leader. At the next level, he operated strongly in the revelation gifts which resulted in him operating as a prophetic leader. However, when operating beyond the local community, Joseph proved himself as a very able administrator. While the Old Covenant heroes of faith are not usually described according to New Covenant parameters; if they were, then Joseph’s big-picture perspective and ability to establish God’s order would have him serving in the office of Apostle.

Two Historic Comparisons
Two very different, yet very apostolic leaders of the 19th Century provide insight into the unique diversity of how the gifts supporting the apostolic mantle can meld, operate and serve. One was an evangelist, the other like Joseph, an administrator.

Charles Finney has been described as the greatest apostle since the Apostle Paul. A lawyer by training, Finney’s strongest motivational gift was that of an exhorter. At the community gift level, he flowed very strongly in the discernment gifts. He discerned the heart of each audience and then shaped his messages to fit the spiritual needs of the particular audiences. His corporate gift was that of a teacher. He dissected, analyzed and then imparted truth. His mantle was that of an apostolic-evangelist.

The other man is John D. Rockefeller. Although vilified through unsubstantiated books published about him, a respected, secular historian has thoroughly researched his life and discounted claims other than the supportable facts (Ron Chernow; Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr., 2004, Random House, New York). Rockefeller’s strong commitment to the Lord during his lifetime never wavered. Although clearly a leader, his strongest motivational gift was that of giving. His excellence in stewardship operated uniquely in the revelation gifts as the means by which he discerned the timing on opportunity. He was a prophetic steward. His corporate gift was, like Joseph, that of a high-level administrator.

Rockefeller was famous for saying “Make as much money as you can and then give away as much as you can.” This tenet was evidenced during the course of his life on many levels, not the least of which was the programs he set up to train former slaves for the ministry. The University of Chicago was originally birthed by Rockefeller as an institution of higher learning for Christians. Living frugally compared to the huge fortunes he amassed, he redefined and reshaped the way philanthropy is approached and conducted.

God’s Order
Within any move of God or spiritual organizational setting, God’s order is the framework through which the work is conducted. One of the amazing results of the impact from the societal standards outlined in the Jewish Torah is the influence these truths have had on civilizations over the centuries. It’s much more than just a better mousetrap. It is the collateral fruit of operating according to God’s order. A work will always be judged by the fruit of its standard.

Without God’s order, efforts to accomplish God’s purposes will fall short or fall into results described by scripture, on one level, as the arm of the flesh. Compromise is a deceptively subtle foundation which in reality is the gateway into a seedbed from which Babylon or Chaldea (Jer 51:23); mammon or sorcery can take root.

The apostolic mantle and its complementary gifts meld in such a way to uphold the standard of God’s order; provide the discernment and authority to recognize and bypass judgment; and to serve as a catalyst for prophetic influence and spiritual climate change.

Upholds the Standard. Deuteronomy 17 describes the role of a leader in establishing, modeling and upholding God’s standard for order. It says that the one who sits on the throne as king must keep a copy of God’s word with him and read it daily as long as he lives. This “daily” practice will prevent him from becoming proud and acting as if he is above his people. It will also prevent him from falling away from God’s truth in even the smallest way.

God does not intend His people to be like everyone else. Ours is a higher standard, not only spiritually and morally, but in terms of our stewardship and leadership. An apostle raises the bar and sets the standard according to God’s purposes. It is a standard that releases destiny for a people and anticipates the turns in the times and the seasons. An apostle is one who prepares and sets the pace for the preparation.

Authority to Bypass Judgment. The famine during the time of Joseph was triggered by the deceitful, self-righteous justice administered by Joseph’s brothers in response to Sherchem taking Dinah for his wife (Gen 34:13). God, who sees the end from the beginning, sent Joseph ahead to prepare and to execute a bypass strategy for the impending judgment. It was Joseph’s sphere (his people) and his authority to bypass the judgment (Psalm 105).

The authority to bypass judgment is also the authority to impact nations and beyond. Such an authority cannot be assumed. It comes at a cost. Soulish, misguided attempts to wield this authority without the mantle will open the doors to the demonic and compound the hurdles against well-intended, but misguided goals.

Prophetic Influence and Spiritual Climate Change. Joseph penetrated the veil and gained the trust of non-believers, first by the way he served; and then by the prophetic wisdom he imparted from God. The angel of the Lord is very close to those who fear Him, who uphold God’s standard of righteousness (tz’dakah).

The life of Joseph exhibits a process. His was a disciplined life; a spiritual response to the status quo. The process was in Joseph’s role to progressively face the hurdles (such as the spiritual backlash of his righteous response to Potiphar’s wife) and change the spiritual climate of a pagan society. The reality of God was demonstrated by Joseph from the time he lost his freedom, serving as a slave. Joseph’s faithfulness, step by step, overcame the pagan culture and calmed the spiritual storm, and established the spiritual alignment needed for God’s short- and long-term purposes.

This progressive spiritual shift set the stage for change with the disruptive anointing and mantle of the apostle.

Disruptive Anointings and Mantles
My friend Mike Jacobs has long waxed eloquent on the topic of “disruptive technologies.” Disruptive technologies are those that upon entrance into the marketplace stagger the status quo and change the course of the broader market by their impact.

Disruptive anointings and mantles, in like fashion, stagger the spiritual status quo. Through the apostolic gifts employed, they release the blessing Jacob bestowed on Joseph of a life-giving fruitfulness and influence that cannot be stopped. The apostolic gifts bring prophetic impact arising at set times which redirects the course of things spiritually. They restore God’s order and align with God’s prophetic and redemptive purposes.

Apostles have a unique role in building up the wall and standing in the gap for the land according to Ezekiel 22:30. It is the mantle that captures the essence of God’s heart described in Isaiah 58 of “removing the yoke of oppression; of malicious talk and of pointing the finger in scorn.” With the focus of reaching out and giving a hand to the poor and needy, this mantle for change carries the highest of God’s order, when His people become repairers and restorers of the broken, counterfeit systems being orchestrated by a lost and dying world.
“Then your light shall dawn in the darkness and your darkness shall be as the noonday. The LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones. You shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. Those from among you shall build the old waste places; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, the Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.”
Isaiah 58:10-12

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