Pioneers, Peddlers and Tz’dakim

by Morris Ruddick on November 21, 2013


© Morris E. Ruddick

“Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going forth, and, Issachar, in your tents. They will call peoples to the mountain; there they will offer righteous sacrifices; for they will draw out the abundance of the seas and the hidden treasures of the sand.” Deut 33:18-19

From the days of Noah, God’s people have been distinctive. As stewards of God’s intentions, they’ve restored God’s order from the way He established it at the beginning. They’ve pioneered; they’ve creatively built self-sustaining operations; and they’ve reestablished God’s standard for righteousness, which is an opportunity-enabling community dynamic.

Serving in this unique, mixed role as pioneers, peddlers and tz’dakim (a righteous people), God’s people have again and again demonstrated a most exceptional societal standard of trust and leadership.

Historically, the impact has far exceeded the best the world, or society without God, could offer. The result, despite overwhelming adversity, has been disproportionate contributors and achievers who have exhibited a brand of leadership pointed to by Jesus: leadership by serving.

As a Jew, Jesus understood this mantle of God’s people. The focus of His teachings captured the mix of God’s order or standard; bearing the creative dynamic of entrepreneurial enabling and increase; with the charitable righteous community dynamic reflecting a functional mix of pioneers, peddlers and tz’dakim.

Jesus was raising the bar from an already high standard outlined by Moses in the Torah. He was indicating that with God at the helm, that His people have been and even more so would be different. They would be ones who made a difference in this pathway of restoration to God’s original intention for His own.

Abraham established the beginning of a new order, a new standard for society; one that challenged the bondage that held the world in its grip. God called him to leave the comfortable place of his family and country and to go out; as a pioneer. As a pioneer, Abraham became known as the father of our faith.

Abraham left a land of corruption and sorcery and broke the mold. He put it all on the line. With God guiding his way, he established the model of faith-based, entrepreneurial community; and a leadership that was based on the anointing, being led by the Spirit of God.

The Process and the Priorities
My walk of faith began as one who faced realities with a standard I was willing to die for. It was a standard that embraced a cause; a purpose higher than myself. As an experienced combat Marine, there was a priority and simplicity in my grasp of the cause. Then it all converged with faith, as I read the story in Acts 7 of a man called Stephen, who faced a parallel reality in being willing to give it all for a purpose higher than his self.

God spoke to me as I read about Stephen and contemplated the parallel. He asked me if I was willing to embrace that same standard for Him. That foundational sacrificial attitude is at the core of three key factors that differentiate the Kingdom criterion of leadership: trust, honor and service. These are the priorities.

These three factors are the faith-based heart of biblical community. They undergird the cost to uphold the standard of leadership that Jesus modeled, as He raised the bar for those with the faith and courage willing to embrace the process marked by God’s pioneers, peddlers and tz’dakim.
“Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.”
Isaiah 53:4-5

Reaching for that higher standard, that has been modeled by the heroes of faith and exemplified by Jesus, is the pivot point of God’s standard for leadership and the foundation for a society of people who are known by His Name. It begins with trust.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.”
Proverbs 3:5,6

The Trust Facet. Faith is based on an unqualified trust in the Lord. Trust also is the thread that holds the model together. It is the standard for community that results when God’s higher order of the spiritual, the economic dynamic of increase, and community operate together. Faith cannot operate without trust; neither can biblical community.

Religion is man’s attempt to cleverly squeeze out the devil’s intentions. Jesus addressed this impossible premise by His indictment of “the precepts of men.” However, God’s order releases God’s intentions, despite opposition, in a way that progressively leaves no room for the devil. It’s the subtle difference noted by Jesus when He said that we would be in the world, but not of the world. It is a mystery that draws from operating according to God’s order. Its release comes from the balanced mix and merging of pioneers, peddlers and tz’dakim.

In God’s order of things, trust in the Lord sets things in motion individually; but it is the catalyst relationally for things to operate in community. It enables the tapping of the supernatural dimensions that can only come from God. Biblical community thrives on trust.

In Matthew 10 Jesus warned about those who would betray us. Yet when establishing those who comprise a community, he admonished us to seek out those who are worthy, people of honor. With this approach, even when betrayal happens, Jesus said we were not to be caught off-guard; because it would release unexpected opportunity. Today’s persecuted church has an intimate grasp of this dynamic.

The Honor Factor. Trust cannot operate without honor. The honor required involves integrity, but it is more than integrity. It embraces the right thing with consistency, but the demand is for still more.

The honor that God bestows comes at a cost. It is the honor that pivots on holding to a sacrificial standard higher than oneself. It is the honor that stems from not only attitude, but a consistent manifestation in deed.

This level of honor is vulnerable. Yet it comes from doing the right thing for the right reason without fear. It is the honor that comes from embracing responsibility. It is not based on the approval-of-men, conformity or blind-obedience, but rather on the bond of truth that is the thread that sparks the life-dynamic of community itself.

This level of honor is the leadership dynamic that fosters the enablement by which each part functions in the harmony to make it something more than its individual parts. It ignites the Kingdom premises that give birth to righteous power.

This measure of honor is sacrificial and worthy of trust. It considers others before oneself and refuses to compromise the standard.

The Service Dynamic. The standard for God’s order combines trust, honor and service operating in harmony. The Pharisees short-circuited this premise with their unholy alliances, personal agendas and the manner in which they handled their true responsibility and worthiness of trust. They lowered the bar with the premise that the end justifies the means. They curried the favor of power-brokers without honor. In so doing, they betrayed the true bond of trust required of the righteous.

God’s standard for community is about serving. It is applying the diversity of talents and gifts of its members to the benefit of others. Without trust or honor, community becomes contrived, fractional and brittle. This reality punctuates the key role of the tz’dakim.

When biblical righteousness (tz’dakah) is the mark of a people, it becomes the glue of making the pioneers and peddlers into a true model of community; of God’s people (tz’dakim) in operation, as they are blessed to be a blessing. It is the basis of Jesus’ Kingdom message of how to employ righteous power in a corrupt world.

The Disconnects
The word of God is filled with examples of the misfires of leaders who have undermined God’s purposes for His people operating together. While many within the church today point to the problem as being individual issues, the examples of the misfires from the Bible more often note it as a leadership matter. In the cases of those who served as kings, God’s word describes their misfires as having done evil in God’s sight.

In Isaiah 22, it describes the demise of Shebna because his priorities were focused on his position and personal benefit. In the case of Saul (1 Samuel 15), his downfall came from his need for the approval of men. Jeroboam (1 Kings 13) lowered the standard and cost requirements of those serving in righteous leadership. In Ahab’s case (1 Kings 16), he furthered the digressions of Jeroboam by his passive compromise, in allowing the standard for leaders to be mixed with sorcery.

In each case there was a lack of spiritual maturity, wrong priorities, the misuse of righteous power, the mix with worldly standards, and a compromise of God’s order by which the ends justified the means. These are the indicators of the disintegration of God’s order. The standard for God’s leadership demands more; and cannot be drawn from the world.

The Mysteries
Throughout Scripture are references to mysteries; spiritual dynamics that cannot be understood according to our grasp of the natural order of things. It acknowledges that God’s truths are deeper and His ways are higher than the best man can discern.

Both the Old and New Covenants give reference to this. Deuteronomy 29 tells us that the secret things belong to the Lord, but those that are revealed belong to us and our heritage; to those who, as a people, are known by His Name. Paul, in almost all his epistles, alludes to the “mysteries” of our faith. Jesus, in the Gospels, refers to the “mysteries” of the Kingdom. These mysteries, these “beyond the veil” truths are the igniters of the simple things that confound the wise.

They represent the edge, the advantage, demonstrated when God’s people employ this standard not only as individuals, but in the harmony God intended, as a community. The mysteries applied release the pioneering spirit to break the mold. The merging of the diversity of gifts creates the foundations for becoming self-sustaining through community, which enhances the economic dynamic. The righteous factor, based on the Hebrew tz’dakah or “charitable righteousness,” then ties it together as the mutually-beneficial function of building community is served.

Joseph applied the mysteries in the most adverse and impossible of circumstances. Without position, he began by bringing God into the open and bringing increase and blessing to the one he served. He gained trust and operated as a prophetic steward. Unwilling to compromise, he weathered the spiritual backlash from Potiphar’s whoring wife and in his bad-to-worse dilemma, as a prisoner, he gained the opportunity that led to his promotion with Pharaoh.

In the process, Joseph changed the spiritual culture of Egypt and harnessed the resources needed to provide a safe place that yielded even further opportunity in a time of spiritual judgment that racked the world at that time.

These mysteries are at the heart of the paradoxes of Jesus’ Kingdom message. They fly in the face of the best the world has to offer. They are at the heart of this biblical leadership mantle employed by the Jewish people, who generation after generation, have come together as a culture within a culture, with an identity in God, as a society that operates with trust, honor and service.

The distinction of the pathway of this mix of pioneers, peddlers and tz’dakim is that it will only move forward — with God at the helm. When it does, remarkable things take place. It is the seedbed for revival. It becomes the “light shining on a hill” that demonstrates the reality of God to the societies around it. When this dynamic is in harmony then extraordinary things unfold at the hands of otherwise ordinary people.

This dynamic provides the release of the dimension noted in the opening scripture: the tapping of an abundance and hidden treasures. It is an abundance with hidden treasures that can only be brought as far as the gates by superstars. Its full release comes only through piercing the spiritual veil, as a people, who operate together as pioneers, peddlers and tz’dakim. It comes with the faithfulness of a people, a chosen people whose choice is God and His heart; whose pathway is built from generation to generation in bringing the standard of God’s order full circle.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with pointing the finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The LORD will guide you always. He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.”
 Isaiah 58:9-12 NIV

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