Safe Places

by Morris Ruddick on November 13, 2015



“My people have become lost sheep; their shepherds have led them astray. They have made them turn aside on the mountains; they have gone along from mountain to hill and have forgotten their resting Palace1-07place.” Jeremiah 50:6

The world we live in has changed dramatically. Turbulence has been amassing with an increase of the hazardous. The impact of media-spin just adds fuel to the fires of the realities.

Some have commented that the recent tanking of China’s stock market exceeded the US crash of 1929. Yet neither the meltdown nor the consequent ripples speculated by many due to the Chinese nose-dive has materialized. What’s the difference? China has averted panic because they control their media. Despite huge losses, their sights have stayed focused on a bigger picture economically with much larger stakes.

Getting the Focus Right
Yet, in the midst of all the global economic and power shifts and hurdles, Israel faces realities tied to its very existence. It begs the question of the matters receiving our attention amid the gathering sea changes rife with information pollution.

The issue involves rightly discerning our tactical thrust so to be poised and prepared for the Lord’s instructions for next steps in this time of change.

The opening scripture from Jeremiah deals with just such a topic: getting the focus right. It places a high standard on spiritual leaders cutting through the distractions in establishing right priorities for the sheep for whom they are responsible.

The spiritual leaders have the duty to prepare and equip their people tactically. They also are responsible for the wisdom needed for the places of rest. These are the safe places needed to be refreshed and properly poised to anticipate and respond proactively and strategically to God’s “next steps,” the consequent shifts, along with the onslaught of evil schemes.
“He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His feathers and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You will not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you. Only with your eyes shall you see the recompense of the wicked.” Psalm 91:3-8

The Age-Old Context
The context for Jeremiah’s prophesy was God’s judgment on Babylon and Chaldea. Babylon and Chaldea represent the age-old alliance between mammon and sorcery. This unholy alliance goes back to the days of the Amorites, when fallen angels produced a defiled race whose DNA railed against God and His people.

All this was compounded by the subsequent infiltration-advice given by Balaam to Balak. This dynamic has been one of the evil one’s repeated strategies over the centuries. Its intent has been to weaken God’s empowerment of His people and redirect the anointing to work against them.

This is what manifested with the infiltration of the Nicolaitans in the early church, whose doctrines and deeds began polluting the truth and power of the Kingdom message so central to the early church.
“’And I will repay Babylon and Chaldea for all the evil they have done in your midst,’ says the Lord.” Jeremiah 51:24

“The evil done in your midst” points to this subtle infiltration. It targets the tares among the wheat. Jesus notes a time when His angels will be sent to remove the lawless offenders. God’s judgment is His strategic-response on the Babylon-Chaldean alliance. The impact is designed to amplify the tactical efforts of His faithful warriors.
“With you I will shatter nations and with you I will destroy kingdoms.” Jer 51:20

Today’s Response to the Realities
So as this day approaches, what is the pathway and the response of those called by His Name to facing today’s global realities?

Jeremiah’s prophesy was couched with some hard words for the priorities being given by the leaders. They not only missed the mark, but they made God’s people vulnerable to the enemy’s schemes. They failed to provide the focus and with that, the safe places, places of rest needed to be ready for God’s subsequent steps. These are safe places employed during times of great turbulence. These are the safe places from which God’s people will advance.

At the core of Jesus’ message were the principles on how to employ Kingdom power in a corrupt world. These were not intended as defensive measures, but rather the proactive means to overcome the enemy’s schemes and to advance the Kingdom.

These principles do not conform to the way the world exercises power. They require something more.

Jesus clearly stated that He had come to destroy the foundations of the devil’s works. It involved the demonstration of the Spirit and power. Like Jeremiah, Jesus spoke words of judgment on the focus and blindness that described the shepherds of His day. With His victory over death, the balance of power shifted. Those he had trained were empowered to turn the world upside down. They did.

The Stewardship of Power
The behind the scenes battle then was redirected to target the stewardship of power. Power can be seductive and the mantle of shepherding God’s people carries high responsibility. Shepherds have a mantle designed to prepare and equip God’s people, not as followers, but as a band of leaders prepared for the changes of the times.

The task of leading the sheep beyond being followers is significant to God’s purposes. The Gospel accounts outline a sequence of Christian maturity. Beginning with being a follower, one progresses to disciple, then servant. Servants graduate to be friends of God, with the design for them finally becoming the sons that all creation awaits.

Idealism has never lacked in providing prime candidates for the defiled counterfeits, even within the context of the Body. Maturity brings the right focus and the discernment to expose the infiltrators.

Over the centuries, every people and nation has responded in one way or another to the bondage that has long gripped the world. Wielders of power have generated a range of mass movements, national, social and religious. Counterfeit movements have produced the zealotry of the Judases, the Nazis, the suicide bombers and those innumerable sheep following a range of causes for change to doomsday prophets.

The enduring solution will only come through God. The realities of this hour give sobering evidence of the need to advance in maturity beyond the confines of followers and disciples. The issue for the Body is getting the right focus and priorities for the saints to steward His power.

Mobilizing and preparing the saints to deploy is central to this stewardship of power. Such deployments require the seasoning and anointing that combine maturity and consecration. The undefiled maturity and consecration needed for Joseph’s alliance with Pharaoh was significantly more than that required in his stewardship in Potiphar’s house. So it was with Jeremiah’s prophecy about the aimless, loss sheep. So it will be with God’s judgment against the Babylonian-Chaldean alliance and the polluted infiltrators embedded amongst God’s household.

The Gateway
The task hinges on the shepherds breaking the mold of the illusions of success in ministry, properly assuming the calling to lead by serving and then embracing the Kingdom mantle to lead the sheep into the unpolluted realms of truth, the places needed to spiritually and maturely discern the realities and strategies clearly.

The response to these unpolluted regions of truth is to bring us into His presence. This is the place of unfettered peace in which we abide in Him. In indicating that He was the door of the sheep, Jesus unveiled that He was the good Shepherd, that safe place where we learn to abide. He told us that He would not leave us as orphans, but would send the Holy Spirit to abide with us,
“Because I live, you will live also. At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has My instructions and keeps them [abides], it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” John 14:19-21

In this same sequence in John, Jesus told us that with the Helper, the Holy Spirit would come His peace.
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.” John 14:27

Fully grasping the significance and extend of His peace is critical to abiding in His place of rest. When Moses was on the mountain in God’s presence and the Israelites wobbled and made the golden calf, a man called Phinehas interceded and made atonement for the Israelites.

This act touched the heart of God. The Lord spoke to Moses to tell Phinehas that because of Phinehas’ zeal for God’s honor among his people in making atonement for them, that the Lord was making a covenant of peace with Him. It was a covenant of a priesthood that would extend to he and his descendents throughout the generations (Numbers 25:10-13).

Isaiah 53:5 refers to this peace with the Messianic prophecy of: “The punishment that brought us peace was upon Him.” Malachi also referred to the covenant of peace.
“My covenant was with him, one of life and peace, that he might fear Me. So he feared Me and was reverent before My name. The law of truth was in his mouth, and injustice was not found on his lips. He walked with Me in peace and equity, and turned many away from iniquity.” Malachi 2:5-6

His peace is in His presence. It triggers oneness with His heart, the mercy that intercedes when judgment is at hand. His rest that brings sanctification.
“Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations that you may know that I am Yehovah-Mekiddish, who sanctifies you.” Exodus 31:13

The setting described in Jeremiah’s prophecy is the setting reflected in many segments of the Body across the globe today and even more so in Israel.

The setting among God’s people is replete with “zeal without knowledge” as described by Paul. Far too many are on very low batteries spiritually-speaking. Some are burned out due to lack of maintenance for the level of zeal with which they are operating. Some are burning out because they are running with twenty and thirty-year old operating instructions and they need a fresh word from on high for today’s times. Far too many are in a condition that is blind to the enemy’s schemes to distract and deceive.

Distractions and deceptions breed discord, division and vulnerabilities in facing the realities. On the other hand, the maturity that fosters truth and His peace provides the firm ground for the pathway to provide the seasoned and empowered responses needed for the challenges and tribulations Jesus foretold for this hour.

The Model
The setting for Acts 15 was a time of great turbulence and change. The leadership reflected by the Apostle James is a model for the days upon us. When Barnabas and Paul shared with the gathering about the miracles they were experiencing among the Gentiles, the leadership was being confronted with something that challenged their doctrines and traditions.

The messages given to the churches in Revelation add to these insights. They point to the snares: from the persecution imposed by imposters hating true believers to the embedded infiltrators within: the Balaams, the Nicolatains the Jezebels. In times of change the bar of the mantle for leadership is raised.

Leading God’s people into safe places has nothing to do with avoiding tribulation and turbulence.

From the father’s heart evident in James in Acts 15 we realize that it has everything to do with hearing His voice and being prophetically in tune with the flow of the Spirit. It has everything to do with pruning tradition to make way for the restoration of the ancient truths that will demonstrate His power. It has everything to do with searching the Scripture to grasp the implications that the words of the prophets have on the change underway. It has everything to do with the sanctification and consecration needed to close the gates to the infiltrators in order to mature, prepare and deploy the saints for the work of the Kingdom.
“To Shebna, I will throw you away violently and there you will die. On that day, I will call my servant Eliakim. I will clothe him with your robe and strengthen him with your belt. I will give your responsibility into his hands. He shall become a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the house of Judah. The keys of the house of David I will lay on his shoulders and what he shall open no one shall shut and what he shall shut no one shall open.” Isaiah 22:17-22

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