Foundations and Tough Times
The Psalmist wisely observed (Ps 11:3) that if the foundations are destroyed, on what basis can the righteous operate. Scripture frequently highlights the cyclic dynamic of tough times; times of trouble overshadowing the righteous, times requiring much more than the best that human effort can offer.
Joseph’s dreams of his calling from God came during a season of seeming comfort. Yet, within such a season, it had been his brother’s transgressions that had set in motion the process which had prompted God to give Joseph a prophetic glimpse of his future. Indeed, the rigor of what followed for Joseph prepared him for the standard needed to operate in the tough times that were coming. John the Baptist discerned that same process in his own calling, when in encountering Jesus, he discerned what should now be a wakeup call for every believer that: He [Jesus] must increase and we must decrease.
The Joseph calling taps a remnant of those listening to the Spirit; willing to face the cost of preparation in facing tough times. Yet, the Joseph calling has been blended into becoming a part of pop-Christian culture attracting ones whose ambitions and views of themselves, when push comes to shove, includes too much glitter and ego-driven aspirations, with far too little grasp of hearing God for themselves …. or of the reality of either the preparation required or a genuine grasp of the times fast-approaching. Not unlike the Psalmist’s observation, in reaching for the glitter, they ignore the foundations and the costs needed to tap their ambitious spiritual quests.
For Joseph, in embracing his dreams, the bottom soon seemingly dropped out. Betrayed by those closest to him, his brothers, his destiny began in facing death while in the pit, as the decision on his future was debated. Being sold into slavery was hardly a cake-walk. He experienced probably the most devastating of betrayals, that from family members. There had to be time of serious adjustment to his new realities, his loss of freedom and the requirements of his new conditions, as a slave in Potiphar’s house.
Yet, not unlike Scripture’s description of Daniel’s response to being thrust into serving in hostile environs, there was a good spirit within Joseph. He listened and he heard from God. Scripture indicates that Joseph adjusted wisely and responded with maturity …. with God’s presence and guidance impacting his thinking and modus operandi.
So it was that Scripture tells us that as he adjusted, that “The Lord was with Joseph and he became successful … with everyone observing that the Lord was with him … as the Lord made all that he did to prosper.” (Gen 39:2-4) Joseph was diligent and he earned the trust of Potiphar, the high-ranking Egyptian official who had bought him. In this process, there came a point when Joseph was promoted to be overseer over Potiphar’s entire household.
Over time however, Scripture tells us that Potiphar’s wife got the hots for this young handsome and favored Hebrew slave/ administrator. Regardless of the trigger in this spark between Joseph and Potiphar’s wife; and despite Joseph’s resistance and no doubt because of it, her response was as a woman scorned with Joseph being blamed as the provocateur …. which landed him in chains in prison.
Yet again, scripture indicates that the Lord gave Joseph favor with the keeper of the prison. THAT probably took some time before Joseph was released from what Ps 105:18 describes as his feet being hurt with fetters, as he was laid in irons. During his incarceration, Joseph nurtured the prophetic gift demonstrated by the prophetic dreams that had prompted his brothers to betray him, with Joseph accurately interpreting the dreams of Pharaoh’s baker and wine-taster. Finally, after 13 years and approaching a point of despair for Joseph, God gave dreams to Pharaoh with the wine-taster recalling Joseph’s prophetic gift in interpreting dreams.
Pharaoh discerned the reality of the Holy Spirit operating in Joseph. Everything else then became history … with God using Joseph uniquely to bless Egypt in preparing for and finding unique opportunity during the famine … and then in being reunited with his family to preserve God’s heritage and promises to the sons of Abraham.
The point to recalling these years of trouble for Joseph is that despite his calling coming with a significant cost, Joseph’s foundational identity in and service to God never wavered.
The Vitality of the Foundations
The Psalmist’s insight on the foundations is a two-edged sword. The Passion Translation expresses this Psalm 11 verse with: “What can the righteous accomplish when truth’s pillars are destroyed and law and order collapse?” For Joseph, despite everything being taken away, his life became a mirror of the blessings of God that was in strong evidence to the Egyptians … from Potiphar’s house, to the Egyptian prison, to the court of Pharaoh.
Yet, the other side of this two-edged sword of his role as a forerunner for God to preserve his family was that it was actually the result of his brothers compromising their foundations. In settling in the land, there came a love-fest between Dinah, Jacob’s daughter and Shechem, the son of the ruler of the local region, Hamor. Shechem loved Dinah and Hamor went to arrange their marriage …. indicating that he would agree to any terms that Jacob would ask.
Dinah’s brothers shaped those terms. Being extremely angry in learning of their sister being defiled, Scripture indicates that they spoke deceitfully in what was arranged. Because Hamor trusted them, along with him being a trusted, influential leader, the men of the region were all circumcised to seal the alliance reflected by this marriage, as the sons of Jacob had stipulated.
Then during the time of debilitation from the pain of the circumcisions, Jacob’s sons Levi and Simeon came with swords and killed Hamor and Shechem and all the men of the region. In doing so, as His people, they dishonored the Lord and lost the protection and favor that had accompanied them in settling in this land.
God’s Foundational Provisions and their Maintenance
Yet, the Lord had made a covenant with Abraham. As a just God of restoration, He sent Joseph ahead to Egypt to set in motion the redemption needed from Joseph’s brother’s unjust actions, which had impacted the spiritual atmosphere and had corrupted them in the eyes of those around them.
These events underscore the Psalmist’s truth that if the foundations are destroyed or ignored, it will undermine and reverse what the righteous can accomplish. Adonai is a God of honor with a standard for truth and righteousness that His people are expected to uphold.
As believers, these standards uphold the protection we need during times of trouble, which we do well to embrace in this progressively turbulent season of change. Within these standards are foundations God has given for us to practice as the basis of upholding the blessings and protection of God. From the beginning, these blessings and protection of God have been tied to our obedience in adhering to this standard.
From the days of Moses, God has made clear these foundations. First, are the parameters that God has established in each of the progressive covenants which the Lord outlined at key junctures with game-changing leaders who demonstrated an intimate relationship in knowing God and His ways. These covenants represent the understanding of the relationship between God and His people.
Next are the principles of Truth within His Word. Within the principles of Truth are practices designed to enable God’s people to operate distinctively from every other people on the face of the earth. Along with the expected moral code are practices that begin with the Sabbath, which provides sanctification and rest. Additionally, there are the feast days, each of which provide cleansing and protection for the broad community of God’s people. From these foundations, as believers we are given the Spirit to complement the Truth found in God’s word. Likewise, Jesus provided us with the very powerful practice of what Scripture describes as the Lord’s Supper.
The Mysteries to Navigate Between the Natural and Spirit Worlds
These principles and practices provide the enablement for God’s people to navigate and overcome in this realm outside the natural world, known as the unseen or spirit world. They tap what the Bible speaks of as mysteries. The unseen or spirit world operates on a totally different basis than the natural world. The Bible is replete with mysteries, matters that either can’t be explained or simply can’t be grasped by the human mind. Isaiah 55:9 notes that God’s ways represent a far higher level than man’s ways.
Prior to the Mosaic standard and covenant, the foundational premise of a believer’s faith was wrapped in their identity in God and their obedience to His voice. Before there was a written word, what distinguished the heroes of faith was that, despite the difference that their priorities and lifestyles reflected from the world around them, they were singularly God-pleasers in the face of the pressures to adapt to the standards as man-pleasers. These standards of culturally being identified in God and in doing so, the obedience of being God-pleasers are the foundational factors which distinguished Noah, Abraham and Joseph.
For each, these were pioneers whose identity and obedience reset, establishing the spiritual atmosphere that was required in God’s process of the restoration of His people.
Foundations and Mysteries for Access, Protection and Blessing
These foundations haven’t changed and they continue to provide the access, protection and blessing needed during challenging and troubled times. In his old age, in providing a father’s legacy-blessing to Joseph, Jacob tapped one of these mysteries transcending the generations tied to God’s covenant with Abraham. Jacob prophesied that: “Joseph is a fruitful bough by a well; his branches run over the wall. 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. By Adonai 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. Your blessings have excelled the blessings of your ancestors. They shall be on the head of Joseph.” (Gen 49:22-26)
Abraham (Abram) was a pioneer, who left the cultural comforts and spiritual context of his family and homeland in obedience to his quest for all that God had for him. That level of obedience challenged the ruts of his thinking with a blind obedience. This is what we refer to as seeking God and with that, the faith in embracing these mysteries of God.
These are matters beyond the normal grasp of human understanding …. whether due to them being the higher levels of God’s thinking or the blind-spots that are represented in our limited-human response to the realities swirling around us, they are described in Scripture again and again as mysteries.
The Bread and the Wine
One of the key ancient mysteries, which goes back to Abraham (Abram), involves the bread and wine. During the course of his settling and subduing the Land the Lord had drawn him to, Abram received word, that his nephew Lot had become the prisoner/ victim of the actions of the local warring tribes of people. Abram organized his people as a strike force to rescue Lot. His raid was successful. In bringing back Lot, his family and belongings, Abram met with one of those mysterious people Scripture only offers us glimmers on: Melchizedek.
Melchizedek, whose name means king of righteousness is described as the king of Salem and the priest of El Elyon, God most High. The implication in this mysterious encounter between Abram and Melchizedek is that they already knew one another and that the practice of bringing out the bread and wine was the seal of the process represented by God being with Abram in his quest to protect and preserve his family. The book of Hebrews in quoting Psalm 110 refers to the resurrected Jesus as being “the high priest after the order of Melchizedek.” To the point, the bread and the wine represent a high-level, ancient practice in bringing matters into the alignment needed to release the flow of God’s order of things.
This practice is at the core of the Passover service, which in turn is the foundation established by Jesus of the Last Supper … which became the basis of the practice of what the book of Acts describes as the believers meeting from house to house, participating in the “Lord’s Supper” or what has become known as communion.
The Lord’s Supper: mysterious yet uniquely imparted by Jesus before His death and resurrection is foundational for believers walking in oneness with the Spirit. It is one of those simple paradoxes that define and release the operation of God’s Spirit … the Kingdom dynamic and restoration of the power evident in the Garden with the Tree of Life.
The Journey and the Importance of the Foundations
It follows the Psalmist’s truth that if the foundations are destroyed or ignored, it will undermine, pervert and reverse what the righteous can accomplish. From the time of the Garden, God’s people have faced perversions of what God has given them for favor, protection and blessing. At the core of God’s purpose in His calling of Abraham, in telling him that through him all the families of the earth would be blessed, has been the role of God’s people as His ambassadors to be blessed to be a blessing.
However, to this day, this journey with God requires staying close and continually seeking him to avoid the perversions and counterfeits. Jesus spoke of the cup of the new covenant in His blood. Embracing the Kingdom involves the new wine of the Spirit, which requires new wineskins.
Simultaneously, Scripture refers to abominable drinks tied to the kingdom of darkness (Rev 17:4; 18:3). Paul very clearly admonished the Corinthians (I Cor 10:21) that believers could not participate in the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons … or the table of the Lord and the table of demons without provoking God’s jealousy. With this admonition Paul chided these believers emerging from such worldly practices by asking them: “do you consider yourself stronger than Him?”
We’ve entered a time when we need to get out of the ruts of our routines and traditions and recognize and embrace the potency and simplicity of the foundations the Lord has given his people over the ages for His protection, favor and blessing.
Understanding and Responding to the Times Maturely
There is something about tough times and the need to get beyond ourselves that carries the lure of the potential and the glitter of the forbidden. We need to get beyond the clutter and cacophony of voices presuming to speak prophetically, yet not unlike Joseph’s brothers over-reaction to Shechem’s love for Dinah, have had their sights marred by the cups of the world.
Even Elijah following what might be considered his greatest exploit in his face-off with the prophets of Baal and Asherah, was overwhelmed by the clutter of the voices he became subjected to …. and desperately needed to get to that place of solace where he could again discern clearly what God was saying to him. Having been strengthened by an angel, he finally arrived at the cave. Even then, he had to press beyond the depths and distractions of the potent spiritual atmosphere of his retreat to finally discern that still small voice … to gain the clarity of direction he needed for the season he had just entered.
The path in the journey of believers in this hour requires the same fervency in getting beyond ourselves, the clamor and the clutter of voices …. to ensure we get the clarity of discernment needed to embrace only the new wine, within new wineskins required. It will be in the reaching for and restoring the potency of the foundations that we will do so.
Before us is the feast of Passover. Keep in mind, there is nothing in Scripture replacing or excluding any of the biblical feast days. Just like the biblical Shabbat, they were kept by Jesus and they were kept by the early believers following the resurrection. Within the feast of Passover are four cups representing the balance of the foundations for what lies before us. They are the cup of sanctification; the cup of judgment (of the world)/ and deliverance (of the sanctified), the cup of redemption and the cup of praise for God’s fulfillment with His people. I like to think of the fourth cup as our cup of expectation.
As believers facing times of trouble, we desperately need the cleansing of the Lord’s Supper, the rest we get from the biblical Shabbat, as well as the protection, favor and blessings that come from each of the biblical Feast days, but especially Passover. We have entered times in which we urgently need these potent elements represented as our foundations as believers.
Isaiah offers a prophecy for those facing and navigating tough times. It represents what can be expected for the faithful, who adhere to the foundations with the simplicity of response to the path on which we are headed …. for what lies before us, as signified by the fourth cup of Passover, the cup of expectation.
“So it shall come to pass in the day the LORD gives you rest from your sorrow, and from your fear and the hard bondage in which you were made to serve, that you will take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, saying: ‘How the oppressor has ceased, the golden city ceased!’ The LORD has broken the staff of the wicked, the scepter of the rulers who have struck the people in wrath with a continual stroke, who have ruled the nations in anger is persecuted and no one hinders. The whole earth is at rest and quiet; they break forth into singing. Indeed the cypress trees rejoice over you, with the cedars of Lebanon, saying, ‘Since you were cut down, no woodsman has come up against us.’” Isa 14:3-8
Morris Ruddick has been a forerunner and voice for the higher dimensions of spiritual game-changers and intercessors since the mid-90s. As founder of Global Initiatives Foundation and designer of the God’s Economy Entrepreneurial Equippers Program and the Jewish Business Secrets YouTube series, Mr. Ruddick equips economic community builders with strategy where God’s light is dim in diverse regions around the globe.
He is author of “The Joseph-Daniel Calling;” “Gods Economy, Israel and the Nations;” “The Heart of a King;” “Something More;” “Righteous Power in a Corrupt World;” “Leadership by Anointing;” and “Mantle of Fire,” which address the mobilization of business and governmental leaders with destinies to impact their communities. They are available in print and e-versions from www.Amazon.com, www.apple.com/ibooks and www.BarnesandNoble.com.
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