The Plumb Line
The psalmist describes a time when the assaults against God’s people had escalated to a level that provoked him to cry out in challenge to the silence of God. What is portrayed is a time of quandary, marked with uncertainty and spiritual clutter.
It is a time calling, not for pontification, but the need for God’s people to get beyond their own devices, to truly open the way for God to act. The words read: “O God, do not remain silent and do not be still. For Your enemies make an uproar and those who hate You have exalted themselves. They make shrewd plans against Your people. They conspire together against Your treasured ones. They say, ‘Let us wipe them out that the name of Israel be remembered no more.'” The issue depicts the spiritual equilibrium required for God’s people, as a people, to move into a higher level in walking in His purpose and protection.
The word of God also tells of a time, when the prophet Samuel was a boy, that the word of the Lord was rare, that visions were infrequent. The issue at the time involved iniquity in the house of the Lord. Yet, it was at that critical juncture that the Lord spoke to the boy Samuel to expect words that would make the ears of the people tingle.
While receiving words from God is the expected norm, when iniquity is in the House of the Lord, the word of the Lord will be rare. God was telling Samuel to listen for something He had to say that would arrest their attention from the uncertainty and confusion permeating and toxifying the spiritual atmosphere around them. Words such as this come at times that require God’s people to make adjustments and get beyond themselves.
Whether the result of iniquity or a preoccupation with our own limited view of things, we have entered a time requiring the humility needed to truly seek the Lord. It is a time to find alignment with the plumb line, the standard that God has established for His people to maintain a walk that releases His purpose, protection and blessing.
God’s standard began with Abraham, a righteous man, who heard from God. The Lord noted that Abraham had been chosen not just because of the things he had gotten right, but because of what God saw that he would do. Abraham would impart God’s ways to his children and his household after him. God’s perspective and standard goes beyond just individuals and even the importance of the community, to the generations.
Moses delineated that standard and brought it to the national level. From the Mosaic law to the Sabbath to the Feast Days, this standard was designed for the sanctification and protection of God’s people needed for them to walk in His purpose and blessing. Jesus came and raised the bar with the Kingdom standard designed to righteously empower God’s people to walk, as a people of God, in an overwhelmingly corrupt world.
Abbreviations of the Standard
Yet, again and again throughout the history of God’s people, the standard has been diminished and progressively replaced. It has been diminished and replaced with short-cuts and counterfeits that carry only the appearance of God’s standard.
The days preceding the coming of Jesus were marked by the rise of religious elitism. At the other end of the spectrum were those banding together in search of man-made solutions to the overwhelming, oppressive conditions God’s people were living under.
The power of God was a rarity in the generations prior to Jesus’ coming. Yet, this was the power that historically was so evident, as the equalizer, against the oppressors of God’s people, from the days of Moses to the days of Elijah. So Jesus came wielding this power with a challenge to His accusers: “If I do not do the works of my Father, do not believe me.” The Son of God also noted that the word of God had been usurped by the religious elite and reduced into what He called the “precepts of men.”
As such, the purveyors of the precepts of men, these add-ons and short-shrifts of God’s truth, challenged the authority and power that operated through Jesus. They made Him a target of the illusions they had of their man-made abbreviations of God’s Truth. Eventually, these challenges to the authority and power of God actuated an unholy alliance with their Roman persecutors to remove Jesus’ challenge to what they deemed as their own power and authority.
Jesus prophesied a time, at the end of the age, when false prophets would arise with great signs and miracles. Yet, the very mark of Jesus’ earthly ministry and that of those who He had groomed to follow Him was the exercise of the genuine authority and power of God.
The issue then, now and at the end of the age was, is and will not be the microscopic examination of those with the power and authority of God, but the measure of the standard and with that, discerning the subtle replacement and counterfeit of the plumb line.
Discerning the Measure
The subtlety of the distorted message during Jesus’ day that has carried forth into this day is that wielding the authority and power of God will be marked by perfection in the lives of those ministering this power and authority. The twisted conclusion is that imperfection in their lives of those exercising the authority and power of God will expose them as counterfeits and false prophets.
Yet, there is no precedent for such a conclusion. What makes the Bible real and valid is that it tells it like it was. From Abraham to Moses to David and even the prophets, the only perfect life was that of Jesus. From Abraham to those in leadership today, God uses imperfect beings to bring about His purposes. That is not in any way to minimize the standard, but rather to realize that without God, we each fall short and can do nothing.
An even more subtle distortion is when discerning the measure is by means of the precepts of men. What was strange to the point of being bizarre during the days of Jesus and still is today is that the standard used to judge the exercise of power and authority was and continues to be the precepts of men: abbreviations of truth defined by the minds of men. Even “generally acceptable” spiritually-correct standards fall short.
The Real Target: the Power
Historically, in Church history, the power of God so evident in the early church began waning with the institutionalizing of the church. This is not to confuse institutionalizing with organization. Institutionalizing is when the oversimplified standards, the precepts designed by men, overshadow and diminish God’s standard and sovereignty. God’s standard, then and now, has as its basis God’s guidance at the center, as exemplified by the psalmist: “O God, do not be silent and do not be still.”
When the precepts of men, the add-ons to the true Kingdom standard overshadow and begin usurping and replacing the spontaneity of what Jesus imparted, then the standard is diluted and the power lost.
Isaiah scribed (Isa 57) about a time when the people were so caught up in their own pursuits that they had lost the fear of the Lord. “You were wearied by all your ways, but you would not say, ‘It is hopeless.’ You found renewal of your strength and so you did not faint.”
In the generation that followed the time of Jesus, the church experienced incredible growth evidenced with power. People were in awe, that healing would come merely from the shadow of Peter passing by.
However, as that generation morphed into the next, with that growth emerged a major struggle between Jewish sect who had brought the Word of God and those who had been grafted into the family of God. This struggle culminated in the Third Century with a council that removed the biblical Jewish roots, the practice of the biblical Sabbath and the Feast Days, from the faith. With their removal was the loss of the power and protection of God.
These actions coincided with the world of that day going into ten centuries of what began to be known as the dark ages. Evidence of the true power of God became an affront to and target for the power-hungry, ambitious and corrupt spiritual leaders who were seeking their own modified brand of power. The standard became something of a moving target. The Church had lost its bearings and its connection to the Kingdom plumb line.
The Church had fallen into the snare that was evident in Jesus’ day, but called for what it was at that time. Jesus described His myopic accusers as ones who not only refused the Kingdom standard, but who kept others trying to enter the Kingdom out, as well.
Jesus similarly told of two men who went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The self-absorbed, self-righteous Pharisee looked with scorn on the man so identified as despicable in not just his profession, but in his morality — extortioner, unjust, an adulterer. Yet, it was because of the heart response to God of this one so despised by the hyper religiously-minded leader, that he returned from his prayers justified.
Jesus makes the contrast between the self-absorbed accuser and the imperfect, but humble, penitent man, not deceived by idols in his mind or self-importance, but willing to face reality with prayers based on a truthful heart. They underscore the truth of His words: “Father, You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and delivered to babes.”
The Accusing Heart Without Answers
Jesus noted that we would know those employing power by their fruits. The psalmist (Ps 35) points to the one who hates without cause, who does not seek peace, but within the confines of their own deception, they devise deceitful matters to further their own purpose. The Apostle Paul wrote the Colossians (3:15) that the peace of God would serve as an umpire, to discern what is real and what is counterfeit.
Solomon (Prov 12) noted that deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but counselors of peace will have joy. In other words, the accusing hypocrites tear down, while the imperfect righteous build up.
This truth goes all the way back to the book of Job, where it says: “So the wrath of Elihu was aroused against Job, because he justified himself rather than God, but against Job’s three friends, his wrath also was aroused, because they had no answer yet had condemned Job.”
God was bringing an imperfect Job to a new level, beyond himself, whereas his friends were impeding the purpose and will of God. Whether due to critical spirits, confusion or simply being blind to these dimensions in the ways of God, the Word of God says that Job’s friends were pontificating on what they didn’t understand. That is why the Lord put the responsibility to pray for the restoration of his friends back into Job’s hands. The hand and favor of God was clearly with the imperfect Job. Such is the fine line between toxic pontifications and a heart that seeks the Lord.
The Focus in Seeking God
The precedent for seeking the Lord has been consistent over the ages. The psalmist (Ps 105) describes its dimensions: to seek the Lord and His strength (His power), to seek His presence continually, to remember His wondrous works, His miracles and the judgments (the standards) He has pronounced. That gives clarity to the focus: the power, the Presence, His miracles and His standard.
The word of God has never relegated the power of God, along with the authority of those administering it, to the past. That is just another precept of man tied to intellectualized and institutionalized doctrine. Indeed, the end of the age will be marked by the greatest power struggle the world has yet to see. Rather than being deniers of the power of God, we need to seek more fervently for it. But it won’t be a time to throw out the baby with the bath water. With that seeking must be the upholding of and restoration of the standard that Jesus outlined.
The Focus: Getting the Standard Right
Getting the standard right begins with a keen focus on the words of Jesus and the Scripture from which He explained God and His Truth. I love the teachings of Paul. Yet, to truly grasp their depth first requires an understanding of what Jesus imparted about the Kingdom standard and the heart of God.
Understanding the standard also means getting beyond the oversimplifications that give rise to the precepts of men. Getting the standard right provides not only the protection so needed against the assaults against God’s people, but the path to Body maturity. The toxic response globally against those upholding the standard will mean a deeper grasp of the fullness and higher dimensions underlying the biblical concepts to repent, salvation and righteousness.
Repentance. Jesus introduced His earthly ministry with the words: “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” The common perception of these words within many Christian circles has been to leave your low-down, sinful ways and come to church. Yet, the underlying meaning to repent is to change your way of thinking. Scripture says that the Son of Man came not to judge the world, but that the world would be saved through Him. That premise began with Jesus’ admonishment to alter the way we think.
Kingdom thinking likewise is accompanied by the way we live our lives with God and with our purpose being defined by God. Jesus’ encounters with the Pharisees revealed a much greater concern with our way of thinking that leads to sin, than being overly sin-conscious. His response to the woman caught in adultery was to suggest to her accusers that the one without sin should cast the first stone. When her deliverance was clear, He admonished her not to return to the patterns of behavior, a result of wrong-thinking, that had led to her crisis.
Righteousness. The hyper-religious and Pharisees in Jesus’ day and today reduce righteousness to pious levels of religious morality. No question that morality is essential, but higher levels of morality come from a community that looks after its own, that builds up its members for their good and for the community. Job, before the time of the bottom dropping out for him, was described as a tz’dak, a righteous man. Yet, though he feared God and was pulling out all the stops in terms of his role in the community, his life was far from perfect. It lacked the power for the role he served.
God had a deep revelation of Himself to impart to Job that would change who he was and his task for his remaining days. The Hebrew word for righteousness, tz’dakah, is the righteous response one makes to their community responsibility. Job, the tz’dak, was a practitioner of this community responsibility. God was taking Job to a new level.
Salvation. While the Western Christian perception of salvation being an individual’s ticket to heaven seems the mode, salvation is so much more. In Judaism, salvation comes through and with the community. This has great biblical precedent and certainly explains Paul’s admonition to bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law (standard) of Christ.
Throughout the word of God, salvation likewise is equated with God delivering His people from evil. In Revelation it notes: “Now salvation and the power and the Kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of the brethren has been cast down.” These are core dimensions of the plumb line.
The Plumb Line: Beyond Ourselves
Yet, the grasp of these deeper dimensions is not an intellectual one, but rather a progressively relational one with God. The Apostle Paul famously observed that when he was a child, he thought and acted like a child. But as he matured, he went beyond his childish ways of viewing things. There is a progression of maturity as we get to know God and His ways. It comes from spending time with Him: of praying and of listening. It comes from building our lives around His Truths and acting on His guidance. It comes from our response to community: the choice being between that like Job’s or that of his friends.
This is a generation facing the emergence of the greatest spiritual crisis since the rise of Hitler’s intent to wipe out the Jews. Yet, within this generation are the naive, the immature and those who would stamp out any expressions of demonstrating the power and authority of God. It is a critical time calling for God’s people to get beyond their own limitations and man-made props, to truly open the way for God to act. It is a time for the friends of Job to seek his prayers.
With the psalmist we cry out: “O God, do not remain silent and do not be still. For Your enemies make an uproar and those who hate You have exalted themselves. They make shrewd plans against Your people. They conspire together against Your treasured ones. They say, ‘Let us wipe them out that the name of Israel be remembered no more.'”
Jesus told those willing to pay the cost to reach for the standard, to advance in God’s progression of maturity — from followers to disciples, from disciples to servants, from servants to friends and from friends to sons — that those who stay this course and pay the cost would do greater works than what He had demonstrated during His earthly ministry.
Greater works will come from those aligned with the Kingdom standard — who think and live differently — who live by dying to themselves, who bless those who curse them and pray for their persecutors, who lead by serving, who embrace honor as their relational currency, whose lives are a demonstration of generosity and building up those appointed within their spheres: counselors of peace. The ones advancing to become “friends and sons of God” are those entrusted with authority and power. This is the alignment of the plumb line.
The plumb line is the standard representing a different way of thinking. It is the Kingdom pathway of walking in oneness with God, actuating His higher purposes through our imperfect lives that continue to be so dependent on Him, as we progress from disciples to servants to friends and sons.
The plumb line has at its core the fervent response to the enduring truth from Psalm 105 to seek the Lord and His strength, to seek His presence continually, to remember the works He has done, His miracles and the standards He has pronounced. It is why Paul recognized that that creation itself longs for the revealing of those becoming sons of God, that the fruit might be beyond ourselves with the power required for deliverance from the bondage of corruption.
Morris Ruddick has been a forerunner and spokesman for the higher dimensions of business leadership since the mid-90s. As founder of Global Initiatives Foundation and designer of the God’s Economy Entrepreneurial Equippers Program, Mr. Ruddick imparts hope and equips economic community builders to be blessed to be a blessing 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.
Global Initiatives Foundation (www.strategic-initiatives.org) is a tax-exempt 501 (c) 3 non-profit whose efforts are enabled by the generosity of a remnant of faithful friends and contributors whose vision aligns with God’s heart to mobilize economic community builders imparting influence and the blessings of God. Checks on US banks should be made out to Global Initiatives and mailed to PO Box 370291, Denver CO 80237 or by credit card at http://strategicintercession.org/support/
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2018 Copyright Morris Ruddick — firstname.lastname@example.org
Reproduction is prohibited unless permission is given by a SIGN advisor. Since early 1996, the Strategic Intercession Global Network (SIGN) has mobilized prophetic intercessors and leaders committed to targeting strategic-level issues impacting the Body on a global basis. For previous posts or more information on SIGN, check: http://www.strategicintercession.org