The Covenant of Peace
Biblically, one of the benefits of God’s favor and blessing on His people, shalom, is typically translated as peace. However, few words in Scripture have been subject to more by way of being high-jacked and distorted from their original meaning.
While commonly expressing the tranquility resulting from the freedom from disturbance or conflict, the Hebrew meaning for shalom represents God’s order. Likewise, shalom describes a state of being in which God’s presence is in evidence; although never meant to be monastic in setting, its implication supports normal community and economic activity.
A higher application of this unique biblical word is “the covenant of peace.” The first time the phrase, “the covenant of peace,” was used in Scripture was in Numbers 25. In response to the reluctant, but hired the mystic Balaam’s insights into the chink in the Israelite’s divine protection, Balak king of the Moabites sent alluring, pagan women into the Israeli camp. His intent specifically was to undermine the protection they had from God. The seduction that followed was far more than physical. In the ensuing spree, the sons of Israel were enticed to bow down and sacrifice to their idols.
In place of what had been God’s presence, what was triggered by the Israelite’s betrayal and relational defilement was a response of judgment. Without God’s presence, this judgment came fast and hard. Then while Moses was scrambling in giving the Lord’s instruction to the judges of Israel to halt the plague, Phinehas had the clear discernment and mind of the Lord, along with the courage to decisively act. His action halted the transgressions of his people and the plague they had triggered.
Subsequently, the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned my anger away from the Israelites. Since he was as zealous for my honor among them, in my zeal I did not put an end to them. Therefore tell him I am making my covenant of peace with him.”
The extent of what God granted Phinehas was significant. It was not only for him, but to all the generations of his descendents who were to follow. His action was the role of mediator for his people. What was bestowed was in line with what prompted Phinehas’ discernment and action. Scripture describes it: Phinehas was zealous for the honor of God in making atonement by his actions in stopping what had triggered God’s judgment of the plague.
Biblically Unwrapping the Covenant of Peace
Early in biblical history, this role of mediator was outlined to Job by Elihu. The condition of Job’s soul had drawn the attention of and a visitation of death. Elihu explained: “Yet if there is an messenger at their side, a mediator sent to tell them how to be upright and he is gracious to that person and says to God, ‘Spare them from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom for them: their flesh be renewed like a child’s; let them be restored as in the days of their youth.’ Then that person can pray to God and find favor with him.” Job 33:23-26
Job was considered a righteous man. Yet, the combination of the limits of his spiritual perceptions, along with the transgressions of those for whom he was mediator resulted in him attracting the attention of the evil one. Job was a community leader. As such, at that point in his journey, his responsibilities had crept beyond him. There clearly were entanglements. Job needed a wakeup call to fully embrace the mandate that lay yet before him.
“In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men as they slumber in their beds, he opens the ears of men and terrifies them with warnings, to turn them from their conduct and keep them from pride, to preserve them from the pit, their lives from perishing by the sword.” Job 33:16-18
Job was a mediator of God’s covenant for his people. What was for Job, then Phinehas and his descendents, as well as those who bear the mantle of being spiritual community leaders today, is a solemn responsibility, requiring more than the way these mediators live their lives. It bears on their response and responsibility to the community of which they are a part. It incorporates the role of standard-bearer, a task extending beyond frivolous impartations of the prophetic. The bar now has been raised with a season requiring leaders who embrace these higher dimensions.
As leaders, it is an alignment and support of God’s standard of Truth in their function of mediating. This alignment pivots on what Scripture points to as the fear of God, and what in Phinehas was described in being zealous for God’s honor.
Paul captured this truth with these words: “Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Messiah and stewards of the mysteries of God.” Jesus noted that for judgment He had come into the world, that those who do not see might see and those who see might be made blind. In breaking the mold of complacency and religious spirits, Jesus raised the bar in equipping standard-bearers to release Kingdom community.
Dynamics of the Covenant of Shalom
As Jesus explained, that as His followers, we would do greater works than Him, Paul further noted that if we are to judge angels, how much more the things of this life. Across the range of what we refer to as the five-fold ministry, in no small measure, our identity and purpose is linked to upholding the standard of God’s Truth, thereby maintaining the connection to the covenant God bestowed upon Phinehas: in being zealous for God’s honor in restoring and preserving His order, His shalom within the domain of our assignment and responsibility.
Isaiah, Ezekiel and Malachi, each unwraps the awesome dimensions that will result from the operation of this covenant of peace. Isaiah (Is 54) notes that during times marked by turbulent change that the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but His covenant of peace will hold steady as the stabilizer, along with His steadfast love.
Ezekiel (Ez 34) describes a time when the covenant of peace is fully manifested that His people will be able to dwell securely in the wilderness and sleep in the domain of wild beasts without fear. Ezekiel also points to what had originally been given to Phinehas with this covenant, of it being everlasting, extending from generation to generation. It points to God’s presence in His sanctuary being established when His people are restored to, established and multiplying in the Land.
Malachi refers to it as the covenant of Life and peace, of it being a covenant marked by the fear of God, because of standing in awe of who God is. Indeed, Life and peace are entwined. The withdrawal of God’s presence and the resulting plague because of those who bowed down and sacrificed to the Midianite gods opened the gates to death, with 24,000 swept up by it, before Phinehas’ intervention. Phinehas’ atonement included the swift judgment of blatant provocateurs, executed in the sight of Moses and the judges of Israel, that was done for the good of the community as a whole.
The Core Response: Embracing God’s Honor
The importance of God’s honor, which was at the core of Phinehas’ actions, was noted by Paul to the Romans (Rom 1) who describes ones who had been given all they need to respond by honoring God: “For although they knew God, they did not honor God or give thanks, but they became futile in their reasoning as their senseless hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools.”
Paul’s observation of ones who know God, but whose spiritual condition becomes futile in their reasoning and whose senseless hearts are darkened, sadly is reflected by far too many leaders in the bible. These are those whose mandates have been overshadowed by the influence of others and by their own soulish need for gain. This soft spiritual condition corrected by the importance of upholding God’s honor aligns with the words given to John the Revelator concerning the believers at Pergamum.
Noting that these believers were located in a brutal spiritual atmosphere, described as where Satan had his throne, the Lord applauded their response to holding steady and standing in faith, even in the light of the martyrdom that had recently taken place.
However, amidst the noted courage and upright conduct was the slippage provoking a serious warning: “Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality. Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans.”
The Teaching of Balaam
While most teachings give focus to the sin resulting from the teaching of Balaam, few unwrap its cause. Not unlike Paul’s description of those who knew God, but allowed their futile reasoning to darken their hearts, Balaam was described by Scripture as clearly perceiving God’s ways. However, despite his initial reluctance, Balaam’s gift and grasp of sovereign, divine insights were ultimately sold for his own gain. Darkening his heart, these actions ultimately declined into what prompted Isaiah’s warning (Is 58) of those who point the finger in scorn and those noted in Revelation, whose words become aligned with the accuser of the brethren.
With the warning the Pergamum Church received concerning the teaching of Balaam was a parallel warning against the teaching of the Nicolaitans: in short, a blend of biblical truths with occult insights and practices. It was what resulted from the blend of God’s ways with pagan practices. Such was the foundation of the weak King Ahab, whose divine mandate was for the most part bequeathed to his sorceress wife Jezebel.
Isaiah (Is 22) also very pointedly describes a time of trouble, commotion and tumult in which many were taken prisoner, revealingly despite the enemy being nowhere near their city. After giving great detail to the turmoil underway, Isaiah’s mediating prophecy pointed to Shebna whose failure in his role as leader was then judged.
The word to Shebna, was that the Lord would remove him away violently and there he would die. In that day, Adonai would call His servant Eliakim, whom He would cloth with Shebna’s robe and strengthen with his belt. The responsibility given to Shebna would now be in Eliakim’s hand: as a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the house of Judah. With all that, would be the amazing authority in giving Eliakim the key of the house of David and of the Lord fastening him as a peg in a secure place.
There is a link between the covenant of peace and the authority of the key of the house of David. Phinehas was a standard-bearer who clearly discerned and acted in mediating between Life and death for the sake of restoring God’s presence and protection to the community.
Such was the task which Elihu began explaining to Job. Elihu challenged Job’s short-sighted limitations of his conduct and perceptions, but then in the transition that followed of Job hearing from God, his spiritual eyes were opened to the higher dimensions of his assignment. With that, was the issue of Job’s friends, whose own short-sighted perceptions were no doubt a part of the previous and current spiritual haze in which Job had fallen prey.
The Courage to Face Evil and Act
The apostle James very pointedly warned that not many should presume to be teachers, because those who do would bear a stricter judgment. With the gift is responsibility. Frankly that verse triggers and maintains within me, the fear of God. I take it seriously in my efforts to stay close to the Lord and not to presume or cross the line in executing my mantle. Understanding the role of judgment is vital to operating in the season now upon us.
It bears on what Jesus described as the mantle He was passing on for greater works: that those who do not see might see and those who see might be made blind. It incorporates the responsibility of the covenant of peace, of being a mediator, not just of mercy, but of judgment in our task of upholding the honor of God for the higher good of the community. It comes at a cost.
There was a point in the life of Daniel, when Daniel and his companions became separated. Prior to that, their bond and support of one another in prayer was significant in facing and overcoming the not-insignificant hurdles of their occult-controlled spiritual environs.
There’s a vital difference between the enemy being allowed to infiltrate the community of the righteous and a righteous remnant who are divinely emplaced in positions of influence in the enemy’s camp. So it was that in facing the choice of compromising or being thrown into a fiery death, Daniel’s companions refused to bow. That choice actuated God’s intervention, preserving their lives and task as mediators between Life and death in this dramatic setting.
All of which ties to the foundation for what Moses was leading the Israelites to do and what Jesus’ resurrection, Spirit-outpouring and Spirit-immersion was designed to do: to face and conquer evil, which often requires facing death.
This is where the genuine biblical intent of shalom needs to be restored in the Western church. From the beginning, evil was never intended to be mollified and ignored, but rather faced and conquered.
Doing so, is the focus of what Jesus spent three years grooming His inner circle in embracing: the principles of the Kingdom. These are the spiritual principles needed to face and overcome evil. What Jesus imparted with what seemed as contradictions to traditional approaches, were high-level spiritual dynamics that the heroes of faith, from Moses to Joseph to Daniel to the prophets found to be foundational to the roles they each played in advancing the Kingdom and upholding God’s honor.
Maturity and Covenant Responsibility
Paul observed that when he was a child, he thought like a child. But in becoming a man, he put away his childish ways. As children, there is a simplicity to life and the focus given to personal benefits, in obtaining what life has to offer. This tends to be the case much more so in the West than in most other cultures in the world, where conditions require the young to grow up fast. Adulthood and maturity are entwined with greater responsibilities.
A covenant is a formal alliance, an agreement between two parties. It stipulates conditions for upholding the relational bond. A blood covenant establishes a far deeper commitment. It denotes a priority on the part of each party in support of the life, honor and mandate of each.
In Jewish tradition, there is a rite of passage into adulthood that accentuates the covenant responsibilities God established with Abraham for the generations that would follow. As followers of Jesus, we describe what is our part in a two-part covenant as “giving our lives to the Lord,” of our commitment of faith. In coming to faith as a young believer who had just spent 25 months as a US Marine in life and death combat battles, I understood what this commitment of faith meant. It was at a time, in the early 70s, when priority was given across doctrinal boundaries, to gathering together to reach for more of this wonder of God and His Spirit that we felt so privileged to know and be serving.
Yet, never has there been a time when our role in this covenant commitment has had a greater purpose. There’s never been a time to be more sober, distancing ourselves from the immaturity and motivations of the teachings of Balaam and the Nicolaitans. While we see evil emerging from unexpected places all around us, it is for such a time as this that we’ve been called … and prepared to be committed.
Daniel’s Perspective of Commitment and Sacrifice
Daniel never recoiled at being thrust into serving a pagan ruler in an occult-controlled court. I often think his wisdom of “those who know their God will be strong and do exploits” represented a benchmark on which Daniel lived his own life and based his daily decisions. Daniel was truly tough minded, modeling what John the Revelator later described as “those who loved not their lives unto death.” Daniel’s outlook and perspective was consistently based on his eyes being on the Lord, reaching for more, with it being one of commitment and sacrifice. A perspective and commitment separating the wheat from the chafe: and the gifted performer’s intent for their own gain, from those who stay to course.
Daniel’s fast and dramatic prayer in chapter 10 took place when he was approaching his mid-80s. The third year of Cyrus was a time when Ezra had been allowed to return with a remnant to Jerusalem. Daniel’s influence in the court remained significant and was where his service was most needed. Daniel was a true mediator of the covenant of peace.
Recognizing it being a time of great change, with the opportunity of restoration, Daniel knew there was something more. He was crying out to Adonai for greater understanding. Such is the turmoil, yet alignment underway in today’s world that calls for both the wisdom and prayerful reach for God’s higher dimensions that marked Daniel’s prayers at this time in his life. At that seasoned juncture of his journey, Daniel’s role as mediator of the covenant of shalom was never more significant. From His stance of seeing outside the realm of time, came the impartation and perspective and authority to wield still higher dimensions in God’s strategy of restoration.
As stewards of God’s covenant of peace in restoring God’s kingdom, may our prayers and actions be connected to heaven with the perspective and faith of Daniel.
- Where there is chaos, may we courageously proclaim and release God’s order.
- Where there is deception, may we exercise the wisdom to reveal truth.
- Where there is fear and guilt, may we respond with confidence in God and faith.
- Where there is discord and hate, may we extend love and tenderness toward others.
- Where there is greed, may we submit to God with contentment and generosity.
- Where there is division, may we override it with unity and compassion.
“Now may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Messiah Jesus to whom be glory forever.” Heb 13: 20-21
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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