Where Angels Fear
Recently in prayer, the phrase “where angels fear to tread” popped into my mind. I knew there had been a movie. Many years prior to that, a book.
The thought seemed to suggest a glimpse into the amassing chaos and turbulence of the times. Jesus, who saw outside the realm of time, foresaw a time of trouble, when the turmoil and lawlessness would increase with nations and factions rising up against one another, with the growing conflict preceding a time of great tribulation. Daniel similarly possessed a spiritual prescience that unveiled the intensity of the conflicts that would precede God’s restoration of all things. Then along with John’s vision on the Isle of Patmos, insight has been given into the power struggle in the final clash between good and evil.
Within these contexts, “where angels fear to tread” does seem to capture the tenor of the spiritual atmosphere in a world in which these power struggles are manifesting. A time when fools rush blindly into self-destructive pursuits, where God’s angelic hosts, while they may not actually fear to tread — are manifesting the steps to this climax with much care.
The early church was a force to be reckoned with. A movement triggering incredible change. As a whole, the church today is not. As a movement, the early church wielded an unorthodox and unstoppable power. A power that operated by a different standard. Today, the church is largely institutionalized, fragmented and reduced to a moral code, one that the cultures around it seem to overshadow and even despise, because of its weakness and the hypocrisy from what they see as the blind leading the blind.
Yet, within just such a context, Daniel perceived a time when a shift would take place. For the wicked, there would be no peace. Yet among the godly, knowledge would increase, and in the midst of the wicked ratcheting up the ploys of their trade, that those who are wise would begin to discern the realities and the difference between the anemic phonies who emulate the world around them — and those who operate with the same Spirit as the early church, as spiritual game-changers. Daniel operated not in a monastery or culture that espoused watered-down godly values, but instead in the court of a society that practiced the occult as the standard. Unlike the title of this piece, Daniel was fearless in the face of this overwhelming opposition. Despite the fearsome risks, he did exploits because he had penetrated the veil in the realm of the spirit to operate as an ambassador of God’s power and prophetic wisdom.
Penetrating the Deep Darkness
Years ago, during the Vietnam conflict, I was a part of a highly trained, parachute-scuba Marine unit. I led small teams deep into enemy territory. I know from experience the advantage of encounters with the enemy in his own territory. I know the equalizing force required when engaging overwhelming odds. Spiritually-speaking that advantage and equalizing force is even greater when facing the risks and realities of spiritual assignments that call for penetrating enemy territory. This was the reality and world dominated by the pagan-occult rule that defined the early church. So it was in the life of Daniel.
Daniel’s life exhibited the path of a man of God whose mantel was to operate in the throes of darkness, deep within the power structures of the dominant occult-pagan society of that day — and in doing so, not only to prevail, but to reset the spiritual atmosphere. A very different scenario from the visions of grandeur that come from having a safe alliance with benevolent or at the least tolerant worldly forces, periodically stamping out little pockets of darkness; an unrealistic, myopic view held by naive adherents within today’s pop-Christian culture.
What enabled Daniel to excel was his resolute employment of the power and prophetic wisdom, of the creativity released when God was his only equalizing source. His moral code was not the pinnacle of his spiritual identity, which the religious seem to confuse to be so, but rather his means of protection in the midst of the spiritual forces that his life intersected with.
Daniel represents an example of the courageous leadership in need of being restored within the church of this day. Courageous leadership responds to spiritual realities rather than being seduced by religious spirits. Courageous leadership knows the difference between the wisdom of God and the boiled-down precepts of men. Courageous leadership triggers movements, rather than institutions because it builds laterally rather than vertically.
It is the religious spirit wielded by successful, strong personalities, that quenches and undermines the power and wisdom that was so evident during the days of Daniel and then the early church. It is the reason that Joseph’s brothers were relegated to Goshen, and that those representing the mainstream of God’s covenant people were sidelined from the activities entrusted to Daniel and his compatriots in the court of the king. Each were times of judgment brought on by the indiscretions of the community of faith. There is a fine but very distinctive line defining this potent power and prophetic wisdom — and that which results from the short-sighted talents of the lukewarm. It is the reason, those chosen to be the Josephs and Daniels for this season will be a remnant within their spheres.
Back in the 1960s, during my days of combat deep in enemy territory, I carried in my wallet two quotes that summed up my perspective on who I was and what I was doing. Understanding our identity and purpose are vital to finding the path to engaging our destiny. The first was “Truth and integrity are two qualities that will carry you through this life much better than policy, or tact, or expediency, or any other word ever devised to mask a deviation from a straight line.” The other quote came from the words of Jesus: “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
These are standards that face the realities and the dynamic of courageous leadership.
Walking in Obedience to the Spirit
Scripture tells us obedience is better than sacrifice. This requires the spiritual sensitivity to listen — and then obey the Spirit’s guidance. Obeying life-defining words that challenge the safe places of our comfort zones takes courage.
Doing so will then involve embracing the realities of being a game-changer. During my first business trip as a consultant, three times in a 12 hour period, the Lord dramatically spoke to me from Jeremiah 51: “You are my battleaxe and weapon of war. Through you I will break nations in pieces. Through you I will destroy kingdoms and strongholds….” And with that, a few verses down, understanding the requirement that I obey the conditions in doing my part: “and I the Lord, will repay Babylon and Chaldea — the sources of corruption and sorcery.”
God was showing me, that to fulfill my calling in the seen world, I would have to be able to master the mysteries of the spiritual world — to navigate the realities and subtleties of the spiritual realm. To do so, requires the courage of an unshakeable trust in the Lord. This is where the lukewarm religious spirit fails. It requires knowing Him as Joseph, Daniel and David did. It requires an understanding that it is not what we can do for God, but rather what we allow God to do through us.
There’s a reason Jesus’ encounter with the Centurion left him marveling at the Centurion’s faith when He said: “I have not found such great faith, not even in all of Israel.” The Centurion understood what it meant to prepare for and step into the unknown. He understood what it meant to face your fears. He understood the realities of risk — when everything was at stake. He understood what true authority was and he understood what it meant to be willing to die for what you believed.
The Difference between the Spiritual and the Religious
Courageous leadership is not defined by popular consensus or pop culture. It is the demarcation between the spiritual and the religious. Solomon told the story of “a community, a small city and a great ruler who came against it and a poor wise man, who by his wisdom delivered them. Yet no one remembered the poor wise man. Wisdom is better than strength. Nevertheless, Scripture notes that “the poor man’s wisdom is despised and his words are not heard.” Solomon’s conclusion taps the root of true leadership: that “it is the words of the wise spoken quietly that should be heard, rather than the shout of a ruler of fools.”
Discerning and responding appropriately to the difference requires courage. It requires unorthodox, independent thinking. It understands that little in progress is achieved through human consent. Courageous leadership operates beyond rubber-stamping, collective thinking or in the need to draw attention to yourself, but is marked by serving — and serving based on God’s ways and guidance. So it is that the prima-donas, the performers, the glory hounds, the phonies, the prideful and the fearful miss the mark of courageous leadership. Courageous leadership takes something more.
The Distinctives of Courageous Leadership
There was an article in the Wall Street Journal by the author of a book on leadership titled “The Captain Class.” Sam Walker’s article noted that in today’s Western world, the most common, but two most defective leadership styles are the leaders whose overriding desire is to be liked and those who rule with fear.
On the other hand, the article used George Washington as an example of the leadership postures that yield the most dramatic followings. He illustrated this with the battle of Princeton in 1777, when the American troops had just walked into an overwhelming British ambush. Yet Washington charged his horse into the ambush in what was described as withering fire and rallied the troops. His actions turned what could have ended the war for the British into an amazing rout of the British.
Washington’s actions underscore the foundations of courageous leadership: they were decisive, relentlessly selfless, pushing his troops to the limit of their abilities, but doing so alongside them, as he exercised unshakeable emotional self-control.
Yet, as we raise the issue of courage, we need to guard against the Hollywood glamorization of courage — the reckless Rambos. In real combat Rambos are a fantasy. Real warriors are not reckless mavericks. Courageous leaders are team-players. That requires trust. Trust is fueled by honor.
Courage, Trust and the Kingdom
So, courageous leadership extends trust wisely. The dark world beguiles trust and capitalizes on those floundering in their priorities for identity and purpose. So it was that Hitler capitalized on the spiritual vacuum that plagued Germany’s identity and purpose following the Treaty of Versailles.
Genuine trust is not reckless, but discerning — and the glue to the love Jesus spoke of that would give itself on behalf of His friends. In that passage describing this “greater love,” Jesus defined His friends as those who had matured sufficiently to allow Him — to let them into His inner-most thinking and plans. He triggered that maturity with the mysteries He imparted to them.
This is where we come to an understanding of the core standard advanced by Jesus. The dividing line between the spiritual and the religious. Jesus came to raise the bar — not create a group of reckless Rambos. The standard He raised is what we refer to as the Kingdom.
That was His central message: “The Kingdom of God is at hand.” Jesus didn’t come to get us to obsess over sin, play church and then ignore and overlook the world around us. He set the stage in preparing for the restoration that would come with the clash of all ages. He warned about debasing God’s ways and power with the precepts of men. Instead He gave us the tools and the focus to “employ righteous power in a corrupt world.” The everyday people of His day had a more accurate moral compass than the religious elite, and they knew the difference between being RIGHTEOUS and being CORRUPT.
Jesus preceded His announcing the Kingdom with the word REPENT. While some of the old-time preachers might suggest that “repent” means to quit your low-down ways; and while that might be an appropriate suggestion, that’s not what it means. To repent simply means to change your thinking. With changed thinking will come changed behavior. THIS is the critical divide to entering the Kingdom and walking the Kingdom path: CHANGING OUR THINKING.
The Issue of Our Thinking
Jesus, as a Jew, was talking to Jews. Historically, it has been Jews who have been models of spiritual courage and leadership. Why? Because of the foundations of Truth and the spiritual standard embedded in Jewish culture and thinking.
Jews think differently from any other culture in the world. Herein lies the central issue to operating in the Kingdom. Jewish thinking captures the very nature and DNA of God. This thinking is evident even among Jews considered as non-religious — because of what has been passed down through the generations. The criteria that defines Jewish thinking that connects it with the nature of God — incorporates two key dimensions: CREATIVITY AND INCREASE.
That’s the secret. Creativity and increase. That’s the secret to why Jews are known as the people of business. For us today, this all ties into understanding the times with the coming forth of the Joseph-Daniels and the restoration of Israel. It is enough to say now that Jewish thinking is the foundation for Kingdom thinking. It begins with the ancient model Jesus used.
Jesus took the model employed by Abraham — that combined the spiritual with business and community. This was the model Moses unpacked to detail the standards to live as a society of God’s people — which David then applied to bring all Israel together to create a Kingdom. So Jesus further raised the bar on this Abrahamic model combining the spiritual with business and community to give us the tools and the power to operate — as a culture within a culture.
Herein lie the elements facing Kingdom leaders today: culture, economics, and power.
That is what Jesus was saying when he told His inner circle: “you are going to be in the world but not of the world.” You are going to have to operate according to a different standard — as a culture within a culture.
So when Jesus concluded His earthly mission with the words: “Go, make disciples and teach them to observe all I have instructed you,” He was giving focus to the courageous leadership needed to challenge the status quo — while warning against those modifying God’s standards with precepts of men, to gain the approval of the world around them — in their attempt to survive and succeed. It is in that realm, outside the box, where angels tread with care.
Jesus was setting forth the mandate and strategy needed to turn the world, the culture around us, from its roots of corruption and sorcery into becoming a potent force to trigger righteous change, to bring the restoration to what God intended at the beginning.
Jesus said, “many are called, but few are chosen.” Many aspire to leadership, but it is the few who are truly willing to pay the cost for this empowerment. These are times that cry out for true leadership among God’s people; but it’s a calling not to be treated lightly or with presumption. It is a leadership of courage and sacrifice, involving lethal realities and demands a wisdom that only can come from God.
A great clash is underway in spiritual realm today. It is a struggle demanding courage in being different — the courage to make a difference in uncompromisingly upholding the standard; the courage in maintaining an identity as a culture within a culture; of preserving the measures defining true Kingdom success; and then in venturing forth from the safe places into the places of risk that reset both the ground rules and the goals.
We’re talking about a mantle. The responsibility of those called as believers. Jesus never came to establish an institution. Instead, He extended a mantle for a movement. It is a mantle of mysteries to be spiritually discerned, but also a mantle of FIRE for those willing to pay the cost to bring about change in this unfolding, intensifying drama of our age. In the Kingdom, courageous leadership is where the fire falls. It is where the power lies. It is a mantle that operates according to a different standard.
Jesus said: “Whoever loves his life will lose it.” The mantle of courageous leadership operates beyond self. Jesus also said: “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt loses its flavor, it is good for nothing but to be thrown out.” With courageous leadership, honor comes from humility.
Jesus prayed: “Father, You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and delivered them to babes.” With the mantle of courageous leadership, wisdom is found in simplicity. Jesus summed it up with these words: “Narrow is the way that leads to life and there are few who find it.” With courageous leadership, in weakness we are made strong.
There is no peace for the wicked. It is a sign of the times. Yet, that very illusive peace, God’s shalom or order, serves as a weapon to be wielded by those whose paths penetrate the realm where angels figuratively fear to tread. It is the narrow corridor between Life and death that defines the way of the Kingdom that Jesus came to unveil in preparing a band, a remnant of courageous leaders with, in obliterating the darkness with Light.
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/
Likewise, email us to schedule a seminar for your group’s gathering on the Joseph-Daniel Calling or on anointing the creative in business.
2019 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