“From the tribe of Issachar, there were 200 leaders of the tribe with their relatives. All these men understood the signs of the times and knew the best course for Israel to take.” – 1 Chronicles 12:32.
These men of Issachar in 1 Chronicles 12:32 were wise because they “understood the signs of the times;” they understood the importance of the days they were living in. We live in troubled times where there is little understanding of the times. There is probably even less wisdom to know how to deal with these times. What sort of direction should the church take in the midst of the confusion of our days? How can we as the people of God know where we are going, and how to effectively spread the gospel to the world around us? How can we speak with a strong prophetic voice to our society?
Change is a natural part of life. The question is not if change will occur but how will we respond to change when it does occur. The story of the men of Issachar is the right way to respond to change. We as a church can learn from their example if we are going to connect and be relevant with our culture today.
It says in this passage that the men of Issachar understood the times. In other words, God was moving in a different way than He had in the past. King Saul had died in battle along with his son Jonathan. For many years Saul had been king but a growing number of people recognized that God had appointed David king. The men of Issachar saw that God had selected a new king and they aligned themselves with David. What about the church today? Are we following God’s direction, even if it is new and different, or are we stuck still following a different king? Do you understand how God is moving today or are we trusting only in things that have worked in the past? We can’t assume that God will not change. We can’t assume that His methods won’t change either. The way He responds to each generation does change because the needs of each generation are different.
The biblical text, however, does not end with the men of Issachar merely understanding the times. They also knew what Israel should do. This adds wisdom to knowledge. Knowing information is one thing. Having the wisdom to know what to do with that knowledge is immensely valuable. The first step for many of us is to pray this simple prayer: “Lord, please help me to understand the times in which I live. May I not be dependent upon others’ opinions but always seek after your accurate perspective on what is happening in my world.”
We need to see where and how the Lord is moving today and to embrace the fresh movements happening all around the world. We need to get out and get going because there is a world that desperately needs to hear the good news about Jesus Christ.
- How well do you think we understand the times? How well do we understand where our culture is going?
- How well do you think we apply the truths of God’s Word to the issues of our day?
- What can we do in the short term to be the kind of spiritually sensitive, discerning people that understand the times?