Jump Start # 3195
1 Chronicles 12:32 “Of the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do, their chiefs were two hundred; and all their kinsmen were at their command.”
Our verse comes from a section of Scripture that identifies and names those who were with David. As the king was rising to the throne, no longer was Saul’s lineage in the royal line. Who would be with the king? The list is long. The numbers are impressive. The people would support David. He had the nation in his heart and the nation had his back.
And, it is in these long lists of names and numbers, that our verse is found. The sons of Issachar. They understood the times and they had knowledge of what Israel should do. What a profound statement! It is something worthy of considering. How many today do not understand the times. And, even worse, how many have no clue as to what the church should do? For many, the church is set to autopilot. Things continue without any thought to how relevant, useful, practical and helpful they are. It’s been this way and it will always be this way. The sons of Issachar understood the times.
Some thoughts for us:
First, some are hopelessly stuck in the past. This can happen in the home. This can happen in business. This can happen in the church. Moms and dads, especially grandparents, must understand the times. Things are different than when we went to school. And, as we forever bring up those old, stale stories about how it was when we went to school, it doesn’t help situations today. Things are different.
Many businesses have closed because they failed to understand the times. The days of mega malls where people spent half a day walking around shopping are nearly over. The days of printed newspapers are nearly over. And, those business that failed to adjust and keep up found sales plummeting and many were forced to close.
The same attitude can be found in many congregations. We do not change God’s pattern. We do not change what the Bible says. But holding two meetings every year, for no other reason than we also do, may need to be looked at more closely. What method works best to teach young people? Old, black and white class books, that ask obvious questions, neither challenge, nor hold the interests of most students today. The sons of Issachar understood the times. Do we?
Second, others live in a fantasy land ideology that fails to see things as they are. Everything is fine. Everything is great. Everything works. That may be nothing more than a fantasy. There was a time in our preaching when sermon after sermon chased the demons of premillennialism, Calvinism, humanism, atheism, and any other “ism” that could be found. The “isms” were driven from the land. But today, it’s not those “isms” that are keeping us up at night. It’s raising a godly family in an immoral world that has no compass for what is right. It’s having to deal with the tough decisions of aging parents, high prices, few supplies and a generation that doesn’t want to work. The sons of Issachar understood the times.
Third, some want to stick their head in the sand and refuse to admit what is going on around them. Covid has hurt the church. Many congregations are on life support. A few more funerals and several places are going to have to consider closing the doors for good. Some just do not want to admit that there are strange and unbiblical things being said from some pulpits today. There is a great push to emphasize emotions and feelings over doctrine. The sons of Issachar understood the times. Not only did the sons of Issachar understand the times, but they had a knowledge of what Israel ought to do. Some today don’t know what to do?
So how do we become like the sons of Issachar and understand the times we are in? Here are a few suggestions:
First, notice what is filling social media. I know many elderships in which none of the shepherds are on Facebook or Twitter. Don’t like it, they say. Don’t need it, they claim. But, one thing social media does is identify what disciples are following, liking, and commenting on. Sometimes what you see disappoints you. Sometimes you see lights shinning. But, it’s not just noticing our people, it’s recognizing the times we are in. Notice what others share, like and are commenting on. You see trends. You see attitudes. You begin to get an awareness of what is going on in our times.
Second, conversations are another great way to understand the times. Talk to people. Talk to people you now well. Talk to people you just met. Listen. Listen to what interests them. Listen to what bothers them. Get an understanding of our times.
We preachers can spend a long time answering questions that no is asking anymore. The balance of preaching is that one cannot spend all day with his nose in books. You’ll get great book knowledge, but you won’t understand the times and what is needful. But if you spend all your time out with others, you may see what is going on, but you may not have the knowledge to address it well. It’s a balance. In the books and with the people.
The nature of the gospel is that it is always relevant. It’s unchanging because it always fits. Our job is to take that ageless message and show people why they need it today. It still works. Our times need it so badly. And when a church, a preacher, a group of shepherds, or the message delivered seems out of touch, it will fall flat on the floor.
Shepherds today are going to be facing things that were never heard of generations ago. A transgender who wants to become a Christian? Now what? It will happen some day.
The sons of Issachar understood the times and they knew what Israel ought to do. It’s time we do the same!