Archive for the ‘Issachar’ Category

A Wolf had been prowling around a flock of Sheep for a long time, and the Shepherd watched very anxiously to prevent him from carrying off a Lamb. But the Wolf did not try to do any harm. Instead he seemed to be helping the Shepherd take care of the Sheep. At last the Shepherd got so used to seeing the Wolf about that he forgot how wicked he could be.

One day he even went so far as to leave his flock in the Wolf’s care while he went on an errand. But when he came back and saw how many of the flock had been killed and carried off, he knew how foolish to trust a Wolf as he exclaimed. “I have been rightly served; why did I trust my sheep to a Wolf?”

Moral: Delegate my task wisely, and only to people i trust.

As i read this it occurred to me that in many cases i have delegated my life to what has become comfortable meaning the wolf. The new ground rules have been around for some time and have often become so comfortable that i trusted them with what are my most valuable things.  It happens so subtly that i don’t even realize it. That is until one day i come back and find that the new ground rules have killed a relationship that is close to me, or that relationships i cherish have been carried off to, a relationship has been wounded deeply, and then the stench of death that fills the air because i left them to “My Friend” the wolf.

At the time i did not realize that this is how i became aware of “My Addiction” and the fact that i am an addict with an addiction to sin. Sin had become so comfortable that it seemed normal. This week i have been sharing that it’s time for me to “Understand the Times.” The wolf has been prowling around seeking how he may devour me and i have given him a place of trust. i have given him charge over certain areas of my life, thus sin. Part of the problem, although it’s not really a problem, is that nothing bad is going on right now, so i perceive that maybe he’s not interested in me. Then there’s the idea that i’m not doing anything that the wolf would think is important, so why would he waste his time on me? Basing life on results will get me every time. Just because everything is hunky dory does not make my life nor me Godly. And when things seem to be falling apart it does not make my life nor me unGodly.

It is not my intention to go around crying wolf but for me  “understanding the times” in light of this story means taking a closer look and see what areas i have left exposed to the wolf and just how much i have given him in a place of trust. It would seem that this is clarity on Psalm 17:15 from yesterday where it says , “And me? I plan on looking you full in the face. When I get up, (understand the times) I’ll see your full stature and live heaven on earth.

When i “get up” i will recognize the wolf (understand the times) and the places i have yielded to him and then i’ll see His full stature and live heaven ON EARTH (use the events of the day to my advantage)… when i “get up“!

On Monday as i was waiting and considering what to post, i was led to Issachar. The only reference i had to that name was, i thought it was one of the 12 tribes of Jacob but honestly not positive. i thought it was strange but i have learned to go with the leading. i had spent about 2 hours looking at Issachar, when one of our tenants came in to pay rent and as she sat down her cell rang. She answered, “Issachar, i am in a meeting.” What are the odds? Thus Issachar!

i grew up in a different time and age (NO REGRETS), where the ground rules were not what they are today. i am being asked by circumstances, situations and people to play by these new ground rules and i don’t care for them. i don’t want to play and it’s not because i don’t know how to have fun, but because this is serious. Whether time is short because the end of time is coming or by virtue of my age.

i think i have known for some time that the ground rules had changed, but i never thought that it had anything to do with me. Ignorance! These posts have helped me see that i have been trying to put a square peg (me) in a round hole (world). i have beat myself with a hammer and i just don’t fit. That is, unless i remove some of the square, a little from my values, t slice from my beliefs, a chunk from my relationship with God and eventually i will fit. i will become a more well rounded person. i don’t want to become a well rounded peg.

These new ground rules say, God probably does exist instead of God exists, the universe is a product of chance, instead of the universe is created, there is no plan (all is chaos), instead of God has a plan for me and He is working ALL things together for my good, man is not significant, instead of i am significant because i was made in His image and likeness, there is no absolute truth, instead of God is absolute truth, there is no way of escape, instead of God is the way of my escape.

Truth Vs Lie – Truth and Lie agree to fight to the death. Truth comes to the fight in full armor with sword drawn. Lie comes to the fight with just s sword in hand as protection. Lie asks Truth to lay down his armor for a fair fight. Truth agrees and takes off his sword and armor. Lie then steals Truth’s armor and dresses himself in the armor and steals his sword and races off. Truth races off after Lie to do battle with just his mere hands. And that’s how you have the Truth chasing a well dressed Lie.

It’s time for me to “understand the times of today and to be constantly aware of what is going on so that i can use the events of today to my advantage to grow in relationship with Him. It sounds like Issachar had the right idea, i must do today what others will not (understand the times) so that tomorrow i can do what others can not (use the events of the day for my advantage). Now where have i heard that before?

i am one of those people who would say, “This could never happen to me. i do not participate or accept these new ground rules.” Mistake, because the storm has increased and has much larger boundaries. In years past the problem was not as evident in general society as it was among young college age people.

Currently, however, these new ground rules are rapidly spreading through our whole culture. The masses of people are now receiving it without even being aware of the fact. It comes in the things that i read, in the programs that i see and hear on TV, in magazines and books and in the constant bombardment of advertising.

It may be said that modern man is living in a mood of despair. By this i mean that there is no longer the sense of hope that life can have meaning and a sense of purpose. There is a battle, despair on one side and hope on the other and the winner will be the one i feed the most.

One non Christian thinker expressed it this way: “Man is placed in an infinite space in which his being seems to be a single and vanishing point. He is surrounded by a mute universe, by a world that is silent to his religious feelings and to his deepest moral demands.”  i am not surrounded by a mute universe, the heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows His handiwork (Ps. 19).

i may learn to understand the times but as for accepting it… thats where i’ll struggle. How do i accept what i do not believe, like, enjoy or want? That must be it! i am outside the “eye of the storm” and the winds are tossing me to and fro. If this were a physical storm i would have evacuated when they issued the warning, but this is spiritual, so i don’t see an evacuation plan. i see only two options. One is to get back into the eye of the storm as quickly as possible, conform to the new ground rules and ride it out. The second option is to stay out of the “eye” and hunker down with the original set of ground rules. Psalm 119 comes to mind Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are the undefiled (the upright, truly sincere, and blameless) in the way [of the revealed will of God], who walk (order their conduct and conversation) in the law of the Lord (the whole of God’s revealed will). Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are they who keep His testimonies, and who seek, inquire for and of Him and crave Him with the whole heart. Yes, they do no unrighteousness [no willful wandering from His precepts]; they walk in His ways. You have commanded us to keep Your precepts, that we should observe them diligently.

The sad fact is that whether in the “eye” or out of the “eye” the story or i should say the challenge is the same. Both environments are adjusting to the new ground rules. Christianity has become only slightly different than non-Chritianity. The words of Paul that i am to live my life SO IN CONTRAST fall on deaf ears. i often do not realize the extent to which i am being brought into conformity with these new ground rules.

David’s words say all of what i’m trying to say a whole lot better. “Listen while I build my case, God, the most honest prayer you’ll ever hear. Show the world I’m innocent— in your heart you know I am. Go ahead, examine me from inside out, surprise me in the middle of the night— You’ll find I’m just what I say I am. My words don’t run loose. I’m not trying to get my way in the world’s way. I’m trying to get your way, your Word’s way. I’m staying on your trail; I’m putting one foot in front of the other. I’m not giving up. I call to you, God, because I’m sure of an answer. So—answer! bend your ear! listen sharp! Paint grace-graffiti on the fences; take in your frightened children who are running from the neighborhood bullies straight to you. Keep your eye on me; hide me under your cool wing feathers from the wicked who are out to get me, from mortal enemies closing in.

He goes on for a few more verses and closes in verse 15 with this, And me? I plan on looking you full in the face. When I get up, I’ll see your full stature and live heaven on earth.

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”  ―    Søren Kierkegaard

Perhaps the reason i feel out of touch or as though something is wrong which i can’t see or seem to be able to find is this.

Let me say that there is the obvious fact that i live in a time of great change. Many things that once seemed solid, fixed, and secure have either slowly changed or just suddenly moved. What was is now not and i am not sure of what is to come, but i have a bit of fear about it.

Example until recent times it was generally assumed by people in society, even if they were not personally Christian believers, that there is such a thing as truth. People also accepted the idea that there is such a thing as right. And it was generally agreed that the opposite of a true thing was false, and of a right thing was wrong. There was, in other words, certain ground rules. These ground rules came from a long-standing influence of Christian beliefs.

Most people lived within these ground rules. This does not mean that they were better people by nature than people are today. It does not mean that they were pleasing to God. No one has ever been, or ever will be, pleasing to God except in Jesus Christ.

What i am talking about is not that certain individuals were consciously doing things in a certain way. i am saying that the influence of the Christian beliefs were such that most people took certain things for granted. They thought in a certain way without realizing that the ground rules in which they were thinking rested on a Christian foundation. They thought of the universe as an ordered structure. They did not see it as “chaos” but as “cosmos.” They assumed (often without thinking much about it) that there are such things as final answers and an ultimate meaning in life.

What i am possibly realizing and sharing is the tragic fact is that this is no longer true. Thus there is a void, there is no “understanding the times.” To add to this, the changes are occurring at a much greater pace than years past which leaves my head spinning as i try to make sense of, or understand all or any of it.

“Within a hurricane, winds very close to the center, the winds drop abruptly from their extreme maximum to light breezes or even to complete calm. Clear skies or only thin clouds prevail. The central circular calm area bears the name ‘eye of the storm’” (Encyclopedia Britannica, 1963 ed., 22:497).

The person who is born to a Christian family, and having the nurture of a faithful Christian Church, is in this “eye of the storm.” i don’t mean a literal storm, but i am referring to the spiritual storm that is taking place all around me today. i may not always realize that the storm is there, but it is. i may not feel its force yet, but it is unlikely that i will live long without doing so.

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”  ―    Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Each of the twelve sons of Israel received a blessing from their father, Jacob, just before his death. The twelve sons gave direction to the twelve tribes of Israel, and Jacob’s blessings contained prophetic information about the future of each tribe.
In the case of the tribe of Issachar, Jacob prophesied, “Issachar is a rawboned donkey, lying down between two burdens; He saw that rest was good, and that the land was pleasant; He bowed his shoulder to bear a burden, and became a band of slaves” (Genesis 49:14-15).
Issachar means “he will bring reward” or “Man of Wages.” The word translated “rawboned” in the NIV is translated “strong” in other versions. It can also mean “bony” as in “nothing but skin and bones.” Therefore, the prophecy could either mean that the descendants of Issachar would be strong and robust, able to bear burdens, or that they would be thin and weak and unable to do so. As a result there is no definitive answer.
The image of a donkey lying down between its burdens can be interpreted two ways. One way, is that it could portray a sturdy animal resting for the task ahead. The second view is that, donkeys are known to stubbornly crouch between their burdens to keep from having to do the work! The story of Issachar in the word does not conclusively favor either view.
There is a second part to the prophecy that Jacob gave, some believe that the descendants of Issachar would be farmers— “a band of slaves” means they would be servants of the land. Others see it as a prediction of forced labor, yet nothing in Scripture indicates that the tribe of Issachar was ever forced into slavery of any kind.
The men of Issachar is mentioned again during the time of David’s hastle with Saul (1 Chronicles 12:32). There were two hundred chiefs of Issachar who were faithful to David and this is the important part, they are described as those who “understood the times and knew what Israel should do.”
Many are divided on the meaning of the phrase “understood the times.” Some say the men of Issachar are politically aware, knowing how to use current events to their own advantage. Others take the phrase to mean, they were known for their understanding of astronomy and physical science. Then there is a third group that sees them as men of prudence and wisdom, because of their religious scholarship, knew that this was the proper time for David to become king. No absolutes again.

So how am i to understand Issachar and the different interpretations, and what do they mean to me today? It is important for me to understand that Jacob’s prophecies to his sons were just that—prophecies to his sons. i must be very careful when trying to apply Old Testament words to myself today.

It is impossible for me to be one of the men of Issachar, as in physically related. But maybe just being associated by name will do? i would like to be a man who “understands the time and knows what i am to do.” i wonder how it would look to be politically aware to the point of knowing how to use events to my own advantage. The second two ideas do not interest me in the same way, and i know i am cherry picking, which i am not a fan of in general.
The Word has much to say about “understanding the times.” The Lord rebuked the Pharisees and Sadducees because they understood the signs which
told them of the weather, but did not understand what was happening in the spiritual realm (Matt. 16:1-4). They didn’t realize that the Son of God was in
their midst, and that redemption was being accomplished. They did not understand how they were being deluded by Satan and were blinded to these things (John 8:44). The result was chaos.
How important it is, then, that i understand the times in which i am living. And shouldn’t i at least know what my position is?