The men of Issachar

Posted by on Sep 16, 2013 in Faith Words |

Words of Faith

Rev. Rita S. Platt

September 8, 2013

“Lessons from Unnamed Individuals: The men of Issachar”

 Scripture:  1 Chronicles 12:28-38

A very unusual illness is spreading throughout Pittsburgh- Pirate fever!  And the illness is an epidemic, spreading throughout the country. For the first time in a very long time, persons are talking about the Pirates in a positive light. For the first time in I can’t say how many years (because I’d rather not)  the Pirates were on the cover of Sports Illustrated.  And even though we are anxiously awaiting win # 82 (which better be today)  I  thought it only fitting to introduce our second message in “The Lessons we can learn from Unnamed Individuals” with a baseball illustration:

                Early in WWII, baseball broadcasters were forbidden to give information about weather            conditions over the air for fear it might be of aid to enemy bombers. On one St. Louis broadcast,     Dizzy Dean was trying to fill in a rain delay with about an hour of aimless talk, never mentioning   why there was no action on the field. Finally he just ran out of words, and said, “If you folks     don’t know what’s holding up this game just stick your heads out the window.”

Sticking your head out the window is one sure way to determine the weather.  But determining the signs of our time may be a bit harder.  Our vantage point from the window isn’t enough; our vantage point from our pews isn’t always enough.  Do you understand how God is moving today?

As I was reading the scripture this morning, going through the list of tribes and reading, you probably thought “where is she going with this?” If you are reading 1 Chronicles in your devotional time, if you are anything like me, this is the point your mind glazes over and you hope that soon you will get to “the good stuff,” only to miss a little nugget found there: some unknown men that have an important lesson to teach us.

1 Chr 12: 23 These are the numbers of the men armed for battle who came to David at Hebron to turn Saul’s kingdom over to him, as the LORD had said: … 32 men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do…

If you were paying attention to the sequence of numbers you may have noticed many tribes had much larger groups of Individuals…most of the tribes in the thousands.  Issachar: 200; 200 persons who understood the times.  These unnamed men have an important lesson for us

 The first lesson they can teach us is the importance of understanding the times.

Our culture is defined by change but often the church is not. In fact, I would say without any hesitation that the church in large does a terrible job when it comes to change. Because of this we as Christians often become irrelevant to the world around us.

The only person who likes change is a wet baby. — Mark Twain

It says in this passage that the men of Issachar understood the times. This means that they understood that it was a new day and that God was moving in a different way from the way he had in the past. The context of this passage is that in 1 Chr. 10 King Saul had died in battle along with his son Jonathan.  For many years Saul had been king but a growing movement had begun which recognized that God had appointed David king.

It is easy to become stuck in your ways and trust only in things that have worked in the past. You just assume that the way God has moved and used you in the past is the way He will continue to move and use you tomorrow. We assume that since God does not change, His methods don’t change either.  It is true that God does not change.  However, the way He responds to each generation does change because the needs of each generation are different.

1. We need the sharpness of mind to understand the times: to know the people of Wilkinsburg today, to          feel their pulse, learn their language, know  their needs.

That’s an important lesson because so often we fail to see where our society is going and adapt our presentation of the gospel message to meet the needs of the people around us. To be effective in witnessing we have to understand the people around us that we are sharing with.

2. The other lesson we can learn from these unknown men is to know how to move forward.

The men of Issachar not only understood what God was doing but they knew how to respond to what God was doing.  They had a plan.  We can understand the times and even understand what the Bible says but this means nothing unless we can then act upon that information.  We have to be able to respond and apply the truth in a way that those around us can understand.  So often the world sees the church as irrelevant, not because they do not have the truth but because they have failed to communicate it in an understandable way to the world around it.

It’s a new day.  God is doing a new thing.  God wants us to play a vital part in the work God is doing; but it won’t happen unless we are willing to learn a lesson from these unnamed men.