In 1 Chronicles 12, we read about all the military men of Israel coming together in support of making David the new king. Each of the 12 tribes of Israel sent their armed soldiers. One group received special mention in this passage. Read what it says in 2 Chronicles 12:32, “Of Issachar, men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, 200 chiefs, and all their kinsmen under their command.”
Issachar sent 200 chiefs who understood the times. Two hundred chiefs are not a lot of people—the other tribes were sending hundreds of thousands of heavily armed troops. Issachar only sent 200 chiefs with their kinsman. Why did this group get a special mention as those who had understanding when they sent so few?
King Saul had just died in battle, and the nation of Israel was heading toward civil war. Many stayed loyal to Saul’s family and worked to make one of Saul’s surviving sons king. Others followed David, who was Saul’s most celebrated field general. In a very short period, the country went from a stable situation to everything being in upheaval. Change is hard. Most people will do everything they can to maintain the status quo. We don’t want things to change, and this was true for the people of Israel as well.
Enter the men of Issachar. We don’t know much about them, but what we do know is that they understood the times. This means they were willing to look with clear eyes at what was going on around them and deal with it honestly and forthrightly. They knew that David was God’s chosen king. They knew that people would resist change with all their might. With this keen insight, they decided that the nation didn’t just need soldiers, it required leaders – so they sent their wise chiefs.
As Christians in a time of social distancing and isolation, we are afforded a significant opportunity for ministry. Because we have confident hope in the future, we have the freedom to hold less tightly to the status quo. This means in times of turmoil, we can be like the men of Issachar and look with clear eyes at what the situation needs, and we can lead with hope and strength of God.
How can we serve as those with understanding, and be leaders in our community?
First, to the degree you are able, stay home. We lead well by being an example to our community through caring enough to stay home. We can understand the times and affirm that the more we stay home, the quicker this season of isolation will pass.
Second, prepare and look after those in your care. However, preparation and hoarding are not the same things. As Christians, we are to be generous like Christ in times of stress as much (or more!) as times of ease. One of the ways to show generosity is only to buy what you need and not more. Leave some for the next person.
Third, pray for our community, country, friends, and neighbors. Pray especially for those you know who are at high risk if they contract Covid-19. Pray that God would keep them from infection. Pray that the rate of spread would slow. Pray that the economic fallout would be minimized. Pray especially for hourly workers in service industries, that they would soon be back to work. Pray for those in the healthcare field. They need strength and protection as they serve on the front lines of this pandemic.
Finally, don’t neglect meeting together (Hebrews 10:24-25). It is going to be difficult not to see one another at church for the next four weeks (or more if needed). Make a point to call one another on the phone and check-in. Don’t neglect attending service via Livestream. Yes, it can be a little strange, but these are odd times. We all need to be reminded of the good news of Jesus, especially in days like these. The Elders and Staff here at FBC are working to provide gospel ministry remotely – but each of us will need to be intentional to take advantage of the opportunities, as strange as it may seem to do things online for a while.
I look forward to being with you this Sunday as we celebrate the work of God in Jesus Christ together! This Sunday, we will be seeking God through His Word in 2 Corinthians 12:1-10.
See you Sunday,