The group of guys nearby may have been trying to see who could come up with the most extravagant understatement. I can’t say for sure, but if it was a contest, my money would have been on the bearded guy in the baseball cap. You could tell he was having a serious moment because he had a look on his face like his favorite bar had just been sold to a chain of health food stores. “Well… ,” he said in an unhurried Tennessee drawl, “Things shore ain’t like they used to be.”
I suspect the most distracted among us came to that same conclusion a long time ago. But despite the drama that 2020 has proven to be so far, it’s looking like “Pandora” has another box she hasn’t even opened yet. We’re approaching an ideological intersection, and it isn’t one of those traffic circles with several exit points where you get to choose from a variety of roads. What our country is facing is a simple, but profoundly significant ‘Y’ in the road. There’s no possibility of a U-turn on our journey, and we can’t just stop and remain here while we ponder our situation. We have to choose one road or the other. There is no third option, and all of us will be affected by the choices we make in the weeks ahead. What to do at a time like this is a relevant question.
Time for a Recruiting Call ~
Maybe it would be a good time to issue a recruiting call for more people like the “Sons of Issachar.” They were a group of men who came on the scene at a contentious time during the reign of King Saul. God had declared that Saul’s rebellious behavior would cost him the kingdom, and David had already been anointed as his replacement. Though David was the identified successor, the transition was not immediate. For some time after the prophetic announcement, Saul continued to wear the crown and saw killing David as the only way to hold onto it. David kept on the move and hid in remote and secluded places as Saul hunted him with obsessive persistence and murderous intent..
As word spread that David was God’s choice to lead Israel, courageous and gifted men began to gather around him. Among them were 200 leaders from the tribe of Issachar. The brief Biblical record identifies their tribal association and position as leaders, but goes on to add that they possessed two outstanding qualities that we are in desperate need of today. Here’s how God introduced them:
…Of the sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, their chiefs were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their command; 1 Chronicles 12:32 (NKJV)
Seeing the Bigger Picture ~
These sons of Issachar had an understanding of the times and could see the bigger picture. They realized that there was more at stake than the rigors of wilderness living for their little band and the deadly cat and mouse game going on with King Saul. They considered the implications their actions might have on God’s long-term plan for David and all of Israel. Seeing beyond the chaotic circumstances of the moment was vital. It enabled them to deal with immediate challenges in a way that would ensure valuable benefits later on.
Their long-range vision provided the basis for their second standout quality. Their expanded perspective allowed them to determine more clearly what Israel ought to do. Having an understanding of the times solves nothing until somebody decides to do something with the information. Without subsequent action, knowledge is no more than a topic for another impotent, pointless discussion. Knowing what Israel ought to do was the capstone that made their foresight pragmatic, which also made it “priceless”.
But now let’s bring our time machine into the to here and now. How might some modern “sons of Issachar” react to a comment like, “Well… things shore ain’t like they used to be”? Maybe they’d remind us to look backward only long enough to get our bearings, and then pour all our energy and resources into doing things that can impact the present situation, and at the same time, produce powerful long-term benefits.
Any valid understanding of the times would recognize that the violent conflagrations erupting in our streets today are not just the product of a few failed public policies. They’re the predictable result of a long and carefully orchestrated process of spiritual neglect, mental indoctrination and emotional manipulation. The national shift away from God promoted by academia and reinforced by every form of media has left a spiritual vacuum in the hearts and minds of millions for multiple generations. That internal emptiness opened the door for every kind of moral degradation, ethical deception, and relational disintegration imaginable, and has become the fountainhead for the violence we’re seeing in our streets every night.
Some Positive Suggestions ~
No combination of public policies alone will ever be able to correct the problems that have resulted from years of spiritual apathy and irresponsibility. We can’t undo what’s already been done and return to former days, but there are things we can do. The sons of Issachar would tell us that the values and principles that ensured a better, safer, and more prosperous life in earlier days are still available and just as powerful as they ever were. They would agree that, indeed, “Things shore ain’t like they used to be.” But they would go on to suggest some positive responses, for instance:
- We can return to treating the Word of God as the final authoritative truth about life and the most effective and prosperous way to live it. The authority of the Word of God was never something requiring government approval or popularity in the general culture. Its judgment regarding human behavior is eternally accurate and effective, whether we as individuals or the culture at large choose to recognize it or not. Denying it won’t allow an escape from its domain or remove it from the heart of the One who holds our breath in His hands.
- We can return to treating sin as the repulsive and destructive thing it always was. The culture may say that moral codes are different now, but you still can’t play with a rattlesnake and expect not to be injected with its venom. Refusing to call a serpent what it obviously is has no effect on its nature. For decades entertainment icons and social “experts” have told us that deadly vipers are really harmless, while they ignore the millions living in misery and dying in despair. Destructive behaviors often feel good for a while, and calling them what they are won’t stop some from engaging in them, but knowing the difference between a slithering creature and a playful kitten might make us more careful in deciding what we want to pick up.
- We can return to treating traditional family relationships as the vital basis they are to ensuring our social stability and welfare. Regardless of the depraved, perverted notions about sexual practices, personal identity, and what constitutes a “family,” children are still born as boys or girls. Children still flourish best on every level and parents are happier and more prosperous when they live in a fully staffed, morally committed, gender balanced, spiritually informed environment. We can’t mandate relationships, but we can define healthy ones and hold them up as the ideal to be pursued, promoted, and protected.
- We can return to our mission of unashamedly proclaiming that Jesus Christ still offers forgiveness of sin and eternal life to all who will repent and trust Him as Savior. No matter whose party is in power, every one of us will eventually breathe our last breath in this world. There are still only two options open to us, and the choice must be made prior to taking that exit ramp.
Personal Action Required ~
The sons of Issachar in David’s day could see what was coming, and they knew that it was time to act. It was time to get up, show up, and get personally involved in God’s plan for themselves and their nation. They knew what was going on and what they “ought to do” and they did it. May God help multitudes of us to follow their example.
“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to Tweet & Share from the pull quotes below. Each quote links directly to this article through Twitter.
“Having an understanding of the times solves nothing until somebody decides to do something with the information. Without subsequent action, knowledge is no more than a topic for another impotent, pointless discussion.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
“The violent conflagrations in our streets aren’t just the product of a few failed public policies, but the predictable result of a long, carefully orchestrated process of spiritual neglect, mental indoctrination & emotional manipulation.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
“The national shift away from God opened the door for every kind of moral degradation, ethical deception, and relational disintegration imaginable and has become the fountainhead for the violence we’re seeing in our streets every night.”@GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
“The Word of God and His judgment regarding human behavior is eternally accurate and effective. Denying it won’t allow an escape from its domain or remove it from the heart of the One who holds our breath in His hands.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
“The sons of Issachar in David’s day knew that it was time to act. It was time to get up, show up, and get personally involved in God’s plan for themselves and their nation. May God help multitudes of us to follow their example.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
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