As I continue my journey through the chronological Bible, I always groan through Chronicles. Ezra, a scribe and priest, is believed to have written this “factual written account of important or historical events” . In his position he would have had access to official records. Still, in this book, he goes on and on with the numbers and “son of” statements. I’ve tried to find this interesting. I’ve heard several sermons and read some articles about why these statistics are included in the Bible. I believe they have purpose, I just don’t like it. So, it surprised me when I got interested in 1Chronicles 12.
A little history: the Israelites descended from Jacob and his twelve sons. The tribes of Israel are named after these twelve sons. They settled in Canaan according to their tribes when Moses brought them out of Egypt.
Fast forward 400+ years to 1 Chronicles 12. King David is hiding from Saul at Ziklag. In verse 3, Ezra begins to name the warriors who joined him there. In most of Chronicles, this is just a list of people, places and numbers but here, Ezra added a comment about each tribe’s warriors. He gives the numbers with a little side note.
Judah’s men were armed with shields and spears and so were Naphtali’s men. Simeon’s men were brave warriors. Benjamin’s men had remained loyal to Saul until this time. Ephraim’s men were highly respected. Zebulun’s men were prepared for battle and completely loyal. Dan’s men were also prepared for battle as was Asher’s. The men of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh lived on the other side of the Jordan but joined David with “every kind of weapon”.
Yet, with all of these qualities, I found the men of Issachar to be the men I wanted on my side. Issachar was Leah’s fifth son and Jacob’s ninth. He was conceived because of the “mandrake incident”. (See Genesis 49:14-15) His blessing from his father Jacob was that his descendants would be “forced laborers”. Thanks, Dad, what a blessing.
However, in this record, verse 32, “All these men understood the signs of the times and knew the best course for Israel to take.” NLT In their commentaries of this verse, Ellicott and Benson point out that the Greek words used here related specifically to political savvy. The men of Issachar KNEW what to do in this particular time.
As our country struggles with “re-opening” and the threat of this virus continues, I can only pray, Give us men of Issachar. Let wisdom and discernment fall on all of us, especially our political and spiritual leaders. May none of us listen to fabrications, untruths and tall tales. We need the discernment that the men of Issachar had. We need leaders who “understand the signs of the time” and know the best course for America to take.
Thinkin’ about taking some time to pray for our President, Governors, Pastors, church leadership. Will you join me?