Understanding the Times

“From the tribe of Issachar, there were 200 leaders of the tribe with their relatives. All these men understood the signs of the times and knew the best course for Israel to take.” (1 Chronicles 12:32 NLT)

1 Chronicles 10 records the death of Israel’s first king, Saul, then chapter 11 tells of David becoming king of all Israel. The signs of the times were clear as David became king, and he knew, as all Israel knew, that before there would be peace, they must commit to a time of war. Ron Hutchcraft wrote: “when you know what time it is, you need to know what action to take.”

In 1 Chronicles 12 we read of the tribes of Israel stepping up and joining their new king, ready for battle. But I love verse 18 that says: “Then the Spirit came upon Amasai, the leader of the Thirty, and he said, ‘We are yours, David! We are on your side, son of Jesse. Peace and prosperity be with you, and success to all who help you, for your God is the one who helps you.’”

The Thirty were the “baddest” of the good guys. They were the most special of Israel’s “Special Forces.” They were the guys you wanted on your side if you were going to war against a powerful enemy! I’m reminded of John Piper’s words: “You cannot know what prayer is for, until you know that life is war.”

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Do you realize that if you’re a child of God you are in the Lord’s Army? And you weren’t drafted, you volunteered. “How so?” you may wonder. It was the day you knelt before the Lord of Heaven’s Armies and pledged your allegiance to His eternal Kingdom. “Hmmmm,” you may be thinking, “I don’t remember that.”

May I be honest? Committing your life to Jesus is, in a lot of ways, like committing your life to your partner in marriage. You may not be married, but if you are, I strongly suggest you remember the date that partnership began. Similarly, while I don’t remember the exact date, I know it was the Spring of 1963 when I knelt at an altar of prayer in a small church in South Charleston, West Virginia, and committed all of me to all of Him.

If you don’t remember making that decision, could it be because you haven’t? When you’re a member of any branch of our Armed Forces, you have a date of enlistment. From that point you do basically what you’re told when you’re told to do it. If you don’t like taking orders, I have three suggestions: Don’t join the military! Don’t get married! (the two most important words in marriage for any husband is “Yes, dear!”) And don’t become a Jesus follower!

I’ve read the last chapter of the Bible and I know a few things for certain. Jesus and His eternal family win! But I also know what’s coming before His return is going to get a lot uglier and messier than we can imagine. Jesus said in Luke 12:49-52: “I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning! I have a terrible baptism of suffering ahead of Me, and I am under a heavy burden until it is accomplished. Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I have come to divide people against each other! From now on families will be split apart, three in favor of Me, and two against – or two in favor and three against.”

The only hope our loved ones have, especially those who are currently “against us,” in terms of their devotion to Jesus, is for us to peacefully, lovingly, compassionately, yet without compromise, help them to understand the times in which we live and that their only hope of eternal survival is Jesus.

Pray! Pray! Pray! That the strong Spirit of God will penetrate their hearts and minds, giving them insight and understanding of the words He will give us to share with them.

Blessings, Ed

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