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Chapter 8

Understanding Of The Times

1 Chronicles 12:32

"…of the children 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..."

One of the symbols for the tribe of Issachar is the sun and the moon. They represent the understanding of times and seasons.

Because of their knowledge of the Word, the sons of Issachar were able to move in the prophetic throughout the history of Israel. They had unusual insights about political situations.

When it was time for David to become King of Judah and Israel, the sons of Issachar understood the times of God, and they knew what Israel should do. All the 200 leaders of the tribe gathered all the sons of Issachar and became the mighty men in David’s army. Because of their ability to understand the times, all the other eleven tribes heeded their commands. David entrusted them to provide the prophetic and military leadership to the whole nation of Israel.

They understood the times that God was seeking true worshippers that would worship Him in spirit and in truth. God was seeking a king that would follow after His own heart, and not one who did his own thing. They understood the times that God’s hand was no longer upon King Saul but on King David. They chose to follow the LORD. They lived up to their name of being a strong fighter. They did not settle for the easy way out.

How can we understand the times of God? How can we understand His plans and purposes for our lives and the lives of others? In Amos 3:7, the prophet told us, "Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets." This verse illustrates the intimate relationship between the prophet and God.

The Hebrew word for secret is cowd. It means a session, a company of persons in close discussion, intimacy, consultation or a secret. It is an assembly of insiders as they share and discuss secrets.

Its root word is yacad. It means to set, to sit down together, settle or consult. It also means to appoint, take counsel, establish, lay the foundation, instruct, lay or ordain.

Putting cowd and yacad together, we will understand the full picture. Hereby we can see a close and intimate relationship between God and His prophets. There is a close communion and discussion going on as two or more people are resting upon cushions, couches or pillows. They are reclining in total relaxation. Nothing strenuous. The Old Testament prophets knew God very intimately:

  • Adam, Enoch and Noah walked with God (Genesis 3.8; 5.22; 6.9)
  • Abraham was a friend of God (James 2.23)
  • Moses saw God face to face (Numbers 12.6-8).

God’s desire was that we might all be prophets (Numbers 11.17,29). He longed for us to go back to His Garden where He can commune with us as Friend with friend. We are called to be His friends. As friends, we can have a face to face encounter with Him, sitting down together and discussing the matters upon His heart and our hearts.

A good way to imagine this friendly relationship between God and His prophets is a nomad's tent. They are away from the crowds, somewhere in the desert. They are discussing some important matters or just having times of refreshing and intimacy. There is no necessity to shout or scream. Lying side-by-side at close proximity, the still small voice of God can be heard. In the case of Elijah the prophet, the voice of God was not in earthquake, thunder or fire (1 Kings 19:11-12). It is in the peace and quiet.

John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining at the Last Supper (John 13.23-25). Among all the disciples, he was the closest to Jesus. Peter motioned to John to ask Jesus who the betrayer was. John then moved closer to Jesus’ side and asked softly, "Who is it, Lord?" It was sweet communion between dear friends. Upon His cross, Jesus entrusted John the important responsibility to take care of Mary, His mother (John 19:26-27). John was also the one who gave us the prophetic book of Revelation. God opened up the future for John to see. God then instructed him to write down the visions and prophecies in a book.

God does not have special favorites. His secrets are not meant only for some privileged few. God gives His prophets access to His confidential plans, counsels, and strategies simply because His prophets are His friends and His servants. They are willing to do His will. They are willing to pay the price. They are willing to proclaim the messages even in spite of possible persecutions and rejections. God chooses them because they will love and serve God!

The book of Job was probably the oldest book in the Bible. It dated back to about 2000 BC. Job was a contemporary with Abraham. They were nomads living in tents. In the book of Job, the word cowd was used in a very enlightening manner. In Job 29:4, we would understand that the wisdom of Job was derived from God's presence in his tent:

Version

Job 29:4

KJV

As I was in the days of my youth, when the secret of God was upon my tabernacle...

NIV

Oh, for the days when I was in my prime, when God's intimate friendship blessed my house...

NKJ

Just as I was in the days of my prime, when the friendly counsel of God was over my tent...

TLB

Yes, in my early years, when the friendship of God was felt in my home...

ASV

As I was in the ripeness of my days, when the friendship of God was upon my tent...

In Job 15:8, Eliphaz asked if Job knew God's secret plans, "Hast thou heard the secret of God? and dost thou restrain wisdom to thyself?" (KJV)

This is a perfect example of close friends in a tent. The friendship of God was in Job’s house. God was his close Friend. Throughout his youth, he had gained knowledge, wisdom, understanding and counsel through times of sweet communion and fellowship with God.

In Job 19:19, Job complained, "All my close friends abhor me, and those whom I love have turned against me." The Hebrew word used herein for "close friends" was again cowd.

Another excellent illustration about cowd was the friend of God, Abraham. God came to visit Abraham in his tent. In Genesis 18:17-18, the LORD said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?" Then God came down personally to visit Abraham, His friend (Genesis 18:21).

After the two angels had gone towards Sodom, the LORD remained with Abraham for a while longer in his tent. Abraham came near to the LORD and said, "Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked?" (Genesis 18:23) Because Abraham was God’s friend, he was able to plead and bargain with God over the lives of Sodom and Gomorrah. To have this close relationship with God, we need to be a friend of God.

This Genesis account is significant for us to know that God does not hide His plans from His friends, His prophets (Amos 3:7). In John 15.15, Jesus told His disciples, "No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you." Today, Jesus is still desiring to make known what is in the Father's heart to us!

As the sons of Issachar, we are to be friends of God. We are to be His servants and His prophets. We must carry the prophetic mantle to listen to His voice, bringing strategic insights, proper perspectives and right priorities back into our own lives and communities. We are to be strong and valiant, proclaiming the right word to the right people in the right place at the right time!

We must be like the sons of Issachar having the understanding of the times! God is seeking true worshippers and seekers of His heart! God is raising up a new army of priests, prophets and kings! Priests who will minister to Him first before they minister to others. Prophets who will hear what God is saying before becoming a voice of God. Kings who will follow after God’s own heart and not their own hearts!


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