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Remembering Issachar

Don’t you love it when a “random” passage of scripture unexpectedly reaches out to grab your imagination—and insists you pay attention?

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Around the time God led me to begin the Salt & Light Ministry at College Heights I “stumbled” over an obscure little passage in Chronicles that embedded itself in my reasoning and just would not let go. I Chronicles 12:32 introduced me to the sons of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do. Though Issachar was one of the sons of Jacob—one of the twelve tribes of Israel—to be honest, I don’t remember ever hearing that name before then. (No reflection on all my faithful Sunday School and VBS teachers over the years; it probably just went right over my head.) I’ve found to my great encouragement, though, that I’m not the only one inspired by those mighty men of valor whose wisdom and discernment have so intrigued and challenged me for over twenty years.

From a writer’s perspective, the Old Testament is a treasure trove of inspiration with amazing little nuggets like that just waiting to enrich our lives. No human effort could create more imaginative, exciting plots than the true stories of God’s chosen people. The account of Israel’s greatest king is the most remarkable of all, and in God’s amazing plan, it’s still relevant for us today.

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You remember the story. The people have demanded a king in spite of God’s warning against it. He’s granted their wish but handsome King Saul has proven to be a disaster, so God has appointed a most improbable replacement. It will be a chaotic transition. Power and wealth are not easily relinquished by men like Saul. Though God is with David, he’s still a flawed man and the battle is his to win or lose. The nation is divided and the people must choose whom they will follow. The new king must still faithfully seek God’s face and choose wisely those who will help him rebuild his fractured nation. Eventually, mighty warrior by clan by tribe, the people begin following David—first as an exile at Ziklag, then as king in Hebron, and finally king over all of Israel.

As it has so often, I Chronicles 12:32 resonates with me this week after Thanksgiving… the most American of holidays… only three weeks after an American election like no other. It’s haunting how similar our times are. Our nation is divided. Former leaders have proven to be a disaster but power and wealth are not easily relinquished in any generation. Bitterness and confusion grow by the day and with it the transition becomes more and more chaotic. Wherever we turn, the people who would lead us prove to be flawed indeed and though God is with us, the battle is still ours to win or lose.

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Can you hear Him calling us to become like the Children of Issachar? As His people, we must understand the times and know what our nation should do. You know the promise: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (II Chronicles 7:14)

Certainly, in my lifetime I’ve never seen His people so humbly and urgently seeking His face for our nation. Our Father keeps His promises, so undoubtedly He’s heard our cries and granted us mercy. But what now? How sincere is our repentance? Have we truly begun to turn from our wicked ways? Are we seeking God’s face as urgently now as we were on November 7? He promises He’s patient and long-suffering, but how can He heal a land that seems to more contemptuously reject His principles—even His very name—every day? Are we willing to stand against those who are intent on making this a Godless society?

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Many evangelical groups that came out forcefully for candidate Trump report that they still expect to see him follow through on his campaign pledges. March for Life official Tom McClusky says, “Donald Trump is not the candidate pro-lifers would have chosen, and he understood that, and he did outreach,” and if he keeps his promises to appoint a Constitutional justice to replace Antonin Scalia, sign a bill to defund Planned Parenthood, make cabinet appointments that reflect pro-life, pro-family policies, and honor his connections with evangelical leaders, “he could be the most pro-life president since Reagan.”

Whether we believe the very flawed man who will now be our leader has been appointed by God or is just some strange fluke, are we willing to be faithful in praying that he will seek God’s face and choose wisely those who can help him rebuild this fractured nation? And if he does, will we follow?

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There have been some encouraging signs. It appears there are some “mighty warriors” who’ve come to help him in battle. He’s appointed some to his new administration who courageously speak truth into the public square. Is there likely to be a Joab or Shimei somewhere along the way? Undoubtedly, but our God has a way of turning even the most evil plans to good. If we faithfully humble ourselves and pray, and turn from our wicked ways, He promises He’ll hear, and heal our land.

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4 Comments

  1. Emily says:

    What a great post. I like the question you posed about how repentant we really are. Are we really prepared to turn away from our wicked ways? I know that fighting the urge to sin is a daily battle for Christians, but I see so many who no longer fight it. I know many Christians who prayed diligently that Trump would defeat Hillary and at the same time, were shopping at stores like Target and Starbucks who actively seek to destroy the values of God, were watching immoral movies and television shows, spending money they don’t have, looking at pornography and so many other things that the Lord hates. I am not convinced that the majority of Chrisians (although not all) are truly repentant. If God chooses to show mercy on our country, I will be grateful. If he doesn’t, I will try to accept the punishment that we (as a nation) deserve. Do you think that we are as repentant as the Isrealites were at the time of the events you referenced from the OT? I am reading through the OT right now and I haven’t gotten to that story yet.

  2. Thanks for your comments, Emily! I love the Old Testament. The story of Israel’s first two kings is fascinating. They were both very flawed men, but God condemned one and called the other “a man after His own heart.” The difference was where their hearts were. David’s was always toward the Lord and he was willing to own his sin and repent (read Psalm 51) while Saul was hardhearted and arrogant and determined to have things his own way. I guess the only way we’ll really know how genuine our repentance is is how much we see the church as an organism and Christians individually begin impacting our culture for Christ and Godly principles. It begins with prayer and repentance–that has to inform our words and action–but we can’t just pray and hope God does something. He commands us to be salt & light and season our society (Matthew 5:13-16). That means we have to be involved and letting Him lead us into whatever service He has for us. Kim’s commitment to the pro-life ministry is a great example. She was in there plugging away when there were very few standing with her and He’s done amazing things with her efforts. I think only in eternity will we really know the enormity of her influence there. I know you’ll keep praying. You know I’m excited about what you’re letting Him do in your life.

  3. Brenda schultz says:

    Thank you for this post Sandi. What a great and thoughtful read. ????

  4. Thanks, Brenda. Appreciate the encouragement.

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