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"Understanding Of The Times" : The Sons Of Issachar - A Gifted & Loyal Few . (1 Chr.12:32)

Updated: May 1

"...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 Chr. 12: 32).


Having an understanding of the times, of concepts or of a complex situation is a God - given gift that sets us apart and above our peers. It is a rare privilege. The term "understand", in this context, means you do not only have an idea of the problem at hand, rather, you are equipped with a lasting solution to such challenge. You are simply a solution to problems. For example, it takes mathemathecians to understand a set of " formulae " to solve mathematical problems and equations.

To have an understanding of a situation is also a major gift that gives us an edge preparing us for how to overcome all unforseen eventualities. Knowing what to do does NOT only save us from errors in decision making, but also forestalls major pitfalls in the entire decision making process. For example, having an understanding of the stock market guides a prospective investor on when to put his money in and pull out his investment so his money does not go down the drain should there be an eventuality. The stock brokers and other stake holders here, are people equipped, either by training or otherwise, to have an understanding of the times (the market), and how to 'manipulate' such times to their advantage, as well as in favor of their numerous clients (investors), who apparently "are at their command." Armed with this knowledge, investors look up to them, (the stock brokers), believing that they will guide them in making informed decisions on how their investments can be maximised.

Simply put, understanding of the times (when to talk / be silent , fight / retreat , act or not to act ) time to receive gifts -( Gehazi ), time to be at our duty posts -( David ), is a sure way of making healthy decision in life. Consequently, whatever we turn out to be in life is, to a large extent, a function of how much understanding we have, of the times we are in, and how much we embrace the knowledge of it, for optimal utilization.

The Sons Of Issachar: A Snapshot:

The sons of Issachar was a unique group that knew what Israel ought to do at a point in time, and how to do it. It was a special group in Israel that had such wisdom that a whole nation waited on them for directives and instructions, "to know what Israel ought to do , their chiefs were two hundred; and all their bretheren were at their command."(1 Chr. 12: 32). They were so much gifted that they could discern when a leader was falling and another was rising; and who the next leader should be. They were called the wise and discerning ones for possessing this invaluable gift that helped in times of uncertainty. Originally, the sons of Issachar were four in number, namely: Tola, Puah, Jashub, and Shimron (1 Chr.7:1). On the whole, their generations totalled eighty-seven thousand -all mighty men of valor, by their genealogies, "now their brethren among all families of Issachar were mighty men of valor, listed by their genealogies, eighty-seven thousand in all." (1 Chr.7:5).

After the death of Ehud, for example, they pulled their wieght behind Deborah, Judges 4 & 5, (the only female judge in Israel who also performed judicial functions). She led Israel to victory against the Cannanite-led Sisera, having given her full support to Barak, (the military commander during her reign), on the mission.

One of the accurate understanding of the times was their knowledge of David being a perfect candidite for the kingship stool of Israel, even though David was not a popular candidate, moreso with Saul on the throne at that time in history. Consequently, they took the bull by the horn, and was unanimous in their choice, support, and nomination of David. This was so because they, by divine understanding, did NOT only know God had called David to be king, they also knew it was time for David to ascend the throne. To ensure the divine revelation was not left hanging, they put the revelation into actual practice, "all these men of war, who could keep ranks, came to Hebron with a loyal heart, to make David king over all Israel; and all the rest of Israel were of one mind to make David king."(1Chr.12:38). David's enthronement was not only colorful, it was equally observed with pomp and pageantry. And the occasion was as well graced with so much merriment, eating and drinking such that it lasted three days.

The sons of Issachar left their marks on the sands of time in the Old Testament days, and were as such respected, because: (1) they could discern the change in times and seasons, (2) they knew the mind of God on crucial matters and were "loyal " to its execution, and (3) in addition, they knew what Israel ought to do, how to do it, and when it should be done.

One of the main strenghts of the sons of Issachar was their loyalty translating God's mind and revelations as given them, into practice, seamlessly. Loyalty, then, is key in whatever we are called to do, as 'contemporary' or 'potential' sons of Isacchar. Loyalty is a function of the process of our inner mind. Loyalty, compared relatively with a mere outward display of activities, are poles apart. Outward display of activities, void of loyalty, is a mere physical display obvious to the eyes with no eternal values. Loyalty is that inner conviction and satisfaction that does not beg for external commendation. Such was king Amaziah, who was found wanting in this wise. The scripture says of him, (king Amaziah), "and he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, but not with a loyal heart."(2Chr.25:2). Nothing as rewarding as doing our assigned tasks with all loyalty it requires !

The Sons Of Issachar & Our Days:

The sons of Isacchar, as it were, consisted a "few men." It was not a congregation or an assembly of a crowd. The choice or process is not a game of plurality either. Though few, yet, were skilled and gifted in the understanding of the times. Few as they were, God committed the major decision -making of an entire nation into their hands. This presupposes that for God to do His will within the human space, He does not need a crowd. This implies that all He requires are a few skilled, knowlegeable, and LOYAL ones in the human space, to steer the ship of the entire populace or group in the direction He wants it.

The question then is, how much loyalty do we bring to the table if we are "priviledged" to be among the few saddled with so much responsiblilty? How often do we play to the gallery like king Amaziah mentioned above? Are our roles, and deliverables, a mere charade and a public display and abuse of power and wealth accumulation to the detriment of the less-priviledged and the people we were called to serve? Or is it to attract unholy and ungodly applause from the gallery, while it lasts? In our November submission, we examined how Saul of Tarsus used his undue influence to persecute the gospel and its adherents. Are we like this man, Saul, using our influence to persecute a particular religious leaning? If this is the case, that is anti- sons of Isacchar! Do we use our positions / offices to join the crowd to influence the government of the day to our own selfish ends? As people elected or appointed to an office by reason of our skills, trainings, vocations, and educational leanings, and by reasons of such, equipped with the "understanding" of the best direction to position the economies of our nations, yet refuse to do the needful that will profit the citizenry? Obviously, God would not descend to work on our economies or fix our socio-political environment for us, hence, reason He is rather counting on you and I as 'The sons of Isacchar' of our days. If we are privileged in our own little space, to be part of the nucleus of these time's sons of Isacchar, we are better off doing everything with all the loyalty it requires. Let us embrace it with utmost care. Guard it jealously. Be loyal to it, and give it the unalloyed commitment it deserves. We can choose to be different!

Gamaliel A Rare Breed!

Not often preached about, he was of the Pharisee sect who doubled as a teacher of the law. He changed the narrative in his days as a lone voice who chose to be different, regardless of his faith. He saw what other members of the council of Acts 5, did not see. He had an "understanding" of what dangers, the persecution of the apostles portended for the clueless "prosecuting and persecuting" committee and its members. And he proffered a solution- a lasting one at that. He started by taking them down memory lane of the calamities that befell the trailblazers of this ungodly way - Theudas and Judas of Galilee , as well as their teeming followers. He said, inter- alia, "...keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it-lest you even be found to fight against God." (Acts 5:38).

When the grace of the sons of Isacchar is at work, there is a clear, flawless, and distinctive direction and leading. Better embrace it because we are saved the headache of several irredemable and irreparable pitfalls. We come out of the loop of confusion, and we come out triumphant, too . The way to go is crystal clear. No room for confusion. It's a grace that is unique, and not found among the majority- majority has no vote to carry in this context, since it does not operate in the spirit of political democracy. It makes us a solution to our generation's problems. We talk and people listen attentively and adopt our solution as an error-free template. And by extension, a final recourse on knotty matters, on the longrun.

As a Pharisee, Gamaliel was NOT unlikely to have a contrary belief to what Jesus Christ professed, by reason of his religious leaning, yet for this one time, he jettisoned his bias and spoke in a manner that favored the gospel. Did the council listen to him? Yes, they unequivocally complied with his thought processs- "and they agreed with him" (Acts 5:40). It takes an individual or better still, the minority to be used of God to enforce His will within the human space. Gamaliel, undoubtedly, was a 'representation' of the voice of the sons of Isacchar to this council. The grace of the sons of Isacchar that caused "their bretheren to be at their command", was at work in him. The entire committee was at his commanded by reason of his unique position, even in isolation.

Sidebar: "The success or otherwise of a nation, an organization, or a group is largely dependent on the use to which the "few" @ the helms of affairs and decision making, apply the 'skills' or 'gifts' inherent in them , to drive the course of events, @ a given time."

Victims Of Wrong Understanding Of The Times - David & Gehazi:

David : Our cerebral and much celebrated king David, unfortunatley fell a victim of wrong "understanding of the times." This singular error marked the beginning of the end of his famous and revered reign. He was at the wrong place at that time of the year. He abandoned his duty post and saw what he was not supposed to see, and in effect, committed serial sins that made him to descend to an unimaginable and ridiculous level. The scipture says, " the time of the year that kings go out to battle...but David remained in Jerusalem...and from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold" (2Sam.11:1&2). The chains of events that followed were not palatable for David in anyway. The ripple effect on his household was enormous! And the longrun consequnces? They apparently outlived him !

Gehazi: A committed and dutiful servant of the power-carrying prophet of God- Elisha, had painstakingly served his master with all his might, for donkey years. However, towards the tail end of his meritorious service, he missed it completely. So sad and unfortunate! For the several years he had followed his master, he failed to discern what time to NOT receive gifts. In effect, he pioneered the curse of leprosy on his life and lineage. Having denied the allegation, his master retorted, "is it TIME to receive money and to receive clothing, olive groves and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male and female servants?" (2Kgs.5:26). By his calling, here was a man who was supoosed to change the trajectory of his lineage from servanthood to the prophetic: respectable and revered prophetic lineage, unfortunatley...he rather left it worse than it was...Failure to have a full grasp of the understanding of the time was his greatest undoing. May the LORD save us from this pitfall. Amen.

The "Minority" Apostles:

The apostles were twelve vibrant and spirit-filled followers of Jesus Christ. In a manner similar to the sons of Isacchar, they were a "minority" that had the enitre nation at their command by reason of their cashing in on the appropriate timing of events. They were few, compared to the number of the nations and people they influenced positively. Yet, they were able to take control of the spiritual climate of their days, simply because they had an "understanding of the times", they were in. The mandate to effect this change was communicated to them in Acts 1:8, "but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you;and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." In view of this development, they were saddled with the initial responsibility to be watchful of the time of spirtual revival and reawakening that the Master promised at His ascension.

The moment the promised time came, they identified it and submitted themselves to the major occurence of the time - ' infilling of the Holy Spirit.' With the endowment of this 'Power', which naturally propelled them to act, they knew it was time for them to come out boldy and embrace the special moment. Days of timidity were over! With this came a type of ground-breaking spiritual breakthrough never witnessed in the history of the early church, before now. From there, the "minority" apostles spread abroad, preaching the gospel, saving the lost, and the church, pari passu, witnessing exponential growth, and with signs and wonders accompanying them. However, this spiritual foray was not without reactions from the authorities of the day. It was a period, consequently marred by incessant arrests, persecutions, and prosecutions. Neverthelss, they did not becuase of these persecutions jettison the "understanding of the times" and the spiritual revolution it brought. Yet, in all these things, they were more than conquerors.


LORD, grant me the grace to understand the time and season we are in.

LORD, make me a solution to the problems in my generation.

LORD, let me know what i ought to do, when and how to do it successfully.


"The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD'S; but the earth He has given the children of men." (Ps.115:15). To transform our world to God's standard and expectations, (as the sons of Isacchar, we are ), He is counting on you and I in our different capacities to be part of the change mechanism. He does not require too many people to get this done. His focus is on the "chosen or selected few" on whom He has placed the mandate. Within the scope of our spiritual callings, He has equipped us with varities of spiritual gifts that we can use to fulfil this mandate, aside from LOYALTY which is a core requirement . As long as we yield to Him, His use of us is limitless. Ours is NOT the calling of Simon the sorcerer that sought to purchase the gift of God with money, hence we are far from perishing. In all, we are "of those who believe to the saving of the soul." (Heb.10:39).

If it happens we are so numbered among the sons of Isacchar of our days, it would be of immense benefits to our world, and to Him that has so commissioned us. It is indeed a rare priviledge, but NOT UNattainable. With a vast array of knowledge bestowed on us by reason of our vocational trainnings, academia, professional callings, combined with our spritual impetus, and coupled with a commendable measure of loyalty, we are best positioned and qualified to be counted worthy of this call. And NOT just having an "understanding of the times", but to be able to put our nations and institutions (our bretheren ) at our command in a way that satifies the mind and expectations of God, to meet His needs of the time. In all, i submit that, "The success or otherwise of a nation, an organization or a group is largely dependent on the use to which the "few" at the helm of affairs and decision making, apply the 'skills' or 'gifts' inherent in them to drive the course of events, at a given time."

May His name be glorified! Amen.

Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year in Advance. See you 2024, by His grace!

© December 2023

Being A Monthly Scripture Nugget

From The Desk Of :

Olusegun A Emosu

The Redeemed Christian Church Of God,

(Rehoboth Parish).

1879, S Stone Mountain Lithonia Rd,

Lithonia GA 30058

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