‘To everything there is a season; a time for every purpose under heaven.‘ Ecclesiastes 3:1
Whether in sports or stocks, or in nearly anything we do, the adage ‘timing is everything’ is immutably true. So, when the Word equates living by the Spirit and keeping in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:25 NIV), the implication is clear: it’s not enough to know what God wants us to do; we must also discern when.
Soon after David’s rule over all Israel had been established in Hebron, 1 Chronicles 12 says he tabulated the size and strengths of each tribe’s contribution to Israel’s army. Some were praised for their courage, others for their skill. Still others were celebrated for their esprit de corps or ‘stoutheartedness’.
One tribe’s commendation stands out, distinct among them all. Displaying a particularly prophetic bent, vs 32 says the sons of Issachar ‘kept up-to-date in their understanding of the times and knew what Israel should do.’ If I was King David, I’d have made sure some of these guys were among my closest advisors! Success or defeat in battle depended on it.
We’ve clocks conveniently placed throughout our home. When we know the hour, the kids are not late for school, and the girls know when to get ready to go out for the evening and make themselves beautiful. The guys don’t get to the basketball match and find the court cleared of everyone except the janitor – timing matters.
Raised in a farming community in USA, in a northern climate, to be ignorant of times and seasons was a recipe for disaster. We couldn’t plant our seeds in the frozen ground of Winter or reap a harvest in Spring.
I remember times when we were urgently mobilised to cover our gardens with tarpaulins under threat of an early frost that would destroy the tomato, zucchini, and cucumber crops. There were times we laboured sunrise to sundown to bale and gather hay with the threat of rain on the morrow. Vigilance was not an option.
These images, having our weapons or sickles at the ready, serve as natural reminders of a spiritual principle – we must cry out to God for discernment to know the times and seasons of our spiritual journey.
Sadly, this was the case for most Jews in the days of Jesus. They missed the time of their visitation. Jesus said they could tell if it was going to rain by looking at the clouds or that a heatwave was coming by recognising the winds had shifted, blowing in from the south. Calling them hypocrites, Jesus rebuked them sharply, “But you really don’t know what’s going on right now!” (Luke 12:56).
Without a doubt, another day of visitation is imminent. The hands of God’s clock are clicking towards the hour when the alarm of revival will sound. Some will hear it, some will not. Some will be prepared; others will be caught unaware because they’re distracted and entangled with other things.
Some will hear the heartbeat of their Lover at the door and stay vigilant; others will have grown tired due to frivolous or imprudent pursuits, and slumber.
I believe God is raising up the sons of Issachar among us at this climactic hour. It’s late. We know that God is going to move; now Lord, show us when. Anoint us to discern Your seasons and identify the circled dates on Your calendar, that we might truly live by – and keep in step with – Your Spirit.
‘Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near…’ Isaiah 55:6