What Time Is It?

“…the Issacharites…understood the times and knew what Israel should do…” (1 Chronicles 12:32; CSB)


The times they were a-changin’. Saul was dead, and it was God’s plan for David to be king. Those who helped with the transition are listed in chapter 12 of the first Book of Chronicles.

In that list of mighty warriors, we read of the men of Issachar (Issachar was one of Jacob’s sons whose descendants became one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel):

“From the Issacharites, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do: 200 chiefs with all their relatives under their command” (1 Chronicles 12:32; CSB).

The description is so brief it’s easy to miss. But the chronicler thought it important to include. In this monumental transition from one administration to another, both brawn and brains were needed. The mighty men of valour supplied the muscle, but the Issacharites were noted for their mental acuity.

The Issacharites were not only smart; they were wise. And there is an important difference. Smart people acquire knowledge and retain information; wise people know how to put that knowledge and information together to live well and lead others effectively. This is what the Issacharites were known for.

They understood the times

To understand the times is to have a finger on the pulse of the thoughts and dreams and hopes and fears and events that shape the way people think and live today. It is also to understand the challenges and opportunities that our time presents.

The Issacharites were able to discern the real needs of the hour, and therefore provide effective leadership during a challenging transition.

They knew what Israel should do

Not only did the Issacharites understand the times, but they also knew what to do. They knew, based on their understanding of God’s words to David, that it was time for him to become king (1 Chron. 11:2). And they knew how best to get that done.

In the Issacharites we see two important traits combined. They understood their world (“the times”), and they understood God’s words (what Israel should do in view of God’s revealed will).

Today’s complex world

In today’s complicated world, Christians are no less in need of both these traits. In other words, we need to understand the world, and we need to understand God’s word.

To be clear, understanding the world and understanding God’s word are not two equivalent, parallel activities that we are to pursue, independent of each other. Indeed, how can we even begin to understand this world as it really is, unless we look at it through the lens of what God has revealed to us in the Scriptures? With that in mind, when you first wake up, open the Bible before you open the news feed on your phone. Because God’s world can only be truly understood in the light of God’s word.

As we navigate this challenging season and prepare for the next, we will need the truth of God’s word and the wisdom of God’s Spirit. May the Lord help us as a church, not only to understand the times, but even more importantly, to know him, the one who holds the times in his hands (Psalm 31:15); and who has redeemed and called us to live faithfully under Christ as King.

Pastor Jonathan Kroeker