Sabbath Thought - Understanding the Times
Most people love a story where the underdog wins. Against the odds, matched against a superior force, the individual or team no one expected to win does indeed triumph. It satisfies the Scripture, "I returned and saw under the sun that-- The race is not to the swift, Nor the battle to the strong, Nor bread to the wise, Nor riches to men of understanding, Nor favor to men of skill; But time and chance happen to them all," (Ecclesiastes 9:11, NKJV).
King David fits into this category. Even though God had him anointed to be king, King Saul was not willing to be replaced. Saul pursued David almost relentlessly, repeatedly seeking to kill David. I wonder if part of what God saw in David was his scrappiness and willingness to fight for His people. Whatever the case, David's persona attracted others to him.
In 1 Chronicles 11 and 12 we have record of the nation growing tired of Saul's unpredictability. More and more in the nation saw David's steady hand and strength of leadership, and not only supported him, but were willing to fight for, and with, him. This was happening while Saul was still alive and seeking David's life. In 1 Chronicles 12 we read of such men - Benjamites who were renowned to be superb archers and sling men, and Gadites who were amazing at close quarter fighting with shields and spears. There were others from Judah, Manasseh, Simeon, Levi, Ephraim, Zebulun, Naphtali, Dan, Asher, and Reuben, along with Gibeathites, Anathothites, Gibeonites, and Gederathites.
In chapter 12 we read of their skills, strength, and exploits in battle. Many times the battle is to the strong. But in 1 Chronicles 12:32 we read of another skill even more important than the handling of shields, swords, spears, and slings. We read of the "sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do...." A small force, skillfully and thoughtfully deployed, can many times outmaneuver and outperform a much larger force. The men rallied in this chapter have the stuff movies are made of.
Where does this leave us? God allowed these men to fight because they didn't have His spirit as we do. We are not to fight and kill, but rather to trust and serve God on a deeper level. But we should be men and women "who understand the times".
Do we understand that time for mankind's self-rule is running out? Do we understand how evil, violent, and immoral mankind will get before the return of Christ? Do we see that Satan knows his time is drawing to a close, and that he will do whatever he can to try and prevent God's plan of salvation for mankind? Do we realize how much of Satan's anger and hatred for God is focused on His people - that he is tearing at our marriages, at our children, at our spiritual relationships, and at our unity? Are we discerning the times (Luke 12:56) to know the spiritual war we are fighting - to be able to do good and reject evil (Hebrews 5:14)? Can we discern who serves God and who doesn't (Malachi 3:18)?
This understanding and discernment is knowing what needs to be done and when to do it. Understanding and discernment comes from a great deal of experience. The best way for us to have the understanding and discernment we need to succeed spiritually is to seek God in all that we do (Job 24:1), because Satan is a master deceiver. He uses that deception to distract mankind from what God would want them to see. Deception is the foundation of the coming Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:4).
We are mighty warriors before God, just not like the mighty warriors attracted to serve David. We are fighting a spiritual war to overcome Satan, ourself, and the society around us. We seek to win that war so that we qualify to truly become a son or daughter of God! Life eternal in His family.
Let us fight, not with physical weapons, but against spiritual powers of darkness with perseverance and supplication (Ephesians 6:12, 18). Let us be men and women "who understand the times".
I wish you a spiritually motivating Sabbath,
10 July, 2020