For the last few years, I felt a shift take place. It was a shift in the content of my writing and preaching. While I continued to write and preach encouraging words, an element of warning and challenge appeared. Along with those warnings and challenges was an application of our faith in the affairs of life and culture. A few of those applications have run contrary to the thinking of some, including fellow ministers. I felt what I wrote was informing my generation, but it was also preparing an emerging generation.
It is popular to quote the Scripture about the sons of Issachar who discerned the times. “From the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do” (1 Chronicles 12:32). We neglect the last part of the verse “with knowledge of what Israel should do.” Many good leaders and their followers do not know what to do because they failed to discern the times and marched into the future in lock-step with previous assumptions.
The tribe of Issachar was a large tribe. They were made up of tens of thousands of battle-ready warriors. These courageous sons of Issachar were willing to support a woman as their leader when that view was not popular. When Deborah rose in prominence, they followed her into battle without question.
The sons of Issachar also supported King David before he became king. This happened when David was hated by Saul. The tribes were divided in their support of David except for the tribe of Issachar.
Issachar could give their support to Deborah and David because they saw the anointing of God upon them. They were able to discern the difference between popular approval of a leader and God’s anointing upon a leader even if popular support was not present.
We are at a point in history where we need brave men and women who, like the sons of Issachar, understand the times in which we live, but also know what steps to take to bring about the fulfillment of God’s will in this generation. Discernment requires an application. That insight and application may run contrary to current assumptions.
When I write and preach, I am finding the revelation of the Spirit is confronting and dismantling some of my long-held assumptions about the role of faith in culture. What we allow God to adjust in our thinking in this generation will prepare the way for the next generation to better discern the times in which they will live. They will know how to courageously apply their faith in places the Church in previous generations had defined as off-limits in their ignorance of the times in which they lived.