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Understand the Times

The reign of Saul, first king of Israel was a disaster in many ways.  Saul’s failures began when he personally offered a burnt sacrifice, which he was not authorized to do (1Sam. 13:8-14).  Saul then caused his soldiers to sin by putting them under an oath that led them to eat blood (1Sam. 14:24-34).  Next, Saul angered God by failing to obey His command to completely destroy the Amalekites (1Sam. 15:1-35).  For these things, Saul was told by God through Samuel that he had lost his kingdom.  Saul then spent the rest of his reign jealously persecuting David, who was to be his successor on the throne, while his kingdom was ravaged by the Philistines.  Saul’s judgment became so poor that he even went to a medium (a witch or spiritist) to speak to the dead (1Sam. 28:7-20).  The sad end of Saul is given in 1Chronicles 10:13-14:

So Saul died for his trespass which he committed against the LORD, because of the word of the LORD which he did not keep; and also because he asked counsel of a medium, making inquiry of it, and did not inquire of the LORD.  Therefore He killed him and turned the kingdom to David the son of Jesse.

After Saul’s death, the mighty men of Israel rallied to David’s side at Hebron, including the sons of Issachar.  Concerning this tribe of God’s people, notice 1Chronicles 12:32 – "Of the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do, their chiefs were two hundred; and all their kinsmen were at their command.”  These were men who had seen the division and devastation of their nation because of the ungodly leadership of Saul, and they sought to make a restoration.  They "understood the times,” which means that they rightly perceived of the causes of Israel’s difficulties.  They had "knowledge of what Israel should do,” which at that moment was to unite behind God’s anointed one, King David.  Because of their understanding, the whole tribe of Issachar’s men was under command "to turn the kingdom of Saul to [David] according to the word of the LORD” (1Chron. 12:23).

Let us pray and study God’s word that we may be like the sons of Issachar, understanding our times and knowing what we should do.  Today, we see that our nation is crumbling in moral decay, and in many ways the Lord’s church is being pulled into the fray.  We can identify the problems and recognize the harmful consequences, but do we understand what has happened in our time, and do we know what we should do?  Notice what Jesus said in Matthew 16:2-3:

"When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’  And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’  Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times?”

Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees and Sadducees, who failed to recognize that Jesus was the Christ, but there is a message for us as well.  We should be able to read the signs of the times around us just as we can read the sky and predict the weather.

To understand our times, we must see the root causes of our modern problems.  The godless philosophies of man have taken root over the last century or more, and the fruit is now being harvested in a bumper crop.  A slow, progressive, and almost unnoticeable indoctrination of humanism, atheism, feminism, liberalism, and evolution has occurred over the years.  These doctrines of men have been propagated through public and private education, government, popular media, and even churches.  The results have been devastating.  In general, men have abdicated their God-given responsibilities for their wives and their children (Eph. 5:25-29; 6:4).  Women have abandoned their God-ordained purposes in order to become more like men or pursue selfish indulgences (Gen. 2:18-24; 3:16).  The home has been replaced as the primary place of instruction and worship by institutions and programs created by man (Josh. 24:15; Prov. 24:3-4).  Children are considered to be a curse rather than a blessing (Ps. 127:3-5).  "Family planning” is the soft-soap term for infanticide and abortion, in which children are eliminated like pests.  Weakened consciences and easy birth control led to the so-called "sexual revolution,” which was really a devolution and degradation of man (Rom. 1:24-27).  The resultant acceptance and celebration of immorality, divorce, and homosexuality are now leading to even more abominations, including pedophilia, polygamy, and bestiality (Lev. 19).  All of these sins against God are now bringing devastating consequences to our nation.  Indeed, in many ways we have sown the wind, and now we are reaping the whirlwind (Hos. 8:7).

Now that we understand the times in which we live, what shall we do?  For the answer, we must seek the counsel of God’s word and unfailingly abide by its teachings.  This is no time for Christians individually or the church collectively to stand by idly, indifferently, or ineffectively.  When Paul warned Timothy of difficult times to come, he commended to him the sound doctrine and the sacred writings of God’s word (1Tim. 4:1-16; 2Tim. 3:1-17).  Paul directed Timothy to preach and practice the word of God without compromise: "Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2Tim. 4:2).  Likewise, we must be completely committed to the pure application of God’s word.  We must be radically different from the world in taking back our families, our homes, and our churches from the corrupting influences of the world (2Cor. 6:14-18).  Half-hearted efforts and unbiblical innovations will not save us in these times.

Thus, we understand the times, and we know what we should do.  Will we act on our knowledge, and will we do what we should?  Let us heed the words of 1Corinthians 16:13 – "Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.”  May God strengthen us through His grace and mercy in Jesus Christ.

Stacey E. Durham



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