The sons of Issachar knew the seasons of life and as such, they knew exactly what to do and when (1Chron.12:32)! These were not just men of historical record but examples of men that we should be. Life is full of seasons and God is fully committed to the seed, time and harvest seasons (Gen.8:22) ie there is a time to sow, a time to wait and a time to harvest/reap just as his covenant of night and day (Jer.33:20); a time to sleep and a time to work. The world is designed in seasons and to navigate life effectively, we must imbibe the spirit of the sons of Issachar - understanding/discerning the times to know exactly what course of action to take and when.
Jesus had an interesting conversation with a group of critics concerning seasons in the context of fasting. They asked him "why is it that John's disciples are always fasting, the Pharisees' disciples are also doing the same [fasting] but your disciples both eat and drink?" (Luke 5:33). Well, Jesus responded by saying fasting is connected to seasons; He taught that people were to fast only when the bridegroom is not present but once the bridegroom appears (or is present) then there is no need to fast. In essence, Jesus was teaching that certain activities are suitable but only for seasons and one must be able to discern the seasons to alter their activity because a summer activity will not be effective in a winter season and vice-versa. There are some activities and acquaintances that are indeed seasonal and one must be able to discern (by the Spirit of truth - the Holy Spirit) when to transition. I often discuss with my pastor from Belfast on a few things and he often jokes about the book titled "who moved my cheese" by Dr Spencer Johnson; he talks about the fact that the first wisdom key was that we realize that the cheese has moved or that the season has changed and therefore we also need to transition into the new season.
In His discourse with the critical crowd we see something interesting; there were three groups of people dealing with seasons. We see three groups of disciples - John's Disciples, The Pharisees' Disciples and Jesus' Disciples. John's disciples are those that were told that the new season was coming; in fact John was very adamant that his 'methods/activities' were transitional and introduced them to the new 'method/activity' in Jesus. Yet, they were unwilling to transition and hence became 'the questioning group'; always asking skeptical questions (Matthew 11:3), unwilling to take a leap of faith into the new and present way. They saw Jesus do miracles that matched everything their leader (John) spoke on yet, they were waiting as though they needed more proof and evidence to be sure about the next season. These are they that are hesitant in making needful transitions and very often miss out of God's present best. The Pharisees' Disciples are those that are so caught up in tradition and processes that they fail to recognize the change of seasons; these are they that wear sunglasses in the winter because their parents did so. In many ways, we see that ignorance and inaction (in-spite of knowledge) breed the same activities as we see in the disciples of the Pharisees and John respectively. Jesus' disciples were those that immediately recognized that the seasons have changed and immediately engaged with the new and present way (John 1:35-37). Yes, it looked foolish with no place to sleep for the night (Luke 9:58) but in the long run, the end results were more rewarding.
Today begins a new season and a new year and there is indeed a transition taking place on many levels; many 'cheeses' are moving as are acquaintances and doors - which disciple are you? Hesitant? Are you entirely oblivious to the changing seasons? Will you be willing to engage in the new and present way for your new season? Be a son of Issachar [by the Holy Spirit - John 16:13]!
Happy New Year!