Understanding the times

"From Issachar, men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do..." 1 Chronicles 12. 32


Huge sighs of relief in some quarters, wild rejoicing in others: the reaction to Joe Biden's election victory is euphoric - among his supporters. And they include many of the "sensible" people around the world; the kind of people who are amazed and appalled by the Brexit vote, who are prosperous, well educated - in other words have a significant stake in the status quo, maintaining life as we are familiar and comfortable with it because it has served them well. Yet are they, are we all, taking on board what votes for Brexit and Trump are telling us: about the disenfranchised millions, whom the status quo has not been serving so well?


We don't know much about the "Men of Issachar" but that they enjoyed a reputation for being well-informed - and knowing how to respond in light of that awareness. The times we inhabit are so fractious that there is a growing tendency to clutch at straws, whether they are a new vaccination against Covid 19 or a new President for the USA. They might be part of "the answer" but they might not and they certainly won't be the total solution. So what can we do?


Taking a leaf out of Issachar's book would be a good start; taking time to observe what is going on, reflect on it, pray about it and then deciding to do something. The link between thought and action is crucial. There is no point in being informed if you do nothing with your information! But whatever you do must be constructive, otherwise you risk making a bad situation worse. I suspect that, being faithful Israelites, the men of Issachar, were as attentive to the inner voice of God as to the clamour going on around them. If we aspire to being faithful Christians, then we shall devote at least as much attention to the voice of Jesus, speaking words from the Father through the Holy Spirit and then acting upon them...

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