Jesus struggled to understand the Lord’s will as he prayed and cried out with tears to the One who could save him from death, according to Hebrews 5. But in that place of prayer he not only understood but he learnt obedience.
It is one thing to hear, to understand and to agree. It is another to carry out those instructions and to obey.
It isn’t until you sit with someone starting out in life with all their youthful energy and passion to change the world that you realise hearing and obeying is something that isn’t high on the agenda. It is to be heard and to be obeyed which is the loudest voice.
Similarly, it isn’t until you stand with someone towards the end of their life that you realise hearing and obeying has been replaced by many experiences often hurtful ones and that the spiritual deaf aid went in ages ago and the self-preservation wall was erected soon after.
Hearing and obeying is a journey of discipleship till we die.
The last couple of days I have paused on this sentence by the Apostle:
Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Ephesians 5 v 17
Hear through opening your eyes, slowing your life down, in prayer, meditation of the Bible and listening to others. Obey through change, through the difficult day of testing, it may not be the devil having a go, it may just be the testing and perfecting of your obedience by God. So don’t run ahead thinking that hearing and obeying doesn’t apply and it is too slow a process for you and don’t become embittered by your life like one man who recently boasted, “No man can take me on, I win every argument.”
The Apostle is saying because the days are evil understand the Lord’s will. In the context of what is happening in your world know what God is saying or wanting from you.
So here we are, at least 6 months into the pandemic and we need to know more than ever what God is wanting from us. Early on in the pandemic certain people rose with their declarations of what God was doing and how long this pandemic would last. Easter came and went. Pentecost came and went. The pandemic is still here and the voices have gone quiet.
I want to offer something this morning which I well expand on later. But for now, do you remember the men of Issachar? What we know of the men of Issachar is that they ‘understood the times and knew what Israel ought to do’ (1 Chronicles 12:32). Issachar was one of the 12 tribes of Israel and when their father, Jacob, blessed them he said these words over them:
“Issachar is a raw-boneddonkey lying down among the sheep pens.
When he sees how good is his resting place and how pleasant is his land, he will bend his shoulder to the burden and submit to forced labour.” Genesis 49: 14-15
For every Pastor who is wondering if they will ever get through this season. For every Christian who is struggling with furlough, redundancy and the major disruption of what the pandemic has brought. For all of us who listen to constant social media drip-feeds of advice and what God has said and is doing. From utopia to doomsday we need to be people who understand the times and knew what we ought to do.
That is this:
We ask “Whose burden can we carry? Who needs help?”
And we do it with determination to go through this tough time; we don’t give up.
The world we live in whether that be in our work, home or neighbourhood need Issachar people. Will you be one who is not foolish, but understands what the Lord’s will is?