It is time to look at Issachar and his genealogy. This one isn’t as simple as Manasseh’s was or as detailed and Levi’s was. Here’s hoping we can follow it how it is presented.
The tribe of Issachar is apparently noted for their prowess in battle. That seems to be the focus of their genealogy. Or at least the descendants of Tola are. Three times we are given their number of warriors. First in the time of David, second in unit strength under Izrahiah and his sons, and last in the number throughout the clans of Issachar. The numbers grow with each succession.
In Israel’s first census with Moses Issachar had 54,000 men age 20 and over. All the men expected to help in case of battle but they were probably not all trained as “mighty warriors.” The men mentioned in our text today were skilled warriors. They trained for this job and were GOOD at it.
I went searching to see if the tribe of Issachar was known for its warriors. Oddly enough this was not what I found. Instead of war, the tribe of Issachar was apparently famous for their scholars. I found the Jewish Encyclopedia site that references both biblical and rabbinical sources on this trend in Issachar. I also found references to 1 Chronicles 12 where we will apparently learn of this ourselves. Something to look forward to.
Maybe it is the descendants of Tola that were the mighty warriors while the rest of Issachar’s sons tended more toward philosophical and religious pursuits. So why did God choose to focus on this aspect of the tribe of Issachar at this point in His narrative? Why not tell us of the scholarly aspect at the same time? Maybe the tribe needed to be militarily strong to protect those who would stand up for the Law.
God commanded His people to fight for what was right in His eyes. He sent them into the Promised Land with the purpose of removing the abominable things, and the people who used them, from the land. Issachar’s tribe apparently had both those fronts covered, or at least learned both parts. They knew how to search the scriptures and interpret the Law and they could defend it in battle; offensively or defensively.
We are called to always be ready to defend our faith. NOT in the ways of a warrior but in the way of the one who lives it out every day. We are to lean towards Issachar’s other branch; scholarly side. “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).
We are also called to be warriors. But our warfare is spiritual. This is why we put on the whole armor of God and stand against the true enemy. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). This is our battle field. This is our fight; our enemy. NOT our neighbor, even if he is not following the Lord or doing what we believe he should be doing.
THIS is where the sword meets the scholar. The sword of the Spirit fighting the battles of the enemy who are identified through His word. If you don’t know your enemy you won’t know when and where to stand. You have to know the truth before you can identify the counterfeit. Study His word and sharpen you sword in prayer. Then you too will be ready for battle on both fronts.
Thank You Father for reminding me of the importance and power of prayer. I know I already know this lesson but today I want to KNOW it in a deeper way. I don’t pray like a “prayer warrior.” I wish I did. Sometimes You bring me into that role but I don’t live there daily. I don’t feel as if You have called me to that role permanently but for specific seasons. Thank You for meeting me in those seasons! Thank You for answering those fervent prayers. Thank You for answering the ones I send to You on a continual daily basis too. The ones regarding the mundane aspects of my life. The ones for just a little more help here and there. Even the ones that are simply prayers of praise. (Those seem to be lacking lately.)
I was just thinking that I didn’t send “Thank You note” prayers but You just reminded me that I do. They are not always ‘formal’ or lengthy but in case I missed any, THANK YOU FATHER for ALL the times You have moved in my life, in answer to prayer or just because. I Love You Lord!