December 30, 2014 - A. V. Rauf
It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas (Part 2)
Before we look at what kinds of Jews were ready for Jesus to come the first time, let’s look at Jews who were not ready. When we see what kinds of Jews were not ready, we will know what kinds of Christians may not be ready. A is to B as B is to C.
Matthew 2:1-6–Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. 3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. 5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, 6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
What we see here is that some of the people who were ready for Jesus to come the first time were people whom one would not have expected to be ready. These Magi, or wise men, were from Persia.
You see, those wise men understood how to interpret the signs of the time. Sadly, there are born-again Christians who cannot see the significance of contemporary events in the Middle East. They are blind to it, as if the book of Revelation or the book of Zechariah were not in the Bible. They are oblivious to what is happening in the world – they don’t quite understand any of these other signs, as wise men do. No matter what happens in this world, our eyes should always be fixated on Jesus Christ, and ultimately on His Word.
Daniel 12:8-10–And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? 9 And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. 10 Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.
So the wise men, or the Magi came to see the Messiah, non-Jews, people you would not have expected, because they saw the Star in the East. Here we see that they come to Jerusalem, where Herod heard them and was troubled – and all Jerusalem with him. This was the city where David said that the Messiah would come. This was where the Temple was; the focus of their identity and their Messianic hope, yet almost nobody who lived there wanted Him to come.
You will find many churches with the same attitude; drive up the road, look at the churches you pass, and ask yourself how many of them really are anticipating the Return of the Lord?
All Jerusalem was troubled; oh, they had the rituals, the liturgies, the festivities and the holidays, but when it looked like He was showing up, they were all troubled. Ironically, the most troubled were the national and religious leaders.
Now think about this for a minute. It gets even more frightening, however – these guys knew the Scriptures!. Herod wanted to know where the Messiah would be born, and they told him what Micah 5:2 said, that He would be born in Bethlehem.
They had head knowledge of the Scriptures, but not heart knowledge. (Speak to the heart vs. Speak to the mind.)When He showed up, it was the last thing in the world that they either expected or wanted. Do you think it will be any different when He returns?
1 Chronicles 12:32–And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment.”
Issachar – The meaning of this name is “he will bring a reward, man for hire” (Strong’s Heb3485 and Holman Bible Dictionary).
- Men – a person, people (Strong’s Heb582)
- Understanding – to separate mentally, to distinguish, be cunning, diligently, deal wisely, be prudent (Strong’s Heb998)
- Times – fortunes, occurrences (Thayer’s Lexicon Heb6256). Fortunes means success, prosperity, estates, possessions, wealth (Webster’s Dictionary). Occurrence means an event, an incident, happenings, circumstance.
Know – to know or ascertain by seeing. The Hebrew word know in this verse is yada, which is a word that means God gives the personal understanding and revelation, and is not a knowing that comes from reading a book for example. (Strong’s Heb3045)
By virtue of the name Issachar, we see that those who walk in the character and calling of Issachar bring a sure reward to the Lord as well as a reward to the vineyard in which they are working or are a part of.
Matthew 24:42-51—Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. 43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. 44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. 45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? 46 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. 47 Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. 48 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; 49 And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; 50 The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, 51 And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Their mind is cunning, able to mentally distinguish between that which is wise and unwise. They diligently pursue the understanding needed to live well before the Lord. Issachar men and women receive understanding from the Lord Himself, because they know God in an intimate manner. Because they are wise and prudent, Issachars are able to perceive and seize opportune times of success and wealth. They are able to provide meat in due season.
Issachar was dead to himself and alive only to his God. When we move into a place of being dead to self and alive to God, we move into understanding the times because those times are IN God.
Jesus spoke about discerning the times:
Matthew 16:3–And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?
When Christ rebuked the Pharisees and Sadducees it was because they were not abiding in the Lord, but they were operating in the midst of unrighteous governmental and religious systems.
They did not “yada” –(Know) God, and therefore were without understanding and lacked the ability to discern the signs of the time.
Matthew 7:21-23–Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 says: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” How are we to know what those seasons are apart from knowing God? Jesus said I do what I see My Father in heaven doing.
John 5:19: Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.
Issachar possessed tremendous fervor, a passion and drive for His God which caused him to glow with redness, just as it was said about John the Baptist: “He was a burning and a shining light” (John 5:35).
For those who operate in that place of obedience and giving themselves over to God, men are prompted to follow and obey them, just as it is said of the children of Issachar, “all their brethren were at their commandment.”
What about those who say, don’t worry about His coming?…..(To Be Continued)