Do you know the times?
I Chronicles 12:23-40 records the assembling of “men armed for battle who came to David at Hebron to turn Saul’s kingdom over to him” (v. 23). We read of men “from Issachar, men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (v.32). Note the context, this was the assembly of men gathering for battle. Why would they need these men from Issachar?
It seems that knowing the times is critical to winning battles. The text makes this clear. What is easy to miss is that change was in the air. The extended passages of Scripture before and after 12:23 are replete with lessons regarding change.
Time is always an element of change. Like change, time is one of life’s abstractions; something we can not engage in any tactile way. You can’t hold, drink, wear, spend, or converse with time. Yet it’s vital to know the times.
In Acts 1:6, we read of Jesus’ followers, “They gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?””
In the following verse Jesus told his followers, “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.” He’s God; we’re not. When God does what he does we don’t need to know. It is not for us to know the times or dates of the Father.
In contrast, in Matthew 16:3 Jesus chided the Pharisees and Sadducees, who could forecast the weather by reading the sky, but who could not “interpret the signs of the times.” Jesus’ identified the irony (and deficiency) of people who purported to understand God but didn’t understand the times in which they and others live. ‘You can read the signs in the sky but not interpret the scriptures in the context of the times in which you live to know the Person with whom you stand.”
What is also clear is that the times offer signs. Theologian M. Eugene Boring notes “there are no ambiguous signs” and states of the situation in which the religious elite find themselves,
The New Interpreters’s Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes, Volume VIII
This lack of ability to interpret the sign constituted by Jesus is not a lack of intellectual acumen, but has to do with hardness of heart and lack of faith…
(Nashville, TN, Abingdon Press, 1994) , 341
When we don’t know the times we risk spiritual consequences. God, although outside of time works inside time. In condescension, in the fullness of time, Jesus became human. The Holy Spirit lives and moves and works inside time.
Can oversight or failure to know the times desensitize us to the Holy Spirit? Can we fail to detect what is happening around us so we fail to recognize recognize crucial change, even change in which God is acting and invites us to act with him.