from Issachar, men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do—200 chiefs, with all their relatives under their command;
- 1 Chronicles 12:32
The king went to Gibeon to offer sacrifices, for that was the most important high place, and Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”
Solomon answered, “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.
“Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
- 1 Kings 3:4-9
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
- 2 Timothy 3:14-17
“A prophet is one who knows his times and what God is trying to say to the people of his times. …
“Today we need prophetic preachers—not preachers of prophecy merely, but preachers with a gift of prophecy. The word of wisdom is missing. We need the gift of discernment again in our pulpits. It is not ability to predict that we need, but the anointed eye, the power of spiritual penetration and interpretation, the ability to appraise the religious scene as viewed from God’s position, and to tell us what is actually going on. …
“What is needed desperately today is prophetic insight. Scholars can interpret the past; it takes prophets to interpret the present. Learning will enable a man to pass judgment on our yesterdays, but it requires a gift of clear seeing to pass sentence on our own day. …
“Another kind of religious leader must arise among us. He must be of the old prophet type, a man who has seen visions of God and has heard a voice from the Throne.”
- A. W. Tozer, Of God and Men
I was once the chairman of the board of Deacons for a church in Georgia. The congregation was getting tired of the pastor’s sermons on the Great Commission. I have written about how we had a pastor once who could blindly flip to any page in the Bible, point his finger to a verse at random and then turn that verse into “You have to find your street corner and start spreading the Gospel.” He was a master at it. The congregation was making noise that they needed lessons on how to cope with the fears of job loss.
I passed the word along. He asked if any job losses at the major employer in the area were imminent. I said, “Within the next couple of years, one or two thousand people will lose their jobs.” I had no idea why I said that, but it came from my lips. The pastor asked 3-4 people who were high level managers at that employer. They all played the company line, “All is well. Everyone’s job is safe.” The pastor then pulled me aside and called me a liar.
I was off a little bit. Two years later, I had found a job in Mississippi and left the area, but the lay-offs started a few months later and within the following year, 14,000 people lost their jobs, or so I was told by my friends, some of whom were high level managers. The housing market in the area crashed. Other businesses closed with people finding work elsewhere and moving. It was a disaster that took years for the community to recover.
But I was a liar and I had to be silenced. Yet, I had no idea why I said what I did, unless the Holy Spirit was speaking through me.
But what Rev. Tozer is saying to the church leaders here in the quote above is that leadership needs to have one eye on the Lord and the other eye on the pulse of the congregation as well as the troubled times in which we live.
The message from the leadership of the church needs to be Spirit-filled, so that the message is timely, something that the congregation needs at that time. The pastor does not need to be a teller of the future, but the pastor needs to hear the heartbeat of the church family. If the bulk of the church family is in fear of economic doom approaching, it would be foolish asking the few in the church who have a lot in the bank and no worries of being laid off themselves. They have a vested interest in lying or repeating the company line, whether the company line is true or known to be false.
In the Scriptures above, the men of the tribe of Issachar were praised for understanding the times. Then Solomon asks for wisdom, but specifically the ability to discern so that he could rule over the kingdom justly. And finally, Paul tells Timothy to keep studying Scripture so that he can make sound judgments in leading the church.
In each case, understanding what is really going on is important. The media outlets tell you what their owners and controllers want you to hear. The government is so into falsehood that they have no idea what the truth is anymore. So, how do you know? Talking to those who are affected the most – the working people who have no agenda – might be a start. But praying and asking the Holy Spirit to guide you to that true knowledge that may be somewhere in between all the people who are talking.
I read a quote from a pastor who writes prolifically, just can’t remember which. He said something about how we, to keep our sanity, need to balance our Bible reading with our reading of the news. In other words, the news from the media outlets is going to be bad, so to find Hope, read the Bible. But prayer factors into that too. Having someone that you can confide in, outside your family is important too, maybe someone that seems to know that perfect Scripture to guide you in the right direction.
The Holy Spirit uses all those things and more so that we can see the Hope amidst despair.
And I agree with Rev. Tozer that as we rely on the Holy Spirit, our church leadership should also. The pastor’s sermon should be what we need when we need it. With a diverse audience, that would be impossible if we were not tuned into how the Holy Spirit guides us.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.