David Chapter 13: Coronavirus and the Sons of Issachar

Saul had died in battle. He died a gruesome death. As the Philistine army closed in on him, he committed seppuku – suicide by disembowelment. His three sons also died. David lost his best friend, Jonathan. The Israeli army was butchered. It was an inglorious end to Saul’s dynasty.

After Saul’s death Israel turned to David for leadership. It had been a long journey. That God makes a promise to you doesn’t mean it will be easy. Where humans are involved it can be particularly hard. They can make your journey difficult, willfully. And sometimes things just have to play out, get to the point in which humans have no choice. It’s what happened to David. Everyone knew he was supposed to be king of Israel, but things still had to play out: “Even when Saul was king, you were the real leader of Israel. God told you, ‘You will shepherd my people Israel; you’re to be the ruler of my people Israel.” 2 Samuel 5:2

Before all this there were already defections from Saul’s army. The defections cut across tribes. Saul was losing troops in droves. There were even defections from his own tribe, the tribe of Benjamin. Defectors of course came from David’s tribe, Judah. That was expected. But there was defection across board – from Simeon, Levi, Ephraim, Manasseh, Zebulun, Naphtali, Dan, Asher, Reuben and Gad. The numbers were huge. 20,800 troops came from Ephraim. Dan had similar figure – 28,600. 40,000 came from Asher, 50,000 from Zebulun. Naphtali had 38,000. But by far the largest figure came from Manasseh – 120,000 troops. “Day after day more men joined David until he had a great army, like the army of God.” 1 Chronicles 12:22. The defectors were warrior types except those from the tribe Issachar. “From the tribe of Issachar, there were 200 leaders of the tribe with their relatives. All these men understood the signs of the times and knew the best course for Israel to take.” 1 Chronicles 12:32. These were pragmatists.

To hear some interpret that passage however, one would think the sons of Issachar were star gazers, people who peered into the spiritual realm to discern the course of history. But the context was political defection. And they weren’t priests or prophets. Those 200 guys were analysts – precursors to today’s management consultants. They understood the political terrain. They could chart a path to the future. In other words, they had a strategic skillset. While everyone contributed brawn, they contributed brain – grey matter. There’s a place for strategic skillset in God’s scheme. When it comes to nationhood and politics Christians have always imagined the role of the church is prophecy. Prophecy is good of course. Provided it’s of God. There are various tests of prophecy, but the easiest and simplest test is fulfillment. If it doesn’t come to pass it was never of God. “How can we tell the difference, whether it was God who spoke or not? Here’s how: If what the prophet spoke in God’s name doesn’t happen, then obviously God wasn’t behind it; the prophet made it up. Forget about him.” Deuteronomy 18:21-22. But prophecy is not the only way God gives direction. In a political context there’s rational analysis, the use of deductions, the examination of data. There’s a place for the use of intellect in the kingdom. Warrior types were not enough to catapult Israel to the next level, strategic thinkers were required. The sons of Issachar played that role.

The reason Christians get confused about interpreting events around them is because they tend to rely wholly on prophetic declarations. Prophecy tells you the outcome it doesn’t give you rational analysis. You need rational analysis for statecraft. Look at the politics in America for example. Not everyone is enthused about the Trump presidency, and that’s understandable. There are two major parties. They don’t agree on anything. Because Christians belong to either party the church is split right down the middle. Besides, there are contentions about the exact state of the faith of the president. Some allege he’s not really a Christian and so wonder why some Christians support him. The issue is neither here nor there if you understand scriptures, but for the sake of analysis let’s assume President Trump is not really a Christian. Let’s just assume.

A proper analysis of the political data in the Bible shows God does not bestow political power on the basis of human goodness, moral perpendicularity or religious inclination. It’s all about his purpose, his program design and calendar. He told us Cyrus the Great didn’t worship him, yet he calls him his “anointed.” In other words, he was purposed. Isaiah 45:1. “And why have I called you for this work? Why did I call you by name when you did not know me? It is for the sake of Jacob my servant, Israel my chosen one.” Isaiah 45:4. Then he goes on: “I will raise up Cyrus to fulfill my righteous purpose, and I will guide his actions. He will restore my city and free my captive people…” Is 45:13. It’s always about the program and the strategic intent. Now, this is not saying President Trump is Cyrus, we’re just using his presidency to illustrate deep biblical truth. The point is, our moral and religious frames of reference are not the criteria God uses to allocate political power. God is not religious. And we shouldn’t confuse Cyrus with Ezra or Nehemiah. And sometimes God bows to political pressure from humans, like with the plebiscite in Israel. It’s how Saul emerged king. The choice of man produced a donee of power, like what happens in a democracy.

The sons of Issachar cross-analyze Bible data with contemporary data, like the well-trained scribe in Matthew 13:52. It is this analytical approach that is required in the church as per the significance of coronavirus pandemic. Now, as far as the analyst is concerned there are four possible causative factors – God, Satan, man, or nature. Satan is surprisingly easily ruled out, for the simple reason there’s no data in the Bible about Satan DIRECTLY causing plagues. Of course, he can influence a human but that’s indirect. That leaves God, man or nature. Of course, there’s the moral dimension of it all. How can a good God for example cause a plague? The analyst will reply that at this point in the analysis that is beside the point. And anyway, God operates by the rules of righteousness not the rules of human morality. The standard of human morality changes from generation to generation. What is wrong today may not be wrong tomorrow. God’s righteousness on the other hand is entirely based on sovereignty. Righteousness is a constitutional principle. The rule of sovereignty says you can’t query God. You’re in no position to. Isaiah 45:9, Romans 9:21.

All this is HARD theology but it’s always better to go by the information provided by God about himself, rather than trying to make God in our image, after our likeness. The analyst will go into human history to study the history of plagues. There have been so many. The Hall of Famers are the Plague of Justinian and the Black Death. They killed 25 million and 50 million respectively. There are also pandemics recorded in the Bible. Besides the Exodus plagues there was the Census Plague. 2 Samuel 24. The plagues in Egypt wiped out the economy. Pandemics affect national economies.

But what about nature? Is nature responsible? What the Bible suggests is that nature is in a perpetual state of threat against humanity. We find that inference in Isaiah 54:9. God was saying, “Just as I swore in the time of Noah that I would never again LET a flood cover the earth, so now I swear that I will never again be angry and punish you.” The flood was already a threat, remains a threat. Evidently God bestowed wisdom on man to hold back nature, but what that passage implies is that if nature were to be let loose there will be no humanity left. Is coronavirus nature’s manifest threat against humanity?

The fourth consideration is the deliberateness or the carelessness of man. Was this virus engineered? Was it carelessly released?

This is all game theory. It’s what the sons of Issachar would have done. Being pragmatists, they’ll be more interested in charting the way forward. If the virus is from God they’ll say, lets beg him. That’s the work of pastors. Let them beg God. Even if it’s not his making we should still beg him. He has power over creation after all. If the virus is from man however there are conventions and protocols for dealing with such. International organizations exist. And if it’s the threat of nature our efforts should be geared towards creating a vaccine. From these there are two pragmatic courses: beg God, develop a vaccine. In the meantime, everyone should practice virus hygiene and social distancing. That’s how the sons of Issachar would have approached this issue.

Prophecy is not a one all and be all tool for the church. In fact, in some situations prophecy is the wrong tool. It’s why God gave us Word of Wisdom and Word of Knowledge. The strategic and deductive capacities of the Spirit are packaged into those gifts. We’re to use all the tools available to us. When we use the right tools we understand world events. I hope this analysis helps.

If you’ll like to give your life to Christ please pray this prayer: “Father I acknowledge that I am a sinner, that Jesus died for me, that you raised him from the dead. Father please forgive me. I accept Jesus today as my Lord and my Saviour. Amen.”

© Leke Alder | talk2me@lekealder.com.

That God makes a promise to you doesn’t mean it will be easy. #Illuminare Click To Tweet There’s a place for strategic skillset in God’s scheme. #Illuminare Click To Tweet There are various tests of prophecy, but the easiest and simplest test is fulfillment. If it doesn’t come to pass it was never of God. #Illuminare Click To Tweet There’s a place for the use of intellect in the kingdom. #Illuminare Click To Tweet Prophecy tells you the outcome it doesn’t give you rational analysis. You need rational analysis for statecraft. #Illuminare Click To Tweet God does not bestow political power on the basis of human goodness, moral perpendicularity or religious inclination. It’s all about his purpose, his program design and calendar.#Illuminare Click To Tweet Righteousness is a constitutional principle. The rule of sovereignty says you can’t query God. You’re in no position to. #Illuminare Click To Tweet Is coronavirus nature’s manifest threat against humanity? #Illuminare Click To Tweet When we use the right tools we understand world events. #Illuminare Click To Tweet