Matthew 15:9 “But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.”

1 Chronicles 12:32 “The sons of Issachar, men who understand the times with knowledge of what Israel should do . . .”

Observation: In Matthew, Jesus quoted from the prophet Isaiah to excoriate the Pharisees, calling them hypocrites whose hearts are far from God. Hundreds of years earlier,  Chronicles listed the tribes of Israelites who voluntarily placed themselves under David’s leadership, including many who “understood the times.”

Application: How horrifying a thought: that the religious leaders of Jesus’s day would not only follow the “precepts of men” but would also lead the people astray, requiring of them things God never required.

Surely no Pharisee set out to intentionally become deceived. What happens to deflect the human heart from God? Deception of this kind must be a slow, insidious process, one that could only be successful because God has planted into each one of us a need, a desire, to follow Him.

Without that built-in need, how could deception work? It has to have some basis in truth for deception to succeed. Yet Issachar’s men did understand the times. For them, it was “time” to leave the old system of Saul’s leadership and to voluntarily devote themselves to following David. This is a wonderful picture of the Lord’s desire today that the earth be populated with men and women who have made themselves voluntary lovers of His dear Son. 

I am called to live in the dynamic tension of daily life yet remain focused at the same time on the fact that in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, all of human history will terminate. In that moment, I will be in the Lord’s presence, perfectly understanding the times. God calls me to consider His kingdom at all times, to have an eye and an ear turned constantly to His eternal agenda, rather than just living to get through the day.

Prayer: Lord, cause my heart to be tuned to Your broadcasts, to distinguish Your voice from the cacophony of the world around me. Help me to never be like the Pharisees, giving time and energy to perpetuate man’s values. Make me be a man who understands the time.