One. Issachar: His Tribal Significance. His birth is recorded in Genesis 30. After Leah’s fourth child, she ceased bearing for a while. Rachel turned her handmaid Bilhah over to Jacob, who bore her Dan and Naphtali. Leah countered by doing the same with her handmaid Zilpah, who bore her Gad and Asher.
Then Rachel talked Leah into giving her Reuben’s mandrakes or love apples upon condition that Jacob would sleep with Leah that night. Out of this contrivance of Rachel to bare children, Leah conceived and bore Issachar, and then Zebulun. Jacob now had 10 sons.
So Issachar is the 5th natural son of Leah, and the 9th son of Jacob. Leah’s thought was, “God has rewarded me for giving my slave-girl to Jacob.” That is, he is named as the reward of hire! The amazing thing that comes forth from all this domestic conflict, is that God worked good out of it! The nation Israel is the fruit of these 12 sons of Jacob borne out of bitter conflict.
Next we have the patriarch Jacob giving his dying blessing to Issachar. The Spirit thru Jacob said, “Issachar is a strong donkey lying down in the sheep sheds. On seeing how good is settled life and how pleasant the country, he will bend his back to the burden, and submit to forced labor” (Genesis 49:14-15). Issachar is a man of the soil. His younger brother Zebulun had an itchy foot, a dromedary of the desert, a sailor of the sea. He took the product of the soil produced by Issachar and traded with it to their mutual profit.
Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey on Palm Sunday, and finished riding on its foal. He breached in this way the Old and New Covenants! David led in Solomon’s coronation by seeing him ride on his royal donkey. A female donkey rebuked the mad prophet Balaam. In the Andes, if a missionary fails to get home before sundown, and darkness falls – then he relaxes the reins, and his faithful donkey safely brings him home on the narrow mountain trails 2 miles above sea level. In the Middle East, donkeys have value!
Moses has a closing blessing for the tribes of Israel in Deuteronomy 33. He says of Issachar: “Rejoice, Issachar, in your tents.” He confirms the word of Jacob.
In Exodus 28, we find that his stone on Aaron’s breastplate of Judgment is the beautiful yellow topaz. It is the sign of wisdom, sensitivity, faithfulness and obedience. All of this Issachar exemplified to an outstanding degree. See 1 Chronicles 12:32 – “Of the descendants of Issachar, men who understood the times and knew what Israel ought to do, there were 200 leaders, and all their kinsmen were under their command.” The whole tribe partook of the wise donkey spirit, of the yellow wisdom of the topaz, and under the leadership of its 200, had a contribution to the other 11 tribes. Each tribe was unique. Not one with its unique contribution could be omitted. Benjamin had to be rehabilitated by the other 11 tribes when he fell under judgment (Judges 20-21).
Make no mistake. Revival depends upon the Issachar contribution of sensitivity, faithfulness and obedience. It is one of the 12 embryonic revival principles that moved in 1948. It approximates for Israel the Urim and Thummim in the area of understanding and guidance.
This unique contribution was a most apparent characteristic of George R. Hawtin, the apostolic founder and leader during the 1948 revival. One morning in July of that year, the congregation heard the announcement concerning the agenda for the afternoon meeting. But in the worship part of the afternoon meeting that Mr. Hawtin was leading, it was apparent that he was troubled. Finally he turned the service over to an assistant, and polled the other six elders on the platform. He said, “I know what we announced this morning for the agenda this afternoon, but I just sense that the Lord doesn’t want to go in that direction. Do any of you have a word, or any discernment or leading?” The last one of us that he polled mentioned what he sensed. George Hawtin’s eyes brightened, and he reported to the other 5 of us concerning this suggestion. We unanimously witnessed that this was what the Lord desired. When Brother Hawtin took back the meeting and said to the congregation – “We announced the agenda for this afternoon, but I sensed that the Lord wanted to go in a different direction. Not knowing what He wanted, I polled the brethren on the platform, and unanimously they sense that this is the direction in which we should go to please the Lord. With your understanding and forbearance, we will forsake our announced agenda, and do that which will please the Lord.” The unusual blanket of the Lord’s anointing that immediately fell on the meeting signified how pleased the Lord was concerning the sensitivity on the part of our leader.
Two. Issachar and the First Nations People (North American Indians). Those of us, who have had the privilege of growing up with tribal members of the “First Nations People,” know how sensitive, faithful and obedient they can be. Those of you, who have seen “Dances with Wolves,” have observed the wisdom of the older men of that tribe. Truly they can be identified with the yellow topaz of Issachar. You cannot stampede them into rash and sudden decisions. In their powwows they carefully consider the agenda in front of them point by point. Then the tribal leader, much as did James of Jerusalem in Acts 15, will give his decision and ruling on the matter at hand. Wisdom is not usually based on majority vote. Israel was usually wrong in the main. Often Moses had to stand against all of his people. We of the Western Culture would do well to draw on the wisdom of the early, early inhabitants of this continent. George Hawtin walked in this spirit. So did the early church. This one ingredient of revival urgently needs to be recaptured and re-enacted.
During “The Gathering” at Whistler, BC Canada, 1995, Freda Cooper led some 60 of her people of some 12 or more tribes. They were seeking reconciliation with God vertically before they would entertain horizontal reconciliation with the rest of us. With that long-suffering patience of her people, Freda sensitively led them for some 5 hours on July 1st of that year, in what David Mainse said was one of the historic moments in the history of Canada. Sensitivity, faithfulness and obedience characterized those moments.
Then from 1977 to 1987 in Northern Alberta, the farmers of that area experienced unusually heavy rains during both seedtime and harvest. The government was foreclosing on large farms of a number of sections on a regular basis. On July 1st of 1987, the wife of one of these farmers wanted to attend a Mennonite family regathering in Saskatchewan. She knew I had been brought up on a farm during the great depression, and wondered if I would be willing to chicken-sit 1500 of this family. I gladly agreed to do so. On July 1st as I received the indignant cries directed at me a stranger, who was only trying to serve them, I couldn’t help but feel compassion for the farm and home showing me hospitality. I said, “Lord, during the times of the Old Covenant prophets, you rewarded those who treated your servants right. This happened through both Elijah and Elisha to name but two. Could you not do something to change the weather pattern and save this family showing me such care?” His swift answer was, “Read 2 Samuel 21.” Here I reviewed how David waited but the third year to inquire of the Lord for the famine in the land. He learned that it was because of the bloody house of Saul, and what it had done to the Gibeonites thru a broken covenant that Joshua had made with them 400 years previous. My response was “Lord, I am a stranger to northern Alberta. What is the bloody house of Saul here, and who are the Gibeonites?” He showed me that 10 years before there had been a fight between the Whites and Indians in Wetaskiwin. Drinking had taken place on both sides, and an Indian had been thrown out of an upper story of a hotel, and died in the fall. The Indians had asked for justice and received the reply; “The only good Indian is a dead Indian. You should thank us.” Neither God nor the Indians were satisfied, and the judgment of excessive rain started at that point. A friend of mine through North Battleford had gained great respect and appreciation from the 5 nations of Hobbema, one of the largest of all Canadian reservations. In gratitude they had made him honorary chieftain, and presented him with a full headdress of Indian feathers. I asked if he would approach the 5 chiefs and leaders on behalf of 4 of us – white leaders. Would he see if they would receive us that we could apologize and ask forgiveness on behalf of our people for the mistreatment of their people, not only for the 1977 incident, but for 400 years of abuse and broken promises and treaties? In amazement they asked him to repeat this request. Then because of their trust in the integrity of this mediator, they told him the 4 of us would not need to appear. They would take his word for our sincerity and honesty. They would join us in prayer for a reversal of the excessive and untimely rainfall judgment. However, they added, if at some time in the future we feel so led, we would like Jim Watt to make himself available to appear before us in person. Any white man wise enough to have a wife with part Indian blood, must be a good man. (Later on, I have found that on my maternal grandfather’s side, I too have Indian blood from the Micmacs tribe. Both my wife and I feel honored with this knowledge.)
On the first Friday of September 1987 a number met in the Wetaskiwin area with fasting and prayer, beseeching the Lord on the behalf of the word from the First Nations People, that He would have favor on the land and heal it. Within a short period of time the unanimous witness of those present was 2 Chronicles 7:14. God had heard, forgiven the sin, and healed the land! Rain did not fall till December 11th of that year. Every farmer, believer and unbeliever, white and First Nations People, for the first time in 10 years had a full harvest. They were able to prepare the land for spring seeding, and do those extra chores on the farm that ill weather had previously prevented from being done. A miracle? Indeed, yes! But perfectly consistent with the promises of the Word of God when understood and sincerely acted upon! And again, the sensitivity and wisdom of the tribal leaders at Hobbema was a large contributing factor allowing this to come to pass!
Three. Issachar: Wisdom from Dreams and Visions. We could have included this as a subdivision under the First Nations people. A Indian boy, who reached the age of puberty, would be sent out to fast and pray, and find game to kill and eat. Out of his time of fasting and prayer, the Great Spirit would visit him with intimation thru dreams and visions of his name, an animal or bird with which to identify, the type of character that would unfold for him, and his future in general. Again – how much this is like all 12 tribes of Israel, but especially of Issachar. Throughout the Old Covenant and well into the New, dreams and visions played a significant part both in Israel and the early church. For some inexplicable reason Jerome of the Vulgate misused the Hebrew and threw disrepute on dreams, identifying them with the occult, though he himself personally profited from them. St. Thomas Aquinas followed the footsteps of Jerome, though he too profited from heaven sent dreams in the night. At the end of his life God rebuked him thru a dream, and he refused to complete his “Summa Theologica,” counting it as dust, because he had robbed it of God’s Rhema voice.
Here are 8 guidelines on dreams from Herman Riffel, a Mennonite Baptist. Many delving into the restoration of the God-given help, have been perhaps too influenced by Carl Jung. However – a word of caution – Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Put the chicken bones on the side of the plate, but save the meat. God said to Jeremiah, “If you will take the precious from the vile, you shall be as my mouth.” This takes wisdom as of Issachar, Bible Knowledge and maturity – but the spirit of Issachar will help you. See Joseph and Daniel on this subject.
Herman Riffel’s “Dreams: Wisdom Within” – ISBN 1-56043-007-9 – Destiny Image, P.O. Box 351, Shippensburg, PA 17257 – has the following points of guidance from God for you and your family. There is no better way to get to the heart of a deep personal problem than to seek God’s solutions that so often come through one’s dreams.
One. Make the basic decision that you want and need God’s help and direction for your life, and that one way you’ll seek it is through a determined effort to find His guidance through your dreams.
Two. Keep a note pad beside your bed and write down the dream the moment you awake. Don’t try to decide the value of the dream before you understand it. Write down all its details, no matter how insignificant they seem to you.
Three. Remember that the dream speaks symbolically. Seek to find associations for each symbol of the dream. List all associations until you find the one that feels right.
Four. Look at the setting of the dream. What were you thinking about, or in what were you emotionally involved when you had the dream?
Five. Remember that most dreams are subjective. The experts estimate that 95% of all dreams have something to say to the dreamers about themselves, even if the dreams are about someone else. Only 5% are objective, or really refer to other people. Be careful about telling others you have dreamed about them, for this can be destructive. You may even be projecting your problems upon them.
Six. Don’t strain to get the message of your dream. Sometimes the message will be obvious. Often the dream will defy interpretation. There is a sequence in dreams, and one dream may be only one scene, like one frame out a whole movie. Some dreams may not be understood for years.
Seven. When an interpretation comes, test it four ways to be sure of its accuracy. (1) Go directly to God in prayer for confirmation, remembering that God speaks to us in many ways, dreams being only one of them. (2) Check scripture, since God doesn’t contradict Himself by saying one thing in the Bible and the opposite in a dream. (3) Seek confirmation from trusted friends and associates. (4) Heed the feeling you have in your own spirit about the interpretation. Even if you don’t like the message, the truth of it will usually plant itself in your heart.
Eight. Take the action called for by the dream. God is constantly seeking to change us. We tend to resist. If He tells us through a dream to do something, and we confirm the interpretation as outlined above, not to take action is deliberate disobedience. Such disobedience would place our relationship (fellowship) with God in jeopardy.
Four. Wisdom and Sensitivity Applied. Gerry Fry has just published a book entitled “In Pursuit of His Glory – A Quest to Know the Power and Presence of God.” It is published by Mount Hermon Ministries, P.O. Box 9448, Tacoma, WA 98409, Tel: 253-460-1162; Fax: 253-460-1182. In this book he recounts a revival that took place in a church he pastored in San Jose, California in 1982. Within months the revival became a disappointment. The parallels between this revival and that of 1948 are amazing. Those seeking answers from the 1948 revival will find great help in the insights of Gerry Fry. From Jack Hayford’s foreword we read these insightful words: “I was pleased when I saw his manuscript for this book, because I knew at once that this will become a treasure-store of spiritual truth, insight and edification for all who read it. You will find a tender vulnerability, as he relates with characteristic transparency his own journey, through both the invigorating peaks as well as the heart-rending valley he traversed, in experiencing a great – and peculiarly, also disappointing – ‘revival.’”
The spirit of Issachar in wisdom permeates the above. May we all receive of these waters.