1 Chronicles 7:1-5 – A Little Hard Work Never Hurt Anybody

Posted: January 12, 2020 in 13-1 Chronicles

1 Chronicles 7:1-5

Descendants of Issachar

When I think of my childhood, I often think of the fact that sure we had it easier than my dad did (he grew up on a farm and was the oldest of 5 boys). As well, I think too that the expectations my dad had of us as children were different from what I see today. When I was growing up, we had chores that we had to accomplish each week to gain an allowance and to keep our freedoms to do what we wanted on the weekends and so on. We had to wash dishes, vacuum, dust, take out the trash, cut grass and any of a number of things that dad decided that we needed to do to help mom around the house (seeing as how we were not farmers and lived in a preacher’s home). He would make us help him do mechanical stuff with the cars and other stuff. Especially that stuff, I am sure that Dad could have gotten it done quicker without always trying to teach us stuff, but that was just the way he was. He was always trying to teach us stuff. As well, he would never let us quit on stuff whether it be participating in youth league sports or schoolwork or whatever. He taught us that sometimes our responsibilities are hard to the point that you just want to quit, but you keep at it no matter what until the end, until you’re finished, until it’s over. When we were teenagers, he said if you want spending money, you gotta get a job and earn it. He said I provide all the basic necessities of life for you (food, clothing, shelter, etc.) but it want the extras, you gotta work for it.

I didn’t like it back then, especially when some of my friends did not have to work at all. But looking back on it now, I see the value of all that Dad was doing with us growing up. We were not spoiled. We were taught responsibility at an early age and then me having to work for my car and spending money as a teenager really taught me about working hard to get what you want. That’s what struck me this morning about reading about Issachar. He’s not the most popular of Jacob’s sons in the Bible but he’s there. He’s working hard. His clan was known for being hard working farmers. It’s not glamorous always to be a hard worker. But the Bible does constantly praise those who work hard. Working hard in life teaches that life is not always fair. Working hard teaches us that it’s not glamorous and you will not always get a lot of notoriety for taking care of your responsibilities but the Bible praises those who take care of their family and give Him the glory quietly as they go about their daily lives. That’s what I thought about this morning as I read about Issachar. Let’s read the passage, 1 Chronicles 7:1-5, now:

Chapter 7

1 The sons[a] of Issachar: Tola, Puah, Jashub, and Shimron, four. 2 The sons of Tola: Uzzi, Rephaiah, Jeriel, Jahmai, Ibsam, and Shemuel, heads of their ancestral houses, namely of Tola, mighty warriors of their generations, their number in the days of David being twenty-two thousand six hundred. 3 The son[b] of Uzzi: Izrahiah. And the sons of Izrahiah: Michael, Obadiah, Joel, and Isshiah, five, all of them chiefs; 4 and along with them, by their generations, according to their ancestral houses, were units of the fighting force, thirty-six thousand, for they had many wives and sons. 5 Their kindred belonging to all the families of Issachar were in all eighty-seven thousand mighty warriors, enrolled by genealogy.

This passage reminds us that each of the twelve sons of Israel received a blessing from his father, Jacob, just before Jacob’s death. The twelve sons were the progenitors of the twelve tribes of Israel, and Jacob’s blessings contained prophetic information about each tribe. In the case of the tribe of Issachar, Jacob prophesied, “Issachar is a rawboned donkey, lying down between two burdens; He saw that rest was good, and that the land was pleasant; He bowed his shoulder to bear a burden, and became a band of slaves” (Genesis 49:14-15). The first part of the prophecy about the tribe of Issachar, whose name means either “he will bring a reward” or “man of wages”. As for the second part of the prophecy, some commentators believe it is an indication that the descendants of Issachar would be farmers—the reference to “a band of slaves” means they would be servants of the land.

How are we to understand these references to Issachar, and what do they mean to us as Christians? First, it’s important to understand that Jacob’s prophecies to his sons were just that—prophecies to his sons. We should be very careful when applying Old Testament passages to the Church Age or to Christians in general. We can, however, glean certain general principles regarding work and its rewards. The Bible makes it clear that work is a gift from God for the benefit of His people (Ecclesiastes 3:12-13; 5:18-20) and those who don’t work shouldn’t eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10). The Bible contains numerous references to those who work as reaping rewards, both in the temporal and spiritual realms (2 Chronicles 15:7; 1 Corinthians 3:8,14; 2 John 1:8; Revelation 2:23; 22:12).

So, I thank my Dad for not spoiling us, for making us earn things, even when we were little kids. I even thank him for making me work to pay for my own car, my own gas, my own spending money as a teenager. As a teenager, my first job was as janitor in the Dining Hall at Furman University from 1976-1978. It was there that I learned to humbly do work that many people didn’t want to do. It taught me to take pride in working and doing your job to the best of your limited abilities and just plugging through even when you didn’t want to do it. The things I learned in that job about responsibility, humility on the job, and all that stuff served me well when I entered the professional world after college. However, it was the work ethic that my dad instilled in us even as little boys that set it all up. Thanks Dad! It is biblical to work hard and we were taught that by my Dad.

Amen and Amen.

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