Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Ps 23:4-6 – The LORD, as our Shepherd, is with us in trouble

Ps 23:4-6 - 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.  5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.  6 Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Psalm 23 is a psalm by King David. 

I have expounded on Ps 23:1 – The Lord is my shepherd,I shall NOT be in want.  In it we talked about if we truly are holding the Lord as our shepherd, we must mean what we declare; we must want to be led by the Shepherd, and NOT go about on our own, as if we got everything that we need to manoeuver through life, outright.

Then, for verses 2-3, in the article, Ps 23:2-3 - Theleading of the LORD, my Shepherd, we looked at the expansion of verse 1, that we shall NOT be in want; NOT in want of our sustenance (what we will eat, drink and wear or shelter), NOT in want of restoration of our soul, and NOT in want of the righteousness Guide (for the NT believers, He is the indwelling Spirit of Christ). 

The trouble times
In the rest of this psalm, vv4-6, David talked about (in addition to the LORD’s seeing to our sustenance, soul restoration, and growth in righteousness) how, if we are led by the LORD, we will NOT need to fear, even when we pass through trouble times.  The psalm culminated into the climax of our blessedness in the earthly phase of Kingdom of God and the heavenly phase.

Psalm 91, too!
This time round when I read this part of the Ps 23, my thought straightaway turns to Ps 91:14-16.  This, I believe, is the prompting of the Spirit.  What is in Ps 91:14-16?

Ps 91:14-16 - 14 "Because he {the psalmist} loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.  15 He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.  16 With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation."

Many would NOT dispute Ps 23 and Ps 91 are among the favorite psalms of believers.  Ps 91 is also known as the Protection Psalm, and many “fall in love with it”, reading its 1st verse, but sadly, for some, it is without practical understanding of what it said! – “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” (Ps 91:1)

How does one dwell in the shelter of the Most High?  Where is the shelter of the Most High?  Is it a place?  How does one get there?  The verse gives you no comfort and meaning if you know NOT how to be dwelling in the shelter of the Most High!  I am NOT in here to expound on Ps 91; you can get a good exposition of mine, if you read this: Ps 91 – Secret of our well-being   

I will give you the essence of how one gets to dwell in the shelter of the Most High; and it is this: As given in the opening of the text of vv14-16 of Ps 91, love the LORD. 

The common thread – love, obey, follow, be led
How can we correlate Ps 91:14-16 text to Ps 23:4-6, when the Ps 91 text demanded we love the LORD, and we do NOT see that, directly, in the Ps 23 text?  In fact, many people expounded Ps 23 stressing there was no condition whatsoever required, it was all “He (the LORD) makes…; He leads ….; He restores…; He guides ….”; purportedly nothing for us, sheep, to do.

This is what we need to appreciate:  One leads, another is to follow.  The one who leads is no leader to you, if you follow him NOT!  If the LORD is your shepherd, you have to follow Him; if you follow Him NOT, how can He be shepherding you. 

How does one follow another?  You obey; when he says, “Go to the left”, you are to obey and go to the left; when he says, “Go to the right”, you are to obey, too, and go to the right!  For the LORD, our Shepherd, to lead us, we have to follow, and to follow, we have to obey his commands.

Bro. Anthony, but it still does NOT say, “Love the LORD”!  No, no, it does!  How?  The chief way God defines love for Him, is this way:  He who loves Me, obeys my commands (John 14:15), and He who obeys my commands are the one who loves Me (John 14:21a).  In other words, implicit in Ps 23, is that we are to love the LORD, for we need to obey (His commands) in order to follow, and we are to follow, so that we are being led by Him, our Shepherd.

How come, still has valley of shadow of death or trouble?
Below, I put the 2 texts “side by side”, so that we can more clearly see the parallels, and the same theme of the goodness of the LORD that can be available to us, if only we love Him, and obey Him in that love, and so, follow Him, wholeheartedly, and unreservedly.

Ps 23:4-6 - 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.  5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.  6 Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Ps 91:14-16 - 14 "Because he {the psalmist} loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.  15 He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.  16 With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation."

When we look at both the texts, it clearly tells us that in our lives, there is no promise by God that, in the entirety of it (our mortal life), there will be no trouble.  Ps 23:4 said, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, ….”; and Ps 91:15, “…. I will be with him (the psalmist) in trouble,…”  In fact, Jesus said (in John 16:33), “In this world, you will have troubles …..”

If you did read the article (on the verses earlier), “Ps 23:2-3 – The leading of the LORD, my Shepherd”, you will remember that it said there, in the verses (2-3), the LORD makes, leads, restores, and guides.  How come there is this, now, in verse 4, “I walk through the valley of the shadow of death”; how are we to make of it?

I repeat what I was trying to say, of the shepherd-sheep metaphor: it was portraying for us a journey; that the Christian life is a journey; nothing of the sort that we have arrived or reached one place or position and that is it; the plurals of the pasture and water were used in verses 2-3; and I stated in my article on that part of the psalm, that the restoration of the soul, it too, was NOT just a one-time salvation restoration alone, but a restoration that needed to maintained; even for the path of righteousness in verse 4, plurals (paths) were used.  All of these were because the whole affair was a journey – moving from one green pasture to another, one quiet water to another, on-going restoration, and moving in paths of righteousness, hopefully, in growth, from glory to glory.  If we follow wholeheartedly and unreservedly, it will result in our growth, and we will move from glory to glory.

But why is there still valley of the shadow of death?  Does the LORD go away, and leave us to travel by ourselves, and we get into the valley of the shadow of death? 

Between one green pasture and another, and between one quiet water and another, there are the valleys of the shadow of death; to go from one pasture ground to another, or from one water to another, we may pass through such a valley of the shadow of death.  You and I pass through it, but if we follow the LORD, the LORD is right there with us, in that passage – that is what verse 4 was saying.  The LORD is able to maneuver us through the valley of the shadow of death.  David, the psalmist, said he would NOT fear, for the LORD was with him.  In Ps 91:15, God said He would be with the psalmist in trouble.  The bad valleys or troubles are there in the fallen world, the world we are still in, are NOT without such, and the LORD does cross through them, bringing us through, to the next green pasture and next quiet water.

Fear NOT, when you are led by the LORD
When the LORD is with us, we need NOT fear any evil; that was what the verse 4 of Ps 23 said; David said the LORD’s staff would bring us comfort, for that was the symbol of power and authority of God.  Not only that, recently, I believe the Holy Spirit has revealed to me, the staff is also a symbol of signs and wonders and miracles. Miracles by the Lord can bring us pass the valley of death or trouble.

What does v5 mean; God prepared a table before David in the presence of his enemy?  This is equivalent to Ps 91:15’s God honoring the psalmist.  God NOT only would be with us, in trouble, when it is we followed Him into it, He would deliver us, and honor us, even before our enemies.

Climax of blessedness
When we follow the LORD’s leading, we would have His favor as that for High Priest; more than satisfied.  In OT time, it was the High Priest who had the privilege of entering into and lingering in the presence of God. In NT, with veil torn, we are high priests who can enter into the presence of God.  How satisfying is, “in the presence of God”?  In what way is our cup overflowing?  Here are some verses telling us what it is like; have you experienced any of them(?):

The presence of God, there is fullness of joy (Ps 16:11);

In the shelter of God’s presence, we are hidden from the intrigues {plots and snares} of men (Ps 31:20);

In Ps 91:16, God said He would satisfy the psalmist, one who love Him, with long life {long, eternal}, and show him His salvation.  In Ps 23:6 the same reads as the psalmist’s exclamation of “surely goodness and love would follow him all the days of his life as he dwells with God in His house {Heaven}, forever”.

The entire psalm 23 spoke about a journey, from us acknowledging the LORD as our Shepherd, to following Him, to how the LORD would shepherd us, providing us with the sustenance we need, the soul restoration we need, and guiding us in the paths of righteousness, maneuvering us through “rough” patches in earthly life, to finally having us reach the final green pasture and quiet water, Heaven, where we would be with eternal life, experiencing forever, the goodness and love of God for us.  What it requires, is that we love the LORD, we obey Him, and so, follow Him as He leads us, by His Spirit.  There may NOT be trouble-free earthly life, but we fear NOT, the trouble-spots, when we walk with Him through them.  Don’t tread through them on your own, but do so, as the Lord brings you through them.

Life is indeed beautiful because He lives.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions

Comments are welcome here. Alternatively, email them to me @: Or just email me your email address so that I can put you on my blog (new entry) notification list. To go back to blog main page, click here. 


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Our Peculiar Passage

Entry text
Ex 13:17-18 - 17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” 18 So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.

The Exodus is a shadow of the believers’ journey to the Promised Land, Heaven.  Putting it in another way, the Exodus is parable or metaphor to our salvation journey.  It is also a kind of passage.  Do you see the initiation in there, and then the passage proper?

Whether we like it or NOT, we are in a sort of “adulthood passage”.  No father would want to see his child stops, abandons or fails eventually, in the passage.  All such passages have some “rules”; otherwise, we may as well NOT have them.  As much as the father would like to help his child, even if the father is the village chief (for example), he cannot break this rule or that rule to ensure his child make it through.  Now, the reasons for such passages are that it is good for the child, and it is good for the community.  Although such passages are sometimes handled like an initiation, it is rather, the passage starts with an initiation.

People do NOT undertake the passage without the initiation, and those who undergo the initiation, undergo it with the intent to complete the passage.  In other words, it is similar to what Jesus said concerning we have to “count the cost” before we begin:

Luke 14:27-33 –
27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ 31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

Saying the Sinner’s Prayer or the act of coming into salvation is equivalent to initiation.  As in the adulthood passages, no one goes into the initiation, and stops there or regards that (initiation), as all there is to it, to the adulthood passage; there is necessarily the passage or journey to be undertaken, unless the person somehow, drops dead, immediately after initiation.

So, we can metaphorically regard the salvation as a passage.  It begins with “Entering into Salvation” (acceptance of Jesus Christ as is commonly said), and continues on with “In Salvation”; we, believers, are in salvation, and the Apostle Paul said of the “In Salvation” this way (Phil 2:12): We are to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling”.

But unlike men’s common adulthood passage, our salvation passage has its peculiarity.  If we “play by the rules”, we have unlimited access to a leader, the Leader, who leads us IN the passage.  The Leader is our Lord Jesus Christ, by His Spirit (same as the Holy Spirit or Spirit of God).  The role of the Lord is to lead us through the passage, NOT He has to undergo the passage.  Unlike men’s adulthood passage, the “obstacle course” is dynamic and can be different, for different individuals.  The Leader wants to help you and can help you, but core rules, He does NOT break. 

For example, if you engage in evil, stubbornly, he is NOT with you.  He may be there (present), but He is NOT with you (He does NOT go along with you; agree with you and work with you {in your evil}).  When we say, you have to “play by the rules”, this is what we mean.  Another example of breaking the ground rules, which we must avoid, is this: You don’t hold Him as your Leader, but hold another; that can be idolatry; rebellion; even apostasy.  Sorry, there is no such thing as salvation without embracing Lordship; that is apostasy.

The Leader (the Lord, Jesus Christ) wants you to make it, but you cannot insist He do what He would NOT do!  You still have your free-will and you have to exercise it rightly, but the Leader does NOT conform to your volition; He goes by His will; He teaches us; we don’t teach Him; He does NOT learn; He is arrived; we are NOT.  It is NOT He, undergoing the passage, we are. 

As He assesses your progress, he wants to help you, encourage you, comfort you, and will lead you, if you allow Him to.  He knows how to lead you if you allow Him to.  He wants to lead in such a way that you should NOT stop, abandon, or fail eventually, the passage; and of course, the purpose of the passage is that you grow, to come to stature; but it is NOT His job to do the passage for you; as in a men’s adulthood passage, the father or the village chief cannot do the passage for the children.

There is work to be done by us; the passage does NOT end with Initiation.  First of all, we need to trust the Leader.  We need to believe if we follow His leading, we will pass the passage; it is like He has every conceivable blueprint there is, of the obstacle courses in the passage.  It is NOT “a piece of cake”, maybe you will hit a dead-end, a wall, but He knows where to punch a hole in the wall, and you can move on.  When the time runs out, you are to pass, and that means you reaching the “land of adulthood”, Heaven; and so, you have to keep moving forward. 

Second, we need to know the Leader and His ways, because we cannot bend Him to conform to our volition; instead, it is best for us, when we work with Him.  If we want to work with Him, we need to know Him and His ways.  Among His ways are (1) there is no wickedness in Himself whatsoever; and so, you got to conform to that; He is holy; (2) He has His commission, to lead as many of us, through the passage, as possible; and so, if you want to work with Him, be part of this Great Commission; and (3) He moves in love, and His love is of this kind, in keeping with His holiness and righteousness, love unto righteousness (a specific `ahab love); and so, we have to move in that way, too. 

Thirdly, we have to always return to the Leader, when we have gone off-course (strayed and sinned); this is what we say, “You got to get back right with the Lord”; otherwise, how is He to lead you again.  We got to repent; be humble, and confess we have done wrong (sinned), and ask Him to forgive us, and give us the “right hand of fellowship” again, and lead us.  That we have a leader to lead us in this passage is peculiar, but if you ignore this peculiarity or don’t want this peculiarity, chance is that you will NOT make it.  This is a peculiar passage, to make us a peculiar people, for the one and only God worthy of our devotion.  1 Pet 2:9 (KJV) – “… ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;

In my view, those who teach along the line of “God got your butt onto the course, He got to get your ass to Heaven, regardless, on the ground that you merited it NOT your entry into salvation", they are seriously missing what God is trying to do.

Food for thoughts
Did all the Israelites who left Egypt after the “fanfare” (Initiation?), get into the Promised Land?  Did NOT all who left Egypt, went on the journey (Passage?)?  Did any left Egypt but did NOT go on the journey, like just remained there outside of Egypt or went back in? Was it “a piece of cake” to get to the Promised Land? Did NOT many of them, afterwards, have “regret thoughts” of embarking on the Exodus?  Were there NOT many obstacles, big and small, of varying sorts?  Can you see any deadly ones?  Was NOT the LORD with them in the journey?  Did the LORD NOT help them?  Did all make it?  Why? Do you think we can be like the adult generation who left Egypt, who failed in the deadly obstacles?  All believers should at some point, spend some time studying the Exodus.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions

Comments are welcome here. Alternatively, email them to me @: Or just email me your email address so that I can put you on my blog (new entry) notification list. To go back to blog main page, click here. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Be careful of pride

Preamble:  This entry stems from my pondering and commenting on two consecutive blog entries on pride, of Ps Prentis, writing on his blog of “Created to give God Glory”, which I follow most regularly.   

Below are the links to the 2 articles:

1.          Bowing at the Altar of Self

2.   Standing on the backs of others won’tmake you taller (I also encourage you to read my comment on this article; the points are NOT reflected in this article)

Article verse
Hab 2:4 - "See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright-- but the righteous will live by his faith.

It started with Satan
Satan’s fall from Heaven was due to pride.  Isaiah 14:12-14 gave us the picture:

12 How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!  13 You said in your heart, "I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.  14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High." 

Ezekiel 28:12-18 is conflated with Satan.  Satan was most beautiful and perfect until Iniquity was found in Him.  Iniquity birthed from pride.  Satan wanted to be like God, be seated at the High Throne, and be worshipped by all.  He probably was below One, and above all others, possibly, was the one who orchestrated worship in Heaven; yet he wanted to equal God, if NOT above God.

Pride reaches its high level when, it matters NOT, to you, what others (including God) think of you; and what matters to you is what you think of yourself.  When it is like that, it is you are placing yourself above everyone else. 

In this regard, the author of Romans, in Romans 12:3, captured it well, warning us NOT to think more highly than we ought, but rather think of ourselves with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of us. 

Think about it, that was what happened to Satan; he stopped bothering with what God thought of him, rather he thought he ought be the one be worshipped by all (equaled God, or even instead of God being worshipped).  When we say we are NOT bothered with what others think of us, it is WRONG (pride), if that “others” included God.  We must have, and have, the highest regard for what God thinks of us. Micah 6:8 said of what is required of us; one of it, is we are to walk humbly before our God.

Replication into Man
Iniquity birthed in Satan from pride; to me, the same was replicated into men, in the Fall.  The snare was the same; Gen 3:4-6 –

4 "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman.  5 "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."  6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

See, Satan was hinting to Eve, “You could do without God”.

Fellowship consideration
“Well, in that case, can I be ‘NOT bothered’ with what others think; I just give regards to what God thinks?”  If the others are in alignment with God, you cannot just ignore them either.  Remember, (1 John 1) if we are in the light, we have fellowship with God and with other believers in the light.  The yardstick of measurement has to be God’s words, will and desires, though.  Believers’ expectations of us, which are out of line with the yardstick, we can put aside, after we have weighed against the yardstick, but it is only after exercising sober judgment.

Romans 12 gives a good take of how we are to live it out in a community.  The point is still we are NOT called into isolation, but to live in fellowship in the light.  Life is NOT easy in such context, for where there are people, there is politics, and that is another thorny issue, and wisdom is required. We don’t bow to men, but to God; but it is NOT we bow NOT, to men and we bow NOT to anyone, NOT even God.  We submit to authority placed over us, by God.  Unhappy with leaders, and there is no higher authority?  Take your case to God.

Agreement with God
The straightforward and “easy thing to say” is to “Just do what God wills/desires you, to do; submit, obey, and follow His prescription for you”; in other words, be in agreement with God.  It is the right thing, but it is NOT necessarily easy to practise. 

Hab 2:4 ends with “but the righteous shall live by faith”, but how is it contrary to prideful behavior or living?  I often say, the simple definition of being righteous is being in agreement with God, and so, the righteous are the ones supposedly in agreement with God.  The “in agreement” is about what God wants done, and the timing thereof, too; and it is NOT mental assent, it got to be lived out. 

Why the righteous shall live by faith; it is because we proceed and we are to proceed (to live), from a “right belief”; NOT any belief, but a belief in the words, will and desires of God. It is the norm that it is NOT “robotic”, in that it is NOT all pre-programmed in every single step that we are to take, and it is NOT executed entirely from facts.  And we do NOT have the full mind of Christ, like our mind has been hollowed out and replaced by Christ’s mind!  If you have such a mind, let me know! To be righteous in living, it is by faith. 

I like this, that Ps Prentis said (in his blog entry - “Bowing at the Altar of Self”):

Listening to God and doing what He desires takes away all pride and all self-worship. It creates a person who loses himself in his work. His work is his worship because God has called him to it. He doesn’t worship the work but worships by working.”

Really, worship is more than we singing songs and praising Him; we worship Him in doing willingly and lovingly the works (including worship of Him) He has us do.  But sad, too often, works has been erroneously treated like leprosy, to stay away from (no thanks to overly grace preachers), with a 10 feet pole, so to speak. 

How is in agreement with God (being righteous), listening to Him and doing from that, by faith, takes away all pride and self-worship? It is because we know we are NOT the source of the whatever that people can be prideful about, God is; we merely follow His lead.

“Listening to God and doing what He desires” is NOT necessarily easy!  But who says, when it is hard, we are NOT to do!  If there is no hardness, from where would come faithfulness and perseverance; and where would come character building. 

The one who is NOT operating from “the righteous shall live by faith”, Habakkuk said, his soul is lifted up, or he is being proud.  And he who is proud, “uprightness” is NOT in him. To live by faith, one listens to God and does what He desires (both listening and doing, call for faith); when we are NOT doing that, we are saying we know better (than God); and this is being proud, is it NOT?!

My check of the Lexicon leads me to believe the right meaning to be assigned (there are several meanings) to the “uprightness” {H3474} is, that which is pleasing, agreeable; and obviously, pleasing and agreeability are from the perspective of God.  So, he who is proud does NOT have that which is pleasing or agreeable to God, or he is NOT pleasing or agreeable to God. 

In other words, Hab 2:4 could read as “Behold, he who is being proud (or prideful) is NOT pleasing or agreeable to God; whereas, the righteous lives by faith or in agreement with God”.

If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that
There is, of course, time and season (Eccl 3); and so, while we must remain faithful in our works for God, it is never we are indispensable (that is pride), or that God cannot retire us off, or rotate us to any other thing or nothing (for a season)!  He is the Potter, we are the clay; He will re-make or re-shape as he wishes (Jer 18:4-5; Rom 9:21).

The Apostle James left us these words (James 4:13-16):
13 Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money."  14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  15 Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that."  16 As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. 

Anthony Chia, high.expressions

Comments are welcome here. Alternatively, email them to me @: Or just email me your email address so that I can put you on my blog (new entry) notification list. To go back to blog main page, click here. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Issachar Spirit

Gen 49:14-15 -14 Issachar is a strong ass couching down between two burdens: 15 And he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute.

First of all, Gen 49 was a prophecy by Jacob, including prophecy on his 12 sons, who would form the 12 Tribes of Israel.  Issachar was the 9th son, and meaning of the name is recompense/reward (H3485). 

Gen 30:18 (KJV) - And Leah said, God hath given me my hire, because I have given my maiden to my husband: and she called his name Issachar (H3485).

The text was a metaphorical prophecy of Issachar, and the Tribe of Issachar.  It does NOT necessary mean the prophecy is “extendable” to us, but there could be good guides or principles we can apply in our lives. 

Issachar men were strong men built for work.  Gen 49:14-15 has been variedly interpreted, and there are people who said Issachar men were lazy, which I disagree.  I am NOT using the word, hardworking, but they were built for work or fit for work; perhaps, they were NOT proactive all the time, but when they took up a work assignment, they worked.  Remember, this was a metaphor, and donkey was a metaphorical object; some translation has it for “strong donkey”, “jawboned donkey”.  In other words, the well-built Issachar, could be men of battle (Scripture has a record of Samson using a jawbone of a donkey for battle, killing a 1,000 men).  Also, 1 Chronicles 7:2 tells us that Issachar men were valiant men of might in their generations. Gen 49:14 said that they were “caught” between two “burdens”; what were those two “burdens” or camps or “sheepfolds”? 

Couching down between two “burdens” there, in my view, was referring to a position of weighing set of two choices, and there could be various different two-choices sets.  I believe Jacob spoke about Issachar or Issachar men as men of astute choice maker.  Now, it is NOT necessary that his mother, Leah, her doing then, of making her choices (for reward), necessary means that Issachar would turn out to be a negative or bad choice maker, like it would be (choice) for material or vain or unrighteous reward; as are presented by some who write on this text.

What Issachar’s mother, Leah did, could be read from Gen 30.  When he was born, Issachar was given that name; the underlying scenario was that Leah weighed her two “burdens”, to be losing out to Rachel, not having children or enough children, or to be having her maidservant be intimate with her husband, Jacob.  Leah considered Issachar as recompense/wages for her, for her letting her maidservant to be intimate with Jacob.  Issachar took on the “trait” of weighing between two “burdens”, but it did mean that he or his descendants would be bad choice maker or bad in weighing of burdens.  In 1 Chronicle 12:32 we read of Issachar “were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do”; and they rallied behind making David, King of Israel.

For verse 15 (Gen 49:15), one may tend to say, there we have it - the two burdens, waging battles, and the other, tilling the ground; meaning they could opt to be men of battles or war, one sheepfold or cluster/camp, or farmers, another sheepfold or cluster/camp.  It may NOT be exactly it, for there was no noting in Scripture of Issachar men turned to be farmers.

The land was metaphorical representation.  There were 2 occasions in Scripture that helped explain this:

Occasion 1 - Judges 5:15 - The princes of Issachar were with Deborah; yes, Issachar was with Barak, sent under his command into the valley.

Deborah (woman Judge, from Ephraim Tribe) and Barak (of Naphtali Tribe) headed one of the greatest last battles of the Israelites over the northern Canaanite armies - the "Battle of Deborah" (12 BC); this completed the conquest of Canaan, tens of years after Joshua first led the Israelites into the Promised Land. Deborah had a problem then - to convince the tribes to send soldiers to the Israelite Army against enemy Jabin, king of Hazor and his commander-in-chief, Sisera.  In the end, only a few of the tribes sent their men into the battle. The Zebulun joined (Barak requested that Deborah will join him in the battle as a condition for his acceptance of the command); and we read in the above Judges 5:15, the Issachar Tribe gave full support and went into the thick of the battle under the command of Barak, a commander of Naphtali, (NOT of Issachar). 

The land in Gen 49:15 was therefore a metaphor for the Promised Land; and it was indeed a pleasant land; this was what was said by the spies when they first explored the Promised Land – Num 13:27 - They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. Of the fruit, from Num 13:23, “they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs.”

What about “the rest was good”?  By this time, the Israelites had entered and occupied much of the land, and they had rested, and that was why Deborah had the problem of convincing the Tribes to fight in one of the remaining fierce battles of the Promised Land.  The rest was good, but like we nowadays say it, “it ain’t over!” And the Issachar men knew it, and made the right choice of going into battle, instead of going about their lives, like what was being done by some of the other tribes; they might have searched their hearts, but still they did NOT go to the battle, leaving others to fight.  We are to note that the Issachar men were NOT lazy; they went to work (“bowed his shoulder to bear”); they went into the thick of the battle.  Yes, for what was good and pleasant – the rest and the land.  And they became a servant unto tribute; what was this?  They submitted to the leadership of Barak who was NOT of their tribe, and went to battle as servants of Barak and of the people; and Judge Deborah, we can read from Judges 5 (vv9-12), paid tribute to the volunteers – the Issachar men became servants unto tribute.  For an account of Judges 5, read this article of mine - Judges 5 - Song of Deborah.

Occasion 2: 1 Ch 12:32 - we read of Issachar “were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do”; and they rallied behind making David, King of Israel.  1 Ch 12:23 said these men (inclusive of others), “armed for battle who came to David at Hebron to turn Saul’s kingdom over to him, as the Lord had said:” In 1 Ch 12:38, we read, “All these were fighting men who volunteered to serve in the ranks. They came to Hebron fully determined to make David king over all Israel. …

David was banished from the presence of (King) Saul (1 Ch 12:1); there were two burdens – Saul or David?  Issachar couched down between Saul and David?  Was the home (land), and therefore, rest, too, good and pleasant?  Was Israel, the Holy Land, good and pleasant?  It was; and still, choice had to be made, shoulders needed to be bowed to bear, and the Issachar men, chose to be servants to bear up David.  Again, Issachar men would NOT be “the” leaders, but would be servants unto tribute, to the Judah head, David.

What we can glean from the above:
1.   Prophecy does come to pass.  And so, we should NOT make the mistake of a writer or two, who brushed away this prophecy; even saying, the life of Issachar (we got to include his descendants) did NOT bear it out!  No, careful study, as above, shows, that prophecy did come to pass.

2.   Like the men of Issachar, we have to believe we are born for such a time as this, and we can be astute choice makers, knowing of the times or have understanding of the times; and we are to recognise “the rest” and the “land”.
3.   The Christian life is the rest and the land; we have entered it.  We have entered into the Kingdom of God, albeit the earthly phase of it.  The rest is good and the land is pleasant, but like I have said above, “it ain’t over!”  We still have to make choices, and right ones; and for the choices we make, for the “good rest and pleasant land”, we have to bow our shoulders to bear.  Yes, we have to work when we have made the choice(!); and we are “jawboned donkeys”; and we have what it takes to do the work (And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work – 2 Cor 9:8). We are called into the Servanthood that the Lord, Jesus, had come to re-establish, that we, believers, are servants unto tribute, serving the Almighty God.  Eph 2:10 tells us that we are saved for good works (unto the Lord).

As long as we are still living, we are to continue to be like Issachar, strong ass couching down between two burdens, and we have chosen (NEVER to deny) the Kingdom (as opposed to the world) and because the Kingdom rest is good, and the Kingdom is pleasant; we bow our shoulders to bear, to work for its interest, and continue to be a servant unto tribute, unto our King and God, until the day He brings us to the Kingdom in Heaven, for the most awesome, awesome, and awesome rest and land.

4.   My long distance friend, Ps Prentis, wrote an entry on his blog, touching on retirement issue, quoting this text – Gen 49:14-15.  There is no retirement, there is only we are called home to the Kingdom in Heaven, when God said we have finished.  May we all know the moment, when it is about to come, like Jesus did, in His moment, “It is finished”.  Until then, it ain’t over!  Yah, we should NOT get too comfy, even when we have passed any worldly retirement age, and NOT to forget our Christian “duties”.

Lastly, Elieen, if you are reading this, that some prophet prophesied that your husband has the Issachar spirit (you told me some years back; and I remember I said, “It means he needs to work with people, not alone”), it is NOT a negative prophecy; it is a great prophecy.  No, the Issachar spirit does NOT mean your husband will be mundane hireling or simply a man full of burden; it is a great honour to be a man of burden of the Lord; to be a servant unto tribute, to the Almighty God; to arise to the occasion, just at the right time, to step in, and be instrument of God for blessing and breakthrough. Yes, it may mean the one with Issachar spirit may NOT lead in the highest level, but there again, how many highest level leaders are there; must we be the one?!

May God bless the reading of this article.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions - Once a servant (of God), always a servant of God.
Comments are welcome here. Alternatively, email them to me @: Or just email me your email address so that I can put you on my blog (new entry) notification list. To go back to blog main page, click here.