The Cross and its Shadow

Jacob likens him to the patient ass or donkey, bearing two such heavy burdens that he couches down beneath them. The fact that this is not a common animal, but a strong one, indicates the strength of Issachar's character. Issachar is a strong ass couching down between two burdens. Then the patriarch reveals the secret of Issachar's self-sacrificing life by giving the motive that actuated him in carrying the double burdens: 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. Gen 49:14,15

Many lose the blessing by murmuring and complaining when they are required to carry double burdens. But Issachar was sustained by the thought of the pleasant land in store and the rest by and by. The same hope will sustain burden-bearers at the present day.

In the battle of Megiddo we find Issachar true to the character portrayed in Jacob's dying blessing. The princes of Issachar were with Deborah; even Issachar, and also Barak. Judges 5:15 From the words of Deborah, it would seem that Issachar bore the burden of the battle even more than Barak. The same characteristic is given of Issachar when all the tribes gathered to crown David king of Israel. Issachar had clear discernment. The record states, The children of Issachar . . . were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do. 1 Chron 12:32 They represented men that bore heavy responsibilities, pillars in the cause of God. They were not like Zebulun, expert warriors, ready to rush impulsively into the fiercest of the fight on a moment's notice; but they were able to plan the battle, and to carry the burden of the work.

It takes all the different phases of Christian character to represent the perfect character of Christ. The burden-bearer fills as important a place in the work of God as the kingly Judah or the Levitical teacher.

There will be twelve thousand of each class in that wonderful company, - the one hundred and forty-four thousand, which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth.

The children of Issachar were a laborious, hardy, valiant tribe, patient in labour and invincible in war. They were valiant men of might. 1 Chron 7:1-5 They possessed one of the richest portions of Palestine. It was bounded on the cast by the river Jordan, on the north by Zebulun, and on the south by the half tribe of Manasseh.

Many places noted in sacred history were within the borders of Issachar. It was there that the great victory of Barak and Deborah was won in Taanach by the waters of Megiddo. Judges 5:19 In Shunem was the residence of the noble woman who, when she found her house was not large enough to entertain Elisha, the holy man of God built an additional room and furnished it that she might have the privilege of his association in her home. 2 Kings 4:8-10

By, the rich blessings that came into her 2 Kings 4:12-37 she, realised the truthfulness of the words, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me. Matthew 25:40

It was at the gate of the city of Nain in the borders of Issachar, that the Saviour's words, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise, brought life and health into the dead body of the man whom his friends were carrying to the tomb. Luke 7:11-17

The same territory that was hallowed by the footsteps of the Saviour and the prophets of God, also witnessed the power of the devil. Endor, in the land of Issachar, was where Saul committed the crowning sin of his life by consulting the witch, and thus took himself entirely out of the hands of God and became a prey of the devil. 1 Samuel 28:7-25 Saul was slain because he asked counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to inquire of it. 1 Chronicles 10:13,14 Those who follow the same course to-day will eventually meet the same fate; they will die spiritually, and be eternally separated from the Lord. Isaiah 8:19,20

Jezreel, situated in the fertile plain of Esdraelon, was the scene of the wicked murder of Naboth; I kings 21:1-19 and in the streets of the same city, dogs ate the flesh of Jezebel. 2 Kings 9:30-37

Tola, under whose rule of twenty-three years Israel had rest, was of the tribe of Issachar. Judges 10:1,2 Baasha, who ruled over the northern kingdom twenty-four years, was an Issacharite. He did evil in the sight of the Lord. Elah, his son, followed in his footsteps, and was slain by Zimri, and the kingly power passed out of the hands of the tribe of Issachar. 1 Kings 15:27-34; 16:1-10

Issachar was the centre of Jezebel's power, and the Baal worship introduced by her exerted an influence long after her death.

About five years before Issachar was carried captive into Assyria by Shalmaneser, 2 Kings 17:3-6 Hezekiah celebrated his great Passover at Jerusalem. The tribe of Issachar had so far departed from the true worship that they had forgotten to make the necessary purifications; yet some of them responded to the invitation, and went to the feast, though ceremonially unfit to partake of it. Hezekiah was in close enough touch with the Lord to discern that the desire in the heart to serve God was of more consequence than forms and ceremonies. He allowed them to eat of the Passover, and, as they partook of it, he offered the following prayer: The good Lord pardon every one that prepareth his heart to seek God, the Lord God of his fathers, though he be not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary; and the Lord, who seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart, hearkened to the prayer of the king, and healed the people. 2 Chronicles 30:17-20; I Sam 16:7

SUMMARY

Issachar had four sons, from whom sprang the tribe which bore his name. 1 Chron. 7: 1.
When the children of Israel entered the promised land, the tribe of Issachar numbered 64,300. Num. 26: 23-25.
Issachar possessed one of the richest portions of Palestine.
The valley of Megiddo, or the plain of Esdraelon, was within the borders of Issachar.
Tola, who judged Israel twenty-three years, was an Issacharite. Judges 10:1, 2.
Baasha, king of Israel, was of the tribe of Issachar. 1 Kings 15: 27.