A Donkey Dilemma
Issachar is a strong ass couching down between two burdens: 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. ~Genesis 49:14-15
Issachar was the ninth son of Jacob, and Jacob’s fifth by Leah. Three things jump out at us as we consider Issachar. There is his strength. He is described as a strong donkey. Today, if we describe our sons as strong donkeys, that might be considered derogatory. However, in Issachar’s case, it was a commendation. Then second, there is his sight. He saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant. Then third, his service is described. We are told he bowed his shoulder to bear. Let us take a close look at Issachar and some vital lessons concerning his description.
We see an impressive DISTINCTION.
“Issachar is a strong ass…” Issachar is distinguished for his strength. A donkey is used for carrying and pulling heavy loads. They are known to be able to carry heavy loads for very long distances. The back of a donkey is made to endure heaviness. Throughout the Bible, we are encouraged to be strong. Joshua was told three times in Joshua 1 to be strong and of a good courage. Paul exhorts us to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. It is a good thing that we can carry our share of the load and not complain. It is a good thing that we do not buckle under the heavy burdens of life. It is a good thing that we are strong when the going gets tough. As Christians, we must be strong! Don’t quit easily! Don’t let the heat of the day make you wither. Don’t let the load on your shoulders weigh you down. Don’t let the distance in the journey make you discouraged. Don’t be jaded if you are the only one carrying a load. Be strong!
We see an ill-timed DISTRACTION.
“…Couching down between two burdens: And he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant…” Issachar became distracted! First, he was described as couching down between two burdens, or sheepfolds. “Couching down” means to “lay low” or “lay down.” He was laying low when he needed to arise and move forward. This is like a Christian who is content with taking it easy when it is time to rise up and serve. Second, he saw that rest was good and the land was pleasant. He had his sights on taking it easy, resting, and having little to no involvement. There was work to be done, but he was couching down in the good land. He became indolent and forgot he needed to be on the alert. He became distracted with taking it easy when there was still much work to do, and many burdens that needed to be borne. The work of Christ suffers terribly when God’s people get distracted with enjoying the land to the neglect of God’s work.
We see an inopportune DISAPPOINTMENT.
“…And bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute.” Issachar was forced into group labor! That’s what it means when it says he “became a servant unto tribute.” He bowed his shoulder to bear, but it was to an unrewarding task master. Everyone is a servant. You are either a servant of the Lord or a servant to your lusts. You are either a servant to the Master or a servant to materialism. You are either a servant to the Savior or a servant to sin. He wanted his reward in this life, and was met with tragic disappointment. Looking for a short cut to spiritual success only results in a disappointing setback.
Use your strength for God’s glory. Don’t let the desire for immediate reward keep you from seeing God do great things through you. Couch down, but rise up!
Have a strengthened God Morning!
Bible Reading Schedule: Judges 10-12