In Thy Tents


Elder Mark D. Rowell

Genesis 49:14-15 “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.”

Having gotten caught up in studying the blessings of the sons and tribes of Israel since my last writing, I continue to find great comfort in the words of Jacob and Moses in relation to these blessings: firstly of Jacob to his sons, then of Moses to the heritage of Jacob’s sons. Issachar isn’t spoken of much in scripture, but these blessings are tremendous!

In Jacob’s blessing, Issachar is compared to a beast of burden who is lying down and (perhaps we could assume) resting from bearing a double burden during a long journey. There is also some indication regarding this in light of the geographical placement of the tribe of Issachar, tucked up next to Zebulun and Naphtali (but I don’t want to get into that here). I picture this as an animal who has been bearing a double burden and is finally allowed to take a short rest under the shade of a tree. However, the second part of Jacob’s blessing of Issachar shows there was something better than just taking a temporary rest. First it says he “…saw that rest was good…” Is that not the case for us? Do we not see that rest is good? Especially rest after hard labors or a tiresome journey? But he goes on further and tells us what else Issachar saw: “…the land that it was pleasant…”

It’s one thing to rest here and there where we can find rest, but it’s entirely something else to find a pleasant land in which to rest and perhaps even find a longer rest.   This blessing indicates these three realizations: 1) rest is good, 2) the land is pleasant, and s still flowed on to sustain and refresh him.  3) he became a servant. Now, with those three things in mind, let’s see if we can add two more items that will point to something we are blessed to enjoy now.

“And of Zebulun he said, Rejoice, Zebulun, in they going out; and, Issachar, in thy tents. They shall call the people unto the mountain; there they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness: for they shall suck of the abundance of the seas, and  of  treasures hid in the sand.” Deut 33:18-19

Moses combines the blessing of Zebulun and Issachar in these. Again, there is a geographical and economical point to this combination, but that’s not our focus today. Suffice it to say that the tribe of Issachar desired to stay in their land and not travel, while gaining what they needed through trade with Zebulun (mainly) and the other tribes. That’s why Moses says Zebulun goes out (they do the traveling), and Issachar in tents (they stay at home.) But there’s a better blessing to be had for us in this blessing from Moses to Issachar.

Remember when Issachar saw “…the land that it was pleasant”? What did he do once he saw the land was pleasant? He put his shoulder into the burden! He left that temporary resting place to head to a place where the land was pleasant, and provided a BETTER place of rest. And once he got there, he didn’t want to leave! Now in the blessing from Moses, he said “…Issachar, in they tents…” which proves that he saw the pleasant land and his heritage was blessed to pitch their tents there! What a blessing indeed, to be able to find that pleasant place in which to dwell, rest, and call the people to the mountain. Now, just like the blessing of Asher wasn’t just for Asher and his heritage, this blessing of Issachar flows to us today.

We have been blessed, even under burden, to have seen “the land”, and by that I mean the Church of the Living God! We have seen how rest is good, and how the land is pleasant. (Is not the Land of Canaan pleasant to us? Are we not satisfied with those provisions?) Once we see that blessed land, do we not put our shoulder into our burdens and “labour to enter into that rest”? Now “…go in to posses the land…”! We have tents in which to dwell, and to rest, and to be servants of the Most High God! We have the most pleasant land in which we can rest and it’s that which God has given us!

“And now the Lord your God hath given rest unto your brethren, as he promised them: there now return ye and get you into your tents, and unto the land of your possession, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave you on the other side of Jordan” Jos 22:3

Our tents are pitched in the land of our possession. We have a tabernacle here in this world where God has blessed us to find rest and to dwell in our tents, just like he did for Israel, where the Psalmist David said “…and made the tribes of Israel to dwell in their tents.” They are OUR tents, brothers and sisters! It’s the place where we should live while here in this low ground of sin and sorrow. It’s the place where we can be servants to our Lord and to one another. It’s a place where, when we are blessed to see it and possess it, we want to stay in it. All the while, our eyes are fixed on a place that has no tents, but a permanent dwelling instead!