for such a time as this:
understanding the times
& the seasons

“Perhaps you were created for such a time as this”
{Esther 4:14}

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.”
{Ecclesiastes 3:11}

“And the children of Issachar were men which had understanding of the times.”
{1 Chronicles 12:32}

Time. As humans, we live within the restraint of deadlines, ticking clocks, and days that woosh by on the calendar. But God lives outside of time. He is eternal. He always was, always is and always will be. He had no beginning, and He has no end. In Heaven, the worship service around His throne doesn't end at noon when it’s time for lunch! There is no end. He created time for life on this earth. When He created the galaxy, He placed the stars, the moon, and the sun in the sky to create seasons, months, years, and cycles as a majestic way to keep track of it all. God knows that time is only temporary, and like a fading flower, it will someday fade away, just like this earth will.

The children of Issachar loved to study and explore why God created time, what it's purpose was, what each season meant, and how they could apply those hidden meanings to their lives. They studied the stars, the rotation of the planet around the sun, and learned that time serves a great purpose. Time is a tool that we can use to our advantage and inspiration. Especially when we understand God's timing and align ourselves with it.

There are SO many places in the Bible that God says, “in the fullness of time” and boom, a promise came to pass. His promises always come to pass, but sometimes our idea of perfect timing is different from His time! Even practically speaking, His calendar is different than ours. The ancient Jews understood that. Instead of using a Roman calendar, like the one hanging on your wall, the Jews created a calendar in the shape of a circle. It also has twelve months, but it’s slightly different. The Hebrew calendar matches up with the Jew’s ancient planting and harvesting seasons. In the same way that we know there will probably be snow in December, the Jews knew that in Nissan there would probably be springtime and flowers! God also gave them appointed celebrations and feasts to study for each unique month. Because their calendar works like a circle, they celebrate at the same time, year after year!

When I first started learning about all of these ancient Jewish feasts and festivals throughout the Bible, I was surprised that I had never heard these feasts mentioned or taught about in church! A mass majority of Christians are unaware of these celebrations. Some Christians argue that we shouldn't talk about or partake in the ancient Jewish festivals, because we've been “delivered from the law,” and because of what Jesus did on the cross, we shouldn't celebrate or observe these things in the Old Testament. It is true that we have been delivered from the law, are covered by His blood, we are totally free in Christ – which gives us all the more reason to party! So why not plan parties that God told His people to have?

We should be free to explore our Jewish roots (remember, we have been grafted into the family of God's Chosen People – the Jews!), and this happens every time we read His Word! Our history is so very rich, and I personally love learning about the culture that Jesus grew up in. He was raised in a family that celebrated and observed these God-ordained parties. He knew about the patterns, purpose and timing of God, and as His bride, I am free to be a part of these things as well! I have learned so much from reading Bible stories that parallel with the season that we are currently in on the Hebrew calendar. I enjoy doing that all year long, and each month the study focus changes, as the month changes. 

This month, I'm focusing on the book of Ruth. Why? Because Ruth's story happened during the time of the barley harvest. If we do a little bit of research, we discover that the barley harvest always happens in the months of Nisan and Iyar. As I'm writing this, it is the Hebrew month of Nisan.
Nisan and Iyyar are springtime! It's the time where the Bible talks about the “later rains” that cover the earth, and when the fields are “white for harvest.”

So during the barley harvest, Naomi and her daughter-in-law returned to Bethlehem, which is called the “House of Bread.” There was a severe famine all across the land, but now the Lord had visited His people by bringing them a crop: the barley was ready to be harvested!

Barley fields are really beautiful. They wave in the wind, and sparkle in the sunshine. For the families who were hungry, I can only imagine how the barley fields must have made their mouths water!
Just think how Ruth felt as she walked into Bethlehem by Naomi’s side. She saw the beautiful crop dancing before her, but she couldn't have any of it. She didn't own it. She didn't plant that field. Her stomach must have growled, as she and Naomi discussed how they would feed themselves in the months ahead.

Barley is an amazing little plant. It is resilient, and can endure harsh conditions. It was the first of several crops to pop up in the land. Barley was a symbol of hope. It was the first exciting glimmer of the future. Barley gave the message that winter had passed, and spring time has come! Barley can be seen as a symbol of strength, resilience, conquering the winter, and the promise that there is more to come! Barley actually flourishes in times of drought, and can endure extreme cold and heat, unlike wheat. The barley harvest was a time to CELEBRATE the fact that a new season had arrived.

I feel that barley represents who Ruth and Naomi were at their core. They had endured so much pain and heartache. Their husbands and sons were killed. They had lost everything. But they didn't wither away. They were still standing. Just like the barley.

Do you feel like Ruth? Have you been through a hard “winter” season of challenges and disappointment? Maybe you feel like Ruth did, wandering down a street where barley and blessing abounds all around you, but you can’t have any of it. You’re hungry, struggling to find joy, and don’t feel like you have much to give.  Perhaps you need to journey to the “House of Bread.”

Jesus is that “House of Bread”! He is the Living Word of God. He has an abundant supply of everything we could ever need, or even imagine. He is abundance. His very heart is bursting with fullness, just like a barley field, brimming with goodness and grace for your hungry life. He wants to heal you. He wants to restore you! He loves for you to come to Him daily, and enter His field of love.

In order to begin her new life of beauty, Ruth had to leave the ashes behind. She physically packed up her bags and traveled to a new location. She left behind her pagan gods and useless idols. She told Naomi, “Where you go I’ll go, where you stay I stay. Your God will be my God.”

Perhaps it’s time to leave some things from the past behind. Ruth realized that in order for her life to move forward, she had to shift. Something had to change. When Ruth committed to do whatever Naomi told her, Naomi sent her into the field, the place where her healing and redemption would burst forth! When we surrender to the Holy Spirit, and ask for His direction, He leads us exactly into the field that we need to be in.

God is all about changing and shifting our mindsets in this season. That’s what His Word does. We are transformed by the renewing of our minds by the power of His Word, so we must journey to His field of truth daily! We cannot do things the way we used to, or think the way we used to. God is doing a new thing! What worked in the past isn’t working anymore. He is breathing new life into those who are willing to follow His leading into the great unknown. Sister, this is the perfect season to try something new. Even though Ruth was broken, and didn’t feel like she had anything to give, God provided for her. She was able to glean in the field of another, and freely eat from God’s abundance!
It’s a great time to break out of your comfort zone and venture into a new field! Ruth had to get up and move. She entered the field of Boaz, and there God’s faithfulness crashed into her life!

 Don’t be afraid of stepping into something new this season! Take the leap. God will provide for you!

There are so many possibilities of what the Lord might be stirring in your heart this season! Maybe He has been speaking to you about…

~Spending more time with Him in His Word and in worship
~Starting a Bible Study with your friends
~Starting a Blog or Website
~Writing a new book
~Forgiving someone who has hurt you deeply
~Going on a mission trip
~Starting a new business
~Switching up your study direction in school
~Stepping out with more boldness in your ministry 
~Sharing the Gospel with a friend who is hurting
~Donating more of your money to help orphans
~Eating less junk food and taking better care of your body
~Starting a YouTube Channel
~Beginning a relationship with someone new in your life
~Exploring an area or hobby that you’ve always dreamed about, but have never been brave enough to step into.

Sometimes, when we are still broken and waiting for healing, we don’t want to step forward. The idea of trying something new can feel a little overwhelming when we’re still grieving over the disappointment that hit us last season. But we cannot live in yesterday. Yesterday is dead. The winter is gone and spring is here! Perhaps the Lord has been tugging your heart toward something on the list above, but you’ve been waiting for “one more confirmation.” Well, here it is. GO FOR IT. Don’t wait any longer!

Walking into a new season can be scary sometimes, but remember Ruth as you take those steps forward. Head into the field that God is calling you into, and stay there.

“Then Boaz said to Ruth, ‘You will listen my daughter, will you not? Do not go to glean in another field, nor go from here, but stay close by my young women. Let your eyes be on the field which they reap, and go after them. Have I not commanded the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink from what the young men have drawn.” {Ruth 2:8}

It was so vital that Ruth stayed where God had her in that specific harvest season. Not only was it safe and for her own good, it was also the place where she would be showered with God’s favor and provision! It was a place of supply, inspiration, and encouragement.

Whatever it is that you’re stepping into, as you dance into that new field, remember that the Lord has gone before you! The reason that you want to be in that field, is because the KING is in the field. Ruth was safe, because she was near Boaz. With God, proximity to His presence is everything. Be as close to His heartbeat as you can possibly be! Follow Him wherever He leads, because like my friend Hope says, “It is safer to be out upon the crashing waves with Jesus, than it is to be inside the boat without Jesus!” As the Holy Spirit leads your heart forward, don’t stay behind because of fear. Keep moving forward with Him! Commit to follow no matter what. I dare you to stick with this new thing, whatever it is that God has been speaking to your heart about, for the next three months. Stick with it, long after the emotion and initial excitement has worn off. God honors faithfulness. Don’t allow the enemy to intimidate you and get you to leave the field prematurely.

I believe that when you make a choice to honor God, and remain in that field, it will be a huge catalyst in your destiny. That’s what happened to Ruth! Hanging out in the field with Boaz gave her the perfect opportunity to ask for what she so deeply desired: redemption. Healing. Marriage to a man who truly loved her. The birth of her first child. All of these beautiful blessings tumbled into her life after she allowed patience and the process to have its perfect work. God’s timing is everything. He makes everything beautiful in His time. We can’t get impatient with the process. But we have to stay in the field, no matter how uncomfortable or anxious we may feel. Like Ruth, we must be confident and know that God is working strongly on our behalf!

Ruth was told, “Sit still my daughter, until you know how the matter will turn out, for the man will not rest until he has concluded the matter this day.” {Ruth 3:18}

Our Heavenly Father is so, so good. He didn’t leave Ruth hanging, and He won’t leave you disappointed either! Sometimes the process takes time, prayers, tears, and a whole lot of faith, but I can promise you this: if you determine not to give up, and cling to Jesus no matter what happens, you will see your dreams unfold. God has a plan for your life, and He will write such a beautiful story as you daily honor Him and trust Him. Don’t fret. Sit still and trust. Wait with eager excitement as God works out all the nitty gritty details. It is barley season. Things are changing. The King is in the field!

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