Signs of the Times

March 29, 2021

He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the sings of the times (Matthew 16:2-3).

Someone said, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me 92,748 times, you are a weatherman!” This parable of Jesus is not about the weather, it’s about reading the signs of the times.

The Pharisees and Sadducees teamed up to try and make Jesus out to be a fool. In their arrogant ignorance they believed they could pressure Him into producing a miracle in the sky. No miracle was necessary. What God does in the sky is miraculous enough. He gives us a cloudy day one day and a clear day the next. One day begins clear and ends in a storm, and vice versa.

Jesus rebuked the elders of Israel by reminding them that there are certain signs of fair and foul weather which are readily observable. These signs are legitimate and authoritative. Sailors and farmers and merchants order their activities according to these signs.

The miracles that Jesus demonstrated throughout His ministry were also signs of the times. His authoritative teaching, feeding thousands with little food, causing the blind to see, the lame to walk, cleansing the leper, healing demoniacs, and raising the dead to life again were all signs of the time. Jesus did not need to give the elders a special sign to prove who He was - and that was also a sign - their spiritual blindness to the truth of His Messiahship.

What were the signs of the times Jesus wanted the elders to recognize? (1) His miracles prove who He was. Even in their history they recognized only a true prophet from God performed miraculous signs - Moses, Elijah, and Elisha. (2) The sad state of affairs in Judea. The elders were completely oblivious to the heat they generated by their obstinance to Roman authority. The more the elders pushed against Caesar and his Judean kings and governors, the more Caesar was determined to squash the Jews like a bug. In 40 years that’s exactly what happened - Rome marched into Judea, utterly destroyed Jerusalem, and slaughtered tens of thousands of Jews. But the elders refused to read the signs of their times.

One matter that escapes the English narrative is the pathos in the voice of Jesus. His rebuke of the elders was not in anger. There is a sadness in His tone, a weariness in knowing that the Jews, let by their elders, were heading for a storm they would not survive - and they didn’t see it coming.

“God, help us to read the signs of our times, knowing that the return of Jesus is near and our world is moving further and further away from Him. Keep us alert and wise in our time so that we may rescue souls from the coming spiritual storm. In Jesus’ name I ask, Amen.”


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