Ignoring the signs
by Michael E. Brooks
“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 signs of the times’” (Matthew 16:2-3, NKJV).
A domestic airline in Bangladesh narrowly avoided a tragic crash on one of its flights recently when the pilot decided to proceed with the flight in spite of a cracked windshield. Soon after takeoff the windshield blew out, causing all the loose papers and equipment in the cockpit to be swept away, seriously injuring the co-pilot.
Thankfully the cockpit door was closed so no damage was done in the cabin of the plane, and the pilot was able to recover and land safely.
It was made clear in the reports of the incident that the crack was visible and had been noted and reported by the ground crew. The pilot made the decision to fly in disregard of all warnings. His decision very nearly caused the deaths of all aboard.
Some warning signs are much more subtle and easy to overlook. A small gauge on the dashboard of a vehicle may register “danger” but fail to be noticed because of its position and size. Many mechanical devices malfunction and quit without ever showing any indication of danger.
Similarly, relationships, emotional health, and one’s physical health may be seriously damaged but give few or no outward signs of the condition.
Doctors often detect cancerous tumors or other major illnesses while testing for some entirely unrelated condition. Any warning signs there may have been ignored, or simply not recognized.
Even plain and obvious signs may be ignored, misunderstood, or explained away. Often we simply don’t listen to the warnings. We don’t want to hear unpleasant news or consider a bad diagnosis. We get angry at the messenger, denying the truth of his report.
That was Jesus’ accusation of the religious leaders of his day. They could accurately predict the weather, but were ignorant of the indicators God established for coming spiritual storms.
Old Testament prophets described in detail many things that would accompany the coming of the Messiah. The ministry of John the Baptist, political conditions in the Roman Empire and other objectively measured historic signs existed.
The Pharisees and other sects were specialists in interpreting the Scriptures. They knew those prophecies extremely well. But when Jesus came they did not recognize him. They were totally unprepared for the Messianic Age — the Kingdom of God.
Why? Because there were no signs? Absolutely not. The signs were there. They were just ignored.
The Pharisees and other Jewish sects chose to neglect the warnings of the prophets, exactly like the pilots in Bangladesh neglected the safety warnings given to them by the maintenance personnel.
They did what they wanted, regardless of plain evidence indicating that such actions were dangerous. They paid the price and many of their fellow citizens who followed their example did as well.
Let us heed the warnings. Let us read the Scriptures, and understand God’s signs. Then let us do as he instructs, ensuring eternal salvation by our obedient faith.