“Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. 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 16:1-3 NKJV).
Meteorologists often get a negative rating. Many people continue to emphasize that their forecasts are often wrong and undependable. I am convinced that this is mostly habit carried over from an earlier time. The fact is that most forecasts are pretty accurate, and we find ourselves relying upon the science of predicting the weather more and more.
Science can be pretty amazing. Not only can we spot the movement of fronts, low or high pressure systems and other contributing factors to weather activity, but other natural phenomena are being predicted with greater certainty. Such things as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and even seasonal temperature variations are now given advance warnings. One may prepare for an unusually cold winter well in advance.
Weather forecasting is not new. Many ancient civilizations had developed known indicators of storms or fair weather. Jesus reflected on the knowledge of the people of his day in the text quoted above.
Yet in other realms such progress cannot be viewed. Just as the Jewish leaders could not “discern the signs of the times” so many moderns are dull to spiritual warnings about the future, possibly imminent, intervention of God in human affairs.
The New Testament states that Jesus, and the Kingdom of God, came “When the fullness of the time had come” (Galatians 4:4). Old Testament prophets had foretold their coming, and had given various signs as to the conditions which would prevail at that time. Just as weather is indicated in advance by certain conditions, so was the coming of the Messiah. Yet the very people best qualified to recognize those conditions – the Jewish religious leaders – were blind to them.
Just as Jesus came once to establish God’s Kingdom, so he will return again to destroy all creation and to redeem the righteous. At that time “Every knee [will] bow . . . and every tongue [will] confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11).
I recently saw an interesting statement. “When the clouds are dark and lightening is flashing and one is getting wet, to say it is going to rain is not weather forecasting, it is simply acknowledging an observed fact.”
When Jesus returns to this earth, it will not require faith to acknowledge his presence. “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an arch-angel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). No eye will be blind to his appearance. No ear will be deaf to the announcement of his coming. No one will disbelieve.
Yet this acceptance of the reality of Jesus as the Son of God will not constitute saving faith. They will confess him as Lord, but not “unto salvation” (Romans 10:10). Faith and hope, by which we are saved, are based on the unseen. “We walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). “For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? (Romans 8:24).
Signs are all around us that God is still in control and that we are accountable to him for what we do in this life (2 Corinthians 5:10). Let us read the signs and act in faith and righteousness, watching for Christ’s return.