“Discerning The Times”
October 29, 2012
Our friend Sandy (yes, that’s her name) sent us this photo of steps they have taken in preparation for the coming storm from Hurricane Sandy. They live along a creek and last year had significant damage from flooding. They were unable to return to their home for two months.
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“Discerning The Times”
We have a major storm, “Sandy”, now arriving on the East coast of the USA and coming our way. Yesterday there were large signs along the highway warning of the storm and we received an ominous recorded message on our cell phones from the power company advising us that we will likely lose power. “Storm could cause severe, widespread damage resulting in power outages lasting several days.” Our TV stations have practically wall to wall storm coverage (mixed with scores of political ads!).
I first heard of the impending storm last Thursday morning. It’s being described as “a hurricane wrapped in a Northeaster”. We’ve had plenty of advance warning giving us ample time to get ready. On Saturday Brooksyne and I “battened down the hatches”, moving anything that might blow away and filling water containers, since we have a well that depends on power to run. We even caught up on all our laundry! We will run the dishwasher shortly.
Modern forecasting can look ahead many days in the case of a storm. In ancient times forecasting was not as sophisticated of course but they nevertheless had short-term ways of forecasting weather and Jesus uses such a method today to correct the Pharisees and Sadducees who had come to Him, not as earnest seekers, but rather to test Him. They asked Him to show them a sign from heaven.
Jesus, during the course of His ministry, demonstrated many signs and wonders but in this case he gave a weather lesson. “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’” This expresses an ancient folksy weather observation, “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in morning, sailor’s warning.”
But Jesus really wasn’t giving a lesson on weather. He continues: “Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times?” He went on to rebuke them: “A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Although Jesus did perform signs and wonders for earnest seekers he didn’t oblige these Pharisees and Sadducees. Essentially He seems to point to His death and resurrection as the ultimate sign when he used the phrase, “the sign of Jonah.”
Initially it seems to me the failure of the Pharisees and Sadducees to “discern the signs of the times” resulted in their inability to understand or interpret that Jesus the Messiah was indeed among them.
But today I also consider the phrase “discern the signs of the times” in another sense. A wonderful verse in an obscure portion of the Old Testament refers to the “Men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chronicles 12:32). These men had insight concerning the times in which they lived resulting in a plan of action.
We need to be able to discern the signs of the times in which we live. Discernment is defined as “the activity of determining the value and quality of a certain subject or event, particularly the activity of going past the mere perception of something and making detailed judgments about that thing. As a virtue, a discerning individual is considered to possess wisdom, and be of good judgment; especially so with regard to subject matter often overlooked by others.”
Daniel wrote, “None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand” (Daniel 12:10b). As we receive instruction from the Word of God and the Spirit of God may we have prayerful insight to discern the times and perceive things from an eternal and spiritual perspective.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, You have given to some the spiritual gift of discernment, and for others it’s the years of reading the Scriptures, listening to godly teaching and walking in obedience to You that discernment has characterized our faith journey. We want to be observant, understanding, and discerning about our times, so that we are prepared to do battle with the enemy and show others the way to eternal life. Amen.
The science behind red sky forecasting:
Red sky at night, sailors delight. When we see a red sky at night, this means that the setting sun is sending its light through a high concentration of dust particles. This usually indicates high pressure and stable air coming in from the west. Basically good weather will follow.
Red sky in morning, sailor’s warning. A red sunrise reflects the dust particles of a system that has just passed from the west. This indicates that a storm system may be moving to the east. If the morning sky is a deep fiery red, it means a high water content in the atmosphere. So, rain is on its way.
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