He answered them, When it is evening, you say, It will be fair weather, for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening. You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. – Matthew 16:2-3
Monday, January 25, 2016
The religious leadership came to Jesus asking Him for a sign of His authenticity, something to affirm who and what He was. Signs, Jesus pointed out, bear different significance as the circumstances differ. Since those who were demanding a sign did not know what time it was, the sign was unlikely to be of predictive value to them.
We live in the day of grace, of God’s mercy and His love, and of the reign of the Holy Spirit. What we see around us – however confusing and disturbing and dark it may be, has to be viewed in that context. We know that the Cross is behind us and that, whatever storms may assail us, in Christ we are alive, free, and secure.
The unbeliever looks at the world with its darkness, chaos, evil, and violence and sees no reason for what is happening. It is all random and accidental. Evil is motivated by ignorance and superstition. The signs are the same for believers and unbelievers. What those signs mean differ because our basic understanding of reality and of history diverge. This is not to say that believers always have the right view or that non-believers have not grasped the underlying concept even if they reject Christ. Oftentimes our understanding is shaped unconsciously by our family, community and culture. The Christian who studies the Word and seeks God has a better chance of overcoming the world’s indoctrination and negative programming that many others.
There is no question that we living in changing times. Is it the time of the Rapture? The time of the Antichrist? Is Jesus about to return and rule over the earth from Jerusalem? Are we going to enter the Great Tribulation? I don’t know.
We live in a time of great apostasy, of decadence, and of increasing wickedness. The last verse of Romans chapter 1 seems most applicable: Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. We inhabit a diseased culture that celebrates deviance and applauds arrogance.
Yet, these are signs that God is at work. In that same chapter, just a few verses prior, Paul says, For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes … For it is the righteousness of God revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’ (Romans 1:16-17). He will not fail us. He is not unaware of what is going on. We do not control God, but we do not have to, for He is Good.