- Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. 2 He answered and said to them, "When it is evening you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red'; 3 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. A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah." And He left them and departed.
The point is that the people of the day were sort of their own "weathermen:" they gleaned information from what was going on in the sky, and drew conclusions from it.
Jesus implies that it's possible to do that with God's work, as well, especially when something momentous is going on, and He rebukes these men for refusing to think about what's happening in their world.
When He says, "You cannot discern the signs of the times," His meaning is that they are actually unable to do so, because of their spiritual blindness, so they continue to live under the illusions they've held for so long.
This brings up a question which I ask myself frequently: What can I do about my own spiritual blindness?? How can I see the "Signs of the times," and react accordingly? It seems to me that the answer is recorded in Matthew and the other Gospels. Here's the passage from Matthew (13:15):
- For the heart of this people has become dull; they are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes, so that they would not see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.'
Note what Matthew says (quoting Isaiah): "They have closed their eyes." In other words, there is nobody so blind as the one who will not see.
Therefore, applying this to myself, I must always strive to maintain an open set of eyes, and actually SEE what's happening, rather than running it through my personal filter and then discounting it because it doesn't fit my prejudices.
The Pharisees and Sadducees made the decision NOT TO OPEN THEIR EYES. God calls me to keep my eyes open, my mind alert, and to always be ready to see what He's doing. That doesn't mean, of course, that I oughtn't to evaluate things and use my Bible knowledge and reason. It DOES mean that when something is as manifestly true as Jesus' ministry, I must look carefully at it and see what it is--as one of the more astute Pharisees said, "Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?" (John 7:50).
What is God doing in YOUR world that you won't accept as from Him?