Discerning the Signs of Our Times

In mid-January of this year, I blogged about discerning the times and the seasons, and the futility of predicting Jesus’ return, as each prediction will prove empty. Even Jesus does not know when that return will occur, yet people try to predict/prophesy the exact date. We do know everything we need to know.

Oddly enough, today will feel somewhat like a reversal of that blog posting, although I assure you it is not.

He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.” – Matthew 16:2-3, NIV-1978

In the very next statement, Jesus calls his hearers “a wicked and adulterous generation.” It’s a bit of a gut punch, but not one that is unearned. Jesus’ critics had been challenging Jesus to prove himself worthy of their attention through the performance of some miracle. Let that sink in for a moment.

A couple of years ago, Alean and I needed to get a different vehicle. The low-riding Mustang was just too difficult for us to get into and out of, and it was not particularly comfortable for the long road-trips we make each year. We knew the vehicle style we wanted, knew the price we were willing to pay, knew the interest rate we wanted, and visited multiple dealers with that information in hand.

The second dealership we visited had a vehicle that was quite nice, and one in which I was genuinely interested. The salesman, however, was an absurd caricature of every bad car salesman joke you’ve ever heard. The three of us sat down together and his first question was, “What’s it gonna take to get you into this car today?”

Okay, it’s cliché, but a fair question. I told him. I laid out the three specific criteria I needed to “get me into that vehicle.” He left the room to build the drama and came back with a sheet of numbers that weren’t even close. We played that drama three times. On the third act, I let him know that I’d already told him three times what my conditions were, that he clearly could not meet them . . . and we left.

The Jeep dealer directly across the street began with the right questions, asking what we were looking for, what our financial goals were, and he met every single one of them. We drove away in a Jeep two hours later, and we love it.

The Pharisees and Sadducees, above, were disingenuously prodding Jesus to show them a sign from heaven as they simultaneously trampled under-foot an overwhelming body of evidence. They had evidence from scripture, which they knew quite well, and they had evidence in the life, teachings, and miraculous works of the man standing directly in front of them. They had all the information they needed. They just didn’t want to hear it.

“What’s it gonna take to get you into this car today?”

While I understand our advantage of 2,000 years of hindsight, the evidence was screaming at these men that Jesus was their Messiah. God in the flesh was standing in their midst, but they blinded their eyes to that fact.

As I write this, a Nor’easter is blasting its way through Lynden, Washington, with its high winds and frigid temperatures. We knew it was coming. In fact, we’ve known for days that this storm was on its way. Current generations are just as obsessed with daily weather forecasts as the first-century Jews were. I have a weather app on my phone. Alean has two apps, and she compares forecasts!

Beyond the weather, we have a plethora of doomsday prophets warning us incessantly of nuclear winters, global warming, global cooling, climate change, overpopulation, air quality, soil quality, alien invasions, COVID mutation patterns – “the signs of the times” – all the while ignoring the evidence and the reality borne out in both science and scripture that Jesus is exactly who he says he is – Lord, Christ, King, Savior. He is the one holding everything together . . . for now.

And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. – Colossians 1:17, ESV

Are you aware that science has yet to explain why material coheres, why matter is attracted to matter? With all our advancements in technology, outside of Colossians 1:17, we cannot answer that question. As God told Daniel, we (humanity) “shall run to and fro, and knowledge will increase,” but we are no closer to genuine truth, because society, and even the church, is inclined to “turn [our] ears away from the truth and wander off into myths.”

Be discerning, brothers and sisters. Everything points to Jesus. He is the king.

Blessings upon you my friends.

Victoriously in Christ!

– damon

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Damon Gray

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3 Comments

  1. Peggy Booher on February 11, 2021 at 6:50 PM

    Last year, a bishop in my local area commented on a possible split in a mainline denomination. From her comments, I could tell how she felt about the situation. I was stunned, because she is supposed to be a leader in that church, but she definitely was not using the Bible as her standard.
    Later on I read Isaiah 42:16. After the Lord speaks of leading the blind, He says” He will make darkness into light before them…” In relation to the bishop’s position, it occurred to me that there is an innocent blindness, and then there is a blindness we can bring on ourselves, by willfully believing what’s not right. I believe the Lord was referring to the innocent blindness. If we choose to believe something wrong, He isn’t going to help us. This is what I thought of when I read your post about the Pharisees and other leaders, ignoring what was in front of them.
    I’d like to read your thoughts on my thoughts!

    • Damon Gray on February 11, 2021 at 8:53 PM

      Peggy, let me think on this and get back to you. It’s getting late and I’m a little “brain-fogged” for the evening. I’ll make a note to myself to ponder your thoughts and get back to you tomorrow.

      • DAMON J GRAY on February 12, 2021 at 6:44 AM

        Peggy, I believe your insight into this section of Isaiah is commendable.

        I don’t see this as describing Israel. Israel was not blind, or lacking in light. They had Yahweh’s prophets, Yahweh’s judges – they had scripture. They had an abundance of light! Thus, I believe this is describing those “outside the camp,” the Gentiles, the heathen, and it is describing Yahweh leading them out that darkness into marvelous light. Outside the general revelation of nature, the knowledge of God has been shut up to them.

        This same metaphor is seen in Matthew 4:16, quoting Isaiah 9:2, saying the people living in darkness have seen a great light. There is no darkness darker than spiritual darkness. This is why the apostle Paul says (1 Cor. 2:14) the man without the Spirit has no capacity to even begin to understand the things that you and I see so clearly. It is blindness, but as you say, it could be innocent blindness.

        The other blindness you reference is much more damning.

        One of my favorite stories in all of scripture is the story in John 9 of the man born blind. At the close of that account, we see this.

        Jesus said, a “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”

        Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?”

        Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.

        We must always be careful of what we claim to know or see. With such claims comes great responsibility.

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