And He was also saying to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘A shower is coming,’ and so it turns out. And when you see a south wind blowing, you say, ‘It will be a hot day,’ and it turns out that way. You hypocrites! You know how to analyze the appearance of the earth and the sky, but why do you not analyze this present time? (Luke 12:54-56 NASB)
When I’m a passenger on a long trip, one of the ways I entertain myself is by looking out the window at the world passing by. Sometimes I realize after I’ve passed something that it was interesting and I should have paid more attention. But it also makes me wonder how often I’ve passed interesting things without even noticing that I missed it.
This passage has been zipped right by on many occasion by me and perhaps others as we read the words of Jesus. Okay, I get it, I should be as good at predicting the times I live in as I am about the weather. Or is it about that? How many of us have tried to do just that, and failed miserably? We have a presidential election coming up. Pick a winner now. What will we be like in 4 years? Now let’s see if you’re right. How often have you been right? I’m almost never right.
In various translations, the most common word used for what Jesus is trying to tell them to do is “interpret”. In the King James it was “discern”, and here in the New American Standard it’s “analyze”. The verbs in this critique by Jesus are made up of the verb to know (…you know how…) which is based on the verb to see, and the infinitive of the verb to test or prove by testing. So, in essence people know from experience that seeing one thing in the sky means another event will follow. Yet for some reason the same people don’t seem to realize that certain events mean certain other events will follow as a result.
In other words, Jesus is upset with them for not paying attention to the “current events”. It’s not that they don’t know from experience, they’re not paying attention at all. They are repeating history because they refuse to learn from it. It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to follow the thread of Jewish history in that region past the time of Jesus and realize it looks a lot like the problems they had just emerged from with the Greek occupation under the Selucid kings. And even that had similarities to the problems they had with Babylonians that resulted in the first destruction of Jerusalem.
The events were different, the occupiers were different, but the response by the Jewish people were similar in that they were unwilling to submit (although, I have to agree with their rebellion against the Greek Selucids, that needed to happen). They had prophets warning them about the Babylonians they refused to listen to. Jesus warned about the Romans, and they refused to listen to Him. The times were heading somewhere, and even the Jewish leaders knew it. Their big fear of Jesus was they He would incite a riot and the Romans would come and take their “place” (i.e. the Temple). Why worry about Jesus and not the actual rebels who eventually did exactly that? They missed the warnings of the coming storm even though they were obvious.
Today, we’re missing evidence of what’s to come. History has recorded the rise and fall of many empires, greater than America has ever become. And in nearly every instance these greats decayed from within morally before they ever suffered militarily. At least one historian says they “lost their moral compass”. I can’t imagine a better way to describe this country. We’ve lost our moral compass. This isn’t even a religious assertion. When a nation begun with the phrase that all people are endowed with inalienable rights like life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, then finds reasons and ways to kill their infants and elderly, I think we’re done. The original moorings have been lost, and we’re drifting without any sort of guidance.
The thing is though, once we see the evidence and realize what it means, what do we do? Jesus warned His followers much like the prophets before warned the people. The disaster still happened. So, is our goal to avert the disaster or to continue to minister and love others as we see the wave crash over us? Warn, admonish, proclaim, heal the sick, feed the hungry, and keep going in face of impending doom. Sounds hopeless, but the reality is that there will always be a remnant of the people of God. What we hold fast to is the future we have with Him, and others, a few, will follow and also be saved from the impending doom. Because the impending doom is not the demise of America, it’s an eternity in hell. People are rushing there in a flood of hopeless reckless abandon in pursuit of the illusion of dark selfish happiness. Those few God rescues through us are what we’re after.
Kind of a downer this morning. Sorry. Maybe you have a lighter view through this particular “knothole” of Scripture. What do you learn from the Spirit through this passage?