Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Signs of the Times

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

My Mama, and my Grandmother before her, were walking almanacs. They tried to judge what would happen based on "rules" of nature. "Red at night, sailor's delight; red in the morning, sailors take warning" was an example of one of those rules that told of what the weather would be the coming day.

Jesus had been speaking to His disciples, but, in these verses, He turned to the crowds and began to speak of those age-old weather signs. They could recognize a rain cloud and know that rain was coming. They could recognize a south wind and know that it would be a hot day.  

It was fine to recognize the weather based on signs, Jesus told them, but what about the thing that matters most? They worried about the weather when something much more important was unfolding before their very eyes. Their Messiah had come, and most of them completely failed to recognize Him. "Why don't you analyze the present time?" Jesus asked them.

Indeed. Why don't we analyze the present time?

What was happening in their present time? The nation of Israel had been invaded by an occupying army. Roman soldiers walked their streets. Roman governors ruled them. One more important than the Romans also walked through their towns and villages, but they were in danger of completely missing Him.

Jesus was there. He was the promised Messiah, but He looked nothing like they anticipated, nothing like they thought they needed. Isaiah tried to tell them He wouldn't look like they expected. The Messiah would be despised and forsaken. He would not have a stately form or majesty. He would be easy to miss.

For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. 
He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 
Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. 
But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. 
All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth. 
By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?”
                                                                                                                        Isaiah 53:2-8 NASB

"Analyze the times," Jesus recommended. They knew what Isaiah had written, and still they missed Him, because the people wanted political deliverance. What they needed was deliverance from their sin. 

We find ourselves in much the same situation today. There is considerable worry about the upcoming presidential elections, the potential for religious persecution, the sin of this world. Terrified by the ever-increasing evil around us, we want the progress of wickedness halted.

We want a political deliverance. What we need is deliverance from ourselves and our own sin.

The Sons of Issachar were men who understood the times and what the nation should do. (1 Chr. 12:32) Christian leaders today are serving as Sons of Issachar, analyzing the times and telling us what we should do. They are all recommending the same thing. It's what I've been writing and saying, too.

We need Jesus. No one else will do.

No one else can change our hearts, from which all the evil flows. No one else can change the heart of kings (and presidents and congress members and political leaders). No one else can be our stability in unstable times.  

No one but Jesus.

Let us pay attention to the times in which we live. Let us take note of the darkness of sin that surrounds us and threatens to overtake us. Let us recognize the signs, but not be overwhelmed or afraid.

Is Jesus coming soon? We are closer than we've ever been to that glorious day, but there is no need to wait for His glorious appearing for change. In fact, if we wait for His glorious appearing to change, we will be too late. God is still on His throne. He is still in charge. He is still waiting for us to repent and turn to Him with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength. He is still waiting for us to obey.

Just to be clear. We do not primarily prepare for what is coming by storing beans and rice and toilet paper, no matter how prudent those actions may be. (Yes, I do believe in being prepared, but not in hoarding) We prepare by falling on our knees in repentance, then walking in obedience to Him.

Time is short. Be ready.
We started this series with a lesson about the fire of persecution. Others include lessons from the life of TyndaleChrist's baptism of sufferingsqueeze chute of distress, and yesterday's division of belief. 

photo courtesy of freeimages.com 

#signsofthetimes #JesusChrist #theBible #disciple #preparation #prepping #sonsofIssachar