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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

THE SIGNS OF THE TIMES

Matt 16:1-4 The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired Him that He would show them a sign from heaven. He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed. (Also see Mark 8:10-12)

Following Jesus' gospel teaching, the healing miracles He performed on those having various maladies, and the feeding of the Jewish multitude of over four thousand men, besides women, and children, Jesus dismissed them, took ship, andsailed across the Sea of Galilee and came into the coasts of Magdala (Matt. 15:39). This city was located on the western shore of this sea, approximately six miles south of Capernaum. According to most biblical scholars, Magdala was the home of Mary Magdalene, so called because of the name of the city in which she had once lived. Mark, in his account of this incident, referred to this city as Dalmanutha. Whether these were exactly the same city, or a district within a city, is not given. Most think that, if they were different cities or towns, they were both in the same geographic area of Galilee.

After arriving in this Galilean city, two of the primary Jewish sects, the Pharisees and Sadducees, came to meet Jesus face to face. Their intention was to tempt Him by trying Him with requests they thought would expose Him as a false prophet and disclaim His profession as being the promised Messiah and the Son of God. At this time, they desired Him that He would show them a sign from heaven. No doubt this request for a miracle was premeditated and designed to result in failure. They had witnessed for themselves, or heard from those that did witnesses, the miraculous physical healings that Jesus had performed in all parts of Israel. These could not be denied. Therefore they asked Him to perform something other than a physical, earthly miracle; they asked Him to effect, and bring about, a sign from heaven. This, they supposed,would have been impossible for Him to accomplish.

Looking back at this event, we know that, without any doubt, Jesus could have achieved such a miracle. Yet, He knew that, regardless of the magnitude of such a sign, these doubting Jews would have never believed and accepted it as proof of His deity. These Jews continued to seek signs of the coming of the Messiah. This Jesus condemned. They already had many signs given to them by Old Testament prophets, which clearly foretold the events to come within the Jewish dispensation and the establishment of the Messiah's kingdom. These they refused to accept by completely ignoring them and asking for new signs of those times to come. Therefore, instead of a new miraculous sign, Matthew writes that Jesus told them of a sign that was well known among all Jewish people. He said, when it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather today: for the sky is red and lowring.

We still hear a form of this age-old weather adage: "Red sky at morning; sailors take warning: red sky at night; sailors delight." This weather sign is often more true than not. The natural weather conditions, that is, a combination of the atmospheric pressure, humidity, and winds, often result in the red tint that appears in the sky. A red sky in the morning, usually predicts soon-to-come foul weather, while red in the evening is a good forecast of immediate fair weather. These Jewish Pharisees and Sadducees could read, understand, and know these meteorological signs that predict future weather forecasts. Jesus tells them: O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? Jesus condemns them by referring to them as a wicked and adulterous generation, saying that they seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas (Jonah). This same sign of Jonas was used in Matthew 12:38-41. There was only one miraculous sign left to prove Jesus to be the Son of God, and Savior of the world. That sign was His resurrection from death. Like Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth (Matt. 12:40). Even this, most Jews denied. And He left them, and departed.