And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed.
(Matthew 16:1-4 ESV)
We know from today’s passage that Jesus is now back in Jewish territory after a brief excursion into Phoenicia, which is modern-day Lebanon. We know this because people from the two leading Jewish religious groups, the Pharisees and Sadducees came to talk to Him. These men would never have set foot on Gentile land.
These two groups were the spiritual leaders in Israel at the time, and were normally enemies. The Pharisees were very conservative and hailed from the working class. The Sadducees were very liberal and aristocratic. But one thing they apparently had in common was hate for Jesus, as they conspire to test Him by asking Him to show them a sign from heaven. They did not come seeking truth from Jesus. They were planning to expose Him as a fraud.
It was a common belief in Israel that demons could perform miracles on earth but only God could perform heavenly signs. The Pharisees had already accused Jesus of being satanic as an explanation for His miracles [Matthew 12:24]. But Jesus debunked that logic [Matthew 12:25-32] so now they want Him to prove He came from heaven, as He had been claiming.
It is evil and spiritually adulterous to seek a sign. People who do aren’t interested in evidence. They are ignoring existing evidence under the guise of seeking truth. Therefore, Jesus refused to provide a sign. Instead He points them to the story of Jonah, which is the only sign they need and one which Jesus had already given them [Matthew 12:38:42]. Of course Jesus is referring to the fact that He would be in the earth (dead and buried) for three days before coming out much like Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days.
These people had already seen many signs from Jesus to validate who He claimed to be. But they refused to believe. Right before their eyes Jesus had been fulfilling Old Testament prophecy to validate that He was the long-awaited Messiah God had promised Israel. These men, who were the so-called religious experts, failed to interpret the signs of the times.
Ironically they knew how to interpret the weather but they could not interpret the Scriptures they claimed to know so well. This is because, as we’ve previously learned, human knowledge had been given a greater place in their hearts than that of God.
Today many predict whether the stock market is going to rise or fall or what technology will be like in the future. But very few people see the spiritual signs of the times. Signs of God are everywhere. History is moving forward exactly as God said it would. Bible prophecy is coming true.
Like the Pharisees and Sadducees, most people today are missing the signs that point to God because they haven’t taken the time to understand the information God provided.
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