Summary: As a spiritual people it is important for us to realize the spiritual signs of the times that we are living in. By the time that Jesus arrived the Jews fell into a kind of spiritual numbness that led to complacency. For them it was just another day.
Before it’s too Late
54 He said to the crowd: “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘It’s going to rain,’ and it does. And when the south wind blows, you say, ‘It’s going to be hot,’ and it is. Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?
“Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right? As you are going with your adversary to the magistrate, try hard to be reconciled on the way, or your adversary may drag you off to the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.”
This past week my wife has been forced to sit in a chair while her foot heals from surgery. She has been incapacitated like this for nearly 3 weeks now. In this situation the days can run together and you lose track of just what day of the week it is. All you really know is that it’s another day of healing and waiting, being unable to function at your normal range of abilities.
Since I have been her principle care taker during this time she has relied on me to keep her up to date on things. She had turned to me this week and asked a very simple question “what day is it today”?
To be perfectly honest I didn’t know. I knew it was a week day but I wasn’t sure if it was a Tuesday or a Wednesday. We had both fallen into a routine that had made us both numb to the importance of time. We were unable to think beyond our own circumstances to consider what day we were living in.
This is the same situation that the followers of Jesus found themselves in today’s scripture passage. For many of them they had lost sight of the importance of the here and now and really did not give it a second thought. For them it was just another day. Another day of routine, another day of just existing instead of living.
Sadly we can easily fall into just such a mind frame and forget to treasure the moment in which we are living. The Jewish people of Jesus time had just such an existence. They were God’s Chosen people. They were the ones rescued from Egypt and set apart as a people of promise for God. They were witness to countless miracles on their journey to the Promised Land.
They were given the Word of God and entrusted with the sacred scriptures and a series of covenants, special spiritual agreements that would forgive their sins and provided them with a spiritual legacy unlike any other.
They had their Temple to worship in and a long established religious heritage but by the time that Jesus arrived they had fallen into a kind of spiritual numbness that led to complacency. For them it was just another day, another year, and they could not discern if it was any different from any other.
It had been 400 years since the last prophet of God had spoken and nothing new had been written or recorded as scripture. Had God gone silent during this time or had they stopped listening?
Got Questions.org says this about that time period… “The time between the last writings of the Old Testament and the appearance of Christ is known as the “intertestamental” (or “between the testaments”) period. Because there was no prophetic word from God during this period, some refer to it as the “400 silent years.” The political, religious, and social atmosphere of Israel changed significantly during this period.”
Through successive changes in Empire and culture the Jews now found themselves living in a Greek speaking world ruled by Romans. Even their sacred scriptures had been changed from the original Hebrew into Greek called the Septuagint. Their Bible was no longer in their language. Their priesthood had been taken over by secular powers who put in leadership that was more sympathetic to political needs than to the spiritual needs of the people. They were heavily taxed and felt violated spiritually, politically, culturally and personally. For them God’s voice had indeed seemed to be silent about their circumstances. They had become numb and complacent to the times they were living in. They felt like a people drifting along in time without a sail.
The fact was that all this had been predicted by prophecy in Daniel. See Daniel chapters 2, 7, 8, and 11 and compare it to historical events. Jesus puts all this into a modern context for them to shake them from their complacency so that they can understand just what time they are living in spiritually.