Ryle: The duty of noticing the signs of the times


J. C. Ryle on Luke 12:54-56  

He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A shower is coming.’ And so it happens.And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat,’ and it happens.You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

exit_futureThe first thing which this passage teaches us is the duty of noticing the signs of the times. The Jews in our Lord’s days neglected this duty. They shut their eyes against events occurring in their own day of the most significant character. They refused to see that prophecies were being fulfilled around those who were bound up with the coming of Messiah, and that Messiah Himself must be in the midst of them. The scepter had departed from Judah, and the lawgiver from between his feet. The seventy weeks of Daniel were fulfilled. (Gen. 49:10. Dan. 9:24.) The ministry of John the Baptist had excited attention from one end of the land to the other. The miracles of Christ were great, undeniable, and notorious. But still the eyes of the Jews were blinded. They still obstinately refused to believe that Jesus was the Christ. And hence they drew from our Lord the question–“How is it that you do not discern this time?”

It becomes the servants of God, in every age, to observe the public events of their own day, and to compare them with the predictions of unfulfilled prophecy. There is nothing commendable in an ignorant indifference to contemporary history. The true Christian should rather watch the career of governments and nations with a jealous watchfulness, and hail with gladness the slightest indication of the day of the Lord being at hand. The Christian who cannot see the hand of God in history, and does not believe in the gradual movement of all kingdoms towards the final subjection of all things to Christ, is as blind as the Jew.

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