Interpreting the present time (Lk 12:56-12:56)

“You hypocrites!

You know how

To interpret

The appearance of earth

And the sky.

But why do you not know

How to interpret

This present time?”

 

ὑποκριταί, τὸ πρόσωπον τῆς γῆς καὶ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ οἴδατε δοκιμάζειν, τὸν καιρὸν δὲ τοῦτον πῶς οὐ δοκιμάζετε;

 

Luke indicated that Jesus called these people hypocrites (ὑποκριταί).  They were able to know how to interpret (οἴδατε δοκιμάζειν) the appearances of the earth (τὸ πρόσωπον τῆς γῆς) and the sky (καὶ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ).  However, they did not know how to interpret (πῶς οὐ δοκιμάζετε) this present time (τὸν καιρὸν δὲ τοῦτον).  There was something similar in Matthew, chapter 16:3, perhaps indicating a Q source, where Jesus asked them how come they were so good at discerning the overcast stormy weather signs in the heavens (τὸ μὲν πρόσωπον τοῦ οὐρανοῦ γινώσκετε διακρίνειν), but they were unable to interpret the signs of the times (τὰ δὲ σημεῖα τῶν καιρῶν οὐ δύνασθε), since the weather signs were in the heavenly skies also.  In other words, they were very good at predicting the weather, but had no idea about other heavenly things to come.  Are you good at predicting the weather?

The weather signs (Mt 16:2-16:3)

“Jesus answered them.

‘When it is evening,

You say.

‘It will be fair weather

Because the sky is red.’

In the morning,

You say.

‘It will be stormy today

Because 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.”

 

ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Ὀψίας γενομένης λέγετε Εὐδία, πυρράζει γὰρ ὁ οὐρανός·

καὶ πρωΐ Σήμερον χειμών, πυρράζει γὰρ στυγνάζων ὁ οὐρανός. τὸ μὲν πρόσωπον τοῦ οὐρανοῦ γινώσκετε διακρίνειν, τὰ δὲ σημεῖα τῶν καιρῶν οὐ δύνασθε;

 

Matthew is the only one who has this weather saying of Jesus, although Luke, chapter 12:54-56, has Jesus issue some weather commentary about northern and southern winds and rain.  Jesus told the Pharisees and Sadducees that they could read the signs in the sky about weather and storms, but they were unable to recognize the signs in their own world.  Most farmers are aware of the red sky in the morning was a warning, while the red sky at night was a delight.  Jesus answered them (ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς) that at evening time, people would say that there would be good or fair weather if the setting sun in the sky was red (Ὀψίας γενομένης λέγετε Εὐδία, πυρράζει γὰρ ὁ οὐρανός).  On the other hand, if the sky was red today in the morning, they thought that it would be a stormy day (καὶ πρωΐ Σήμερον χειμών, πυρράζει γὰρ στυγνάζων ὁ οὐρανός).  Then he asked them how come they were so good at discerning the overcast stormy weather signs in the heavens (τὸ μὲν πρόσωπον τοῦ οὐρανοῦ γινώσκετε διακρίνειν), but they were unable to interpret the signs of the times (τὰ δὲ σημεῖα τῶν καιρῶν οὐ δύνασθε), since the weather signs were in the heavenly skies.

The Fundamentalists

Fundamentalists interpret Scripture with certitude, guidance, and peace.  The Bible is God’s direct, divine word to humanity.  39% of Americans believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible, that the authors were inspired to write the specific exact words.  The literal, plain meaning is the primary meaning of a word, the simple intention of the author.  However, there are spiritual or deeper meanings in an allegorical or moral sense.  There is no need for critical history and literary analysis, since it is plain and clear already.

Dispensationalists

Dispensationalists interpret all history in terms of the Bible with 7 different 1,000-year eras.  The final era will be the “rapture,” which has been variously interpreted by a number of fundamentalists.  This apocalyptic view thinks in terms of the final victory of Christ and the conversion of Jews.  They are millennium people.  There will be 1,000 years until the last Judgment.  Their favorite books of the Bible are Book of Daniel and the Book of Revelation.

Gabriel comes (Dan 9:20-9:21)

“I was speaking.

I was praying,

I was confessing my sins,

As well as the sins

Of my people Israel.

I was presenting

My supplication

Before Yahweh

My God,

On behalf

Of the holy mountain

Of my God.

While I was speaking

In prayer,

The man Gabriel,

Whom I had seen before

In the vision,

Came to me

In swift flight,

At the time

Of the evening sacrifice.”

Daniel was continuing with his prayers and supplications to Yahweh. He was confessing his sins and the sins of his people Israel. He was praying for the holy mountain of God that had been desolated. Then a man called Gabriel came flying in. Daniel said that he was the same Gabriel that was in the preceding chapter that helped Daniel interpret his vision before. There, he had the appearance of a man. Here, he is referred to as a flying man who arrived at the time of the evening sacrifice. Was this the angel Gabriel?

The failure of the wise men (Dan 5:8-5:9)

“Then all the king’s wise men

Came in.

But they could not read

The writing.

They could not tell

The king

Its interpretation.

Then King Belshazzar

Became greatly terrified.

His face turned pale.

His lords were perplexed.”

However, when all the wise men came in to see the king, they could not read or interpret the writing on the wall. Then the king got afraid, as his face turned pale again. Even his important lords at this party were perplexed, since they did not know what to do.

The king called for his wise men (Dan 5:7-5:7)

“The king

Cried aloud

To bring in

The enchanters,

The Chaldeans,

The diviners.

The king said

To the wise men

Of Babylon.

‘Whoever can read

This writing,

Whoever can tell me

Its interpretation,

Shall be clothed

In purple.

He shall have

A chain

Of gold

Around his neck.

He shall rank third

In the kingdom.’”

Like all good kings, this King Belshazzar then called for his wise men to interpret the writing on the wall. Thus, the enchanters, the diviners or astrologists, with the wise Chaldeans came to him. After all, he had 1,000 of his best men with him at this feast or party. He then told these wise men that anyone who could read and interpret this mysterious writing would be clothed in purple. They would be able to wear the gold chain of 3rd place in the Babylonian kingdom, after his father and himself.