09.03.07 Lk. 12:54-59
DISCERN THE TIMES CORRECTLY
54 He also said to the crowds: “When you see a cloud rising in the west, right away you say, ‘A storm is coming,’ and so it does. 55 And when the south wind is blowing, you say, ‘It’s going to be a scorcher!’ and it is. 56 Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky, but why don’t you know how to interpret this time?
57 “Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right? 58 As you are going with your adversary to the ruler, make an effort to settle with him on the way. Then he won’t drag you before the judge, the judge hand you over to the bailiff, and the bailiff throw you into prison. 59 I tell you, you will never get out of there until you have paid the last cent.”
“A storm is coming.” While Israel has five distinct climate zones, the entire region essentially has storms and showers in the winter rainy season from December to March and complete dryness from May to October. The exception, of course, is the Negev Desert region to the south. The winter rains come from the Mediterranean Sea in the west while the hot dry summer sirocco winds come from the Arabian Desert to the east or Negev Desert to the south. Forecasting the weather has always been rather easy. Those who lived close to the land, such as farmers and fishermen, observed the sky and easily predicted the weather.
The Pharisees were aware of the many Old Testament prophecies pertaining to the Messiah. Jesus had given many signs (i.e. miracles and teachings) as predicted by these prophets to verify who He was, yet they failed to recognize Him. They could predict the weather but chose to be blind to the prophecies which they had studied. Jesus urged them to think and judge these prophetic matters carefully, as judgment was about to fall upon them. In essence, decisions determine destiny.
“Why don’t you judge?” The word does not have reference to judging people in terms of condemnation, but rather, is a reference to the gift of discernment. The important aspect of this passage, namely verses 57-59, is that Luke made a reference to the future of the Jewish nation. He spoke more of that future than any other New Testament writer with the exception of the Apostle Paul in Romans 9-11. The context in Luke 12:57-59 is not to any individual, but to the nation – a storm is coming. The parable of one standing before the ruler anticipates a brutal judgment, but also a restoration for Israel.
. Levy, The Ruin and Restoration of Israel. 89.
. In the first century, the area of today’s modern Jordan was considered to be the northern edge of the Arabian Desert. For a study of historical maps of this region, see Nebenzahl, Kenneth. Maps of the Holy Land. New York: Abbeville Press. 1986.
. See the discussion on hypocrites/hypocrisy in 08.03.04 (Mt. :5-15) and in “Pharisees” in 02.01.14.
. This writer suggests that in today’s world that is rapidly decaying and becoming anti-Christian, pastors and teachers need to do the same – judge for yourselves and become like the sons of Issachar who understood the times and knew what to do.
. For further study, see Kinman, “Debtor’s Prison and the Future of Israel (Luke 12:57-59).” 411-26.