Interpreting Signs Is a Serious Matter!
“At first I thought that our son Andreas just had a headache. But he lost his appetite and had a high fever. The headache got worse, and I became worried. When my husband came home, we took Andreas to the doctor. He checked the symptoms and sent Andreas straight to the hospital. The problem was more serious than a headache. Andreas had meningitis. He was treated and was soon well again.”—Gertrud, a mother in Germany.
GERTRUD’S experience is probably familiar to many parents. They observe signs indicating that their child might be ill. Though not every illness is serious, parents cannot afford to ignore symptoms of ill health in their children. Observing the signs and taking appropriate action may make a big difference. It is a serious matter.
This is true in matters other than health. A case in point is the tsunami disaster in December 2004 in areas surrounding the Indian Ocean. Agencies in such places as Australia and Hawaii detected the massive earthquake in northern Sumatra and foresaw the potential danger of the aftereffect. Yet, there were no means in place for the people in the endangered areas to receive or respond to any warning. As a result, more than 220,000 lives were lost.
Signs of Much Greater Importance
When Jesus Christ was on earth, he gave his listeners a lesson in observing signs and acting accordingly. He was talking about something of far-reaching importance. The Bible reports: “The Pharisees and Sadducees approached him and, to tempt him, they asked him to display to them a sign from heaven. In reply he said to them: ‘When evening falls you are accustomed to say, “It will be fair weather, for the sky is fire-red”; and at morning, “It will be wintry, rainy weather today, for the sky is fire-red, but gloomy-looking.” You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but the signs of the times you cannot interpret.’”—Matthew 16:1-3.
In mentioning “the signs of the times,” Jesus indicated that his first-century Jewish listeners should have been aware of the urgency of the times in which they were living. The Jewish system of things was about to experience a cataclysm that would affect all of them. A few days before his death, Jesus spoke to his disciples about another sign—the sign of his presence. What he said on that occasion is of vital importance to everyone today.