Everyone sees signs. How those signs are interpreted indicates whether a person is interpreting a sign through the lens of the Spirit or through the limitations of human wisdom.
A dialogue took place between the Pharisees and Sadducees who came to test Jesus asking Him for a sign. Jesus pointed to reoccurring weather patterns that could easily be discerned and asked, “Are you unable to discern the signs of the times?” (Matthew 16:3). The Lord was pointing to a spiritual discernment that sees beyond the natural into the spiritual realm. He inferred that all the power, position, and education of the religious leaders who were testing Him that day would not be able to help them see what needed to be seen.
The word “discern” used in Matthew 16:3 means to discover the meaning of a sign through a process of trying or testing the validity of the message it conveys. Not all spiritual signs are understood at first, even by the Church. They require a process of discernment. Some signs that appear obvious do not provide a complete understanding of what lies ahead. They require a process of testing before a full understanding comes.
The most impactful voices in the coming season will be those who are able to discern what lies beyond the signs of the times. These voices will not explain or prophesy the obvious. They will reveal to us the road condition beyond the warning signs and tell us why we need to heed a warning before we arrive at a dangerous turn of events.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Garris Elkins