Luke 12:56
Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern this time?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(56) How is it that ye do not discern this time?—What had been said before to Pharisees and Sadducees (Matthew 16:3) is here repeated with a wider application. It was true of the people, as of their teachers, that they did not discern the true import of the time, the season, the crisis in which they found themselves. It was “the time of their visitation” (see Note on Luke 19:44), and yet they knew it not.

12:54-59 Christ would have the people to be as wise in the concerns of their souls as they are in outward affairs. Let them hasten to obtain peace with God before it is too late. If any man has found that God has set himself against him concerning his sins, let him apply to him as God in Christ reconciling the world to himself. While we are alive, we are in the way, and now is our time.See the notes at Matthew 16:2-3.

South wind - To the south and southwest of Judea were situated Arabia, Egypt, and Ethiopia, all warm or hot regions, and consequently the air that came from those quarters was greatly heated.

How is it that ye do not discern this time! - You see a cloud rise, and predict a shower; a south wind, and expect heat. These are regular events. So you see my miracles; you hear my preaching; you have the predictions of me in the prophets; why do you not, in like manner, infer that "this is the time" when the Messiah should appear?

56. how … not discern, &c.—unable to perceive what a critical period that was for the Jewish Church. See Poole on "Luke 12:55"

Ye hypocrites,.... A word often used of the Scribes and Pharisees, and which suggests, that there were such in company, to whom Christ more especially directs his discourse; and this may be the rather thought, since much the like things are said by him to the Pharisees, with the Sadducees, in Matthew 16:1 and the same appellation is given them there, as here:

ye can discern the face of the sky, and of the earth; from the appearance of the sky, they could tell how it would be with the earth, and the inhabitants of it, whether they should have dry or wet weather, heat or cold:

but how is it that ye do not discern this time? that this is the time of the Messiah's coming, and that it is the accepted time, and day of salvation, if ye receive him, and believe in him; and a time of vengeance, if ye reject him: this might have been discerned by the prophecies of the Old Testament, which fix the characters of the Messiah, and the time of his coming; and describe the manners of the men of that generation, in which he should come: and point out both their happiness and their ruin; as also by the doctrines they heard Christ preach, and especially by the miracles which were wrought by him, it might have been known he was come.

Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern this time?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Luke 12:56. ὑποκριταί seems too strong a term to apply to the people, and more appropriate to a Pharisaic or professional audience (Matthew 16:3). Raphel, after Erasmus Schmidt, translates harioli, weather prophets, citing a passage from Lucian in support of this sense. This is certainly one meaning of the word (vide Passow), but, as Hahn remarks, the usage of the N.T. does not support it here.

56. Ye hypocrites] The insincerity consisted in the fact that though the signs of the Kingdom were equally plain they would not see them, and pretended not to see them. The Prophets had long ago pointed them out. Among them were, miracles (Isaiah 35:4-6); the political condition (Genesis 49:10); the preaching of the Baptist (Matthew 3).

discern] Rather, test or prove.

Luke 12:56. Ὑποκριταὶ, ye hypocrites) A hypocrite is a term used to characterize him whosoever aims at a portion of good, or the appearance of what is good, and yet neglects the greater good. It is applied also, for instance, to an interpreter of dreams, ὑποκριτὴς ὀνείρων; but in this passage the Lord without doubt employed the usual Hebrew word, which means an evil-disposed hypocrite: for such signs of the times are adduced, as any even of the common people, without any physical science, might have appreciated.—τῆς γῆς, of the earth) Luke 12:54.—τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, of the heaven) Luke 12:55.—καιρὸν) the time of the Messiah. See Luke 12:49-50.—πῶς οὐ, how is it that ye do not) Spiritual proving [δοκιμάζειν, “ye know how to prove or discern,” etc.] ought to be much more easy to man than the proving of things in the world of nature. [Yet notwithstanding, from the multitude of things which are the subjects of investigation in the latter, the former (the proving of spiritual things) is declined even by those who are placed in the highest and most favourable positions.—V. g.]

Verse 56. - Ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern this time? These things had an interest for them. Heat and drought, wind and rain, affected materially the prospect of their wheat-harvest and vintage, the fruitfulness of their orchards and oliveyards, therefore they gave their whole mind to the watching of the weather; but to the awful signs of the time in which they were living they were blind and deaf. What were these signs?

(1) The low state of morality among public men. Did none of them notice how utterly corrupt were priests and scribes and people, how hollow and meaningless their boasted religious rites, how far removed from them was the presence of the God of their fathers?

(2) Political situation. Did none of them notice the terribly strained relations between the Roman or Herodian, and the great national party? Were they blind to the bitter, irreconcilable hatred to mighty Rome which was seething scarcely beneath the surface of Jewish society? Were they deaf to the rumbling noises which too surely heralded a fierce and bloody war between little Palestine, split up into parties and sects, and the mighty world of Rome which had seized them in its own grip? What could be the result of such a war? Were they devoid of reason as well as blind and deaf?

(3) Heavenly warnings. What had they done with John the Baptist? Many in Israel knew that man was indeed a great prophet of the Lord. His burning words had penetrated far and wide; vast crowds had heard the awful sounds with breathless awe; but no one heeded, and the people watched him die. And now - they had listened to him who was speaking to them. He had told them all; no sign of power was wanting to his ministry, and it was just over, and the people had not repented. Luke 12:56
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