Discerning the Signs of the Times

Have we become so accustomed to the chaos of our time that we cannot see the signs of the times?

Derek J. Morris is editor of Ministry

Most people have never heard of Tola, Puah, Jashub, and Shimron. No thrilling narratives are recorded about these four brothers or their offspring. However, the sons of Issa­char and their descendants exhibited one character trait that is desperately needed by leaders in our generation. The chronicler records, “All these men understood the signs of the times” (1 Chron. 12:32, NLT).

Take a look around you. What do you see? Avarice, violence, economic turmoil, political unrest, and spiritual confusion. The apostle Paul proph­esied to the young preacher Timothy, “In the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boast­ers, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unlov­ing, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Tim. 3:1–5, NKJV).1 That sounds like a descrip­tion of our day, doesn’t it? Have we become so accustomed to the chaos of our time that we cannot see the signs of the times?

Jesus rebuked the spiritual lead­ers of His generation for a lack of discernment. “ ‘When it is evening you say, “It will be fair weather, for the sky is red”; and in the morning, “It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.” Hypocrites! You know how to dis­cern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times’ ” (Matt. 16:2, 3). What would Jesus say to the spiritual leaders of our generation? What would He say to us? Do we understand the signs of the times?

The sons of Issachar not only understood the signs of the times. The chronicler records that these leaders knew what their people should do. It’s important to dis­cern the signs of the times, but it’s equally important to know how to respond to the events happen­ing around us. To quote Francis Schaeffer, “How should we then live?”2 The prophet Isaiah would cry out, “Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isa. 55:6, 7).

We need to experience revival and reformation, personally and corporately. We have little control over most of the events around us, but we can choose how to live. We can choose how to lead the people of God in these troubled times. The chronicler records these words from the Lord to King Solomon: “If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14). How should we then live? Humble ourselves, pray, seek the Lord, and turn from our wicked ways.

It is my prayer that you will be blessed and challenged as you read this issue of Ministry. I was blessed as I spoke with Lee Venden about his passion for revival in his own life and in the life of the church. Lee and his wife, Marji, not only speak about the need for revival but have devoted their lives to Christ in revival ministry. Be inspired by their example and glean insights that will help you to lead in these troubled times.

After more than 25 years as the lead pastor on a university cam­pus, Dwight K. Nelson continues to speak with holy boldness. I am still prayerfully considering his thought­ful question to all of us in our Revival and Reformation column: “Given the razor edge of eternity on which we’re now living, isn’t this the right time for ‘extraordinary’ asking?”

Hear the word of the Lord through the psalmist Asaph: “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me” (Ps. 50:15). Discern the signs of the times. Now is the time for extraordi­nary asking. Now is the time to call upon the Lord.


1 All subsequent quotations are taken from the New King James Version.

2 Francis A. Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live? (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1976).

Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

comments powered by Disqus

Derek J. Morris is editor of Ministry

February 2012

Download PDF
Ministry Cover

More Articles In This Issue

A Passion for Revival: An interview with Lee Venden

The author encourages people to spend time each day with God in Bible study and prayer and then share the received blessings with others.

Becoming Benevolent Leaders

A church with a heart for benevolence takes its cues from its pastor and other key leaders whose hearts have been softened and broken for the hurting.

Extraordinary Asking

Our special revival and reformation feature.

Is that who I am? The Challenge of Remaining Human in the Midst of the Attraction to be Otherwise

The author claims that the greatest source of grief and disillusionment in ministry today hinges on an unbalanced approach to identity formations and delusions about ministry.

Ministry at the Door

How can the pastor be certain that visitors receive warmth and love as they enter church?

Changing your Management Style: Lessons from the Life of Jethro

Read about Jethro’s principle of management that involves eight fundamental changes.

101 Questions About Ellen White and Her Writings

A useful resource for the busy minister and church member

View All Issue Contents

Digital delivery

If you're a print subscriber, we'll complement your print copy of Ministry with an electronic version.

Sign up

Recent issues

See All