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?
When Christ spoke about prophecy he often alluded to the possible times in which the prophecies would be fulfilled. He called these times “watches” and said that there were four watches of the night using the analogy of guards that protect a city or a man his home or a soldier the camp. He said he could return at any of these watches and that it would be especially blessed if he returned at the second or third watch. He goes on to speak of the face of the sky and of the earth saying that from them people could discern the coming weather and suggesting that in like manner we could discern the times in which we live making predictions. The wording in that verse is rather special as he refers to faces and times as though he is talking about a clock-face or watch-face. And so the word “watch” has a deeper meaning also than just a watch of the night in which guards patrol.
Luke 12:35 Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;
36 And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.
37 Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.
38 And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.
39 And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through.
40 Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.
41 Then Peter said unto him, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all?
42 And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?
43 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.
44 Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath.
45 But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken;
46 The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.
Our standard clock-face has twelve hours signifying one half of the day which could either be the light hours (day – AM) or the dark hours (night – PM) with noon (twelve-o-clock) being the middle of each. Twelve can be divided into four periods equally of three so each night-watch could represent approximately three hours on our clock-face. This even division of night and day however only occurs twice a year at the equinoxes (approximately (a one day variance) the twenty-first of March and twenty-third of September on our calendar). So then the four divisions of the night watch could technically be of any length as their purpose is simply safety between the hours of sunset and sunrise. So we could say that watches of the night could be three hours periods all being of equal length, but this scheme could be abandoned if necessary.
We know the purpose of the sun and moon and stars is not only to rule the day and night, but also to tell time and to stand as signs related to prophecy.
Genesis 1:14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.
17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,
18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.
And we know that the sun generates wind…
Job 38:24 By what way is the light parted, which scattereth the east wind upon the earth?
Psalms 78:26 He caused an east wind to blow in the heaven: and by his power he brought in the south wind.
Ezekiel 19:12 But she was plucked up in fury, she was cast down to the ground, and the east wind dried up her fruit: her strong rods were broken and withered; the fire consumed them.
13 And now she is planted in the wilderness, in a dry and thirsty ground.
Jonah 4:8 And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.
Ecclesiastes 1:5 The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.
6 The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.
7 All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.
and other verses.
And this relates back to the signs in the heaven that we can read and the signs we are to watch for.
Luke 12:54 And he said also to the people, When ye see a cloud rise out of the west, straightway ye say, There cometh a shower; and so it is.
55 And when ye see the south wind blow, ye say, There will be heat; and it cometh to pass.
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?
To the West of Israel is the Mediterranean Sea which is the largest body of water in that area so a cloud over that sea which would be to the west would indicate rain. West is not only a direction but also a culture shaped by both Greek and Roman thought and founded more than any thing else upon the holy scriptures of the Jews and blended with Roman and common law.
A cloud indicates mercy or judgment depending on whether water is needed or not and because it is grey can indicates sadness and sorrow as it casts a shadow upon the land. Rain is said here to fall upon the land of Israel as showers (not a torrent), but the cloud is seen over the West. We could then expect perhaps a time great sadness and trouble in the Western nations to point towards this time. Southern wind is usually dry as the oceans are to the East and West of the places where most people on the continents dwell so that a large body of land is to the south. This is true in Israel as well as to the south is a great desert known today as the Negev and then there is the desert of Arabia known as the Sinai. Going directly south from Jerusalem it is conservatively one-hundred and fifty miles until the next body of water, which is the Gulf of Aqaba, which is relatively small in comparison to the Mediterranean. To the East is the small body of water called the Dead Sea which is a salt sea, and to the north east is another small body called the Sea of Galilee and running between the two is the river Jordan. And so it is clear that a southern wind in Israel would be dry and that most of the rainfall would be from water evaporated over the Mediterranean and brought in by wind from the West. And so Israel has been afforded great blessings from the West. And so the clouds could be blessings in this passage and I will have to research more before drawing a conclusion. The blessing interpretation however would be supported by I Kings 18 in some regards famines were common in the area at that time, but would also indicate judgment against a king.
1 Kings 18:41 And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain.
42 So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees,
43 And said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times.
44 And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not.
45 And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel.
46 And the hand of the LORD was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.
Today many of the weapons that are smuggled into Israel from Muslim nations to the enemies of the Jews are smuggled into Israel through a southern route, usually by tunnel. Heat is often a sign of judgment, anger, war, crop failure, drought, etc.
Job 37:17 How thy garments are warm, when he quieteth the earth by the south wind?
Psalms 78:26 He caused an east wind to blow in the heaven: and by his power he brought in the south wind.
27 He rained flesh also upon them as dust, and feathered fowls like as the sand of the sea:
28 And he let it fall in the midst of their camp, round about their habitations.
29 So they did eat, and were well filled: for he gave them their own desire;
30 They were not estranged from their lust. But while their meat was yet in their mouths,
31 The wrath of God came upon them, and slew the fattest of them, and smote down the chosen men of Israel.
32 For all this they sinned still, and believed not for his wondrous works.
33 Therefore their days did he consume in vanity, and their years in trouble.
Acts 27:13 And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete.
14 But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon.
In at least one case a southern wind seems essentially neutral as only a factual part of the narrative but hastens Paul’s execution (Acts 28). The Cretians are said to be barbarians and liars and are related culturally to the Greeks and there may be some connection between the word Euroclydon, which is a tempestous wind, and the word Europe in a prophetic sense, but that is too speculative at this point.
The heavens are divided up into twelve signs in astronomy following the same tradition set out by the astrologers. The twelve divisions are ruled by a constellation giving each sign its name. For example the division Aquarius contains that constellation. The sun passes through these twelve divisions over the course of a year so that the sun remains in each house for one month. Because the sun is bright the constellation in which the sun is currently in is not visible and the constellation most opposite of that is the one seen twelve hours after in exactly the same place the sun had been during the day. The sun moves from house to house in a course like a runner in a race along a particular line called the ecliptic which is aligned with the middle point between the northern most and southern most points of the earth. This middle point runs along the earth in a continuous line is called the equator. If a viewer is on a point on the earth above the equator being more northward he will have to view the sun to the south and if he is below the equator the sun will appear to be more northward and if he is on the equator line the sun will appear directly above his head at solar noon. So then anyone observing how the sun moves through the constellations could describe the signs as the chambers of the south for the word chambers means house, hole, home, place, palace, etc. and astrologers relate the signs to a concept called “houses” which are similar to moods or tempers in humorism, or modes in music, or spheres of influence. The word “chamber” is derived from the Latin root cha or cae or ka which means a space as is where the word caelo which means heaven which also means space is translated from. It’s also where we get words like cave, cello, ceiling, chant, chandelier, etc. from since all those words imply an empty space for an echo or other sounds to be produced or something above. The hebrew word for heaven is shamayim and may be the origin of the latin root but this is speculation however we know variant translations can include the words constellation and astrology etc. We could say that we have twelve hours of day and twelve of night and each constellation is can be considered to dominate two hours of the 24 hour cycle each. Essentially we have a giant clockface in the sky. The moon rotates at a rate of 29.5 days or once per month to give us twelve months per year on average or thirteen on occasion which is adjusted for in different ways depending on the calendar system in use. So the sun can be likened to an hour and minute hand combined and the moon as a month and year hand with the sun checking the year when it returns to the first house/chamber/sign at the vernal or autumnal equinox depending on which the calender year uses as a beginning.