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He [Jesus Christ, AD 31, Galilee] answered them [the civic, religious leaders], “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. ……” Matthew 16: 2,3


Jersey is blessed with very many thinking people - and many are interpreting the facts about the present global financial turmoil and its effect on Jersey. The “sky” (see above) is being interpreted today.


Some (perhaps precious little) of these key thoughts reach the pages of the Jersey Evening Post or BBC Radio Jersey or Channel TV. But reported thoughts are often forcibly expressed…..


And those thoughts are often contradictory because folk do not agree the interpretation to be given to identical “signs of the times”.


Jesus of Nazareth knew that “the sky is red” also gave rise to contradictory interpretations depending on other facts. If it was morning: a fine day would follow. If it was evening: a stormy day. The more facts to be interpreted the more accurate the thinking.


The global financial turmoil (which has by no means gone away) is like a red sky without knowing the time of day. Few facts are known. For example, how can Jersey folk interpret the island’s financial situation when –

·         The true financial position of banks across the globe is unknown. Even the banks themselves do not know what liabilities may later accrue to them following any failure of others to meet obligations.

·         Worse, in October the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) relaxed its standing requirement that banks use fair value accounting in valuing their assets. The IASB Chairman admitted to journalists last week that European banks (including those with Jersey operations) will for 2008 be able (as American banks(including those with Jersey operations) have been able to do all along) to value their assets in their published accounts without regard for market facts.

·         The size of governmental (or ruling family) reserves of Middle Eastern countries - or how these will be used – is unknown. Will the Middle Eastern rulers lend reserves to the IMF for on lending to governments to enable governments to buy shares in banks and keep them from insolvency? Or will they, instead, use their reserves themselves to buy bank shares (including those with Jersey operations) at knock-down prices - and then control them?


Those are but three of the “known unknowns” that Jersey interpreters have to face. Here are three of the “unknown unknowns” –

·         .

·         ..



Come back now to Jesus’ teaching. He upbraided the civic, religious leaders because, although they were able to interpret the sky based of the “known knowns”, they refused to interpret the key “signs of the times” --- that is, the “known knowns” about Jesus. They decided not to believe all the works and words of Jesus and asked for a special sign that would then satisfy them as to Jesus’ identity and purpose.


In fact, after the words in bold above, Jesus refused point blank to give them any additional signs – save one – with which to interpret in their own minds who Jesus was and what he was doing.  


The one additional “sign of the times” that he promised them would, he said, be the “sign of Jonah”. Jonah, around 750 BC, was three days and three nights in the depths of the ocean in a huge fish. He then preached to Nineveh (now Mosul in Iraq) as one alive from the dead.


I need to interpret again the signs of the times relating to Jesus – all of them, including the AD 33 resurrection. On my own interpretation of them I shall stand or fall – for ever.

‘The desire of appearing to be wise often prevents our being so.’  (Francois Rochefoucauld, French author and nobleman, 1613-1680)
‘Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.’ (Corrie ten Boom, Dutch Holocaust survivor, 1892-1963)
Richard Syvret

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