Matthew 16:1 And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. 2 He answered them, "When it is evening, you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.' 3 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. 4 An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah." So he left them and departed.
We need to remember who the Pharisees and Sadducees were to grasp this passage. They were in in the top three percent of the economic structure. They were the leaders and teachers of the Jewish people. They taught their traditions and voided the Word of God (Matthew 15:6). They did not practice what they taught (Matthew 23:1-3). The Pharisees and Sadducees were lovers of money, covetous and thus idolaters ( Luke 16:14; Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 3:5). Jesus called their generation evil and adulterous. Evil characterizes sin, which is not practicing the word of God. Adulterous is trusting in someone other than God for one's wellbeing. The Pharisees and Sadducees trusted in money and not God. They were spiritual adulterers.
The Pharisees and Sadducees came to test Jesus and prove Him wrong because He was speaking against them. They asked for Jesus to give a sign from heaven to validate His authority to speak against them. Jesus revealed to them how spiritually blind they were by reminding them of how they could predict weather by looking at the sky's color in the evening and morning, but could not interpret their present sinful condition using the Law and Prophets, because they went by their traditions instead of the Word of God (Matthew 15:6; 23:1-3). Jesus said the only sign they would get was the sign of Jonah.
The sign of Jonah had two aspects. Jonah, was a prophet who preached the word of God and he symbolized the resurrection of Jesus from the dead by being three days and three nights in the belly of a great fish (Matthew 12:39-41). The word of God reveals our sin and teaches us what is right. We can predict what will happen in the weather of our life (and culture) by reading the word of God and comparing it with how we live (how people live in our culture). If we live contrary to the word, we can expect judgment or discipline from God and know we need to take shelter in Jesus by repenting, believing the gospel and obeying the Word of God by faith in the Son of Man, Jesus (Romans 6:23; Mark 1:15; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Romans 10:9; Galatians 2:20). If we live in obedience to God's word by faith in Jesus, then we can expect blessing and fruitfulness (Luke 11:28; 8:15; Proverbs 14:34). The resurrection of Jesus from the dead on the third day proves His word is true and can be trusted (John 2:18-22).
How are you at interpreting the signs of our times? Compare our culture with the word of God? does blessing or judgment await us. Do the same with your life. I keep daily in the word of God, because I stray away from God in my thinking and behavior so easily. I need the daily corrections of God's word to keep me on the path of blessing and fruitfulness. I am able to contribute in positive ways to my culture because I can see with the lens of Scripture the way of blessing and the way of destruction.