And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? Matthew 16:3.
Lowring – pronounced as low+ring, it is used once, in Matt. 16:3. It is now spelled as either ‘louring’ or ‘lowering’ (the verb is lour, lowre or lower). In reference to clouds or the sky (which is the context), it is about it being dark, cloudy, gloomy, turbulent, but most especially that it is threatening a storm. It is not simply overcast (an indictment on the NIV’s rendering), since that might not mean a storm at all but just a cloudy day. It infers weather conditions that are disposed to bring rain, to bring storms. The key to it in the word is ‘low’, as that the clouds are much lower than normal, weighed down with precipitation and just about to release it in some form or another.
It is interesting that Jesus there used it as a telltale description of “the face of the sky” for foul weather since lowring is also a description of a person’s facial appearance, as frowning, grim, gloomy, sullen, stern, scowling, angry-looking, pouting, a sour or crabby countenance. It is an unpleasant and unfavorable look, at least. Now, people still connect the moods of others with weather, as that someone has a sunshiny disposition, or someone else is “Chief Rain-Cloud.”
As for the way it is spelled, “lowring” instead of “lowering” is possibly (to us now) a peculiar choice. But, it is important because it is a past participle adjective. If it is written “lowering” it will look like a gerund or verbal noun instead and would confuse the meaning. A good way to think of it is as a contraction of “lowering” as “low’ring”, almost like a poetic spelling of it, but intentionally spelled that way since it is not to be seen as a gerund. Plus, lower is never used as a verb in the Bible.
The word is key to what Jesus is there saying in Matt. 16 that the Jewish religious leaders could tell about weather from how they observed it, but they could not discern the signs of the times, what was coming on the horizon. In context, He was referring to their lack of properly discerning His first coming as Messiah. But, He likely meant more than that, as that it could also mean the coming destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, that they were so inept at viewing the angry clouds on the horizon that they were not preparing for it. They were probably preaching “peace and safety” when they should have been more adept at discerning what truly was going on to therefore more adequately prepare people (Prov. 22:3, 27:12).
But, by extension, it also applies to us in the last times, that we too need to be observant, keen, discerning as to what is happening, and be prudent enough to prepare for it. The end times are coming, the world is groaning and travailing in pain, and a Christian is very obtuse if he cannot see that! The world is dark, gloomy, threatening an awful storm, and it is so low and weighed down with precipitation that it is about to hit at any time now. It just means the coming of the Lord for His saints is drawing ever closer – the worse things get, the closer we know it is that Jesus will come!
Thank you Danny Foss!