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Biblical Principles about Signs

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.” But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign.”
—Matthew 12:38–39

What does the Bible say about supernatural signs and the will of God? Today we will look at six biblical principles about signs and determining God’s will for your life.

First, seeking supernatural signs is generally condemned in Scripture. The idea of trying to discern God’s mind through a sign has its origin in pagan religions, which is one reason God generally condemns this practice. By the way, Gideon’s putting out the fleece was not a sign of his faith. It was a sign of his lack of faith. The fact is, God had already told Gideon to attack the Midianites. When Gideon asked for another sign, he knew he was risking the wrath of God (Judges 6:39). Jesus said, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign” (Matthew 12:39). Seeking a sign is condemned in the Bible because it is an attempt to force God to operate according to our timetable and our terms. For example, a girl might pray, “Lord, if you want me to marry Joe, have him propose to me on Valentine’s Day. And if he proposes to me that day, then I will know he’s the one.” What’s wrong with her praying that prayer? Maybe God’s will isn’t for her to marry Joe. Or maybe the timing is wrong. Maybe God has some other things He wants to do in her life first. When we ask God for a sign, we are often trying to force God to operate according to our terms and our timetable.

A second principle about signs is this: signs in the Bible were truly supernatural. Many times we say we want God’s will, but we already have a pretty good idea what we want to do. So we will ask for a sign that we know has a good probability of coming true anyway. For example, when I think about my own situation of asking for a sign and then the megachurch pastor called me—that wasn’t unusual. He had already promised he was going to call me. And even though he had gone awhile without calling, every day that elapsed increased the probability that he would call. It wasn’t really a supernatural sign.

Third, after Pentecost, supernatural signs were given to people who weren’t looking for them. Think, for example, about Saul on the road to Damascus in order to persecute Christians. Was he saying, “Oh, Lord, show me Your will?” Not at all. He wasn’t asking for any divine revelation. But in Acts 9, we see what happened: “As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ And he said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do’” (vv. 3–6). We can think of many examples of God sending signs to people who weren’t looking for them.

Tomorrow we will look at three other biblical principles regarding asking God for a supernatural sign to reveal to us His will for our lives.

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Putting Out the Fleece without Getting Fleeced”” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.


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