Sign Seekers

Bible Book: Matthew  12 : 38-40
Subject: Christmas; Signs; Trust

Five years ago, I was traveling through Georgia on my way to a revival when I noticed something that gave me the grim feeling I was lost. The Georgia highway department had changed all the numbers on the interstate exit signs! The numbers I was seeing on the signs were numbers customarily found hundreds of miles from where I was. I became quite confused and disoriented. I mean, one stretch of interstate looks like any other stretch of interstate. To the best of my recollection, I was never warned of this decision nor had I given my written permission to do it! To have signs that did not match the map I was carrying was the equivalent of having no signs at all. I remember thinking, "If only I could see a sign that I trust."

On many occasions, Jesus was asked by the crowds, "Show us a sign." Today, we are no different from those crowds as we too ask for evidence and reassurance in the steps and decisions of our lives. But, exactly what is it we are hoping to see when we ask?

I find it interesting that every time Jesus was asked to give a sign, He did NOT honor the request! My wife and children never ask me for a sign to prove that I love them. My dog does not need a sign to know if he should come to me. If you spend your life looking for signs, you can find them. Signs are all around us. However, our enemy knows how to manipulate a change of signs in our lives and that can produce a dangerous outcome. There truly can be signs from the Lord that are accurate, legitimate, and trustworthy. But, Jesus chooses to rarely answer the request on the basis of His knowledge that signs can actually weaken our faith. What does living a life seeking solely after signs say about us?

I. Undeveloped Instincts

In Judges 6, an angel of the Lord appeared unto Gideon. Gideon's response was almost comical, had it not been so serious, "…If the Lord be with us...where be all His miracles?" I suppose the fact it was an angel before him did not count! He simply missed the obvious.

When I was confused by the interstate signs, what gave me peaceful assurance was the recognition of landmarks. I looked for things I had seen before.

Later in Judges 6, Gideon lays out a fleece and has to have an answer twice. His instincts in following the Lord had not yet been developed.

When you trip and fall, why do you put out your hands? When the dust blows, why do you close your eyes? Instinct tells you to do so!

It is instinct that tells a David to spare Saul's life when God has given him the power of choice.

It is instinct that directs an Abraham to offer up his son Isaac.

When our spiritual instincts are growing and maturing, signs are only a confirmation of that which we already know.

II. Unrealistic Imaginations

In Matthew 12, when the Pharisees asked for a sign from Jesus, they made the assumption it would be some form of a healing miracle. However, Jesus warned them in His response that the sign they will receive will be a sign they won't like - His resurrection!

More often than not, when we are seeking a sign, we assume it will be easily recognizable – the assumption that we will know what it will be. Elijah learned this the hard way when he saw a great wind, an earthquake, and a fire. All were what he had expected to see of God, but yet God was not in them. To order movement in our lives simply by the presence of a sign is the recipe for disaster and failure. God never leaves His true signs to questionable interpretation in our lives. It will be as obvious as the voice of Balaam's donkey or the writing on Belshazzar's wall.

III. Unguarded Intimacy

In Matthew 2, the wise men had a star. In Luke 2, the shepherds had a manger. In Luke 22, the soldiers had a kiss from Judas. The common denominator we should find in legitimate signs from God is the fact they all lead us closer to Jesus! If your sign does not lead you closer to Jesus, it is a temptress with fluttering eyes that cannot be trusted nor given precedence in our life. Whether the Lord gives us the sign of a parted Red Sea, a sun that refuses to set for a day, or reversing the hands on a clock to extend the length of our life, it is as much for Himself as it is for us. On Mount Carmel, Elijah's sign was not to bring fame and fortune. It was the fire of fellowship!

Lord Jesus, how much longer will you tarry? We observe the seasons, but they are changing. We listen to the voice of the church, but it too is changing. We are traveling a road where the landmarks have been relocated. We need a sign Lord. I stand with Philip, "...Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us."