Seeking Signs

While talking to a large group of people that included the Pharisees and Sadducees, Jesus stated boldly that those Pharisees who sought a sign are a wicked generation and will not see another sign other than the sign of Jonah. There were two signs that Jonah represented. One was the sign of being dead in the belly of the whale for three days and three nights. The second sign was Nineveh repenting at the word of Yahweh brought to them by Jonah. We will look at the two signs and what meaning signs have for us today.

Jonah 1:1   The word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.”

The book of Jonah tells about a prophet, Jonah, whose great love of Israel made it difficult for him to go to Nineveh and cry against their idolatrous ways. They were a mighty people and, if they repented, would fight against the Israelites and overtake them. Jesus spoke of this record to a crowd that included hardhearted Pharisees and Sadducees. Jesus poignantly attacked their lack of believing the word of God in action right in front of their eyes.

Luke 11: 27-30   While Jesus was saying these things, one of the women in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed.” But He said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” As the crowds were increasing, He began to say, “This generation is a wicked generation; it seeks for a sign, and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah.  For just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation.

This particular sign was that Jonah went to Nineveh, professed Yahweh’s message to them, and the very wicked people of Nineveh believed the message and repented. They heard the word of God and observed it, much different than the religious leaders gathered around Jesus.

Luke 11:32   The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.

Jesus the Messiah was right in front of them teaching and performing miracles that the Old Testament prophets foretold, and they would not believe. A similar record is in Matthew 12 adding that the Scribes and Pharisees were asking for a sign from Jesus that he is the Messiah.

Matthew 12:38-41   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; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet;

Jesus was very clear that they would seek signs and still not believe.

At the end of the book of Jonah, Yahweh describes the inhabitants of Nineveh as those “who do not know the difference between their right and left hand…” (Jonah 4:10). We need to take heed that we do not seek signs but instead believe the ones that are in front of us.

Yahweh, in Judges Chapter 6 and 7, asked Gideon to lead the Israelites against the mighty Assyrians. Gideon was very afraid and needed concrete evidence that Yahweh was with him. Yahweh took him step by step and helped him overcome his fear by working with Gideon as Yahweh chose. Even after an angel appearing and talking with him; Yahweh saving him from an angry mob; and giving him authority with the Israelites to lead them into battle; he still sought after signs to build his trust that Yahweh was telling him the truth. Do we lack faith that we must see a sign first before we will believe? One important lesson of this record of Gideon is as Gideon obeyed, Gideon saw godly signs that encouraged him.

Another great record of faith in Yahweh is the one in Daniel 13 of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. The sign that King Nebuchadnezzar was looking for was that he was more powerful than the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego.  The three men did not need any sign to have faith that Yahweh alone delivers. As they obeyed, they saw Yahweh work in amazing ways.

Daniel 3:16-18   Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

If we are looking for affirmation from Yahweh to confirm our plans, we are in trouble right there, or if we are looking for a sign to believe in Yahweh and Jesus. Gideon was afraid and relied on signs. Yahweh was gracious and worked with Gideon, but signs can be from the deceiver, Satan, to trick us. When we have a loving, faith-filled relationship with Yahweh and Christ, we will not need signs.

There is danger in looking for signs in order to believe. Beware because Satan is very happy to give us lots of signs.

Mark 13:21-23  And then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ’; or, ‘Behold, He is there’; do not believe him; for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance.

Let us take heed to the signs of Jonah and not be afraid as Gideon or hard-hearted as the Pharisees and Scribes. Yahweh has given us the signs of our risen Jesus having been in the grave three days and three nights. He also warns us of being hard-hearted and not having faith in what we have already been told in the Scriptures. As we obey, signs may or may not come, but if they are sent, they are Yahweh’s prerogative and we will know for certain that they are from Yahweh.

Mark 16:20

And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.


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