As you might have guessed from the title of this blog, today we are going to explore the concept and occurrence of spiritual signs from God. The Old Testament is chock-full of them, but what does that mean for us? Does God still perform them in our modern-day world? And, if so, is it okay to ask Him point-blank for one? To answer these questions, we need to explore what the Bible has to say on the subject.
Before I go any further, I want to interject that this topic can be very controversial among Christians today. I’ve heard pastors that I dearly love and deeply respect speak very strongly against this or any kind of “questioning of God”. Many advise that asking for a sign is dangerous territory and should be avoided at all costs. But in my personal experience, and through my own study of God’s word, I have to say I kindly disagree. Why? Because I believe God has given His people permission to ask for exactly this type of supernatural communication from Him, as reflected in His word.
This is what God told His people about the relationship He wanted to have with them: “The Lord who made the earth, the Lord who forms it to establish it, Yahweh is His name, says this: ‘Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and incomprehensible things you do not know.’” – Jeremiah 33:2-3
I think it might be worth our time to break this down a little bit.
“Call to Me”. I understand this to mean; call out to Me by name, and present yourself and all your needs to Me. Just like our earthly Fathers, God wants His children to come to Him to speak our hearts and minds, but most importantly, to ask for help and guidance (for our own good and safety).
“And I will answer you and tell you.” While God is not promising a specific outcome here (like a loop-hole for landing a quick couple of mil on your next trip to Vegas), He is promising something far greater… a very real and personal response from Him. Get a load of this. The almighty God, the same One who sits on His throne in heaven this very instant, desires to interact and communicate directly with you... Yes, you understood that right. It’s tremendously outrageous, but absolute fact that God wants to have a one-on-one relationship with us. And, how do we get to know someone we don’t already know very well? (Well, other than cyber stalking them on the Internet?) Why, by spending lots and lots of time with them, of course… and by asking lots and lots of good… you guessed it… questions. By doing life with God, and seeking His “answers” or input on the decisions we make (both big and small) we are able to maximize our earthly efforts and potential.
“Great and incomprehensible things you do not know.” Wow. Seriously? Is it possible that the same God who orchestrates every aspect of life on our planet (from mitochondria to mankind) is promising you and me access to His supernatural intelligence…? Is he really offering us, mere mortals, His mind-blowing spiritual council, guidance and wisdom? And the answer… is a resounding yes my friends! This truth speaks to both the heart the splendor of our awesomely loving God. Oh, how great He is… “When I observe your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you set in place, what is a human being that you remember him, a son of man that you look after him?” - Psalms 8:3-4
But… how do we know that these scriptures are still valid? And, how do we know they specifically apply you and me today? The answer is simple… because God is equally transcendent and consistent.
Some of my most cherished verses from the Bible are the ones that portray God’s character. And of those verses, there are tons that focus on the amazing truth that God does not change. He is the same today as He was even before the time of the creation. He said of Himself: “For I, the Lord, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.” – Malachi 3:6
Additionally, it is written:
"Also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind." – Samuel 15-29
“Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.” – James 1:17
It’s important for us to know that God is not like us. He is perfect. He is whole. He is complete. He needs nothing… because he already is, was, and will be everything for all of eternity. But still, He created the imperfect man to be catalysts, conductors, and generators of His love. All that said, He knows us and loves us and he wants us to know and love Him in return.
Second only to life itself (both present day and eternal through the gift of Jesus), God’s greatest gift to humanity is a collection of stories about Him and His people, given so that we can get to know Him. The Bible is a God-breathed account, meaning; He supernaturally spoke through mortal men (who acted merely as scribes) to accomplish writing the greatest (true) love story this world has ever seen. For this reason, we can trust that every single word written within it is true. “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” - 2 Samuel 3:16
So let’s review. Now we know that God wants us to know Him, and wants us to call out to Him for answers to the incomprehensible things about life we do not know. And… that all scripture is inspired by God and therefore is both eternally true and suited for our learning. But does all this mean that God gives us the green light on asking for a sign? Well, not exactly. But that’s where our guy Gideon comes back into play.
To briefly recap for those who may be new to the blog; the last couple of weeks I’ve been discussing the story of Gideon. After being visited by an angel of the Lord, Gideon was sent on a mind-numbingly-terrifying mission. First, to destroy an alter (which he probably suspected would put his own life in jeopardy). Second, to lead an army of men to save Israel from the Midianites, which would require a battle he was in no way qualified to fight (which he knew would definitely put his life, and many others, in jeopardy). To learn more about how God made Gideon and his men more than conquerers in this battle, be sure to check out my last post, Thinking Outside Of The “I”.
One of my favorite songs of all times is one by the Mamas and Papas entitled, This Is Dedicated To The One I Love. There’s one line in that song… “The darkest hour is just before dawn” that rang true for me even as a small child sitting in the back of my mother’s cherry red Malibu. And, I believe this was definitely true in Gideon’s case in those moments leading up to the biggest battle of his life. Can you imagine the onslaught of fear that must have overtaken him? But, in his fear he did the one thing God wants all His children to do… he turned to Him for help through the act of prayer. But what is unique about Gideon’s story is that he asked God for something very specific in his prayer. And what he asked for was a sign… in the form of a very unusual wondrous work for the purpose of increasing his own faith. And then what happened? The great and glorious Lord rose to the occasion for Gideon not once, but twice, displaying His crazy-amazing supernatural abilities.
“Then Gideon said to God, ‘If You will deliver Israel by my hand, as You said, I will put a fleece of wool here on the threshing floor. If dew is only on the fleece, and all the ground is dry, I will know that You will deliver Israel by my strength, as You said.’ And that is what happened. When he got up early in the morning, he squeezed the fleece and wrung dew out of it, filling a bowl with water. Gideon then said to God, “Don’t be angry with me; let me speak one more time. Please allow me to make one more test with the fleece. Let it remain dry, and the dew be all over the ground.’ That night God did as Gideon requested: only the fleece was dry and the dew was all over the ground.” – Judges 6:36-40
As I mentioned, this part of Gideon’s story is one of my absolute favorites because it shows how compassionate, understanding, and patient God is when it comes to His people. I mean really, how spectacular is it that in Gideon’s weakness, God was willing to show Gideon His limitless power not once, but twice? But even more amazing is what God was able to accomplish through Gideon by doing so… and additionally what He continues to do today.
First, God wanted Gideon to know and trust him, and through this amazing act of assurance and love He no-doubt accomplished this by instantly increasing his faith.
But it wasn’t just about Gideon. Sure, his faith was elevated high enough to help him accomplish the mission at hand and he probably felt a heck of a lot better about life in the moment. But to God, it wasn’t just about gaining Gideon’s trust. It was about gaining Israel’s trust… it was about saving Israel (His chosen people) both physically and spiritually. But also… it was about gaining your trust and my trust, today, as we read about Gideon’s amazing experience with God through a story that has been passed down for generations.
As we learned in my last post, this impending battle that frightened Gideon to the point of prayer was already won before it ever began. So God’s decision to reveal Himself in this way had no affect on the outcome of the battle at all. He revealed Himself in this way to be remembered this way (by all of us… as the wondrous God who loved Israel despite their straying ways, and loves us equally today) so that they would (and we will) return to Him… and cast all their (our) future hope, faith, and love onto Him alone.
There are many things we can learn from Gideon’s story. And I believe one of them is God’s response to our requests for a sign. Since God understood (and entertained) both of Gideon’s requests, I have to believe He is willing to give us the same consideration today. Not that everyone’s outcome will be the same. I believe that God communicates with all His children in their own unique way. But I do believe that when His people come to Him with a pure heart, asking for some kind of a sign for direction… or even for a glimpse of His shadow when they are in need of the assurance of His presence, I believe God can and God will.
The reason I believe this so strongly is because over the years I have asked for and received many miraculous signs from God. And each and every time it’s happened, I have been truly thankful for the answered question, but astonished and grateful beyond words by the feeling of limitless love that has come along with the divine gesture.
Over the last couple of weeks I have been sharing an almost impossible situation our family was in when we discovered the house we purchased and extensively renovated was uninhabitable. For more on how God honored my request for a sign with two unmistakable wondrous works indicating that this home was His choice for us prior to purchase, be sure to check out the first blog in this series entitled My Journey Into Achsah Living.
In closing, the most important thing to consider before asking for a sign is the sincerity of the request. The why. So before you go asking, I suggest first knowing the specific intentions of your heart… because therein, I believe, lies the key to unlocking the limitless power of God. “I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.” – Jeremiah 17:10
While no one should ever expect to manipulate or control God in any way, I believe waiting with a heart full of humble expectation to receive a divine sign from God is not only portrayed in the Old Testament, but is also completely within the rights given to us by Jesus (portrayed in the New Testament). He died on the cross to provide us entry into the heavens after this life, but also, to grant each of us access to the power of God through the Holy Spirit in this life. So this week and every day for the rest of yours… I challenge you to claim it. Speak it. Believe it. There are many amazing benefits that come along with being the child of a King. So take your seat beside Him who empowers you. Ask boldly and wait humbly, to receive His every good and perfect gift. Both in this life, and beyond… “He also raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavens in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” – Ephesians 2:6-7
Please join me back here next week, where I will elaborate more on what God intends us to do with all these revelations. In the meantime, if you’ve had a supernatural experience with God, please feel free to share and post a praise in the comment section so that, just as with Gideon, the ripple effect of God’s loving kindness will keep flowing far beyond you as you glorify Him. As the psalmist David writes... “I will tell of Your name to my brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will praise You. You who fear the Lord, praise Him; All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him, And stand in awe of Him, All you descendants of Israel. For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; Nor has He hidden His face from him; but when he cried to Him for help, He heard.” – Psalm 22:22-24