Who Wants A Sign?

Matthew 16:1-12, Judge 6:33-40

Prepare to keep the Lord's day

Much of the Christian world was scandalised when the appeal of the charismatic leader, Oral Roberts, was made public that, unless he received so many millions of dollars by April, that God would take away his life. This example of revolting, unspiritual excess comes from a prime advocate of the charismatic movement which is beguiling many today into a false spirituality. (A case of extortion under pretences - Ed.)

It is clear from our Lord's ministry that warnings about signs were given frequently. Matthew 12 saw the Lord warning the Pharisees about seeking signs, yet here they are again! Will they never learn? Yet even the disciples misunderstood the message when our Lord warned them of the leavening effect of the Pharisees and Sadducees!

We need to beware of the leavening effect of sign-seekers today. In some circles, it is accounted the highest spirituality to say, "I asked the Lord for a sign as to whether I should speak to my neighbour about Christ today." Others talk of "putting out a fleece" after Gideon's example in our other reading today, forgetting that Gideon did not have our Bible, and we are responsible to heed the Lord's warning. This playing with signs really caters to our mystical and superstitious natures and takes our eyes away from God's absolute, complete, revealed will in Scripture.

Sign seeking can even extend to Bible reading. Most readers will have heard the amusing but probably apocryphal story of the man who used to seek guidance from his Bible by opening it at random and without first looking, putting his finger on a verse. On the first verse, he read that Judas "departed and went and hanged himself." That not seeming very satisfactory, he tried again, and received the message "Go and do thou likewise!" But more seriously, people have claimed God's specific guidance from such methods which have sent them ill-prepared and ungifted to the mission field with disastrous consequences.

Our great sign is the sign of Jonah pointing to Christ's death, burial and resurrection. Our sign seekers are not spiritual giants but rather a "wicked and adulterous generation." Seek not signs but the Saviour.

FOR THOUGHT: Do I perhaps unintentionally look for signs in everyday living?

FOR PRAYER: For the Scriptures to replace signs in your life.