Give Me a Sign
Here is a true story that illustrates the risk in relying upon external signs for trust in God. In 1966, I went to visit with the congregation of First Church, Evansville, Indiana upon their invitation to consider becoming their pastor. I flew from Chattanooga in a four place twin-engine airplane. As we lifted off the runway one of the engines went out. With one engine running, we returned to the airport and secured another airplane. I related the incident to the congregation that night with the observation that I could consider the failed engine as a sign that God did not want me to move to Evansville. Following the meeting, a young man came to me with a very wise observation. He said, “You were looking at the wrong sign. You should have been looking at the sign of the engine still running.” The risk of depending upon external signs to establish our faith is in the fallibility of human interpretation.
In Isaiah 7, Ahaz declined an invitation to ask for a sign by saying that he would not test God. Nevertheless, in that instance God had a sign to be given.
Isaiah said God would give assurance of his salvation with a sign that would be visible and dependable. “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold a young woman (virgin) shall conceive and bear a son and shall call his name, Emmanuel.” With the benefit of enlightened faith, we are able to see much more in that than Ahaz saw. Jesus Christ is the most tangible sign God has given this world to show the way of saving the world.
—Rev. Jean Richardson
- Why do you think Ahaz did not want to ask God for a sign?
- Is it possible that Ahaz would not ask for a sign because he feared that it might not say what he wanted it to say?
- Do you think there are risks in relying upon external signs to determine the will of God? If so, describe the risks.
- Do we need signs other than Jesus and his teachings to show us the will of God and elicit our trust?
How Do I Act?
- Carefully read Isaiah 7 and Judges 6:36-40. Note the contrasting attitudes toward signs by Ahaz and Gideon.
- Reflect on what your definition of what you mean by “signs.” Think of some personal experiences illustrating both the dependability and the fallibility of interpreting signs. Ponder the relationship between signs and faith. Can one trust God without external signs as confirmation from God?
- Using the internet, look for all the New Testament references to signs and read as many as possible. Don’t overlook Luke 11:29.