Signs are important to me because I travel a lot, and they point me in the right direction. Biblical signs are somewhat diﬀerent. Though they point us in the right direction, they are supernatural—given by God to substantiate, conﬁrm, and identify His message and His messenger.
The word sign appears more than 100 times in the Bible. Whenever I see a rainbow in the sky, I remember God’s promise never again to destroy the earth by ﬂood:
This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth (Gen. 9:12–13).
One of the best-known accounts of biblical signs involves Moses and the Jewish Exodus from Egypt. The Lord told Moses, “I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain” (Ex. 3:12).
Then Moses threw his shepherd’s staﬀ to the ground, and it became a serpent. When Moses caught it by the tail, it turned back into a rod (4:3–4). He was to perform this sign before the Israelites “that they may believe that the Lᴏʀᴅ God of their fathers…has appeared to you” (v. 5).
To convince Pharaoh to let His people go, the Lord poured out 10 plagues on the Egyptians. They were supernatural signs that authenticated Moses in the eyes of everyone in Egypt. Before he died, Moses told the Israelites,
Did God ever try to go and take for Himself a nation from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders? The Lᴏʀᴅ showed signs and wonders before our eyes. So the Lᴏʀᴅ brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders (Dt. 4:34; 6:22; 26:8).
Biblical signs are always supernatural and cannot be duplicated by human eﬀort. When the Israelites were conquering Canaan, God made the sun stand still in the valley of Aijalon and fought for them (Josh. 10:12–14).
When evil King Ahaz thought he was in danger of losing the Davidic kingdom of Judah to Rezin (king of Syria) and Pekah (king of the northern kingdom of Israel), God dispatched the prophet Isaiah to encourage him by offering a sign: “The Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (Isa. 7:14).
That sign’s ultimate fulﬁllment came when Jesus the Messiah was born of a Jewish virgin. His supernatural birth guaranteed the Davidic kingdom would continue forever. Angelic messengers alerted shepherds in the ﬁeld: “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you” (Lk. 2:11–12).
Of course, today many people are looking for signs of the Lord’s return. Prior to that event, He will come in the air to rapture His church (1 Th. 4:16–17). At His Second Coming, however, He will come to Earth. His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which will split in two (Zech. 14:4).
The Rapture is signless. But the Second Coming is preceded by many signs that will authenticate the event as coming from God. Jesus Himself explained what the signs will be when His disciples asked, “What will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Mt. 24:3).
He told them,
- There will be wars, rumors of wars, famines, pestilences, earthquakes, great tribulation, and death (vv. 6–9).
- There will be the “‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place [Temple]” (v. 15).
- “The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken” (v. 29).
- “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven,…and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (v. 30).
Biblical signs are intended to authenticate God’s message and His messenger. They are supernatural, unambiguous in Scripture, and point us in the direction of the true and living God.