Signs and Wonders
Miracles played a significant role in the expression of God’s will. The purpose was specifically to confirm the truthfulness of the message. Moses was concerned that the children of Israel would not believe that God had sent him to deliver them from the clutches of Pharaoh. God instructed Moses to throw down the rod in his hand. It became a serpent which terrified Moses. God instructed him to pick it up by the tail. When Moses did so the serpent turned back into a rod. Next Moses was told to place his hand in his robe. The hand turned leprous. Repeating the process restored the hand to perfect health. “Then it will be, if they do not believe you, nor heed the message of the first sign, that they may believe the message of the latter sign. “And it shall be, if they do not believe even these two signs, or listen to your voice, that you shall take water from the river and pour it on the dry land. And the water which you take from the river will become blood on the dry land” (Exodus 4:8-9 NKJV).
An angel appeared to Gideon calling him to deliver Israel from the Midianites. “Gideon said to Him, “O my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites” (Jg 6:13). Gideon requested and was granted a sign. The angel agreed to wait while Gideon prepared an offering. It was placed on a rock. When touched by the angel’s staff, fire appeared from the rock and consumed the offering (Jg 6:21). Now convinced this was an angel of God, Gideon proceeded to follow God’s instructions. The Midianites and Amalekites gathered against Israel in the Valley of Jezreel. Gideon requested and was granted additional signs to signify that God would be with him (Jg 6:36-40).
The revelation of the gospel followed a period of over 400 years during which there was no revelation or miraculous activity. An angel appeared to Joseph precipitating an intense period of miraculous activity and fulfilled prophecy (Mt 1:20). Jesus’ birth, life and death were surrounded by signs and wonders. “And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; “they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs” (Mark 16:17-20 NKJV). This continued until revelation of the gospel was complete (1Co 13:8-10).
Gideon was blessed in that God accommodated his request for a sign. God used miracles to prove that He was the source of the revelation which in turn proved its truthfulness. In Gideon’s case it convinced and reassured the young man who then found the courage to keep God’s commands. Other requests for signs were declined as they were not in keeping with God’s purpose. “Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.” But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:38-40 NKJV). “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:21-24 NKJV). God determined that the signs already given were sufficient and it was time for man to believe the message.
Multitudes followed Jesus to see and benefit from the miracles performed (Mt 15:30). The Jews were not the only ones fascinated by miracles. Simon the Sorcerer earned a living by the practice of sorcery. He was amazed by seeing true miracles and learned soon after his conversion that miracles were not for sale or profit. Simon offered money to buy the ability to impart the Holy Spirit and was severely reprimanded (Ac 8:14-24). Not only were miracles not for profit, they were not for entertainment. Pilate sent Jesus to Herod for additional judgment. “Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceedingly glad; for he had desired for a long time to see Him, because he had heard many things about Him, and he hoped to see some miracle done by Him” (Luke 23:8 NKJV).
Knowing that revelation is complete, and that miraculous activity has ceased, we must rely solely on the gospel. “Therefore, we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?” (Hebrews 2:1-4 NKJV) “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, “because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31 NKJV). What further proof could you need?
Ken Fleeman (2018-12-23)