I was recently in a Facebook conversation about prophecy and the role signs and miracles would play in the lead up to the return of Jesus. It was an interesting discussion to read and join in with. Plus, I have to admit I love me some good signs! Who does not want some sort of clear finger coming out of no place and pointing out the right way to go? Because at the end of the day, in more ways than just understanding prophecy, have we not all tortured ourselves over what God’s will is, at some point in our life? I know I have.
I honestly don’t think there is anything, intrinsically, wrong with signs. After all, Matthew 24 for example, is jammed packed with all kinds of signs; big and small. Both about the return of Jesus and also the destruction of the temple in 70 AD, and about what we should watch for and what we should be doing while awaiting the second coming of Christ. But, recently, I have seen the fascination of signs reaching new proportions, often power-packed with sensationalism. And much too often very odd and outrageous speculation, for which there is no Biblical support for at all. Yes, according to Jesus, in Matthew 24-25, there are indeed, real signs, yet, He also warns of false prophets, and false teachings, not to mention even global deceptions to lead people away from the clear teaching of the Bible.
The problem I see is, some are seeking after a sign so passionately that they go against what the Bible clearly teaches. And that is the real danger that many sincere students of prophecy are unaware even exists. Think about it; this was a massive problem in Jesus’ day. Did the Jewish leaders not have enough Bible prophecy in their day that pointed to Jesus as the coming Messiah? Of course, they did!!! They refused to see who Jesus was because, in their heart, wickedness was still hidden. So when they were finally cornered on the truth of who Jesus was, they demanded a sign, or a miracle, from Him as proof. And that is the danger. Jesus was not above doing signs and miracles, His life was full of them! But He did not do them to prove who He was; He did them out of compassion and love. The proof of who He was came from the scriptures that testified of Him and the prophecies that foretold of Him. The danger is in setting aside the clear teaching of Scripture because of a miracle or sign. Notice what Jesus calls them when they do that, “This generation is an evil generation. It seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” Luke 11:29, Mark 8:12, Matthew 16:4. The sign of Jonah was the fact that Jesus was in the grave three days and was resurrected. His point is that if this sign, His resurrection, is not significant enough to them, nothing else will be. Look, if you can’t believe the reality of the resurrection, then nothing else, no matter how sensational, will help you.
Doomsday prophecy is a steady diet for some Christians
Paul warns us, as well, that not all that glitters is from Heaven. He warns that as time goes on false teachers will arise and lead people astray in the same way that Satan has. “For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” 2 Corinthians 11:13-14. So according to Paul, we must be careful because even Satan can make you think he is an Angel of light, while he is leading you to destruction. No wonder Paul says in Galatians, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:8
Furthermore, the book of Revelation tells that such deceptions will only increase as we get deeper into the time of the end. In Revelation 13 it says that the Beast power will,”….perform great signs, even causing a fire to come down from heaven to the earth in full view of the people.” And John warns, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”1 John 4:1. Jesus, Himself, gives us the most gut-wrenching, sober thought on signs in the end times, “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.” Matthew 24:24
Sign Psycho: That condition you get when your eyes gloss over, and you obsess on the end the world.
So here is the point, signs are excellent. Seeking them, or needing them as your source of proof can lead us to self-manufacture them from the world of current events and not the Word of God. And that is not excellent but is to subject yourself to the Devil’s play yard and toys. When a sign comes, and it confirms what we already can see, clearly, in the Bible then we can welcome it; because of the Bible and what is says about the sign and not just the sign itself! The miracle must confirm the message! The Bible remains the burden of truth. All the sign does is point back, or bring to mind, the conviction of the Truth of the Bible. Many, and according to Jesus, if possible even the very elect, will in the end days be deceived because they choose a sign over the clear word of God. This is a worthy warning to be aware of!
The Sermon of Olivet (Matthew 24-25), a profound and complex teaching that exceeds the length of this blog, involves more than just the return of Jesus; it also deals with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD, and the end of the age. There is a simple tool I use to keep the balance of recognizing signs, yet not being compelled to seek a sign in everything. I liken Matthew 24 to an interstate, which is full of many true signs of the road. Not every sign applies to you and where you are going. Jesus repeatedly says in Matthew 24,“Do you see this sign, the end is not yet.” There may be many mile markers along the road. They help you to know how far you traveled, and when to expect a rest station. But some signs actually can take you off your route and even turn you around, unless you know from the map where you are going. While all the signs you see are worth noting Jesus says there is one big exit sign that means you have arrived at your destination, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14
One of my favorite movie comedies of the 90’s was “Fools Rush In” starring Matthew Perry and Salma Hayek. In the film the couple’s ill-gotten and destructive relationship is doomed with hang-ups, which keep two people greatly in love apart from each other. Everything in their lives just keeps pulling them further apart. Finally, when she has had enough, Salma Hayek’s character (Isabel Fuentes) runs away to Mexico with plans to never be found again. And Matthew Perry’s character (Alex Whitman), feeling like a failure, gives up on love altogether. However, a series of common everyday events serve as “signs” to guide them together across two countries to meet at the exact time of their child’s birth. Now, I know it is a movie and filled with all kinds of Hollywood gobbledy- gook to sell us on the magic of it all. But still, those are the nature of signs I can get behind! Why? Because the romance, Hollywood’s glitter, or the fairytale ending? No! Because the Bible says, “”For I hate divorce,“ says the LORD, the God of Israel” —Malachi 2:16 and their signs were supported (in my eyes as the viewer) by the Word of God. I know it is a fictitious movie, but don’t miss the point. Signs always point us to the Word of God and never away from the Word of God, or what it teaches for our current generation. Lest we become “an evil generation that seeks for a sign…”
Let every sign we find be cemented to the principle of Scripture or else be tossed away, lest it lead us into outer darkness. “To the law and the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” — Isaiah 8:20
Don’t be a fool who rushes in, insist that the signs you accept are rock solid in their connection to Scripture.
 I urge readers of Matthew 24 not to forget to read Matthew 25. There are no chapter divides in the original text, and despite being two chapters in our modern Bibles, the truth is they are both equally the answer to the Disciples question about the end of the age and the destruction of the temple. In 25 we see three parables of deep focus on how we the church ought to be conducting ourselves as we see the signs of the times being fulfilled.