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Q. Is It Right To Ask God For A Sign?


Dear *****,

Interesting question. Let me take a stab at it.

Overall, asking God for a sign is not presented in a positive light. This would be the case with Gideon in the Old Testament. It is interesting to note, however, that God gave Gideon a confirming sign (or indication of His fulfilled promise) in Judges 2:9-14, knowing that his faith was weak.

Wrongly asking for signs was typical for the scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees in the New Testament:

38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.” 39 But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; 40 for just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth (Matthew 12:38-40).

14 And He was casting out a demon, and it was mute; when the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke; and the crowds were amazed. 15 But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.” 16 Others, to test Him, were demanding of Him a sign from heaven (Luke 11:14-16).

Even Herod was hoping for a sign from Jesus:

8 Now Herod was very glad when he saw Jesus; for he had wanted to see Him for a long time, because he had been hearing about Him and was hoping to see some sign performed by Him (Luke 23:8).

When the disciples asked Jesus what sign would precede His coming, Jesus did not answer directly (see Matthew 24:3ff.).

We know that Paul did not present sign-seeking in a positive light:

21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:21-24).

We should likewise remember that there are false signs and wonders, produced by Satan and his minions to draw people away (Matthew 24:24; 2 Thessalonians 2:9; Revelation 13:11-14; 19:20).

Having said this, signs are not always presented negatively:

God told Ahaz to ask for a sign, and not doing so was viewed as commendable (Isaiah 7:10-16).

Repeatedly in the Old and New Testaments God performed signs which were meant to prompt faith and obedience (see Exodus 4:1-9, 28-31; Deuteronomy 4:32-35; Joshua 24:16-18, etc.).

Jesus repeatedly performed signs to authenticate His claim to be Israel’s Messiah (John 2:11, 23, etc.). Likewise, the apostles performed many signs as well (see Acts 2:2-4, 43; 6:8, etc.). In order to validate the gospel, the apostles did ask God to perform signs through them, so that many would be saved (Acts 4:24-31).

When asking for a sign is “putting God to the test” (demanding that God jump through our hoops), then it is clearly sin (see Numbers 14:22; Deuteronomy 6:16; Psalm 78:18), which is exactly what Satan attempted to prompt Jesus to do (Matthew 4:7; Luke 4:12).

I think it is less than commendable for a saint to ask for a sign when God has already given a promise, or directed our steps through His Word. But when God’s will is not clear, I don’t think it is wrong to ask God to make His will clear to us. That might result in a sign, or in some other means of His confirming His Will.

I hope this helps,

Bob Deffinbaugh

Related Topics: Christian Life

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