How God ‘speaks’ to us is a question that will have so many different answers depending on your faith background and personal experience. What Christians will agree on, is that God does ‘speak’ to His people today and that is a source of amazement and wonder. Maybe we should not be surprised by the myriad of different ways that God chooses to communicate with us – He is our Heavenly Father and signs from God are part of His language!
Signs from God in the Bible
Scripture is full of examples of where God graciously and willingly used signs to communicate to His people. He is a covenant God, relational and intentional towards us. In Scripture signs from God are given to get people’s attention, to strengthen their faith into action, and to confirm His word.
“When God speaks, oftentimes His voice will call for an act of courage on our part.”Charles Stanley
I don’t know about you, but that has been true in my own life. In those times when I receive a specific word from God, a rhema word, it is because God is prompting or nudging me out of my comfort zone. But we can be sure that any sign, or word, that we think is from God will confirm, and never contradict, the principles that we see in Scripture.
Signs God is Trying to Tell you Something
Moses, God Got his Attention – Exodus 3
There are times when we are so engrossed with our circumstances that God does something drastic to get our attention. It may not be a supernaturally burning bush, but it may well be something that stops us in our tracks!
Moses had fled Egypt and settled in the neighbouring country of Moab, where he was working as a shepherd. It was in the wilderness on an ordinary day, when he was going about his daily tasks, that Moses had a divine encounter with God. The angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. This was a supernatural fire because the bush itself was not burning.
Moses was intrigued and went to look closer at the sight. Now that God had got his attention, He begins to speak to Moses. God was commissioning him to go back to Egypt, to confront Pharaoh, and to lead the Israelites out of slavery. But first God gives Moses three miraculous signs. These were not solely for Pharaoh’s benefit. These signs were for Moses himself, to strengthen his faith, and to confirm his commission to the elders of Israel. They demonstrated that Moses’ authority and calling were ordained by God.
Related article: Yahweh, LORD.
Noah, A Lasting Sign – Genesis 8-9
After the flood was over and Noah and his family left the ark. With a grateful and thankful heart Noah built an altar and offered sacrifices as worship to God. In response, God gave him and his descendants a promise and the sign of the rainbow.
The signs from God given in the Noahic Covenant are unconditional promises. The constancy of the seasons, and a promise to never destroy the world by flooding again, are still reminders to us today of God’s Sovereignty.
The signs are there for us to read. Sometimes in the beauty of a sunrise or a sunset, or the majesty of a mountain range. It could be the silence after a snowstorm, that sense of stillness and peace that descends. The first sign of spring with a tiny flower pushing it’s way out of the cold earth. All of these, and so much more, are signs of our Creator. What we see and hear is dependent on whether we are looking and listening for the whisper of God’s voice.
Related article: Elohim – God the Creator
Signs God is Speaking to You
To see signs that God is speaking to you personally, you first must ask for a sign! That may seem to be an obvious statement, but it is in those times when we are challenged to step out in faith that we seek confirmation. When we feel that we are being asked to do something and the task seems too big, beyond what we are capable of – we need to know that God is with us!
Gideon, Asked for Signs – Judges Chapters 6-8
Gideon is a witness to us of someone who was willing to be obedient to God’s word, but who knew that he needed to rely and depend on God. He had no confidence in his own strength and ability – which was exactly what God was looking for! Gideon sought confirmation through signs, which God graciously gave him. First Gideon asked for a sign to confirm that it was God speaking to him. Then he asked for a sign for confirmation of God’s word to act and save Israel, not once but twice.
Gideon would know beyond any doubt, that God was sending him into battle. His faith was strengthened, and he could go in the limited strength that he had. The mission to save Israel by defeating the Midianites would be a success – because God was with them.
He (Gideon) returned to the camp of Israel and called out, “Get up! The LORD has given the Midianite camp into your hands.Judges 7:15
Related post: Jehovah Shalom
Ahaz, Refused a Sign – Isaiah Chapter 7
There are those who won’t ask or look for a sign because they simply don’t want to hear God’s voice. They have already made up their mind, relying and depending on their own wisdom, power, and authority. There are moments when we have a choice to seek God’s direction or to reject His guidance.
At the beginning of Isaiah’s ministry Ahaz was king of Judah, and the Assyrian Empire was expanding rapidly westwards. Aram and Israel were trying to persuade Ahaz to join a coalition against Assyria to protect their lands. But because of a past defeat, at their hands, he was reluctant to join them.
Isaiah was trying to prevent Ahaz from making the mistake of allying with Assyria. He meets the king with words of encouragement from God “Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid”, “Do not lose heart”. This was followed by a prophecy of what will happen to Aram and Israel and then a word of warning to Ahaz:
If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.Isaiah 7:9
God graciously offers to strengthen Ahaz’s faith with a sign, to trust in God as Judah’s defender and not to look for a military alliance elsewhere. But Ahaz refuses to ask for a sign – infuriating Isaiah. It is not explicitly stated why he refuses, but the implication is that he had already made up his mind to seek help from Assyria. Ahaz went his own way – ultimately leading to judgment and the destruction of his kingdom.
Signs of Confirmation from God
Zechariah, Do not Doubt – Luke 1
God is able to do so much more than we can ever conceive or imagine. He is not limited in any way. Sometimes disappointment in life can start to dull our vision so that we fail to see that all things are possible to God! He, however, is gracious towards us.
Zechariah and Elizabeth were a godly couple, who were committed to God. While Zechariah was serving as a priest in the temple in Jerusalem, he had an encounter with an angel. Gabriel had come with good news, that they would be blessed with a son.
But Zechariah and Elizabeth were no longer young. It seems as if the time of expecting to be blessed with a child, had passed. Zechariah asked for a sign – he was now an old man and found Gabriel’s message hard to believe. He was given a sign, but maybe not quite the sign he wanted. Zechariah would be silent until the day the words were fulfilled.
Zechariah’s doubts are silenced. Next time he speaks it will be with praise and worship to God, full of the Holy Spirit, he will sing a prophetic song over his new-born son!
Does God Give us Signs When we Ask?
Scripture clearly shows that God is gracious and speaks to us in different ways, including through signs. These signs from God are given to bring clarity and peace, never confusion or anxiety. They affirm Scripture and confirm godly principles to strengthen our faith, and to spur us into action. They can prayerfully help with any decision process.
God is willing to give us signs when we ask, but there is a proviso that we ask with faith and with the right motive. We see this in the New Testament when the Pharisees asked for a sign and Jesus replied that no sign would be given them, except the sign of Jonah. Throughout Jesus’ ministry, the miracles that He performed were to point people to the truth of who He was – the Son of God. The Pharisees refused to see what was clearly visible because it did not fit with their agenda.
God has promised that we can ask and receive wisdom for our daily decisions but there are those times when prayerfully we may seek confirmation. God is gracious to provide all that we need, He speaks through His word and our times of prayer. It is there that we learn to see and hear the whisper of His voice, and know God’s faithfulness, not in an abstract way, but personally. Small signs, which affirm God’s word, can encourage and strengthen our faith daily with the sense of His presence with us.
Signs from God or Coincidence?
How do we know that what we are seeing, or hearing, are signs from God or just co-incidences? We need to be aware of confirmation bias – that sometimes we see what we want to see. Prayerfully, we need to reflect on the interpretation of any signs, especially if they are prompting us to do something.
Signs from God can come in different ways, through Scripture, through His Creation, from another person, or even in a dream. Whatever we think God is saying to us through any means it will never contradict the principles of His word.
Signs through Scripture
Reading and meditating on God’s word is an important part of developing our relationship with Him. We read, we listen for God’s voice through His word, and we respond in prayer. Then we wait and listen some more. God’s word is truth, for all people and for all time. But there are also occasions when a particular portion can be applied to our situation – a word for that specific moment. Often it is in the waiting, as we reflect on what the Holy Spirit is speaking into our life, that we receive signs of confirmation from God.
Signs through Creation
The signs through nature could possibly be explained as a natural phenomenon and a coincidence, which is why we are given wisdom and discernment. Signs in nature can be in the specific timing of the event in response to our prayer. Sometimes the sign is, not so much what has happened, but, the fact that we are seeing it at that particular moment.
Sign through Conversation
When we receive a word from another person, we need to test and check what we are hearing. It is unusual, but not unheard of, to receive a word from a stranger. And sometimes it can have more of an impact, when it is someone who does not know anything about us. But that does not mean that other Christians that we know and respect cannot speak words of wisdom into our lives. Does the word challenge or confirm what is in our spirit? Does the word align with godly principles?
Signs through Dreams
I believe that God does still speak through dreams, although it may be more unusual. I can only recall two occasions when I thought that God was speaking to me through a dream. Both times it was a forewarning of something that was about to happen; so that I was prepared. It wasn’t essential that I knew in advance, but it revealed the loving care and graciousness of God. I have Christian friends who more frequently hear God speaking to them through dreams, sometimes alerting them to pray or giving them words of encouragement for others.
10 Signs from God Quotes
Signs from God are given to those who believe. They are God’s way of getting our attention, strengthening our faith and confirming His word. Signs are God’s graciousness to empower and bless His people – He does not change, they are still relevant to us today.
And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come. I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Genesis 9:12-13
He sent Moses his servant, and Aaron, whom he had chosen. They performed his signs among them, his wonders in the land of Ham. Psalm 105: 26-27
Gideon replied, “If now I have found favour in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me.” Judges 6:17
Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz, ‘Ask the LORD your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.’ But Ahaz said, ‘I will not ask; I will not put the LORD to the test.’ Then Isaiah said, ‘Hear now you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? Isaiah 7:10-13
Zechariah asked the angel, ‘How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.’ The angel said to him, ‘I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.’ Luke 1: 18-20
Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. Luke 2:11-12
As the crowds increased, Jesus said, “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation. Luke 11: 29-30
Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. John 12: 37
“What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it.. But to stop this thing spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.” Acts 4:16-17
Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20: 31