Did Jesus teach or does the Bible teach that it is wrong to request a sign from someone who professes to be a prophet? This is one of the fundamental questions which we posed as we entered this study of events from Matthew 12. Here are the specific verses which have been the basis upon which some have stated that it is wrong to ask a sign from a professed prophet. “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.'” (Matthew 12.38-39).
Our purpose is to investigate this question especially in light of the text which spawned this entire series, 2 Thessalonians 2.9-12. Paul wrote, “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
I am from Alabama. I know that my home state is on the loser's end of many jokes; I will tell one to illustrate a point. The story goes that a somewhat inept counterfeiter from Alabama crossed the state line into Tennessee and tried to cash an eighteen dollar bill ($18.00). The older and wiser Volunteer quipped back, “How would you like that, sonny; two nine's or three six's?” The humor in the joke lies in the fact that anyone knows there is no such thing as an eighteen, or nine, or six dollar bill. A man would have to be extremely inept to counterfeit something that does not exist! Consider this in light of Paul's statement that Satan's missionaries would use “signs and lying wonders” to deceive. Now wouldn't Satan be a bit dumb to attempt to counterfeit something that had never existed? But we know he isn't without intelligence. In fact, he is described as quite the opposite. He is sly, cunning, illusive, tricky, and extremely dangerous. Satan would not counterfeit that which had never existed!
Satan knows that signs and miracles had been from of old the means by which God identified His prophets. He gave Moses and Aaron the ability to perform signs as a guarantee of the source of their words. Likewise, Moses declared that fulfilled prophecies were a means of knowing that God sanctioned a man and his words. Elijah was anything but timid in challenging Baal's false prophets to a showdown of power. “'Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that You are the LORD God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again.' Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench. Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, 'The LORD, He is God! The LORD, He is God!'” (1 Kings 18.37-39). Notice that the express purpose of the miracle performed at Elijah's command was to convince people of the truthfulness of his message, a message that declared Jehovah to be true and all other gods to be false!
We will continue to look at the question posed at the outset of this lesson - “Did Jesus teach or does the Bible teach that it is wrong to request a sign from someone who professes to be a prophet?” The answer to this question will go a long way towards “delusion-proofing” those who seek the truth. God's power is greater than that of any other person, nation, or collection of nations; it would seem strange indeed if He chose to limit Himself in this means!
1. Would Satan use counterfeit signs to deceive if there were never true signs to mimic?
2. Why did God give Moses and Aaron the power to change their rods to serpents?
3. For what declared purpose did Elijah call upon God to perform a miracle?
4. What was the result of the miracle that God performed?
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