And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire
“Give me a sign!” How many have asked God for such a thing when faced with a decision? Or, in some instances, we want confirmation that some good turn of events is “from God.”
So, we cast out the fleece like Gideon and wait to see what God will reveal. We long to look into the Urim and Thumim to see if it glows for yes or darkens for no. We might comb the scriptures for some verse that will say, “Yes, Bryn, you are going to win the lottery even though you never bought a ticket.”
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that.
Jesus addressed people who craved signs when he said “no sign shall be given.” Mark 8:12, Luke 11:29
I suppose the irony is that Jesus performed many signs. In fact, those same people (the Pharisees) wanted to kill him because he “worked” on the Sabbath and raised Lazarus from the dead.
Frankly, I find it interesting that the religious leaders who claimed superiority in knowing God’s word (the Law and the Prophets, Old Testament to us) were so pig-headed as to not recognize the Christ, oppose Him, and then demand he show them a sign while they are attempting to kill him for …. doing signs and wonders.
This is an aside: Humans haven’t changed any. Pastors and seminarians are still the ones binding up people with heavy burdens they will not carry, demanding honor because they have Masters of Divinity-what a joke-and rejecting any prophet who comes in their midst rejecting all the signs of the fruit of the Spirit (which is the only sign that matters – i.e. the sign of Jonah, that the son of man was buried for 3 days and rose again and that the truly redeemed has been swallowed up by God’s redemption and reborn to His purpose).
Back to the issue of guidance! The ol’ catch-22: If you crave a sign, none will be given. Okay, none will be given to people who want to know the future, or want signs for personal gain, etc.
But there is this thing that provides guidance to us, if we’re humble and meek. It’s called the Bible.
True guidance will come only when we look past the pat answers and obvious lessons that those growing up in Christianity already know.
As an example, we might read about how Israel had to get rid of the idols from their homes and devote themselves to their true God. Good, so we need to make sure we don’t have any idols in our house.
No idols in here, check!
Some go further, noting that your car might be your idol. Ooo, yeah, I have a Dodge Challenger that I keep polished up (not really). Or, it might be Sunday football! That’s my idol! Or, a particular TV show, or some form of music, or hobby… those are idols! Let’s get rid of them!!
Well, that’s easy to do. That’s simple to relate how God convicted you of watching ESPN too much and you just gave it up for Him!
That’s a good step, but it’s not addressing the real issue. It’s the milk of God’s word, the simple stuff like repentance from sinful things.
Where’s the meat?
The meat is when you look beyond the fact that your life centers around sports, cars, music, TV, movies … and you realize that those are just symptoms of what’s really wrong.
Question: Did the peopel of Israel, when they got rid of all their house idols, really turn to God?
Answer: No! They ended up having idols back in their houses again. They re-built the “high places” and the other worship things.
Basically, they stopped watchign ESPN, then ended up getting hooked on some other thing that wasn’t serving God. They might have started worshipping a Christian band, instead. Or maybe a TV pastor. Maybe they traded music for Christian music. But they’re still not devoted to God in the way that God’s holy jealousy would demand.
God’s guidance will not come in signs and wonders to those who have not left all of themselves on the alter.
The secret of guidance is to wait on the Lord, not in some cross-shaped cloud in the sky, not some picture of someone in your mind, or impressed on your heart during your prayer time … but rather when He reveals that you’re filled with rivalry, jealousy and envy.
You haven’t let the Holy Spirit into all the rooms of your life. There are some you keep locked up. If you want the Lord’s guidance, you need hand the key over to Christ and trust fully in Him.
We admit the idols … but we don’t want to touch the sinful attitudes that bely a deeper issue of our hearts.
The Pharisees, or shall we say religious “leaders” were arrogant, rivalrous, bitter and envious. They incited quarrels and argued over geneologies and rites and rituals … Boy, that sounds awfully familiar.
Guidance isn’t going to be in some “impression,” “vision,” or “voice” from God that sends us to some unknown part of town to give a poor person money. Guidance is not something that will allow us to go tell a throng of eager listeners about how God has given us an amazing power to see other people’s sin.
God’s direction comes to poor shepherds in the back-woods and sends them looking like a crazed wild-man into the royal banquet halls to declare a famine (Elijah). God’s guidance isn’t provided when we rise up in our own power and slay an Egyptian only to bury them in the sand, but comes after 40 years of herding sheep in the Arabian desert (Moses). God finds us when we are tired and spent, unable to catch fish all night, then calls to us from the shore, then filling our nets by His power.
We live in a wicked and adulterous time when so-called Christians are actually pagan mystics masquerading as leaders. They will be the ones who will come before the Judgment bar of God and claim “Lord, Lord!” and regale Him with all their work and wonders that they did, ostensibly in His name … but He will reply, “Depart from me, you workers of lawlessness!”