Signs in Scripture

In Scripture Yahweh uses many signs to reveal Himself, to direct people where they should go, to be a testimony in a person’s life, and to establish covenants.  Signs set God’s people apart from all of the other nations.     The word ‘holy’ in Hebrew  is kadosh and means “to be set apart”.  Simply put, signs set people, covenants, and events apart as “Holy to Yahweh” because they are established by Yahweh.  Our understanding and  response to the sign establishes our relationship Yahweh and His relationship with us.

One of the first signs that immediately comes to mind is Luke 2:12 “This will be a SIGN to you; You shall find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” This sign was given to the shepherds who were watching their flocks.  God  directed them to the place where the Messiah had been born – Bethlehem near Jerusalem.    There probably weren’t many babies born in a stable and lying in a manger on that particular night, but the sign  was important to the fulfillment of prophecy.  These were special shepherds who would understand the significance of this baby’s birth because they took care of the sacrificial sheep used in the Temple.    The shepherds were led to the physical manifestation of a great and powerful spiritual truth, Immanuel – God had become flesh.  Their sheep-herding days were nearing an end.

Another sign similar to the one in Luke is in Isaiah 7:14 “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a SIGN: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel meaning ‘God with us’.” This prophetic sign directed the vision of the Israelite nation to the coming of the Messiah which was fulfilled in Luke 2:12 and witnessed by the shepherds.   This was the sign in which they placed their hope and their faith.   This is still the sign in which we place our hope and faith.

Several more familiar signs given in Scripture are found in Genesis.  In Genesis 1:14 “And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as SIGNS to mark seasons and days and years.’ “ The signs God created were the sun, moon and stars.   These heavenly bodies marked the seasons both in the physical realm of spring, summer, winter, and fall as well as the spiritual realm of the Appointed Times or Feasts.   To this day, these signs still mark physical and spiritual seasons using the new moon and its celebration.

In Genesis 9:12 God gave Noah a sign of a covenant he was making with mankind.   “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.  Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember  my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind.  Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy life.” To this day, rainbows appear in the clouds after a storm.  It is extremely amazing that we have a sign that comes from the days of Noah.  When we see this beautiful sign, we have memorial of a covenant that Yahweh made with us forever.

In Genesis 17:11, 10-12 God gives Abraham a sign of the covenant He regarding the nations that would come from his loins.  The sign, too, is also a covenant.   “I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless.  I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.  This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep:  Every male among you shall be circumcised.  You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the SIGN of the covenant between me and you.  For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner – those who are not your offspring.”

Abraham was not Jewish.   He was Hebrew.  All of his offspring and even those servants who were bought were to keep the covenant.   Interestingly, this covenant was established by God with Abraham before Isaac was born, but after Ishmael.  This is because Isaac was the child of faith promised to Abraham.

Circumcision of Abraham’s flesh was an outward sign of the faith that was in his heart.   Romans 4:11 describes circumcision as a sign of Abraham’s faith, a seal of righteousness because of his obedience.   “And he received the SIGN of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised.   So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised (the gentiles), in order that righteousness might be credited to them.   And he is also the father of the circumcised (the Jews)  who not only are circumcised (in the flesh), but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.” Circumcision was not way of faith, but a sign of faith.  It must be accompanied by walking in the footsteps of Abraham’s faith which was obedience to God’s commands.

We are Abraham’s seed if we live by faith in in the promise of the God of Abraham – the Messiah.  “If you belong to Messiah, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29).   According to the covenant given above, all of Abraham’s offspring were to be circumcised even if they were bought and not flesh and blood offspring.    We are bought with the price of Messiah’s blood.  Yeshua was an offspring of Abraham.  Yeshua was circumcised on the eighth day of his life.   We therefore, keep the covenant through circumcised hearts (Romans 2:26,27) which results in walking in the footsteps of faith.

The Passover may have one of the most important signs of all time.  Yahweh was going to deliver His people from Egypt.  The last plague He was sending on the Egyptians was the death of their firstborn – men and livestock alike.  Taking a lamb and placing it’s blood on their doorposts and lintel would be a sign for the people that the angel of death would pass over that particular home.  Without the sign, there would be death in the family.  Exodus 12:13 “The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.”


Ezekiel 20:12-20 speaks of a special sign that sets God’s people apart from all others in the world.  Observing this sign shows the world the relationship that Yahweh has with His people.   Observing the Sabbath becomes a sign showing us that Yahweh is our God.   “I gave them my Sabbaths as a SIGN between us, so that they would know that I, Yahweh, made them holy.  Keep my Sabbaths holy, that they may be a SIGN between us.  Then you will know that I am Yahweh your God.”

The signs continue throughout the Scriptures and Yeshua speaks of some specific signs.  Signs are  given as a testimony to the power of the Spirit in a believer’s life.  Healing, driving out demons, speaking in new languages, drinking deadly poison, and picking up snakes, are some of these signs.   “And these SIGNS will accompany those who believe.  In my Name (Yeshua) they will drive out demons, they will speak in new languages; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well” (Mark 16:17,18).

Paul too speaks about signs in some of his letters to the churches. “Tongues are a sign, not for believers, but for unbelievers …” (1 Corinthians 14:22). Tongues are for unbelievers because they are used to spread the gospel to the nations.  This was the purpose of tongues in Acts chapter 2. The Jewish people who were in Jerusalem from all the nations for the Feast of Shavuot (Pentecost) needed to hear the gospel in their own language and take it back to their home nation.

Another sign in Scripture is the woman’s head covering.  Many do not believe the covering is for today, but the reason for the sign is completely spiritual.  It is worn because of the angels as a sign for authority and power when a woman prays or prophesies.  “For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a SIGN of power/authority on her head” to pray and prophesy (1 Corinthians 11:10) .  (For more information on the head covering read, “The Covering of Authority”).

One last sign.  “Here am I, and the children Yahweh has given me. We are signs and symbols in Israel from the LORD  Almighty, who dwells on Mount Zion” (Isaiah 8:18).  This is a verse used on a website by friends of ours who live in Israel.  They chose this verse because of its significance to these end days when the Jewish people are being regathered and taken back to the land of Israel.  This verse was prophetic and spoken by Isaiah thousands of years ago – a sign of a time.    Today, we see this sign and know that Yeshua’s return is very near and Yahweh Almighty still dwells on Mount Zion.

Noah didn’t need a sign from God about the future.  He had lived through a flood and the destruction of the world as he knew it  in an Ark.  Abraham didn’t need a sign of God’s promises.  He had already “counted the stars in the heavens” and believed by faith his offspring would be as great.    Israel didn’t need a sign to show they were God’s chosen people.  Yahweh had led them out of Egypt with a mighty hand through the Red Sea.

The slaves in Egypt needed a sign for the saving of their lives.   The nation of Israel needed a sign to recognize the Messiah when he would come.  The shepherds needed a sign so they could meet the Messiah of Israel.  Angels need a sign so they recognize the woman’s authority in prayer and prophesying.  Unbelievers need a sign so they can hear the gospel.

Signs are important because they connect us with our Biblical heritage.  The rainbow becomes our tie with Noah and the covenant of God remembering not to flood the earth.  Circumcision becomes our tie with Abraham and the promise of righteousness through faith in Messiah.  Sabbath is the sign that ties us to Yahweh as His treasured possession.   Head coverings show us there is a spiritual realm.  The sign of the virgin and the baby wrapped in cloths always brings us to the miracle of the incarnation – Yeshua.  We need signs to see and know the promises, the covenants and the callings to Yahweh’s people Israel still stand.

© November 2002 Tent Stake Ministries

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