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Subtle Signs from God

God leaves signs everywhere, but you can't see them unless you're willing to look.

The Lord works in mysterious ways.

When you’re on the road, there are three kinds of signs to help you reach your destination.

The most obvious are the road signs. Albuquerque 1500 miles, next exit. One way. Deer crossing. Stop….it doesn’t get much simpler than that. If you know where your destination is in relation to your current location, you can find your way there with nothing but road signs if you’re paying attention.

In the modern world, there are also GPS systems that give you audible and animated signs. In 800 feet, turn right. In two miles, stay in the third to the left lane to take the second exit on the right to Highway 23 South, Robinson Lane, Rural Route 11417, Exit 235C. Explicit turn-by-turn directions and usually very helpful.

There is a third kind of traffic sign, however, that is not so explicit and often goes entirely unnoticed.

Driving home from work late at night, have you ever seen a mass of red brake lights appear in the distance and multiply toward you like an ocean wave? You know exactly what’s about to happen: within the next minute, maybe two, you’re going to be stuck in a traffic jam. Hopefully, it won’t last long, but if you know the area, you might look for an exit and an alternate route. If you’re familiar with the downtown exits of some freeways, you know to move left when approaching an on-ramp in heavy traffic and move right when approaching an off-ramp. Poor lighting on a poorly surfaced road in the middle of a big city might signal another kind of trouble to avoid.

You can even follow the sun in the day and the stars at night. People have been navigating by the skies for thousands of years.

Signs are everywhere if you have eyes to see them.

And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed.
Matthew 16:1-4

The first century Jewish leaders had a millennium’s worth of writings about the Messiah. Every page of the Tanakh (the Old Testament) testifies to his identity and mission, and these men claimed to have dedicated their lives to studying it. Yet, what most of them really studied and kept was their own position, their credentials and the power they held over their brothers.

When Yeshua (Jesus) came healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, cleansing lepers, and releasing spiritual captives, they demanded something flashier. When he showed people how to keep God’s commandments and explained the prophets and Psalms, they tried to trap him with trick questions.

The Scribes, Pharisees, and Priests couldn’t read the obvious signs for one simple reason: They didn’t want to.

Yeshua then turned to his disciples and warned them about the leavening of the Pharisees. When they thought he was talking about actual leavened bread, no wonder he despaired!

But Jesus, aware of this, said, “O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread?  9  Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered?  10  Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered?  11  How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
Matthew 16:8-11 

If even his own disciples couldn’t follow the obvious signs that Yeshua had erected along the road for them, how could the rest of Israel do it?

Every word and act of Yeshua that is recorded in Scripture is a multi-layered sign. When he spoke of bread, he never meant only the bread that a person chews and swallows with his mouth. When he fed the five thousand and the four thousand families, he wasn’t just feeding people. It’s a great thing to do good, but Yeshua elevated every good deed to the level of prophecy. The feeding of the five thousand was a prophecy of the repentance, regathering, and ultimate restoration of the twelve tribes of Israel. The feeding of the four thousand was a prophecy of Yeshua’s death and resurrection, the Great Commission, the martyrs among Yeshua’s Apostles, and the promise of eternal life for all who repent from sin and swear allegiance to him.

Yeshua is the bread of life, broken and distributed to the people of the world so that all who would put their faith in him will be saved from eternal destruction and given eternal life after the final judgment. Throughout his ministry, he had left “bread crumbs” that anyone with eyes to see could follow.

We have a more complete record today of Yeshua’s life and ministry than almost anyone living in Judea in 30 AD could have had. We have libraries full of commentary and biographies of martyrs and records of healings and miracles spanning two thousand years. We have hundreds of thousands–if not millions–of people who dedicate their entire lives to studying the astonishing miracles of life and Creation…and so many still can’t see the blazing LED signs that God has installed at every intersection.

The problem isn’t their rational minds, but their hearts. The eyes and ears that can perceive God’s signs are spiritual, and those signs will only be perceived by a spirit willing to perceive them. Reason and knowledge can have a positive impact, but ultimately, the real key to opening eyes to God’s signs is softening hearts. In my experience, hearts are softened by only three means: pain, kindness, and divine intervention.

That doesn’t mean we should set out to inflict pain on anyone. It also doesn’t mean that we should be nice to people no matter what they do. The loving kindness (chesed) exemplified by Yeshua doesn’t enable sin, but it exposes it, gently when possible, fiercely when necessary. If you want to know how to open people’s eyes to God’s signs, then follow the signs yourself. Live as Yeshua lived. Love as Yeshua loved. Speak the truth with chesed–and also with caution–and live a pure life. Pray for the blind and deaf, and let God do the rest.

Parsha Va’eira – Apostolic Readings, Links, and Videos

New Testament passages to study with Torah portion Va'eira (Exodus 6-9), plus commentary and videos.

Readings

  • Exodus 6:2-7:18
    • Matthew 10:16-20
    • Luke 1:67-80
    • Acts 8:4-25
    • Romans 2:26-29
  • Exodus 7:19-8:19 (English) / 8:15 (Hebrew)
    • Matthew 10:5-15
    • John 2:1-13
    • Revelation 8:8-9
    • Revelation 16:3-7
    • Revelation 16:12-16
  • Exodus 8:20-9:35 (English) / 8:16-9:35 (Hebrew)
    • Romans 9:17-24
    • 1 Timothy 2:1-4
    • Revelation 8:7
    • Revelation 16:2
    • Revelation 16:8-9
    • Revelation 16:17-21

Additional Reading

Videos Related to Parsha Va’eira

  • The Wisdom and Kindness of Serpents (Matthew 10:16-20) – What does it mean to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves? Well, one thing it definitely doesn’t mean it’s to be venomous and offensive. If you are living a life in the footsteps of Messiah Yeshua, the world will hate you. But the people of the world aren’t necessarily your enemies. They are under the sway of your enemy; their minds are held captive by someone who hates them as much as he hates you.
  • Signs Pointing to God, Matthew 16:1-12 – Yeshua didn’t do miracles to entertain anyone. Everything he did was intended to teach us about God and his plan of redemption. The world is full of signs pointing to God if you’re willing to see them. Some people just refuse to open their eyes.

God Knows Why You Suffer

Why would a just God allow all the suffering in the world?

A girl is born in a strange land where her parents were exiled following a brutal war that left most of her extended family dead or enslaved. While still a teenager, she is taken away to become the trophy slave-wife of a wealthy foreigner. She soon finds herself in a position to change the course of an empire and to save millions of her people.

A great empire in another era suffers wave after wave of horrific natural disasters. A prophet tells the emperor that if he would only repent of a particularly grievous sin, his people would be spared. The emperor is a proud man and refuses to budge. Millions are impoverished, tens of thousands die by starvation or disease, and the government is in shambles. At any moment in the process the emperor could have repented or the people might have overthrown him and begged God for mercy, but pride is a powerful master.

A child is born blind and his parents die when he is still young. He lives for many years begging alms and often going hungry. One day the Son of God finds him and heals him before a throng of witnesses. He sees for the first time in his life and spends the remainder of his time on earth preaching the gospel, bringing joy and meaning to countless lives.

We often hear doubters ask “If God cares so much, why is there so much suffering in the world?” To the simple minded, it sounds like proof positive that God either doesn’t care or doesn’t exist, but the world is an extraordinarily complex system. There are at least as many reasons why a person might suffer as there are people. One person suffers because he made a bad mistake, another suffers because there is an important lesson he needs to learn, or a wrong he needs to right. Perhaps there is some benefit to come that will overshadow all his pain.

It is even true that we need struggle to grow and thrive. As individuals, nations, and even as a species, we must have a certain amount of pain to drive us to achieve anything worthwhile. Great ideas and great art, usually only come after great struggles. Can you imagine the shallow, narcissistic philosophies of a people who have no serious challenges to overcome? You don’t need to imagine it; you have only to turn on the television.

We cannot possibly fathom all of the connections between people and problems. The only thing we can be certain of is that only the Creator can possibly know the full truth and that the scales will always balance at the end.

God knows each and every one of us. He knows what we need to live and what we need in order to achieve the greatness He sees within us. Don’t hide from pain. Study God’s Word so that you can know love and justice when you see it. Put your trust in Him, knowing that His purposes are everything, while yours are nothing. Then face your challenges head on. Fight injustice, fight cruelty without fear, because when you do what’s right and trust God for the outcome, He will be with you.

Faith in God’s Call

Exodus 6:2-9:35
Ezekiel 28:25-29:21
Romans 9:13-26

Exodus 6:29-7:2  YHWH spoke to Moses, saying, I am YHWH. You speak to Pharaoh king of Egypt all that I say to you.  (30)  And Moses said before YHWH, Behold, I am of uncircumcised lips, and how shall Pharaoh listen to me?  (1)  And YHWH said to Moses, See, I have made you a god to Pharaoh. And Aaron your brother shall be your prophet.  (2)  You shall speak all that I command you. And Aaron your brother shall speak to Pharaoh, he will send the sons of Israel out of his land.

When God said, “I am YHWH,” he summed up half the book of Job in a single, short sentence. He said, “I am the God who is, was, and will be. I am the Creator, the Builder, the Founder, and the Destroyer. No one moves or breathes or dies without my knowledge. Nothing is beyond my authority and power.”

God called Moses, the inarticulate, murdering exile, to be the judge of Pharaoh, the most powerful man in his world. And Moses doubted. “But who am I to confront Pharaoh? I’m not a great orator. No one listens to me when I speak.”

Like so many of us, Moses didn’t believe it when God told him who he was. Every one of us have a divinely appointed role, and when we doubt, when we hold back, saying, “I could never do that!” we tell God that we don’t believe in him.

I’m not smart enough.

I have a terrible memory.

I’m not a people person.

I’m afraid.

I’m too shy.

I’m not a leader.

Many others are so much better then me.

It might hurt my business.

I don’t want to offend anyone.

I’m too strange already.

These have been my excuses. To every single one of them, God has the same response: “I am YHWH. Who are you to question me?”

Job 38:2-8  Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?  (3)  Now gird up your loins like a man; for I will ask of you, and you teach Me.  (4)  Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell if you have understanding!  (5)  Who has set its measurements, for you know? Or who has stretched the line on it?  (6)  On what are its bases sunk, or who cast its cornerstone,  (7)  when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?  (8)  Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it broke forth as it came from the womb?

Do not fear. Do not hesitate. Do not doubt.

God knows who you are!