How to Interpret Signs from God – John Boruff

Part of the language of God is what we may call “signs” or “signs from God.” So often in Charismatic Christian circles, we tend to think that the voice of God is the primary way that God speaks outside of the Bible. That there is a still, small voice spoken from the Holy Spirit into the mind (1 Kings 19:12); and that is true, but it is not the only way that God uses to communicate with man.

Signs From God – these are another way; and I would wage, that God attempts to communicate with people through signs more often than we realize, but we are either 1. Not paying attention, or 2. Don’t understand the language of signs, or how to interpret them through Biblical symbolism. If you know a bit of Biblical symbolism, say from reading the parables of Jesus, or taking a look at Ira Milligan’s Understanding the Dreams You Dream, you can start to decipher or interpret the language of signs.

Interpreting Biblical symbolism is essential to deciphering dreams, visions, and all kinds of revelations from the Holy Spirit; it is also necessary for accurate Bible interpretation. As exciting as it is to experience a dream, vision, voice, or sign from God–if the message is parabolic or symbolic, it will do little more than communicate that God is with you and God is real. But there are many times when God is trying to communicate through an angel or the work of the Spirit, something much more specific, and directive, than just “God is real.” Hence, it is important not only to recognize a sign when you see one, but to know how understand it, and interpret it accurately. This can affect your relationship with God in a profound way; it can affect the way you pray, and can alter the course of your life decisions.

What Are Signs From God?

Signs from God are divine coincidences or highly improbable “chance” happenings which confirm, settle, or affirm a subject that you feel God has been speaking to you about subjectively in your heart. It may come as a confirmation of something you have been praying for guidance about; it may be confirmation of something you feel led in your conscience concerning something God wants you to do. In any case, it is an outward, objective, observable, physical, visible event that you experience–whether great, subtle, or small–that confirms a very specific thought that you have been thinking about in light of prayer, in your relationship with God. In short, a sign from God is an answer to prayer: a confirmation of God’s will about some specific subject.

Biblical Example 1: Rebekah and the Well

Genesis 24:1-27: “Abraham was now very old, and the Lord had blessed him in every way. He said to the senior servant in his household, the one in charge of all that he had, “Put your hand under my thigh. I want you to swear by the Lord, the God of Heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living, but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac.” The servant asked him, “What if the woman is unwilling to come back with me to this land? Shall I then take your son back to the country you came from?” “Make sure that you do not take my son back there,” Abraham said. “The Lord, the God of Heaven, who brought me out of my father’s household and my native land and who spoke to me and promised me on oath, saying, ‘To your offspring I will give this land’—he will send His angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there. If the woman is unwilling to come back with you, then you will be released from this oath of mine. Only do not take my son back there.” So the servant put his hand under the thigh of his master Abraham and swore an oath to him concerning this matter. 10 Then the servant left, taking with him ten of his master’s camels loaded with all kinds of good things from his master. He set out for Aram Naharaim and made his way to the town of Nahor. 11 He had the camels kneel down near the well outside the town; it was toward evening, the time the women go out to draw water. 12 Then he prayed, “Lord, God of my master Abraham, make me successful today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. 13 See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. 14 May it be that when I say to a young woman, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too’—let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master.” 15 Before he had finished praying, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel son of Milkah, who was the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor. 16 The woman was very beautiful, a virgin; no man had ever slept with her. She went down to the spring, filled her jar and came up again. 17 The servant hurried to meet her and said, “Please give me a little water from your jar.” 18 “Drink, my lord,” she said, and quickly lowered the jar to her hands and gave him a drink. 19 After she had given him a drink, she said, “I’ll draw water for your camels too, until they have had enough to drink.” 20 So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough, ran back to the well to draw more water, and drew enough for all his camels. 21 Without saying a word, the man watched her closely to learn whether or not the Lord had made his journey successful. 22 When the camels had finished drinking, the man took out a gold nose ring weighing a beka and two gold bracelets weighing ten shekels. 23 Then he asked, “Whose daughter are you? Please tell me, is there room in your father’s house for us to spend the night?” 24 She answered him, “I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son that Milkah bore to Nahor.” 25 And she added, “We have plenty of straw and fodder, as well as room for you to spend the night.” 26 Then the man bowed down and worshiped the Lord, 27 saying, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not abandoned his kindness and faithfulness to my master. As for me, the Lord has led me on the journey to the house of my master’s relatives.”

Biblical Example 2: Gideon and the Sheepskin

Judges 6:36-40: “36 Then Gideon said to God (prayed), “You said that You would help me save the Israelites. Give me proof. 37 I will put a sheepskin on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the sheepskin, while all the ground is dry, I will know that you will use me to save Israel, as you said.” 38 And that is exactly what happened. Gideon got up early the next morning and squeezed the sheepskin. He was able to drain a bowl full of water from it. 39 Then Gideon said to God, “Don’t be angry with me. Let me ask just one more thing. Let me test You one more time with the sheepskin. This time let the sheepskin be dry, while the ground around it gets wet with dew.” 40 That night God did that very thing. Just the sheepskin was dry, but the ground around it was wet with dew.”

Biblical Example 3: Saul and the ProphetsShows That Sometimes Signs Can Be Foretold by Prophets or Revelations – In This Case, by Samuel

1 Samuel 10:1-11: “Then Samuel took a flask of olive oil and poured it on Saul’s head and kissed him, saying, “Has not the Lord anointed you ruler over his inheritance? When you leave me today, you will meet two men near Rachel’s tomb, at Zelzah on the border of Benjamin. They will say to you, ‘The donkeys you set out to look for have been found. And now your father has stopped thinking about them and is worried about you. He is asking, “What shall I do about my son?”’ “Then you will go on from there until you reach the great tree of Tabor. Three men going up to worship God at Bethel will meet you there. One will be carrying three young goats, another three loaves of bread, and another a skin of wine. They will greet you and offer you two loaves of bread, which you will accept from them. “After that you will go to Gibeah of God, where there is a Philistine outpost. As you approach the town, you will meet a procession of prophets coming down from the high place with lyres, timbrels, pipes and harps being played before them (NOTE: strong proof against ‘acappella only’ worship in Church of Christ, etc), and they will be prophesying. The Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you. “Go down ahead of me to Gilgal. I will surely come down to you to sacrifice burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, but you must wait seven days until I come to you and tell you what you are to do.”As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul’s heart, and all these signs were fulfilled that day. 10 When he and his servant arrived at Gibeah, a procession of prophets met him; the Spirit of God came powerfully upon him, and he joined in their prophesying. 11 When all those who had formerly known him saw him prophesying with the prophets, they asked each other, “What is this that has happened to the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?”

Biblical Example 4: The Disciples and the Last SupperForetold by Jesus

Mark 14:12-17: “12 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?” 13 So He sent two of His disciples, telling them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. 14 Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 15 He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.” 16 The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover. 17 When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. 18 While they were reclining at the table eating…”

Modern Day Examples of Signs from God

I don’t need to share my experiences. They are too private; but I am careful to journal the ones I think are pivotal or important to me. And you–what about you? Be observant. Today, or tomorrow God may venture to send some signs your way–to confirm His will, to guide, to teach, to instruct, through virtually anything. Just know: it will always agree with the doctrines and Spirit of the Bible (Isaiah 8:19-20; 1 John 4).

Hebrews 13:8: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

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About John Boruff

John Boruff is the founder of WesleyGospel.com, a husband, father, and sometimes an open air preacher. He graduated from UNC Pembroke in 2008 with a B.A. in Philosophy and Religion and views himself as a Baptistic Pentecostal. As a Christian, he feels connected with all members of the body of Christ, but can identify the most with churches like the Assemblies of God and the Vineyard. In 2015, he released "The Gospel of Jesus Christ," which is meant to be a Bible study for open air preaching. For his other writings, search articles on this site or see the E-Books section.
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