By Betty Dunn, Crosswalk.com
Hurricane season is upon us again. Diseases continue to ravage our global health. Wildfires spread out west, and locusts swarmed in New England this past summer. Are these signs and wonders of the end times prophesied in Revelation? Are they another occurrence of the plagues God sent the Pharaoh of Egypt? Signs and wonders were regular events in Biblical times. Scripture is filled with passages describing signs and wonders for the future.
Where Does the Bible Use the Phrase “Signs and Wonders”?
In the Old Testament book of Exodus, Moses performed miracles designed by God to soften the Pharoah’s heart. The onset of plagues convinced the Pharaoh to fear the Israelites’ God and let His people go from Egypt. God schooled Moses in these plagues, signs and wonders of His power. The wonder of Moses’ staff transforming into a snake was followed by the Nile River turning to blood. Gnats, flies, and locusts swarmed through Egypt, getting into people’s homes. With each successive plague, Pharaoh tightened his cruel grip on the Israelites enslaved in Egypt, but after the final plague, Pharaoh released the Israelites from bondage (Exodus 7:8-11).
Old Testament prophets recalled the signs and wonders that led to the Exodus from Egypt and predicted further wonders in the Hebrews’ journey. As Jeremiah declared to the Jewish captives in Babylon, they had a God, “Which hast set signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, even unto this day, both in Israel and among all nations” (Jeremiah 32:20).
As the NIV Study Bible observes, The prophet Daniel saw signs and wonders that included visions of “beasts,” which he interpreted to accurately predict future political schemes and kings’ military actions after the Babylonian captivity (Introduction to Daniel). And the prophet Joel predicted that in the last days, “It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions” (Joel 2:28-32).
Signs and wonders meant to build faith, encourage obedience, and showcase God’s love continue in the New Testament of the Bible. Leading the early church, Paul quoted the Old Testament prophet Joel when he wrote God would “pour out his spirit... show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke” (Acts 2:17-19). And in Acts 4:30, Paul wrote, “By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.” The NIV Study Bible observes that Paul’s vision predicts some of the vision of John’s Revelation, even though Paul wrote Acts in the mid-first century and John wrote Revelation in the latter part of the first century (Introductions to Acts and Revelation). Whatever the timeline, prophets and apostles were aware of the signs and miracles that displayed God’s and Jesus’ presence in the world.
Photo credit: Unsplash/Austin Chan
What Are the Signs and Wonders of Jesus?
Wonders such as a heavenly host of angels singing to shepherds and a new star leading wise men to Jesus’ birth site accompanied Jesus’ birth. However, an unwed virgin giving birth to the world’s Savior is the greatest miracle in the Bible. Jesus came in human form as God’s son to heal our spiritual, physical, and emotional wounds. That is the greatest wonder in the Bible and the greatest sign of God’s love.
Jesus’ ministry on earth, as we read in the Gospels, was followed by large crowds hoping to witness miracles or seek a miracle for themselves. Jesus made the lame walk, the blind see, and those possessed of evil spirits clean. Everyone in the crowd did not welcome his miracles, however. The Pharisees were dismayed by Jesus’ seemingly random miracles and his healing of the (physically and spiritually) sick on the Sabbath. A miraculous event can unify people, or it can divide them. It basically breaks down into the believers and the non-believers.
Jesus did warn His disciples that they must evaluate the miracles of false prophets: “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24). Remember that the Pharaoh’s magicians were able to perform the first three wonders Moses performed in Exodus.
On a more positive note, Jesus also told his disciples, “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:11-12).
He was empowering his followers to heal themselves and others, find food and shelter in times of scarcity and find the grace to love their neighbors, no matter who or how different they are from you—to do as Jesus did in the world.
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What Signs and Wonders Are in the book of Revelation?
In contrast to the kindly miracles of Jesus’ ministry, the signs and wonders described in the Revelation of John are a regular house of horrors. Ravenous beasts rise from the sea and land. An “abyss” eventually holds Satan. The sea turns to blood. Fire, smoke, and sulfur kill people. There are sharply different treatments for persecuted Christians and faithful martyrs of God. It does not look good for those that God deems sinners.
Revelations’ signs and wonders in nature and civilization are understood to usher in an apocalypse—a time when God brings one era to a close, and another era begins. Christians need not fear an apocalypse, however, because after the end of this age will come a time when all creation is restored, and faithful followers of Christ welcome God’s endless reign. John’s Revelation carries a message of God’s grace and love. Jesus said, “At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 22:27-28).
What Signs and Wonders Give Us Hope?
From the first millennium until now, there have been over 200 recorded predictions of the end of the world. The greatest number of predictions occurred during the twentieth century. Some people thought World War II was leading to the world’s end. More recently, people feared the new millennium in 2000 would end time as we know it. We have no idea when this era will end. In Matthew 24:36, Jesus says, “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Furthermore, Jesus said we will hear about wars and rumors of wars but not to be alarmed, for the end is still to come (Matthew 24:6-8).
Amazing visions and wondrous occurrences of a more personal nature reveal God’s presence in your life. God reaches out to us in signs and wonders that get our attention and cause us to praise and obey Him. A sign of God’s mercy may come to you through another person. The right person is there to assist you at a desperate time, or a medical staff person in a hospital says words that give you hope. Or a personal wonder can come in the form of a dream or persistent waking thought giving you a new direction.
These signs and wonders are blessings of a Christian life. Occurrences that seem too good to be true make us realize that amid life’s chaos, a God watches out for us, leading us with awesome signs of his love.
Photo credit: Unsplash/Brendan Church
Betty Dunn hopes her articles in Crosswalk.com help you hold hands with God, a theme in her self-published memoir Medusa. A former high school English teacher and editor, she works on writing projects from her home in West Michigan, where she enjoys woods, water, pets, and family. Check out her blog at Betty by Elizabeth Dunning and her website, www.elizabethdunning-wix.com.
This article is part of our larger End Times Resource Library. Learn more about the rapture, the anti-christ, bible prophecy and the tribulation with articles that explain Biblical truths. You do not need to fear or worry about the future!