—Jude 5 (NASB)
Let’s play pretend. You’re an Israelite, born a slave of a people that have been slaves for 430 years. (In today’s terms, your family has been in slavery since the year 1575. That’s a long time.) A man comes in the name of God and peforms miracles and signs and wonders completely unheard of. You see each of these signs. You personally live through each of these wonders. And when the government that has enslaved you and your family for over 4 centuries publicly acknowledges the source of these signs as the One True God, you escape that government’s final desperate grasp by walking across the dry ground of a sea bed with the waters held back on either side. You see all this. You live all this. And yet, you don’t believe in God.
Well, perhaps it’s more accurate to state that they “believed” God did these things or even acknowledged, like Pharaoh, that God performed them, but they didn’t allow anything they witnessed to change their heart, to change their behavior. They lived in exactly the same manner as before. They didn’t believe they were being called or saved to something greater; they were completely untransformed by what they witnessed. It really had no effect on them.
This is the problem with signs—they’re not enough. People that are so obsessed and desirous of seeing a sign are actually wanting a substitute for changing their ways. They think that just by witnessing something great, they aren’t subsequently required to act on the sign. They think the sign is a kind of baptism that can replace real baptism of the heart. (This is why people flock to strange things like the face of Jesus in a tortilla.) They think they’re exempt from obedience.
Jesus performed many signs and those whose hearts were not transformed just wanted more signs. They did not really believe. There’s a valuable lesson here for those of us living in the shadow of the Last Days—do we study Scripture to learn about the signs or to better prepare our heart? The difference will amount to belief versus unbelief—life versus death.†††