The Youth’s Instructor


March 21, 1901

“Show Us a Sign From Heaven”


[“]The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would show them a sign from heaven. He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather today: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?” YI March 21, 1901, par. 1

The sign they asked was a miracle,—some wonderful token in the heavens to gratify their curiosity. Signs were frequently given by the prophets; and if he were the Messiah, they argued, he would give some evidence to prove it. Those miracles which included only the relief of human necessities, the healing of the woes of mankind, had no particular interest for them; for they looked upon suffering and distress with hard-hearted, unsympathetic indifference. In relieving the oppressed and suffering, Christ cast a reproach upon them, not only for their careless indifference toward the poor, but because they were themselves the direct cause of much of the misery that existed. YI March 21, 1901, par. 2

Well had the prophet declared of this people: “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.... Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil-doers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.... Every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them.” “Judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity can not enter. Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey.” YI March 21, 1901, par. 3

Christ tried to present before the Pharisees their inconsistency. By certain indications in the heavens they professed themselves wise to foretell the weather. “When it is evening,” he said, “ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather today: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?” If these signs in the heavens are sufficient evidence on which to base your faith, why do you not believe the evidence given of my mission? The works that I do, they testify of me. YI March 21, 1901, par. 4

The relation of the Jewish nation to God has often been presented as a marriage relation,—God the husband, the nation the wife. Their separation from God by wicked works is called adultery. The Jews had been unfaithful to the covenant that God had made with them. Not only spiritually but literally they were transgressors of the law of God. Christ would work no miracle to satisfy the curiosity of the people. “A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign,” he said, “and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas.” YI March 21, 1901, par. 5

It was not Christ's mission to exalt himself as an astrologer. His work was with sinful human beings, whom he came to save from hopeless woe and misery. The angel that foretold his birth declared, “Thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.” And more than six hundred years before, he himself had declared: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” This was his mission. YI March 21, 1901, par. 6

Even the wicked Herod could perceive the greatness of the works of Christ; but the scribes and Pharisees could not be convinced. The works which they could not explain away they charged to the agency of the devil. The Holy Spirit was sent down to bless this people, but they barred the door of their hearts against his influence. Christ well knew that however strong and uncontrovertible the evidence he might give them, they would not receive it. Therefore he kept steadily at the work which had been planned in the councils of heaven, healing the sick and relieving the oppressed. He knew that in this work he has giving ample proof of his mission to those who were honest in heart. His heart was grieved by their obstinacy and determined resistance of light and truth. “If I had not done among them the works which none other man did,” he said, “they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.” YI March 21, 1901, par. 7

Christ was God manifest in the flesh; in him dwelt “all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” All this glory he longed to pour upon the world, but men refused to receive it. They were given evidence upon evidence; but they bound themselves up in their stubborn unbelief and prejudice. Therefore they were without excuse. YI March 21, 1901, par. 8

We are to learn a lesson from the sin of this people. Today there are many who have taken their position on the side of unbelief, as if it were a virtue, the sign of a great mind, to doubt. Because the works of God can not be explained by finite minds, Satan brings his sophistry to bear upon them, and entangles them in the meshes of unbelief. If these doubting ones would come into close connection with God, he would make his purposes clear to their understanding. YI March 21, 1901, par. 9

The position of those who resist light is thus set forth by the apostle Paul: “If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the eyes of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” The operation of the Spirit is foolishness to the unrenewed heart; but to those who are humble, teachable, honest, childlike, and who desire to know the will of the Father, his word is revealed as the power of God unto salvation. YI March 21, 1901, par. 10

Mrs. E. G. White