A token, pledge, or proof, Ge 9:12-13; 17:11; Ex 3:12; Isa 8:18. Also a supernatural portent, Lu 21:11; and a miracle, regarded as a token of the divine agency, Ex 4:7-9; Mr 8:11. The "signs of heaven" were the movements and aspects of the heavenly bodies, from which heathen astrologers pretended to obtain revelations, Isa 44:25; Jer 10:2. See SHIP.
Any outward fact which serves as a pledge of a Divine word or a proof of a Divine deed is a sign, whether it be natural or supernatural in its character. The rainbow served as the sign of the Noahic, as the rite of circumcision of the Abrahamic, covenant (Ge 9:12; 17:11 'token,' Ro 4:11). That God was with, and worked for, the Israelites was shown in the plagues of Egypt (Ex 10:2). Gideon asks for and receives a sign that it is Jehovah who speaks with him (Jg 6:17), and Saul also receives signs to confirm the words of Samuel (1Sa 10:7). The prophetic word is thus proved from God (Isa 7:14; 38:7; Jer 44:29; Eze 14:8). The sign need not be supernatural (1Sa 2:34; Isa 8:18; 20:3); but the Jews in the time of Christ desired miracles as proofs of Divine power (Mt 12:38; 16:1; Joh 4:48; 1Co 1:22), a request which Jesus refused and condemned. The message of the Baptist, though not confirmed by any sign, was seen to be true (Joh 10:41). It is Jonah's preaching that is probably referred to when Jesus speaks of him as a sign to his generation (Mt 12:39). The 'babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger,' is the simple and humble sign to the shepherds of the birth of a Saviour, Christ the Lord (Lu 2:12); and He is welcomed by Simeon as 'a sign which is spoken against' (Lu 2:34). The Fourth Gospel frequently describes the miracles of Jesus as signs (Lu 3:2; 4:44), and attributes to them an evidential value which is not prominent in Jesus' own intention. This confirmation of the gospel was found in the Apostolic Church (Mr 16:20; Ac 4:16; 6:3; 8:6,13; 15:12; 2Co 12:12). The last things will be ushered in by extraordinary signs (Mt 24:30; Lu 21:25; 2Th 2:9
SIGN. This word is used in the sense of token and pledge; as, when the Lord gave to Noah the rainbow, as a sign of his covenant, Ge 9:12-13; and when he appointed to Abraham the use of circumcision, as the seal of the covenant he had made with him and his posterity, Ge 17:11. Sign is also put for a miracle: "Thou shalt do these signs and wonders in the midst of Egypt," Ex 4:7-9, &c. A sign or token is often put for the proof or evidence of a thing: For example, "This shall be a token or sign unto thee, that I have sent thee," Ex 3:12.
Shew me a sign, that thou talkest with me, Jg 6:17, that is a proof. "What shall be the sign," or evidence, "that the Lord will heal me?" 2Ki 20:8. This acceptation agrees with the first above mentioned; as also what is said in Ge 4:15, "And the Lord set a mark or sign upon Cain;" he gave him a pledge that his life should not be taken away. The signs of heaven, and the signs of the magicians, are the phenomena of the heavens, and the impostures of magicians, which they made use of for the purposes of deception: "The Lord frustrateth the tokens or signs of the liars, and maketh diviners mad," Isa 44:25. "Be not dismayed at the signs of heaven, for the Heathen are dismayed at them," Jer 10:2. To be a sign was farther to be a type, or prediction, of what should happen. Thus the Prophet Isa 8:18, "Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me, are for signs and for wonders in Israel." See also Eze 4:3.