Signposts engender different responses from different people. For some a ‘Wet Paint’ sign is merely an invitation to touch the paint. ‘Keep off Grass’ may bring out the rebel in us. However, because of possible consequences ‘Thin Ice’ or ‘Beware of Dog’ signs tend to be obeyed more readily. Failure to see a street sign can get us lost. Ignoring a speed sign can get us fined. From traffic-signs to street-signs, whether warning signs or information signs, signposts are designed to assist us.
From Paradise to
Patmos the Bible is full of
signposts. The opening chapter informs us that God put lights in the heavens
‘to serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years.’ Genesis 1:14 NIV. The
sun, moon, planets, and stars are signposts pointing to God’s existence. ‘“To whom then will you liken Me, or to whom shall I be equal?” says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes on high,
and see who has
created these things, Who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name,
by the greatness of
His might and the strength of His
power; not one is missing.’ Isaiah 40:25-26. ‘The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.’
Psalm 19:1. ‘Since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly
seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and
Godhead, so that they are without excuse.’ Romans 1:20. Who are without excuse?
All human beings including those who ignore the signposts that point to God.
Then there are those who confuse the signpost with the thing signified. For example, creation is a signpost to God, but some worship creation and the creature instead of the Creator. (Romans 1:25). Others confuse the signposts of Old Testament Circumcision (Romans 4:11) and New Testament Baptism (its replacement, Colossians 2:11-12) for that which they signify, viz., salvation. Perhaps this could be illustrated by Magritte’s ‘The Treachery of Images’ painting of a pipe which has the following caption underneath, ‘Ceci n’est pas une pipe’, (‘This is not a pipe’). The idea being that it is merely an image of a pipe and as such is not a real pipe! Circumcision was merely the image of the removal of sin through the shedding of blood by the Promised One who was to come from the loins of Abraham. Biblical Baptism is merely the image that the Promised One has removed our sins by shedding His own blood. Water baptism is a picture of Jesus pouring His Spirit and His blood upon the recipient as per the Promise of the Father. ‘[Jesus] commanded them not to depart from
but to wait for the Promise of the Father, ‘which,’ He said, ‘you have
heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized
with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’ Acts 1:4-5. Thus baptism pictures
the outpouring of the Spirit who comes to the redeemed to apply the benefits of
Christ’s cross, i.e., that which the blood He shed on the cross accomplished.
The poured out or sprinkled water on the recipient is merely an image of the ‘Promise
of the Father’ who cleanses us of our sins. (Acts 2:38-39). The rainbow in the
raincloud is a signpost to that same promise. (Genesis 9:11-17). The Flood was
the removal (i.e., the circumcision) and cleansing or washing (i.e., the baptism)
of redeemed flesh. Every human being (albeit distorted by the Fall) is a
signpost (i.e., an image) of God. (1 Peter 3:18-22; 2 Peter 3:6) Jerusalem
What kind of response do God’s signposts engender in you?