What does the Bible say about omens?

Omens are signs or events that are believed to have prophetic or supernatural significance. Throughout history, people have interpreted omens in various ways, often associating them with good or bad fortune. In many cultures, omens are seen as messages from the gods or a higher power.

The Bible has a complex relationship with omens. While some biblical passages suggest that God uses omens to communicate with people, other passages warn against seeking or interpreting omens.

In the Old Testament, there are several instances of God using omens to communicate with people. For example, in the book of Judges, Gideon asks God for a sign to confirm that he has been chosen to lead the Israelites. God responds by causing a fleece to become wet with dew overnight while the ground around it remains dry. Gideon then asks for another sign, and God causes the fleece to remain dry while the ground around it becomes wet with dew.

Similarly, in the book of Isaiah, King Ahaz asks for a sign from God to confirm that he will be protected from his enemies. God responds by offering to give Ahaz any sign he wishes, but Ahaz refuses to ask for a sign.

However, there are also many passages in the Bible that warn against seeking or interpreting omens. In the book of Deuteronomy, for example, the Israelites are warned not to practice divination or seek omens: "There shall not be found among you anyone who... practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer" (Deuteronomy 18:10-11).

Similarly, in the book of Jeremiah, God warns against following false prophets who claim to interpret omens: "Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes; they speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord" (Jeremiah 23:16).

In the New Testament, Jesus warns against seeking signs and omens. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells a group of Pharisees who ask for a sign: "An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah" (Matthew 16:4).

Subscribe to Bible Analysis

Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.
Jamie Larson