Have you ever noticed the abundance of traffic signs around you? Everywhere you look, there are traffic signs. Some signs regulate the flow of traffic, like speed limit signs and stop signs. Other signs tell you what to expect ahead, such as construction signs, speed bump signs, and curvy road signs. Then there are signs that indicate your location or provide directions such as street names, mile markers, and exit signs. The most important thing about traffic signs is that every sign serves a purpose. Some provide drivers with useful information, some keep drivers safe during their travels, and some direct drivers toward their destination. Without traffic signs driving would be a chaotic, frustrating, and dangerous endeavor.
In this regard, traffic signs serve as a great metaphor for the Bible because, without proper “signage” from God, our lives would be a chaotic, frustrating, and dangerous endeavor! Through His inspired word, God gave us the signs we need to provide us with useful information, safety guidelines, and directions to our ultimate destination. That is why the Bible is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, [so] that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Therefore, when you see a traffic sign, I encourage you to consider its biblical counterpart.
For instance, when you pull up to a “Stop” sign, let it remind you of all the things from which Scripture instructs us to cease. Paul told the Christians in Corinth to “stop sinning” in 1 Corinthians 15:34 (NASB) and to start being “sober-minded.” In particular, 1 Corinthians condemns sins such as divisiveness, sexual immorality, and idolatry, while also challenging Christians to prepare for Christ’s return. So it is appropriate that such an instruction appears in it. Another “stopping” instruction appears in Isaiah 2:22 (ESV) where Isaiah told the Israelites to “stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he?” Isaiah was condemning Israel’s tendency to idolize people and instructing his readers to stop participating in this practice. So, Scripture clearly teaches that there are some activities in which we are to cease participation because they are not in line with the will of God.
A “Yield” sign likely brings to mind that old hymn, which says, “Yield not to temptation,” but it can also remind of us other significant yielding expectations. For instance, it can remind us of the expectation of submission. In 2 Chronicles 30:8 (NASB), King Hezekiah instructed the Israelites to submit to God when he said, “do not stiffen your neck like your fathers, but yield to the Lord.” A “Yield” sign can also remind us of the expectation of maturation. While addressing the subject of discipline, the author of Hebrews said that although “all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant,” it eventually “yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11 ESV). The yielding instructions found in Scripture are a reminder that we are not in control, and, therefore, need to merge our will with the will of our heavenly Father.
A “Do Not Enter” sign can remind us of things we are to avoid. For example, it can remind us to avoid evil since Solomon said, “Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil” in Proverbs 4:14 (ESV). Or, it can remind us to avoid temptation since Jesus instructed the disciples in the Garden to “watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41 ESV). Even still, we may be reminded to avoid disobeying God since Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21 ESV). All of these passages indicate routes that we should avoid just as a “Do NotEnter” sign indicates a route that is off-limits to us.
Occasionally, you will encounter a detour sign. Although there are no passages in the Bible that use the term detour, Scripture does indicate that God uses detours for our benefit. In Exodus 13:17-18, we are told that “God did not lead [the Israelites] by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near…but God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea.” In other words, God took the Israelites on the scenic route from Egypt to Canaan rather than the direct route. He did this because He knew that the direct route would present difficulties such as war that would make the people want to turn around. So, God in His omniscience chose the route with the least amount of obstacles because He wanted what was best for His people. God still uses detours for the same reason, and, when He does, we are reminded to “Trust in [Him] with all [our] heart” instead of “lean[ing] on our own understanding,” and, when we do, we can be sure that “he will make straight [our] paths” (Proverbs 3:5 ESV). So, when you see a detour sign, may you be reminded of God’s ability to use detours to accomplish an objective that you cannot comprehend yet.
In addition to the aforementioned signs, consider the “One Way” sign, which can remind us that Jesus is the only means by which we have access to heaven. As Jesus said of Himself in John 14:6 (ESV), “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Or, consider the “Road Narrows” sign, which can remind us that following Christ is not the easy choice. As Jesus said in Matthew 7:14 (NIV), “small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Also consider the “Do Not Block” sign, which can remind us of our responsibility to be considerate of one another. As Paul said in Romans 14:13 (ESV), “let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.”
The point is that just as our roadways are filled with traffic signs that “guide, guard, and direct us,” so is God’s word. So, as you go about your busy day, I encourage you to let the traffic signs you encounter serve as a reminder of God’s instructions, promises, and guidance that are found in His inspired word. May they be a practical means to cause you to “meditate on [His] precepts, and contemplate [His] ways” continually (Proverbs 119:15).