PASTORS BLOG FOR SUNDAY 17TH JULY 2016
MIRACLES OR WHAT?
I have been speaking lately about the hard sayings of Jesus. Today we look at the ‘hard works’ of God; hard because some find them not easy to believe. In my sermon last Sunday I referred to the miracle of today, whereby the Lord’s provides for our needs today so that we should not worry about tomorrow. Instead we are to focus on him today. I thought to say a few words about miracles and how some people approach them when reading the Biblical accounts. As you read on from here don’t forget the greatest miracle of all is Jesus risen from the dead, the living proof of that being His Spirit within you.
When reading the Book of Joshua for example, critics will often cite three dramatic miracles: stopping the flow of the Jordan River in 3:15-17; collapse of the wall of Jericho in 6:20; and the longest day 10:12-14 as evidence of its legendary or ‘fictional’ character. Yet the Bible records miracles in many places, thus Joshua is not unusual in this respect. The miracles must be seen in context, not isolation. An anti-supernatural worldview may render miracles untenable to the critic, but anti-supernaturalism is a philosophical assumption or explanation; it is not a demonstrable scientific or historical fact. Many people today and historically have accepted the possibility of the supernatural because they have come to believe in a reality that transcends nature. This is true of those who have come to know Jesus Christ personally in their lives.
Nature is in the hands of the Creator, so anything is possible. Our minds are not closed on the matter. Ted Cabal writes: “It is important to note … that biblical narratives do not portray an indiscriminately saturated world of miracles… the Bible does not read like the pagan mythologies of antiquity in which gods are constantly interrupting and disrupting ordinary human affairs… The relative infrequency of biblical miracles may be seen in the fact that they constitute a small, albeit important, part of the narratives spanning approximately two millennia from the time of Abraham through the apostolic era. Moreover, certain critical turning points in biblical history are marked by more intense spiritual warfare and miracle. The life and ministry of Jesus Christ is the most obvious of these periods, and the exodus of Israel from Egypt with the subsequent conquest of Canaan represents another. The book of Joshua records the events at the close of this strategic era, and its three major miracles reveal Yahweh‘s sovereign work to install Israel in the land of promise [The Apologetics Study Bible: Understanding Why You Believe. Ted Cabal, General Editor, 2007 Wordsearch].
It is because miracles are not commonplace that Biblical supernaturalism stands out. Miracles are understood as unusual and hard to fathom and there is a real questioning of them. It is not uncritical thinking and experience we encounter in the record of miracles; we hear some believe and some do not. Yet they stand as a testimony to the work of God, not mankind’s imagination.
So the next time you are reading your Bible and come across a hard work of God think about the miracle that you have been given, Jesus Christ and faith in him.
Blessings and go in peace to love and serve the Lord,