God, Miracles

Miracles

It’s a miracle!

I have heard this exclamation from exasperated parents who find their children actually doing what they were told to do. I have heard it from someone who won a prize in a drawing. One time I heard my coach say it when I won an event in track (clearly he wasn’t too confident in my ability). While these illustrations are certainly fantastic, are they really miracles? What is a miracle and how can we spot one? and have I seen one?

A miracle is when God does something extraordinary–to bring glory to Himself, and bring awe and wonder to humanity.

Other definitions of Miracle:

  1. a direct intervention of God in the world.
  2. God working in the world without means to bring about the results He wishes.
  3. an exception to a natural law.
  4. God acting contrary to the laws of nature.
  5. an event impossible to explain by natural causes.
  6. an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs.
  7. a less common kind of God’s activity in which he arouses people’s awe and wonder and bears witness to himself.
  8. a marvelous event manifesting a supernatural act of God.

Grudem points out that there are many words used in the Bible that point toward miracles without actually using that word. [1]

  • Sign
  • Wonder
  • Miracle or Mighty Work
  • or all of the above
Exodus 7:3-5

But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, Pharaoh will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and bring my hosts, my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. The Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them.”

Deuteronomy 6:22-23

And the Lord showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes. And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to give to our fathers.

Psalm 135:9

who in your midst, O Egypt, sent signs and wonders against Pharaoh and all his servants;

Acts 2:22

Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—

Acts 4:30

while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.

Acts 5:12

Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico.

Hebrews 2:4

while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

Throughout the Bible we see miracles. The Israelites experienced many miracles all the way up to their time in Egypt, and miracles are what God used to bring them out. Miracles come along with the ministry of Jesus as a sign that He is the Messiah. And miracles accompany the acts of the apostles who were sent by Jesus.

One of the greatest events of the Old Testament is built on this idea. One of my favorite stories as a child was that of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego found in Daniel chapter three. The king passed an edict that all should bow in worship to him when they heard the music play. The three young Hebrew men would not do it. The king gave them another chance to follow his decree, warning them,

“But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?”

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” (Daniel 3:15-18).

I have emphasized in bold the important part of the story. These three young men had faith in God (to the point of death), that He could save them. But they also realized that He might not. However, this was of no concern to them because they knew that God was the only one that deserved their worship. So, even if they died they would never concede that there was any other God. The story ends with them being saved from the fiery ordeal and the Babylonians start to worship God.

God is not required to perform a miracle when asked, but sometimes He does.

Remember God is sovereign (He rules over everything). Everything that happens according to His will. Thus, He can choose whether or not to perform a miracle or not in any given situation.

The real question is, “Do miracles still happen today?” I believe they do. However, I don’t think it is like what the TV preachers portray. If you say the name of Jesus and smack someone in the forehead, they will fall down but they will likely not have experienced a miracle.

Let me share with you a story about one of my wife’s relatives (I have changed their names).

Rick and Sally found out that they were pregnant with a surprise baby (they were in their 40’s with 3 children already). Things were progressing well in the early stages of their pregnancy. About halfway through the pregnancy they went in for a routine ultrasound and found out that there was a problem with the baby–it had spina bifida. This would mean that she would be born with an incomplete spine or none at all. They were crushed.

Rick and Sally talked about options with the doctor. He suggested that they have an abortion because the baby wouldn’t have any great quality of life and might die shortly after birth. They left there to seek out advice from other people who they trusted. Almost all those with whom they spoke said the same thing as the doctor–abort.

Rick and Sally knew that the baby might not have a long life, but, because of their belief in the sanctity of life, they wanted to allow her to live. They began to pray and asked others to do the same. At the last checkup before the delivery, the doctor was astonished to find out that the baby had a fully developed spine. A few weeks later they delivered a beautiful, perfectly healthy, baby girl.

They could have given in to the advice of the Doctor. I doubt that many would have objected. However, their faithfulness to godliness was met with an even greater miracle–a healthy baby.

Of course, God could have done nothing for the child. He could have allowed her to be born for a few moments and be taken away into eternity, but He allowed her to live. Both options were available to Him, either option would have been according to his will. We don’t know why he chooses to miraculously intervene in the lives of some and not others–except that he is sovereign and he chooses according to his will.

 

What about you? Do you know of any miracles? Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

[1] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994) 256.

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