What the Bible Teaches About Miracles (1)

Have you ever gone to the hospital to visit friends who are new parents, holding their precious gift from God that was just born, and hear them call the baby “a miracle”?  What is usually meant is that babies are very special, and they are.  The term “miracle” is used in many similar ways these days.  Unfortunately, this is one of several ways in which misconceptions about miracles are founded.  Many believe that a miracle happens to them whenever anything special takes place in their lives.  However, the miracles one reads about in the Bible are not defined in such ways.

Start at Genesis and go through the pages of Scripture to the New Testament, and you will read about miracles being done from time to time by some of God’s people.  You will also read of God Himself performing miracles directly.  Yet, every one of the miracles described in the Bible are acts which violate the known laws of nature and science which God put into place when he created this world and universe.  Not one time is a biblical miracle defined or described as nothing more than an event which is special in a sentimental way, as is often the case today.

Consider the miracles we read about in the Old Testament.   God giving Joseph the ability to accurate interpret people’s dreams and predict the future (Genesis 40-41).  God causing a bush to burn and yet not be consumed in front of Moses, and then giving Moses the ability to turn his staff into a serpent and instantaneously make his hand leprous by simply putting it inside his cloak (Exodus 3-4).  God giving Moses the ability to part the Red Sea simply by raising his staff out over the water (Exodus 14).  Bitter water made sweet by Moses simply by throwing a log in it (Exodus 15:22-25).  God raining bread from heaven and causing water to come from a rock simply by Moses striking it, and Israel defeating Amalek in battle only when Moses would have his hands raised (Exodus 16-17).  God causing the walls of Jericho to collapse simply by having Israel march around the city for a week and then shout and blow trumpets (Joshua 6).  Many more could be cited but notice that they all have one thing in common.  They all violate the laws of science and nature.  That’s what makes these events miraculous in nature.

We see the same thing with the miracles we read of in the New Testament.  God causing a virgin to be pregnant with Jesus, itself a fulfillment of a prophecy made hundreds of years earlier (Matthew 1:18-21; cf. Isaiah 7:14).  Jesus instantaneously healing every disease and affliction among the people, including paralysis, epilepsy, those oppressed by demons, lepers, discharges of blood, blindness, the mute, those with withered hands, and even raising the dead (Matthew 4:23-24; 8:1-4, 28-34; 9:1-8, 18-34; 12:9-14).  Jesus calming a terrible storm simply by speaking and walking on water after feeding thousands of people with only five loaves of bread and two fish (Matthew 8:23-27; 14:13-33).  God raising Christ from the dead on the third day after his death on the cross (Matthew 28:1-10; Romans 1:4).  The Holy Spirit descending on the apostles on the day of Pentecost and giving them the ability to speak in other languages (Acts 2:1-21), as well as healing the lame (Acts 3:1-10), causing the instantaneous death of those who had lied to them and God (Acts 5:1-11), healing the sick by simply having their shadows fall on them (Acts 5:12-16), and healing paralytics and raising the dead (Acts 9:32-43).  Again, many more examples could be cited, but notice once more than all these events violate the laws of science and nature.

As people who will have to give an account for every careless word we speak (Matthew 12:36-37), we are commanded to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) as oracles of God (1 Peter 4:11), and God’s Word is truth (John 17:17).  Therefore, when we speak of miracles we need to speak of them the same way that God speaks of them in his Word…not as special, sentimental events which come about naturally like the birth of a child, but rather as signs and wonders done by God through men which violate the laws of nature.

Lord willing, next week’s column will continue this study of miracles.