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Monday, May 14, 2012

Where Are All the Miracles? – Part 1

Where are all the miracles? We look at the Bible and see miracles. Where are the miracles today? Miracles are happening today. Miracles can happen today. God is no different now than He was in Biblical times. God is immutable; unchanging. Miracles attest to the reality of God (e.g. Acts 2:22). God is no less God today than He has ever been or will ever be. So where are the miracles?

We see many miracles in scripture: from creation to the 2nd Coming; from the translation of Enoch to the translation of the saints yet to come; the Flood, plagues on Egypt, and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah; the pregnancy of Sarah with Isaac and the virgin birth of Jesus; the burning bush and the transfiguration of Christ; Balaam’s donkey speaking and Peter’s confession of Christ; Jonah in the belly of a whale three days and three nights and Jesus raised from the dead. The Book of Revelation reveals there are more miracles in our future. Wiki’s states there are 333 miracles in the Bible but adds “that is only some of them.” The Bible Encyclopedia lists 120 miracles in the Bible. Wilmington’s Book of Lists records 50 miracles involving the full Godhead. The New Topical Textbook lists 30 miracles performed by Jesus. The numbers vary but there seems to be a good amount of miracles recorded in the Bible.

The word “miracle” occurs 16 times in the Bible. A “miracle” is an extraordinary unusual event which suspends natural law and is beyond human capability manifesting Divine intervention in human affairs. A miracle points people to God and therefore is frequently referred to as “a sign,” a phrase that occurs 52 times in scripture. Miracles are also considered “wonders” about 77 times in the Bible. Miracles cause people to wonder what is going on.

It should be noted that there are counterfeit miracles or supernatural events worked by demonic forces such as the ones done by Pharaoh’s sorcerers (Exodus 7:11-13) and that will be done by Antichrist (2 Thess. 2:9-12). God warns us against this (Deut. 13:1-5). God’s miracles are those that draw us to Him and do not contradict scripture. Satanic signs deceive and divert people from God. The Holy Spirit helps us to discern true from false miracles, those that draw us to God and those that are deception (e.g. John 16:13; 1 John 2:27). The prime instrument the Spirit uses to do this is the word of God (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

Something that is extraordinary and unusual is by definition not common. But it doesn’t seem like there are any miracles happening around us. If we count the conversion of sinners as a miracle then there are countless miracles throughout history and today. But while salvation by God’s grace is miraculous in the sense that it is something only God can do, it does not always suspend natural law and therefore technically by our definition is not miraculous. Still we ask, “Where are all the miracles?”

We have to understand that the Bible does not contain every detail of history. The Bible covers a period of about 1500 years. If we say there are 300 miracles recorded in scripture that would average out to one miracle every five years. If we say there are 120 miracles recorded in scripture it would equate to one miracle every twelve and a half years. There are over thirty recorded miracles of Jesus in the three year span of the Gospels! And keep in mind that John comments, “And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.” (John 21:25). Yes, AMEN! The increase in frequency of miracles during this time is a sure sign that God was doing something very special. “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” (2 Cor. 5:19).

The miracles of the Bible may only be representative examples of miracles. Some miracles are noted for a particular purpose. The Book of Acts contains miraculous accounts. But those miracles occurred over a period of about 30 years of history in the early church. In Acts 2:43 it states, “many wonders and signs were done through the apostles” and doesn’t list them all. In Acts 15:12 Paul tells the church there were “many miracles and wonders” done by God. But they are not all recorded individually in scripture. In light of that duration we get a better perspective on the occurrence of miracles.

Many miracles that are happening today are happening in faraway places in underdeveloped parts of the world. Is there a connection? Has our science and technology, our modernity, gotten in the way of miracles? Perhaps, but I think there may be a more rudimentary explanation. In the Old Testament a man named Gideon asked the same question. The Angel of the Lord (who we know to be the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ) called on him to deliver God’s people. Gideon responded, “O my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites” (Judges 6:13). In other words, “Where are all the miracles?”

In part 2 of our study we will look further at Gideon to see how God answered his question about where all the miracles were. As we do that we may be able to find an answer to our own question about the absence of miracles. Until then, seek the Lord and pray for a miracle!

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