Wonders, Miracles, and Sign

Charles Swindoll used this statement in his book The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart – If miracles happened every day they would be called REGULARS. I think it is fair to say that Abraham had miracles, signs, and wonders working in his life. Look at his narrative from Genesis 12 to 25 and realize that it covers 100 years of life you start to understand they were not “regulars.”

The other side of this topic is John 14: 12 where doing “greater miracles” is promised. The “greater” carries the idea of more not better. I have always thought that the person doing these “more” miracles are doing them for other people and not for themselves. In Acts, the Apostles did a lot of miracles “among the people.”

Acts 2:22 says Jesus was accredited by doing miracles, signs, and wonders and Paul says that these also marked his apostolic ministry. So miracles being done for God’s people are part of our heritage. Of all the times wonders and signs are mentioned in the New Testament most are in a positive light. Three times they refer to counterfeits or false prophets doing them: Mark 13:22, Matthew 23: 24, and 2 Thessalonians 2: 9. The Spirit of God will show you the difference and keep you from being deceived.

It does seem possible that you can see miracles, signs, and wonders done by God for His glory and still not understand. The children of Israel did this as they left Egypt and treated those signs and wonders lightly.

Other posts on the miraculous: The Seven Miracles in John, Miracles, and Storms, The Problem With the Miraculous.

The Problem with the Miraculous

The problem with the miraculous is people will only accept/believe for what their minds can grasp.  R. W. Schambach told a story of a man who gave the money he was saving for a new truck in a meeting one night.  Later that week he came back with a testimony of how he was working on his old truck when he noticed something he had missed for years.  It was a can that was stuck to the side of the engine and when he opened it there was a wad of 100 dollars bills in the can, more than enough to buy the truck he had been saving for.  On hearing this several people got up an ran out to check their cars.  They were sure that God would bless them in the exact same way.  They could only conceive a miracle for them because it had already happened to someone else that way.  Now testimonies are to build up your faith and your belief that God can and will do miraculous things but we get stuck on how God will do these things.  How many people are always willing to give God instructions on how their miracle is supposed to look and happen?  You wonder how many miracles have been missed because the person could not perceive that it could possibly happen that way.

While studying Jesus walking on the water the side story of Peter getting out of the boat is added in Matthew’s telling of the story.  I have heard many sermons on this over the years and most of the teachers have no problem with the fact that Jesus was actually walking on water.  But when it comes to Peter “seeing the wind” they will dismiss this as a natural occurrence of water blowing off the waves, etc. (NOTE to READER: This is a strange idea and I would not make it a doctrine but I will present this in the context of how far are you willing to believe God can do anything!)storm on Galilee

The reason this idea hit me was a preacher did just that the last time I heard a message on this topic.  He was building the faith of the people to be willing to see Jesus differently in our times of need.  But when it came to the wind that was impossible for Peter to have actually seen.  Duh! It is impossible to walk on liquid water but Jesus was doing that.  (People walk on water all the time and even drive trucks on it, it just happens to be frozen.)  Ok, since I am being weird let me throw out some other strange ideas: 1. Was Jesus wet from walking on the water?  2.  Did He walk up and down the waves or did they divide in front of Him?  Please do add these to “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin.”

To say that something different was happening is an understatement.  The disciples saw Jesus as a “ghost”, Peter actually walked on water, Peter saw wind, and the boat was transported to shore “immediately” (John 6:21).  If you were looking for a physical reason for Jesus to walk on water the only logical one would be He changed how the molecules were acting toward each other.  So why could that have not extended to what was making the waves.  Maybe Peter had a good reason for sinking, he truly saw something he never expected, air molecules whirling around him.  I will still agree he should have kept his eyes on Jesus but was he distracted by the miraculous.  To add to this strange possibility, why did they use the term “ghost?”  That word phantasma (Strong’s 5326) is only used twice in the Bible and that is in connection with this story.  Jesus may have actually looked different because once again had He done something beyond what our minds can grasp!

Taking this back to Jesus and the whole story of feeding 5000 men and walking on the water.  The people in Gennesaret (where they landed) knew if they just touched His garment they could be healed (it had been done before) and the crowd from the miraculous feeding that finally found Him teaching in Capernaum just wanted a free meal ticket.  The crowd even though they had seen 5000 people fed needed more proof that He was the Messiah because in their mind Moses had done the same miracle before (Jesus tried to correct their thinking in John).  Many people will not believe in Christianity because of the miraculous things that are done by God in the Bible.  Painfully some Christians can only believe that God did those things in the Bible and not in modern times and so they must condemn the “crazies” that hold to the fact that God does not change.  “After all science knows more now than they did back then.”  As Christians I believe we need to understand that our faith demands a belief in miracles – past, present, and future.

How about you, how far will you let God be God.  Who knows maybe you will see wind and still keep walking on water?

Both “Feeding the 5000” and “Walking on Water” are part of the Seven Miracles of Jesus in the Book of John.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rembrandt_Christ_in_the_Storm_on_the_Lake_of_Galilee.jpg 

My Start to Out of Egypt

Moses_Pleading_with_Israel

I guess I am marking this as the beginning of writing Out of Egypt. I have been tagging things for a while “Out of Egypt” especially the Tribes of Israel study. My thought there was if you are getting out of Egypt, a look at how you got in may not hurt.

As I have been collecting thoughts on this I realized that there are a lot of movies and TV shows on Moses and the Exodus. To go with all of the shows there is no end of opinions and arguments about how it happened or could not have happened. Even TV shows that seems like they are documentaries supporting the Exodus always have at least one area where they can’t go with the Biblical account. This is still possibly one of the more supportive; The Exodus Decoded by Simcha Jacobovici but even this one tries to relegate some of the miracles to natural events. These websites take the show to task on various subjects.

1. http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2006/09/debunking-the-exodus-decoded.aspx 2.  http://www.catholic.org/ae/tv/review.php?id=20866  I like what this site says,” In trying to find a “plausible scientific explanation” for Biblical events, the film misses a very important point: The Bible is a testament of faith, not a history or science book, written by authors who, inspired by the Holy Spirit, were trying to discern and understand God’s hand in the drama of salvation.”

Lately the focus has shifted to Moses; one recently talks about him as a military leader. I did not get the name, but I hope to see it replayed again. Its focus was on Moses as leader and offered what he did as natural, and took the miraculous out of the Exodus story. It tried to paint the picture that Israel were not just slaves before the Exodus. These websites do deal with some of these possibilities: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0009_0_09361.html and http://www.northforest.org/BiblicalArchaeology/moses.html . It should be clear that if Moses was raised in Pharaoh’s house he would have had military training and the Camp Order is supposedly an Egyptian battle formation. My thoughts about Israel in Egypt were changed when I read about Ephraim’s sons being killed in a raid in 1 Chronicles 7:21; maybe they were not just quite shepherds.

One website that is Christian based and deals with the Red Sea crossing site is http://www.wyattmuseum.com/red-sea-crossing-02.htm but it definitely does not go along with many current avenues of thought.

I am going to agree with the Catholic website; I am not looking for a “plausible scientific explanation.” He is a miraculous God and we, as His children need to celebrate that fact. I feel we have made many of His miracles into “common kid stories” and not taught them as fact like they really are. I am glad when there is an explanation for how God has used His creation to bless His children, but God is still God and if He wants to do an extraordinary act outside of His laws of nature that is fine with me.

Moses picture: http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/db/Moses_Pleading_with_Israel_(crop).

Miracles and Storms

Miracles, miracles, and miracles.

Matthew 21:21! Killing trees and removing mountains, ok how many of you as baby Christians went outside after reading that and tried to kill a tree? How long did you wait to see if it was dead before you decided that you did not have enough faith? Ok, did you ever do the James and John act and tried to call down lightning on something or someone? Remember they got rebuked. All of this resurfaced after listening to a great sermon on Elijah by Steven Furtick of Elevation Church. His main point was not the rain or “fire of God” but they made me think again about miracles. Yes, I believe in miracles and that God still does them today.

Father God in the Old Testament certainly handled things differently than in the New Testament. Jonah’s storm, Elijah’s drought, lighting and rain storm and don’t forget Moses’ plagues He certainly stepped in and used weather and “supernatural happenings” to make a point to/for His kids. That maybe is the key right there, God used His nature to make a point to/for His kids. (Forgive me, I don’t do well with “Mother Nature” anymore; please make mine Father God.) The only New Testament figures that I could find who would have that sort of power are the two witnesses in Revelations 11.

As I thought about Jesus as our example and His miracles this simple truth hit me hard. Jesus never called down lightning, asked for an earthquake or created a violent wind. Jesus calmed storms He did not start them. He calmed storms to prove His Lordship over them. Jesus healed, fed and comforted people. Well, what about when He said you would do “greater things” in John 14: 11-13. That phrase may also mean “more.” Jesus used the same phrase here as He did about sending the Holy Spirit – when I go to my Father. Doing better than raising the dead, don’t think so, but how about more often than He did. Smith Wigglesworth had quite a few documented cases. What if every believer raised someone!

Ok, what about Matthew 21, He promised, well I guess the next time you are hunger and are about to be crucified expect that fig tree to die. But until then do miracles like Jesus; focus on healing, feeding and freeing that will be a lot better than a dead bunch of trees and no mountains.