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Miracles

22nd June 2008, mgh

 

7) The Characteristic of Miracles

It has been said that when the references to miracles are cut from the Bible, there is not much left. However, there are not many recorded, and they are specific in their nature, always having a clear purpose. For instance the most referred to miracles in the Bible relate to the Exodus from Egypt, which accomplished the birth of the nation of Israel.

The constant reminder to the Israelites of the Exodus miracles were used to emphasise to the people their special purpose, and the power of their God compared to the idols of the nations that surrounded them. These remarkable events which became history were evidence to all nations of the capability of the one true God. Actually, however, there were very few other remarkable demonstrations of God's power. On several occasions invading forces were subdued by miracles using natural elements, such as in the case of Jehoshaphat where the invading nations turned upon each other, in another case hailstones were used.

The miracles of the Bible have no element of conventional fantasy. People are not turned into strange animals, or things made to appear and disappear. At no time are the miracles gratuitous. They are never random They never involved spectacle for the sake of it. They were for specific purposes to confirm the existence of God and His power over nature. When individuals are the means of carrying out the miracle, they can never use the power they have for their own ends. Elijah, for example, only performed eight miracles. Even when Jesus was in danger he refused to use the power he had available to him, merely walking out of situations.

In the Bible there are not many cases of healing. An early example is during a plague, Moses was told to instruct the Israelites to look with faith to a brazen serpent on a pole for healing. Then there is no record of healing until Elijah and Elisha, who healed a very limited number of people and brought on occasion them back from the dead. Then again there is a gap until Jesus. Jesus' acts of healing were remarkable, such as restoring sight to people born blind. Though faith was involved, they could never be mistaken for mere faith healing. In one case he could heal despite the child and the father not having the required faith (Mark 9:22-29).

Jesus' miracles were to indicate his authority.

“Say you of him, 'Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?' If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though you believe not me, believe the works: that you may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him”. (John 10:36-38)

In Jesus' generation many believed him because of the miracles, but others, after seeing 4000 people fed from a few loaves and fish, asked for a 'sign', that is something which was a spectacle. Jesus' answer:

And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and said, “Why does this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation”. (Mark 8:12)

The points is that the miracles were 'signs' and evidence of the power being of God. This evidence of the power is necessary for faith and it is put this way,

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrew 11:1)

In other words, the evidence of miracle shows the existence of God who is not seen.

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