Abductive Columns

Monday, September 05, 2005

Biblical Miracles

Is it possible that an earthquake caused the walls of Jericho to crumble? Can we probe the mystery and ask if it’s possible that a local miracle at times can be explained in local terms? No doubt the Sun and Moon standing still for a day defies explanation and was surely a global event. But could natural causes explain the strange twenty-four hours in Joshua 10?

Let me premise the following by first looking for agreement in one area:

The possibility that a miracle explained in terms of the laws of nature, as we understand them, is no less inferior to a miracle which seems to defy nature. Can we agree on this one sentence? (It may be all we’re going to agree on…but that’s ok—read on)

Being able to explain a miracle in no way devalues it or changes its status. The Bible seems to recognize two types of miracles.

1. Those where the laws of nature operate in combinations which work for man

2. Those which defy any explanation
Examples of the former can be seen in the plagues of Egypt, some of which could imitated by Pharaoh’s magicians.

Aaron’s rod becoming a serpent (Exodus 7:8-13)

The plague of blood (Exodus 7:14-24)

The plague of frogs (Exodus 8:1-7)

The crossing of the Jordan into Canaan (Joshua 3:14-17) could have been affected by a landslide which pounded the waters back.

All of the above fall into the “combinations category”

Examples of the latter include the feeding of the 5000 with two fish and five loaves.

Jesus walking on water

The fiery furnace

The point of a miracle is not how it was done but the effect it had. To deny the reality of any miracle which seems to defy all known laws is sheer arrogance. To deny the miraculous in any event which can be explained is equally arrogant for it still needs to be explained how these natural events could so coincided with the spiritual needs of the moment. God may have used an earthquake to destroy Jericho’s walls or a landslide to aid the entry into the promise land but neither was delivered until Israel shouted and the priest carrying the ark dipped their feet in the water.

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