Bible Reading Blog — January 15, 2016

15 Jan

Today’s Readings — Exodus 3-6 & Mark 3:1-6

When God called Moses from the burning bush in Exodus to go to Egypt to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt, Moses was hesitant. So God gave Moses three signs; a staff that turned to a rod, his hand that turned leprous when he put it in his cloak, and, when Moses took water from the Nile River and poured it out, it would turn to blood.

These signs were given so that those in Egypt would believe that God had sent him. The nature of these signs is clearly miraculous. They remind us of something like magic.

The Bible is a book that contains many miracles. This can be comforting but also disturbing, because most likely none of us have seen miracles like the ones in Exodus.

So the problem is this . . . if God is unchanging, why do we not see miracles like the ones in Exodus, or perhaps any miracles at all? Is it our unbelief? Our sin? Some other problem with us? Is God working in a different way in our day? Have our technological and medical advancements caused God to take His hand off of us?

Here’s how I see it, as I read the Bible. I believe God did indeed do many miraculous things in Scripture. I do not put these events in the category of mythology or authorial embellishment. But I also see God concentrating His miraculous works at particularly momentous periods of salvation history. In other words, there are outbreaks of miracles at three particular times; the exodus, the ministry of Christ, and the birth of the church. And of course, any basic reading of Revelation, no matter one’s eschatological perspective, would lead us to conclude that the end will be a time of miracles as well.

So the salvation of Israel, the salvation of all humanity, the birth of the church, and the consummation of history are the times in which miracles are particularly prevalent. These miracles advance God’s saving plan. So does God do miracles today? Again, if we take the nature of God and the biblical record seriously, we would be inclined to say yes, because we do see scattered miraculous events over the course of the biblical record which are not part of these big movements of God’s saving plan. But should we expect outbreaks of miracles like those of Exodus or the gospels? I do not think so, at least not until the end, for God’s saving plan has already been inaugurated, and those miracles are expressly stated to have been given to make known that plan. I have no desire to limit God, but I am just trying to understand how He works based on how I see Him working in Scripture and in our world today.

This is a bigger subject than a blog article can handle, but those are the basic contours I see.

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