MIRACLES: Old Testament Miracles
When we speak of a miracle we do not mean by it what the Modernist means. He says a miracle is the religious name for any event. When we speak of a miracle, we mean an event which cannot be explained by natural causes. It is effected by a supernatural power. In this article I want to turn to the Old Testament to study some of the more noteworthy miracles in it. Our purpose in doing this is just to refresh our memory as to what the Bible teaches about the happening of miracles.
The first miracle that comes to one's mind as he thinks of the Bible would, of course, be the miracle of creation. How did all these things we see about us come to be? Where did this universe come from? And where did life originate? The answer to all these questions as to origins is found in the Biblical account of creation. We find a record of the origin of the heavens and the earth stated in this language: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Gen. 1:1). No better explanation can be offered than this one as to the origin of the earth. Let it also be here noted that this creation was an absolute creation. It was a creation of something out of nothing. It was not a mere renovation or a reordering of the state of something already existent. The Hebrew word for create, bara, implies that it had no previous existence. Had the idea of reformation been implied, the word would not have been "create" (bara), but the word "made" (asah). So an absolute creation is implied. In accord with the definition of a miracle, this cannot be explained naturalistically. Men cannot make an absolute creation. They cannot create something from nothing. Only God can do this.
Probably, the first chapter of Genesis has been attacked more by critics than any other single chapter in all of the Bible. The tragedy is that the severest critics are those who profess to be children of God. Preachers and members of denominational bodies are ready to deny the Biblical account of creation. They unhesitatingly speak of the "creation myth". They tell us that this universe and its contents were not fashioned in six days, but in hundreds of thousands of years. They believe that God set off the first spark of activity, and that all the rest of what we know came by a gradual and even process of evolution. They are theistic evolutionists. They believe that God began the cycles. Others are naturalistic evolutionists believing that nature is the parent of all there is; God had nothing to do with it.
They begin their argument against the Biblical account of creation by denying that the days of Gen. 1 are twenty-four hour days. They assume that each day spoken of in Gen. 1 refers to a geological era, often said to be about 250,000 years, rather than to an ordinary twenty-four hour day. How they arrive at this wonderful data we are not told. But if one will stop to think of this he will see the absurdity of it. These same individuals are quick to deny that people lived as long as the Bible declares they did. Methuselah, for example, lived to be 969 years old (Gen. 5:27). Yet they admit that Adam was created on the sixth day. Then God rested on the seventh day (remember, if they are correct, God had a 250,000-year rest). Later Adam and Eve sinned, so this must have been at least on another day after God's rest, so man lived at least the eighth day. So, Adam lived a part of the sixth, seventh, and was yet alive on the eighth day. If a day is a geological era, then Adam lived at least 250,000 years. This would be as great an obstacle to the Modernist as the Biblical record of creation.
In like manner, they scoff at the idea of a fiat creation. Fiat creation means to speak something into existence. In Gen. 1:3, we have an example of fiat creation: "And God said, Let there be light, and there was light." This is too great a miracle for them to accept. So they reject it, thinking they can offer a better explanation by suggesting that evolution gave birth to all that there is. They claim that science has proven the theory of evolution to be true. But can science ever prove a theory of origins? Science is supposed to be based upon observation and experiment. But no one could observe the beginning, for there would be no one present to observe it. But the Bible gives us evidence of its supernatural origin by predicting events centuries before they occur; this is super-human. Man cannot accurately predict the future. Thus proving its inspiration, the Bible gives us an authentic account of the creation.
The Bible declares that the first life was created of God. Psuedo-scientists deny this to be true. But where did the first life come from? It either has to be eternal, or to have been created by God, or to have come from matter which scientists must assume to have been eternal. The problem of proving the origin of life is one most difficult for the evolutionist. He would much rather talk about what has happened since the first living cell originated. But they are morally obligated to give a more plausible explanation if they are to deny the Biblical origin of life. Either something has always lived, or something came from nothing. So they must say that matter is the parent of everything. So it resolves itself into a problem of whether it is more reasonable to believe that blind, insensate, unintelligible matter gave birth to everything, or to believe that an infinite all-wise God created the universe and its contents. For me, I will accept this great miracle of creation, and say with David, "Know ye that Jehovah, he is God: It is he that hath made us, and we are his" (Psa. 100:3) God is the Creator of the universe, of life, and of man.
Another miracle of the Old Testament which has been the center of considerable discussion is the Flood. You will remember that God warned Noah of the Flood, and told him to prepare an ark to the saving of his house. Noah followed carefully and minutely the instructions of God, building the ark precisely according to the pattern given him by God. Finally, when the Flood came, only Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives were saved to repopulate the earth. The unbelieving critics of the Bible regard the account of the Flood as but another religious myth. They think it preposterous to believe that at one time the waters covered the entire earth, and destroyed all of mankind except eight souls.
While the New Testament also tells of the Flood, it would likely not be any more authentic to the unbeliever than the Old Testament account. But I am not willing to cease quoting the Bible as authoritative until these critics answer the arguments proving the Bible's inspiration. In 1 Pet. 3:18-20, we have mention made of the Flood: "Because Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God; being put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison, that aforetime were disobedient, when the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is eight souls, were saved through water." Jesus also stamps the story of the Flood as a truth when He warns of the nature of His second coming. It will be suddenly and without warning. "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. But of that day and hour knoweth no one, not even the angels of heaven, neither the Son, but the Father only. And as were the days of Noah, so shall be the coming of the Son of man. For in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and they knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall be the coming of the Son of man" (Mt. 24:35-39). So the New Testament and the Flood account stand or fall together. Modernists, or those who profess to believe the Bible, but deny miracles, want to accept the ethical and moral teachings in the Bible, but deny the miraculous happenings, but Jesus teaches that these Old Testament miracles, and the New Testament teachings stand or fall together.
Furthermore, virtually every ancient civilization has had an account of the Flood preserved. The Babylonian account of the Flood has been discovered and deciphered so that today we are able to compare the account of this ancient civilization with the Biblical account of the Flood. We could go through the different civilizations and study their versions of the Flood, but space will not permit. However, let us notice this statement from a five-volume set entitled, World's Great Events: "The one tradition which is really universal among those bearing on the history of primitive man is that of the Deluge (Flood-CW).It would, perhaps, be too much to say that it is found among all people; but it occurs among all the great races of the human species, with one important exception, the black race, among whom no trace of the tradition has been found, either among the African tribes or the populations of Polynesia" (Vol. 1, p. 35). But this is the important point
of this whole discussion on the universality of the Flood nor in ancient accounts: How did these accounts come to be? Did a legend just simultaneously spring up within each civilization throughout the world, with no support in reality? Was there nothing in fact or reality to support the account of the Flood? Yet, there is remarkable similarity between these accounts. Virtually all of them declare that the population was destroyed by water, that only a few were saved, and they were saved
by being in a ship or an ark. These are the essential events of the Biblical accounts. The truth is, the Flood actually happened, and it was such a momentous occasion in the annals of human history that each civilization preserved a story of it.
Also great masses of sea shells are to be found in the tops of mountains, and on one occasion the skeleton of a great shark was found in the top of a high mountain. This find silenced the argument of the infidels that the sea shells happened to be in the mountains because the pilgrims carried them there on their journeys, for it was quite inconceivable that a pilgrim would carry an eighteen-foot shark into a high mountain. In like manner, and as an additional proof, some outstanding geologists, such as George McCready Price explained the phenomena of geology by the Flood, and offer good proof for such explanation.
One cannot just discredit the Old Testament miracles with a wave of the hand. Those who deny such miracles much rather choose to laugh at them and to ridicule those who believe that miracles actually happened than to come to the polemical platform to offer good proof in denial of miracles. Scoffing is cheaper than offering arguments.
Truth Magazine XXI: 3, pp. 35-37