By Elizabeth Prata
Editor’s Note: I’ve written 5,141 essays here at The End Time, daily since 2009. Please enjoy some of the previous writings you may have missed.
This essay first appeared on The End Time in January 2013.
By Elizabeth Prata
Editor’s Note: I’ve written 5,141 essays here at The End Time, daily since 2009. Please enjoy some of the previous writings you may have missed.
This essay first appeared on The End Time in January 2013.
Arutz Sheva (Israel National News) reports a major find at the sea of Galilee. The archaeologist does a good job explaining why it’s such an unusual and exciting find.
Evidence has been uncovered corroborating the site of one of Jesus’ most powerful and dramatic miracles: the casting out of demons into a herd of swine in the land of the Gadarenes (or Gerasenes).
Israeli archaeologists have unearthed a 1,500-year-old marble slab with Hebrew inscriptions near Kursi, the spot traditionally associated with the miracle of Christ’s banishment of demons into a herd of swine.
Archaeologists believe the slab to be a commemoration tablet dating from around 500 AD. The inscription in Hebrew begins with the words “Remembered for good.”
And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. 29And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” 30Now a herd of many pigs was feeding at some distance from them. 31And the demons begged him, saying, “If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of pigs.” 32And he said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went into the pigs, and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the waters. 33The herdsmen fled, and going into the city they told everything, especially what had happened to the demon-possessed men. 34And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region.
MacArthur says the pigs took a “swine dive” lol.
Jesus really performed miracles. He authorized his Apostles to perform miracles also (for a period of time, then the miracles ceased). Jesus is Lord of the earth, of time, of physical matter. He really lived and He really did the miracles. This record of the demons being sent into the pigs is but one of them. The Bible records actual history, which archaeology confirms again and again.
This fact has implications for the pagan, the atheist, the doubter. Jesus lived and taught and did miracles to confirm His Lordship over the earth. If He really lived, and really taught and did miracles, then it’s also true as the Bible states that He came to warn sinners to repent.
This is because He is also holy and is angry at sinners every day. He came to earth to bring peace to men, through reconciliation with God. One must recognize their sins are keeping them from peace with God, ask Jesus to forgive them, and turn from sin and pursue holy living according to the standards God has laid out. The swine begged to be sent into the pigs rather than the abyss, (Mark 5:12) a deep pit or jail from which they knew they would never be released and to which they are already destined (Mt 25:41).
How much more so is man to be punished for his sin and rebellion against God, as the demons are destined? Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand. The Bible is true, and every word Jesus said and His prophets said and His apostles said is true. Repent during the Age of Grace and know that promised peace and freedom from sin’s bondage.
|Helix Nebula, Creative Commons photo|
Miracle is one of those words that gets overused and then its meaning it diluted, like “awesome”.
“This ice cream is awesome!”
“God is awesome!”
The dramatic rise in people accepting and even seeking the charismatic gifts means that more people believe that people are performing miracles, and believing that God is doing miracles left and right. Healings, gold fillings, gold dust falling, a wind coming up at just the right time, a financial windfall…all are claimed as miracles. But are they? What exactly are miracles, according to the bible? And does God do miracles today?
While cessationists like me by no means deny that God has always had the power and will to do a miracle, and does them today, they are much less frequent than we suppose, IF in fact, perhaps nonexistent. But nowadays, everyone is claiming a miracle.
Today, we hear an awful lot of talk about miracles, somebody says, “I had a financial need and a miracle happened. The mailman came and in the mail was a check for just the amount of money I needed. It was a miracle.” Or you hear someone say, “I went to the mall and there was a parking place right by the entrance. It was a miracle.” Or a mother might sense something wrong in an adjoining room and investigate just in time to stop her little toddler from putting a paper clip into an electrical outlet, and say, “It’s a miracle.” Or maybe you were thinking and praying for somebody and just seemingly at the time you were doing that, the phone rang and it was the very person you were thinking about, and they were right there to be encouraged and you say, “That was a miracle.” Well, we call those things miracles, but they’re not miracles. A miracle is a supernatural event which has no human explanation. More than that, a miracle is a supernatural event which suspends natural law. (Source)
The popular African charismatic evangelist Angus Buchan, of the movie Faith Like Potatoes, planted potatoes and said it was a miracle that they grew. To be sure, the soil in his field was not conducive to bumper crops of potatoes, and he had been warned if a high probability of failure, but he attributed the fact that potatoes grew to a supernatural, direct and divine miracle.
Christian Apologetics and Resource Ministries defines miracle as
A miracle is an out-of-the-ordinary direct and divine intervention in the world. Examples would be the parting of the Red Sea, Jesus walking on water, the resurrection of Lazarus, etc. Some hold that it is a violation of the natural order of physical laws. Others maintain that there is no such violation upon God’s part but only a natural manifestation of His work.
They are also known as powers and signs (Mark 9:39; Acts 2:22, 19:11) and mighty works (John 10:25-28). They are a manifestation of the power of God over nature (Joshua 10:12-14), animals (Num. 22:28), people (Gen. 19:26), and illness (2 Kings 5:10-14). They are produced by God’s power (Acts 15:12), Christ’s power (Matt. 10:1), and the Holy Spirit’s power (Matt. 12:28).
I like Augustus Strong‘s definition,
A miracle is an event in nature so extraordinary in itself and so coinciding with the prophecy or command of a religious teacher or leader as fully to warrant the conviction on the part of those who witness it, that God has wrought it with the design of certifying that this teacher or leader has been commissioned by him.
Why are there miracles?
Miracles are the natural accompaniments and attestations of new communications from God. The great epochs of miracles—represented by Moses, the prophets, the first and second comings of Christ—are coincident with the great epochs of revelation. Miracles serve to draw attention to new truth, and cease when this truth has gained currency and foothold.
Some of the miracles in the Incarnation of Jesus’ time were making the blind to see. Do you realize there was no other recorded healing of this type in the Old Testament or the New, until Jesus did it? John 9:1-7 records Jesus performing a miracle of making an adult man born blind to see.
This is an amazing case, because Jesus didn’t cure a temporary condition recently onset, he reversed a biological, genetic defect.
The case of Lazarus was also a bona fide miracle, because Jesus raised a man who had been dead so long. Once again, He reversed biology by renewing the man’s very cells at the same time He gave Lazarus life again.
Finding a parking space in the front row, by comparison, is not a miracle.
Easton’s Bible Dictionary defines miracle as:
An event in the external world brought about by the immediate agency or the simple volition of God, operating without the use of means capable of being discerned by the senses, and designed to authenticate the divine commission of a religious teacher and the truth of his message (John 2:18; Matthew 12:38).
The Apostles performed bona fide miracles also. They healed, raised the dead. Philip was whisked in a lateral ‘rapture’ or snatching away from one place to another. (Acts 8:39-40). That was a miracle. I’m hoping that in the New Jerusalem we can all travel that way 😉
|Wisps, CC, by The Mighty Tim Iconnu|
To look at what a miracle is, let’s look at why they exist. S. Lewis Johnson said in his sermon “Divine Providence, or What About Miracles?” (Matthew 12:25-30),
Now you can see from just these passages that in our Lord’s mind, the miracles were not done simply to give evidence of the power of God, but they were given and performed by him with reference to a particular Messianic purpose. That is, the ultimate coming of the Messianic kingdom.
As for the apostles, the reason they were given power to do signs, is as Dr Johnson explains in the same sermon,
2 Corinthians 12:12, “Truly, the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience in signs, wonders and mighty deeds.” Now notice here the expression, “The signs of an apostle.” And he goes on to say that the signs of the apostles are signs, wonders and mighty deeds. Miracles were the signs of the relationship of the apostles to our Lord. They were the signs that they were apostles, and they also were signs that in their ministry there was a connection between what they were saying and the kingdom of God that would come upon the earth.
|Miracle of the Fishes, 1874 Alexander Bida|
We don’t need people to perform a miracle any more because the bible now tells us about the Kingdom. We were not alive to hear Jesus in His incarnation, but the Spirit recorded the words through men, and we can read them and hear them. The signifying events are no longer necessary.
Miracles were done in in Moses’ day; in Elijah and Elisha’ day; in the day of our Lord and the apostles. He performed the miracles Himself or through men so as to accomplish His redemptive purposes. The miracles were signs of the accomplishment of his purpose of salvation. He will perform miracles again, Himself, via angels, and through men during the times prophesied in Revelation.
Here is a list of all the miracles, according to ATS Bible Dictionary,
The creation of all things, Genesis 1:1-31.
The deluge, comprising many miracles, Genesis 6:1-22.
|Moses &the Burning Bush, illustration from 1890 Holman Bible|
The destruction of Sodom, etc., Genesis 19:1-38.
The healing of Abimelech, Genesis 20:17,18.
The burning bush, Exodus 3:2-4.
Moses’ rod made a serpent, and restored, Exodus 4:3-4 7:10.
Moses’ hand made leprous, and healed, Ex 4…6-7.
Water turned into blood, Exodus 4:9,30.
The Nile turned to blood, Exodus 7:20.
Frogs brought and removed, Exodus 8:6,13.
Lice brought, Exodus 8:17.
Flies brought, and removed, Exodus 8:21-31.
Murrain of beasts, Exodus 9:3-6.
Boils and blains brought, Exodus 9:10,11.
Hail brought, and removed, Exodus 9:23,33.
Locusts brought, and removed, Exodus 10:13,19.
Darkness brought, Exodus 10:22.
First-born destroyed, Exodus 10:29.
The Red Sea divided, Exodus 14:21-22.
Egyptians overwhelmed, Exodus 14:26-28.
Waters of Marah sweetened, Exodus 15:27.
Quails and manna sent, Exodus 16:1-36.
Water from the rock, in Horeb, Exodus 17:6.
Amalek vanquished, Exodus 17:11-13.
Pillar of cloud and fire, Numbers 9:15-23.
Leprosy of Miriam, Numbers 12:10.
Destruction of Korah, etc., Numbers 16:28-35,46-50.
Aaron’s rod budding, Numbers 17:8.
Water from the rock, in Kadesh, Numbers 20:11.
Healing by the brazen serpent, Numbers 21:8,9.
Balaam’s ass speaks, Numbers 22:28.
Plague in the desert, Numbers 25:1,9.
Water of Jordan divided, Joshua 3:10-17.
Jordan restored to its course, Joshua 4:18.
Jericho taken, Joshua 6:6-20.
Achan discovered, Joshua 7:14-21.
Sun and moon stand still, Joshua 10:12-14.
Gideon’s fleece wet, Jud 6:36-40.
Midianites destroyed, Jud 7:16-22.
Exploits of Samson, Jud 14:1-16:31.
House of Dagon destroyed, Jud 16:30.
Dagon falls before the ark, etc., 1 Samuel 5:1-12.
Return of the ark, 1 Samuel 6:12.
Thunder and rain in harvest, 1 Samuel 12:18.
Jeroboam’s hand withered, etc., 1 Kings 13:4,6.
The altar rent, 1 Kings 13:5.
Drought caused, 1 Kings 17:6.
Elijah fed by ravens, 1 Kings 17:6.
Meal and oil supplied, 1 Kings 17:14-16.
Child restored to life, 1 Kings 17:22-23.
Sacrifice consumed by fire, 1 Kings 18:36,38.
Rain brought, 1 Kings 18:41-45.
Men destroyed by fire, 2 Kings 1:10-12.
Waters of Jordan divided, 2 Kings 2:14.
Oil supplied, 2 Kings 4:1-7.
Child restored to life, 2 Kings 4:32-35.
Naaman healed, 2 Kings 5:10,14.
Gehazi’s leprosy, 2 Kings 5:27.
Iron caused to swim, 2 Kings 6:6.
Syrians smitten blind, etc., 2 Kings 19:35.
Hezekiah healed, 2 Kings 20:7.
Shadow put back, 2 Kings 20:11.
Pestilence in Israel, 1 Chronicles 21:14.
Jonah preserved by a fish, Jonah 1:17 2:10.
New Testament Miracles.
The star in the east, Matthew 2:3.
The Spirit like a dove, Matthew 3:16.
Christ’s fast and temptations, Matthew 4:1-11.
Many miracles of Christ, Matthew 4:23-24 8:16 14:14,36 15:30 Mark 1:34 Luke 6:17-19.
Lepers cleansed, Matthew 8:3-4 Luke 17:14.
Centurion’s servant healed, Matthew 8:5-13.
Peter’s wife’s mother healed, Matthew 8:14.
Tempests stilled, Matthew 8:23-26 14:32.
Devils cast out, Matthew 8:28-32 9:32-33 15:22-28 17:14-18.
Paralytics healed, Matthew 9:2-6 Mark 2:3-12.
Issue of blood healed, Matthew 9:20-22.
Jairus’ daughter raised to life, Matthew 9:18,25.
Sight given to the blind, Matthew 9:27-30 20:34 Mark 8:22-25 John 9:17.
The dumb restored, Matthew 9:32-33 12:22 Mark 7:33-35.
Miracles by the disciples, Matthew 10:1-8.
Multitudes fed, Matthew 14:15-21 15:35-38.
Christ walking on the sea, Matthew 14:25-27.
Peter walking on the sea, Matthew 14:29.
Christ’s transfiguration, etc., Matthew 17:1-8.
Tribute from a fish’s mouth, Matthew 17:27.
The fig tree withered, Matthew 21:19.
Miracles at the crucifixion, Matthew 27:51-53.
Miracles at the resurrection, Matthew 28:1-7 Luke 24:6.
Draught of fishes, Luke 5:4-6 John 21:6.
Widow’s son raised to life, Luke 7:14,15.
Miracles before John’s messengers, Luke 7:21-22.
Miracles by the seventy, Luke 10:9,17.
Woman healed of infirmity, Luke 13:11-13.
Dropsy cured, Luke 14:2-4.
Malchus’ ear restored, Luke 22:50-51.
Water turned to wine, John 2:6-10.
Nobleman’s son healed, John 4:46-53.
Impotent man healed, John 5:5-9.
Sudden crossing of the sea, John 6:21.
Lazarus raised from the dead, John 11:43-44.
Christ’s coming to his disciples, John 20:19,26.
Wonders at the Pentecost, Acts 2:1-11.
Miracles by the apostles, Acts 2:43 5:12.
Lame man cured, Acts 3:7.
Death of Ananias and Sapphira, Acts 5:5,10.
Many sick healed, Acts 5:15-16.
Apostles delivered from prison, Acts 5:19.
Miracles by Stephen, Acts 6:8.
Miracles by Philip, Acts 8:6,7,13.
Eneas made whole, Acts 9:34.
Dorcas restored to life, Acts 9:40.
Peter delivered from prison, Acts 12:6-10.
Elymas struck blind, Acts 13:11.
Miracles by Paul and Barnabas, Acts 14:3.
Lame man cured, Acts 14:10.
Unclean spirit cast out, Acts 16:18.
Paul and Silas delivered, Acts 16:25-26.
Special miracles, Acts 19:11-12.
Eutchus restored to life, Acts 20:10-12.
Viper’s bite made harmless, Acts 28:5.
Father of Publius, etc., healed, Acts 28:8,9
It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me. (Daniel 4:2)
But in no way were miracles themselves proof of faith. Miracles confirm already existing faith, but rarely if ever catalyzed a person to faith. As A. Strong describes:
Miracles alone could not produce conviction. The Pharisees ascribed them to Beelzebub. Though Jesus had done so many signs, yet they believed not…. Though miracles were frequently wrought, they were rarely appealed to as evidence of the truth of the gospel. They are simply signs of God’s presence in his world. By itself a miracle had no evidential force.
|Depiction of the Holy Spirit dove
(ceiling fresco in St. Charles’s Church,
There are interior miracles, and external miracles. An interior miracle would be prophecy, as the LORD gave words to the mind of the prophets and as the Spirit inspired the New Testament writers. Another interior miracle is the breaking of sin’s hold on a newly regenerated person. Justification is an internal miracle. We can’t see the actual breaking of bonds or the new heart, but we can see the effects of this interior miracle, the fruit of the Spirit.
The Spirit indwelling men is an internal miracle. The growth of a person in sanctification is another internal miracle. These are miracles because they are done by God without an intermediate instrument directly upon a person’s soul, heart, mind, and body. It truly IS a miracle when we are saved!! These are the miracles in works of grace.
An external miracle are all the others I posted above in the ATS Dictionary list. Consistently, the word for miracle in the bible is “sign”. A sign points to something. In the case of a miracle, the sign points to God.
John MacArthur said in his sermon, Does God Do Miracles Today?
And the types of miracles that are being claimed today are absolutely nothing like New Testament miracles, absolutely nothing like them. In fact, the types of miracles today could be distinctly seen as different than New Testament miracles. Jesus and the apostles instantly and completely healed people born blind, a paralytic, a man with a withered arm. All obvious and disputable miracles, even Jesus’ enemies didn’t challenge the reality of His miracles that He had the people there to verify them. He raised the dead, of course, as we well know. They never did a miracle that was slow, they never did a miracle that took time, they never did a miracle that was less than permanent. By contrast, most modern miracles are partial, gradual, temporary, sometimes reversed, and almost impossible to verify.
So before we go around claiming this or that miracle, let’s honor the Holy Spirit, our High priest
|The Gathering of the Manna, c1470|
Jesus, and Father God by pausing a moment to decide if we need to use different terminology. The miracles in the Old Testament and the New signify of God. There were miracles of creation, where He used no instrument but by the power of His word, created. Genesis 1:1 is an example of that. So was the coin in the fish’s mouth and the appearance of manna. There are miracles of healing, of triumphs over demons, of demonstration of power over nature, such as calming the storm at Galilee or shriveling the fig tree or causing rain or stopping the rain. There were miracles over animals, such as making Balaam’s donkey speak or the animals passively migrate to the ark or instructing the ravens to feed Elijah.
Miracles are a tremendous thing to ponder in scripture and to reverentially ascribe to God’s power, love, and creative artistry. Let’s not willy-nilly diminish that awe and reverence by calling mundane things miracles or ascribing to God what He has not done.
For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. (Mark 13:22)
A final word. Providence. Readers of this blog know I speak of it often and I’m fascinated by it. In my opinion, one of the reasons I love God’s Providence is because it is a complicated and wonderful miracle. It is certainly a tremendous thing to part the Red Sea. But how much more tremendous to providentially direct each and every step of both Mary’s and Joseph’s ancestors’ lives since the time of Adam and Eve, so that the two would meet at the perfectly correct time, and produce the babe Jesus?
Orchestrating each and every molecule of all material matter at every moment so that God’s plan for His Son come to pass is such a miracle that my mind cannot comprehend a God who does this so easily and by the power of His word and His will. Our God is not to be trifled with, loving as He is. Miracles are done every day in sustaining this world alive, and all the people on it. Let’s not diminish that by rejoicing over a parking space at the mall. Convenient, yes. Miracle? No.
After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!”
|Annie Vallotton drawings _Good news bible|
He said that the feeding the multitudes is an incredible, incredible miracle. 5,000 men were there which means women were there and children, heightening the tally to about 20,000 to 2,000 people on the hillside. Jesus brought food out of thin air, created it on the spot. It was not cursed b the ground nor by man. It was heavenly food, literally, which is probably the reason for the little detail they got as much food as they anted. It was probably so good they ate and ate until they were filled to busting.
It was incredible for another reason- every person participated in it. They didn’t just see it, or hear about it but took part in the miracle by eating of the food.
Here is a little scientific fact. In the sermon, Dr MacArthur quoted a scientist (sorry, I didn’t catch the name even though I listened several times, transcript will be up soon.) The science question is, if 20,000-25,000 people each ate half a pound of food, how much energy would it take to convert that into mass?
It’s Einstein’s famous equation, E = mc2.
Answer: It’d take all the electrical power on earth working at 100% output, 100% of the time, for 4 years, to create the energy to create that meal.
Jesus did it without breaking a sweat. Do you see why it’s such an incredible miracle? Now, get this:
He created the sun by His voice (John 1:3, Genesis 1:14). The sun consumes 600 millions of matter per second, generating enough energy in 1 sec to supply all US energy needs for 13 BILLION years. And God simply said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night.” And there was.
“When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.” (John 12:9-11)
“Crowds of the Jerusalem Jews hastened to Bethany, not so much to see Jesus, whom they knew to be there, as to see dead Lazarus alive; and this, issuing in their accession to Christ, led to a plot against the life of Lazarus also, as the only means of arresting the triumphs of Jesus (see John 12:19)-to such a pitch had these chief priests come of diabolical determination to shut out the light from themselves, and quench it from the earth!” (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary).
How incredible the power is sin is. The chief priests, endowed with the sacred cause of ministering in the holy Temple and interceding for the people, instead plotted murder of Lazarus, the living miracle! (As an aside, I wonder how Lazarus felt being a tourist attraction…if it pointed to Christ, which it did, I bet he felt pretty good about it!)
Sin is so dark and strangling, the Priests’ hearts were dwindled down to a shriveled pea but as dense heavy as a black hole. Yet so was my heart, before I was saved! Our Lord is so loving and precious, He first loved us. (Romans 5:8).
I guess just be warned by the fact that sin will make you as heartless as the priests and Pharisees, who wanted to quench the Light and douse the triumphs. And be encouraged that no matter what your sin, if you repent, and seek Him He will forgive you.
Do you realize that? John the Baptist performed not one miracle. As a matter of fact, until Jesus came and changed the water into wine at Cana, no miracle had been performed in Israel for 800 years! Not since the time of Elijah and Elisha. No prophet had spoken to Israel as the messenger of God for 400 years, not since Malachi! No angel had appeared to the people (as far as we know) for 500 years!
So why was the greatest man who was born of woman until his time, (Mathew 11:11) and who was one of the greatest (and most successful) Old Testament prophets never been given the power to perform one miracle?
Above, Matthias Grünewald, detail of the Isenheim Altarpiece, “He must become greater and I must become less“.
I have no great insight, no commentary I’ve used, and no sermon I can point you to. I just want to focus on the holy Word of God and its effect on hungry, despairing hearts.
John the Baptist was a forerunner to the Messiah, one who was prophesied to come and who did come. (Isaiah 40:3-5; John 1:23). He had one message and one message only: repent and be saved. (Matthew 3:2; Mark 1:4). One would not think that a man with a singular message of sin, sinners, repentance and baptism would be popular. Men who preach that are not popular today. But John the Baptist had throngs of followers who listened to him. He had throngs who followed his preaching with a life choice to become baptised in water, in preparation for the Messiah’s coming when they would be baptised by fire. Even King Herod liked to listen to John, even though John was no shirker of his responsibility to point out to the King his sinful actions! (John 6:18).
|Giovanni Tiepolo: John the Baptist preaching|
“Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.” (Matthew 3:5-6).
Of course, some undoubtedly followed John because they loved hearing him charge the religious leaders of the day with hypocrisy. Some undoubtedly followed John because he was the most interesting thing going on. Some undoubtedly were excited to think of their Messiah coming in all glory to rip the Romans from the death-grip they had on the land. But those were likely in the minority.
The fact is, John was filled with the Holy Spirit at birth, and a man speaking truth about the Messiah from a pure, Holy Spirit-filled heart is the most powerful miracle there is.
You can read about how demon-drenched the place was. (Luke 6:17-19). No prophet had spoken. No angel had come. No miracle had occurred. The religious services were saturated with hypocrisy, filthy lucre, and idolatry thanks to the failure of the leaders of the day and the years before and the generations preceding. The people were tired of sin- their own and others’. The whole land was crawling with demons.
|St John the Baptist Preaching, Gaulli|
So they listened.
In my opinion, John’s ministry was miraculous in the way that it shows us what preaching the word does to weary hearts. Weary hearts want the word. They want to hear about the Messiah. They want hope of His coming to enter their hearts and fill them with knowledge of His glory.
Their hearts were hungry for message of hope, and even for a message of hard truths; a message of their sins and the hope of the coming of the Perfect who would deliver them.
You can imagine how hungry hearts are today. And as it was true then, it is true now: the preaching of repentance and the coming of the Messiah prepares us for Him
Though our generations will not be blessed with national revival, but instead be cursed with global apostasy, (Revelation 2:5; 2 Thessalonians 2:3; 2 Timothy 4:3-4), we know that individual hearts are still hungry. Individual hearts still thirst for the Living Water and we still need to proclaim it.
My New Year’s wish for us all is that we resolve to cling to the Holy Word by diligent study, knowledge of, and living it out. I pray for us that we resolve to speak it, proclaim it, contend for it. His word, the holy bible, is now the miracle that sustains us and is His sign that He is living and active. (Hebrews 4:21).
Can we resolve to focus on the coming Messiah? Can we dedicate our lives to serving Him? Can we devote ourselves to proclaiming the only message worth sharing? The power of the holy Word has been demonstrated throughout the record of the bible. It has demonstrated itself through its staying power throughout the centuries. It has shown itself powerful by its ability to penetrate hard hearts and claim souls.
Do you know it? Do you read it? Do you hide it in your heart for the moment the Spirit might prompt you to share a message of sin and repentance?
In most artistic renderings of John, he is shown with a hand or a finger pointing up toward heaven. My New Year’s resolution for myself and my hope for all Christians everywhere is that we follow the example of John in pointing our lives toward Jesus. Do not seek after signs and manifestations, but rely on the sure word.
Left, John the Baptist, by Preti, MetMusum. “Saint John the Baptist is shown seated in the wilderness exhorting the viewer to repentance, his right hand pointing heavenwards, his skin tanned through years in the desert. The lamb stands for Christ, the “lamb of God.”
Isaiah said that one like John would come–
“A voice of one calling: “In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.” (Isaiah 40:3)
John did come.
“He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” (John 1:23).
As we view 2013 ahead, we all feel like we are each in the wilderness as John was. I know many of us feel that we try and try but no one is listening. We know from the Word that as each year passes it won’t get better, it will get worse. But the truth does have an effect. It does penetrate hearts. Maybe you don’t see it right away but the fruits will become visible someday. That’s why we can’t lose heart and we have to stay true to Him. The Proverbs say for us-
“In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:6)
“The righteousness of the blameless keeps his way straight,” (Proverbs 11:5a)
Keep on the straight and narrow, and always point to Christ. Here is a wonderful New Year’s gift to us all:
“And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:16-17)
I went out directly after school yesterday and didn’t get home until 9:30. I went with a friend to see the movie “The Help.” It was an excellent movie. I had read the book this summer and I think the movie stayed very close to the book. Both were good, and I recommend either reading the book or viewing the movie. Then we went to Chili’s for supper. I hadn’t realized that the movie was 2:20 running time! The movie was so good that you didn’t notice the length of time in the theater and when we got out we were astounded to see that it was almost 7:30.
Here is a re-post of a news article that I found interesting. It is just one of those things that make you go “huh!” I will post another blog entry tonight. There are a lot of thoughts going through my mind. There is so much happening in the world it will be hard to know what topic to choose! The Spirit will tell me.
I hope you enjoy this one. There is a video at the link.:
WASHINGTON – For patient Robert Valderzak, Tuesday’s earthquake was a blessing in disguise. On Father’s Day, the 75-year-old lost his hearing when he fell. He has been in the hospital since then.
“He has a conductive loss, meaning that could be due to fluid or problems with the bones of the ear. And he has a nerve loss as well, so it’s a combined loss,” said Dr. Ross Fletcher, Chief of Staff at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Northwest D.C.
Valderzak used a special speaker phone with a light on it that flashed when it was ringing and an audio device system to communicate. But on Tuesday, something strange happened while his four children were visiting and that massive earthquake rocked the region.
When it was over, Valderzak, who sat in silence for months, sat up in his bed and told his kids, “I said, you know, my hearing is back. I can hear everything, people in the hallway.”
As he was shaking around in his bed, something happened in his head, and he could hear and talk again.
“Some people seem to be a little frightened by it, but he is delighted that this earthquake came along because soon after the event, he could hear everything in the room very clearly,” Dr. Ross said. “I think there is still some hearing loss if I test him informally. We do have the ability to look into audiograms and do it more formally.”
But to Valderzak, he doesn’t care about any test. He already knows what happened.
“To me, it was a miracle, a blessing from God up above. Couldn’t ask for a better day,” said Valderzak.
Something wonderful happened. I posted earlier today about a boy that was drowned, dead, non-responsive for over 15 minutes, who was brought to the hospital and then he awoke, and even more miraculously, he had no lingering effects of his drowning ordeal. The group swimming at the beach was a church youth group, and when the boy was swept out to sea, they began praying on their knees. It was a great story. I felt very good after reading it, and I was so grateful to be thinking of that all day long.
Something terrible happened. A Texas father threw his four-year-old son out of his car “like a bag of garbage” and left him standing on a West Texas highway. The father drove off. It was 3 am along a cactus-strewn area of nothing in the middle of nowhere. A passing motorist saw the boy move in the gloomy morning light and stopped to check out the situation. The motorist brought the boy to the hospital, and the doctors extracted 500 cactus spines from him. He was dehydrated too, but thankfully that was the extent of his injuries.
Have you ever been to West Texas? I have. There is nothing there. Except javelinas. Coyotes. Foxes. Creosote bushes. Cactus. Rattlesnakes. AND A FOUR-YEAR-OLD BOY! Here is a google street view photo of Interstate 20 as it winds into Sweetwater.
I was so upset reading this story I cried like a baby. I was distressed and angry and wretched. I prayed so hard for the Lord to perform justice on the world and for the rapture to occur so that the children would be safe in eternity with their Father. I thought about the kid’s dad, and I was mad that the world has come to such a state where a person would even think of doing this let alone actually do it.
So I was thinking, how can I hang I emotionally until the rapture? I work with children in an elementary school. This is my fourth year working with children in school here in GA. I was a teacher in Maine for 12 years, working with kids in a depressed inner city from 1982 to 1994. Even though I was teaching in an inner city back then, the conditions I see now are worse. Not as many kids are bringing snacks to school as they used to. More children are on free and reduced lunch. More programs are starting that strive to put food in kids backpacks so they can eat over the weekend. They are wearing clothes that are too big and fall off them at recess as they run around. They wear clothes that they’ve outgrown and are so tight they literally can’t sit down on the floor to put together a puzzle. They have old shoes taped together, live unsettling home lives, are getting evicted, moving a lot from one family member to other family member. In other words, I’ve never seen things so bad with these children, and I mourn over them. I pray over them. I love them.
Suffice it to say, children in these terrible times are much on my mind. When I read the story out of Texas, I lost it. It put me over the top.
But then I started thinking of the joy. With Jesus, there is always joy. I decided to focus on the child, and the miracles that had to have happened around the rescue of the boy that are just as miraculous as the rescue of the drowned boy up above. First, if you know four year olds, the fact that he stayed by the road is a miracle. That for the three hours he was stranded, he didn’t move even an inch from the roadside was wonderful. Wandering into the desert would likely have been the end of him. The fact that no animal got to him is also wonderful. That a motorist spotted the boy in the gloom was also a miracle. Angels must have been tightly surrounding the boy and ministering to him. THAT is how to hang in there emotionally until the rapture- choose joy. Seek joy. Trust the Lord.
With Jesus, there is always joy to be found in any situation. Sometimes, we don’t know how a situation turned out, but faith in Him means that we take to heart the verse that says “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” We know that these two boys were rescued, but for the ones where we don’t know the end, trust Him to work it out to the good. (Romans 8:28). The verse doesn’t say ‘some things work together for the good’ it says all things. Evil does exist in the world and it is more visible than ever. But Jesus works it out for those who love Him. And some day those of us who love Him, and the children, will be whisked away to His dwelling place in heaven to be glorified and freed from the effects of sin.
No more little boys will be abandoned. No more teens will be drowned. No more kids will be hungry or cold or sad. He is working all things to the good. In the midst of evil, choose joy. Trust Him when it seems there is no joy in sight. Because there is!!!!!!!!!