I Want God to Show Up With Miracles and Other Fun Things

Elisha by 18 century icon painter (Iconostasis of Kizhi monastery, Russia) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Elisha by 18 century icon painter (Iconostasis of Kizhi monastery, Russia) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Elisha

There's a fascinating chain of events in this ancient prophet's life that makes my head spin. It also makes me a little jealous. Elisha lived almost 900 years before Christ and worked in the northern kingdom of Israel. It was a period of unprecedented wickedness following the reign of Ahab and his infamous wife, Jezebel. Elisha's predecessor and mentor was Elijah who was caught up to heaven in a chariot of fire, one of two Bible characters who are now in heaven without having first suffered death. The other is Enoch.

And day in the life of...

Actually it's a chapter in the life of the prophet Elisha. Scripture has a habit of telescoping events that occur over months and years into what appears to be a very short time. II Kings 4 starts by recording Elisha's encounter with an unnamed widow of another prophet. She has two sons and one jar of oil. Elisha responded to her appeal for help by asking her to gather as many empty jars as she could find. She must then fill these with oil from the original jar. Imagine their surprise when the oil kept flowing until the last container was filled. At Elisha's command, they sold the oil and paid off their debt. Not a bad piece of mercy ministry.

Then there was the Shunammite

About twenty miles southwest of the Sea of Galilee lived a wealthy couple in the town of Shunem. Elisha habitually stopped in to seem them. The wife, hereafter called the Shunammite, suggested that special quarters by built on the roof to accommodate the prophet. And so it happened that Elisha inquired about how she might be rewarded for her kindness. Upon learning that she was childless and her husband was old, the prophet called her in and announced, "about this time next year you will embrace a son." The Shunammite was incredulous, even accused Elisha of lying.

Sure enough she bore a son within a year, only to have him die in his youth. Understandably, the mother felt a bit jerked around. She laid the child on the prophet's bed and took off at break-neck speed to find the man. She clasped her hands around his feet and cried out, "Did I ask for a son? Why have you given me one, only to take him away? So Elisha handed his staff to Gehazi, his servant, with orders to run ahead and lay it on the dead boy's face. Nothing happened. When Elisha and the mother arrived, he went up to the room and lay upon the dead boy, thus warming the body as he prayed. The boy came alive, coughed and was presented to his mother. Again the woman clasped the prophet's feet, this time, in gratitude. Beyond that? No big deal.

The final event in this chapter finds Elisha at a prophet conference. It was during a severe famine and there was little to eat. But at the prophet's command a stew made of wild vines and gourds was set to boil. When the folks began to eat some got sick and cried, "There is death in the pot!" So Elisha asked for some flour which he threw into the pot. All was well. About then a visitor arrived bringing twenty loaves of barley and a few ears of grain. Still not much for a hundred hungry prophets. Elisha ordered that it be distributed and promised that there would be some left over. And so it was.

Rods of Moses and the Magicians turn into serpents. But the latter were swallowed up by the former
Rods of Moses and the Magicians turn into serpents. But the latter were swallowed up by the former | Source
Angel awakens the prophet Elijah
Angel awakens the prophet Elijah | Source
Daniel in the lions' den
Daniel in the lions' den | Source
Jesus' first miracle - Water into wine
Jesus' first miracle - Water into wine | Source

Why doesn't God show up like this now?

Since we read of these events in a document we regard as the inspired Word of God, it's natural to assume that God would continue to behave, well, like the all-powerful God that he is. Just a day or two of good old fashioned miracles would hush the mouths of cynics, encourage dispirited Christians and energize world evangelism. No? Well, maybe.

The answer is simple and believed by most Christians. But it is very hard to accept in daily life. Not only is God all-powerful; He is also all-wise and all-loving. If He doesn't show up to do what we think He should do, it is because our demands are not always wise nor loving. True, but why then was God so responsive to Elisha. Surely, Elisha's understanding was limited and his motives mixed. He was a sinner like the rest of us.

Revelation history

Let's step back and look at the big picture. The Bible is not an exhaustive record of all that has transpired in human history. That's obvious. Nothing is recorded about Plato or Pericles; Aristotle or Herodotus. The Bible doesn't tell us about events in China or in the, yet to be discovered, Americas. Neither is the Bible a random collection of stories designed to inspire. Nor is it a series of myths deliberately foisted on a gullible people by clerics.

The Bible is revelation history. It is a compilation of historical events selected by God to reveal his plan to rescue some from humanty's self-destructive course. Since God has created the universe and sovereignly ordains al that comes to pass, we could go back even further and say that God himself ordered up a chain of historical events that would reveal his intent to save a people. It is those events that are recorded in Scripture. Yes, even ugly things that seem to discredit God's holy character.

A quick scan of revelation history shows that there were certain periods when miracles seem to be quite common, four in particular. The first is the life and times of Moses and Joshua (1500 to 1400 BC) the second is the time of the prophets, Elijah and Elisha (900-800 BC). Third, the days of Daniel and his friends (600-500 BC) Finally, you find miracles done by Jesus and his Apostles (1st century AD). Except for some strange things associated with the ark of the covenant when captured by the Philistines, there are no miracles happening in the days of David and Solomon.

In fact some of the psalms have David feeling the same way I do about miracles not happening. Here's a section of Psalm 88 written by the sons of Korah under David's direction. "Every day I call upon you, O LORD; I spread out my hands to you. Do you work wonders for the dead? Do the departed rise up to praise you? Is your steadfast love declared in the grave, or your faithfulness in Abaddon? (another word for destruction) Are your wonders known in the darkness, or you righteousness in the land of forgetfulness? (vs.9-12) (paren mine)

With bitter irony David wonders if he must wait until dead to see God work wonders. I like David's honesty.

What is a miracle?

In biblical theology a miracle is a supernatural event by which God authenticates the persons associated with them as his spokesmen. In other words, true miracles are associated with revelation. Miracles take place where there is a special call to prove that God is speaking with authority. This was the situation in the four periods of miracles mentioned above. It's reasonable to see that when God's saving plan climaxed in the coming of Jesus Christ, these sort of authenticating miracles become less necessary. If you believe that Jesus rose from the dead, what more proof do you need?

But don't miracles happen today? Yes, there are reports of dramatic miraculous events happening in the underground church in China. Check out David Aikman's Jesus in Beijing. While many cannot be confirmed independently, they certainly have authenticated the gospel and drawn millions to the Savior despite severe persecution.

So miracles are not to be seen as God's supernatural way of tending to his people's needs; but rather they are designed to support his plan of salvation. Consider this. As much as you might like to be miraculously healed, it would be a temporary fix. Only in glory will we be made whole.

I make a habit of linking Scripture references or allusions to them to the ESV website where you can read the text for yourself.

How did you make use of those links?

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So what to expect

God gets to decide when a miracle will further his purposes. On the other hand we pray for his power to be at work in our lives. Sometimes there are dramatic events revealing the finger of God, but often He answers by giving us the grace to endure. Again that is his call.

The demand for the miraculous is like a baby crying for his milk bottle. You expect it of babies; but when older? Not so much. If when God withholds immediate relief for whatever you are dealing with you cop an attitude, what sort of faith do you have? While Aikman reports many miracles in China there are just as many, if not more, instances of extreme endurance under severe suffering. Our brothers and sisters in China see the power of God; but the presence of God is more precious to them.

Would that the same could be said of me. Working on that.

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Comments - I'm listening 10 comments

liftandsoar profile image

liftandsoar 4 years ago from Richmond, VA Author

Glad to hear from you, Eric. Thanks for the Havner quote.


Eric Mulford profile image

Eric Mulford 4 years ago from Prattville, Alabama

You have put this matter into perfect perspective with this comment:

"Our brothers and sisters in China see the power of God; but the presence of God is more precious to them."

Vance Havner said: "We seek God for His goodies, when we should seek His goodness."

Whatever God chooses to do in this life will pale in comparision to the glory of His presence.


liftandsoar profile image

liftandsoar 4 years ago from Richmond, VA Author

Well said Darrell. I'm confident that eternity will reveal how wise, poweful and loving God has been with us every moment of every day and how utterly foolish we've been for ever doubting his hand. In fact learning all that will occupy an eternity.


darrell eisenhauer 4 years ago

What is our definition of a miracle? I expect when we stand before God and our life is reviewed, we will see MANY miracles that were performed on our behalf, and most of which we had no awareness. Perhaps the biggest challenge to our faith is acknowledging God has all wisdom and good intentions towards us when he chooses when and how to answer our requests.


liftandsoar profile image

liftandsoar 4 years ago from Richmond, VA Author

Appreciate your common sense on things spiritual, Disappearinghead. I don't deny at all that God often heals in response to our prayer and sometimes, whether we pray or not. On the other hand, we parents do allow our children to suffer from time to time, when we believe it's for their good. We take our kids to get their shots. That's suffering to them and we delibirately put them through it.

We may have to just agree to disagree on whether or not God wills his people to suffer. But disagreement doesn't at all mean a break in fellowship or any disdain one may have for the other. I certainly respect your position.

Regarding being healed by his stripes, I take a broader definition of "healed" than from sickness. It certainly includes sickness. But the ultimate healing is our eternal renewal in glory. On that all believers agreek.


Disappearinghead profile image

Disappearinghead 4 years ago from Wales, UK

Yes I don't believe you can walk "in Jesus name" unless we are walking in his will. But I think we get all worked up about what is his will. His will is that we worship the Father and love our neighbour as ourselves, these summon up the law. If the Kingdom of God is within us, it should be obvious to us as to what is and is not his will.

I can't believe that it is his will for someone to continue in suffering as we would not do that to our children, he came to bear our infirmities and by his stripes we are healed.

As you say, we are told to lay hands on the sick and by our faith they will be made well.

As for Paul's thorn in the flesh, we have no idea what that was: physical, mental, spiritual, or external hostility.


liftandsoar profile image

liftandsoar 4 years ago from Richmond, VA Author

Michele, so glad you stopped by. Also that you found the hub informative and helpful. As you probably can tell most of my writing reflects struggles I myself have had. It's good to see that I'm not alone


Michele Travis profile image

Michele Travis 4 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

This is a very good hub, it is helping me learn. One of the things you wrote in your hub was God gets to decide when a miracle will further his purposes. On the other hand we pray for his power to be at work in our lives. Sometimes there are dramatic events revealing the finger of God, but often He answers by giving us the grace to endure. Again that is his call. To me this helped me learn more about God and his miracles. That was a VERY good this. Because as you may probably know, I am a born again Christian. We can ask for many miracles, but that does not mean we will get all of them.

However, God still loves us.


liftandsoar profile image

liftandsoar 4 years ago from Richmond, VA Author

Disappearinghead, thanks for responding and sharing your experience. I certainly agree with your understanding of what "in Jesus' name" means. Don't you think that it also includes the notion that "if Jesus wills."

Fact is that while there were many healings in the NT, there are also some significant illnesses that went unhealed. The most obvious is Paul's thorn in the flesh. II Corinthians 12:1-10.

On the other hand we are directly instructed to pray for the sick in James 5:14,15


Disappearinghead profile image

Disappearinghead 4 years ago from Wales, UK

After many years of thought about this stuff, I've come to the conclusion that God isn't going to step in to do miracles. Why? Because Jesus told us to do them.

John 14:12

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

I honestly think that praying for God/Jesus/Holy Spirit to come and do miracles is pointless. He isn't going to come and do what He told us to do ourselves. When people were healed during Jesus' ministry, he continually told them "your faith has made you well". Together with "the Kingdom of God is within you", and "it is finished", there's nothing left for Him to do. We should just get on with it.

To that end over the last 6 months when my wife or kids are unwell or in pain, I lay my hands on them and I command the healing. I don't say "in Jesus name" because that's not what it means. "In Jesus name" means to come as His representative in that situation, not some abracadabra incantation that's supposed to invoke his power by saying the words. I've had some good success. We're building our faith here little by little. Give it a try, you might be surprised.

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