Divine Miracles - Why Aren't There Any Today?
What is a Miracle?
First of all, we need to be on the same page here about miracles. If we're going to discuss miracles, we need to agree on what defines a miracle, or we could be talking about two different things. If you saw Mary in your soup while you were eating dinner, good for you, but we're not going to be putting that in the miracle category.
A miracle is a sensibly perceptible interruption of the laws of nature, such that only can be explained by divine intervention.
Okay, so we know what to look for when we are talking about a miracle. Example: The prophet Moses, led the Egyptian people across the Red Sea on dry ground while the water was parted on either side. This definitely goes into the miracle category. The laws of nature were clearly interrupted, and there is no explanation, humanly speaking. There were several incidents like this one throughout the past thousand years that could be placed in the miracle category according to the Bible. I know, we weren't there and we didn't see them, but we're going through them anyway.
Old Testament Miracles
Now, in case you didn't know, there are tons of miracles recorded throughout the OT, so I'll just go through 5 of them here.
God reveals Himself to Moses through a flaming bush.
Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, "I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up." When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, "Moses! Moses!" And Moses said, "Here I am.""Do not come any closer," God said. "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground." Then he said, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob." At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God. (Exodus 3:1-6)
Joshua leads the Israelites across the Jordan river.
Joshua said to the Israelites, "Come here and listen to the words of the LORD your God. This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites. See, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth will go into the Jordan ahead of you. Now then, choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the LORD -the Lord of all the earth—set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap." So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water's edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (the Salt Sea ) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground. (Joshua 3:9-17)
The day the Earth stood still.
On the day the LORD gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the LORD in the presence of Israel: "O sun, stand still over Gibeon, O moon, over the Valley of Aijalon." So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, as it is written in the Book of Jashar. The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the LORD listened to a man. Surely the LORD was fighting for Israel! (Joshua 10:12-14)
The Lord burns up the offering of Elijah.
Many is Israel were following the god Ba'al, and Elijah summoned all the people to Mount Carmel. Once there Elijah, the only prophet of the Lord, told the people to make up their minds and serve either the Lord, or Ba'al, but they said nothing. There were 450 prophets of Ba'al there, and Elijah told them to take 2 bulls, choose the one they wanted, and offer it on their dry alter to Ba'al. He told them he would do the same with his offering, and offer it to the Lord, and the one who aswered by fire was the real God. The people agreed to this and shouted for Ba'al all day, but nothing happened.
At evening it was Elijah's turn. He built up an altar out of stones, placed the other bull on it, dug a trench around it, and had the people douse it with water three times, which also filled the trench he had dug around the altar. Then Elijah prayed to God. At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: "O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again." Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, "The LORD -he is God! The LORD -he is God!" (1 Kings 18:36-39)
The Lord saves Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego from the fire.
King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon planned to throw Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego into a flaming furnace because they would not bow down and worship his golden statue.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."
Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego,
and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated
seven times hotter than usual and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. The king's command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames
of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and
Abednego, and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace. Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his
advisers, "Weren't there three men that we tied up and threw into the
fire?" They replied, "Certainly, O king." He said, "Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods." Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and
shouted, "Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High
God, come out! Come here!" So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around
them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a
hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there
was no smell of fire on them. (Daniel 3:16-27)
New Testament Miracles
Okay, we now have a few situations that qualify as miracles, as they are directly intervened, and also humanly unexplainable. Lets move on to the NT, and look at a few more miracles that have been recorded.
Jesus feeds 5,000 plus women and children.
As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, "This is a remote place, and it's already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food." Jesus replied, "They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat." "We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish," they answered.
"Bring them here to me," he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children. (Matthew 14:13-21)
Jesus walks on water.
Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." "Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water." "Come," he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!" Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?" And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God." (Matthew 14:25-33)
Jesus raises Lazarus from the grave.
Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. "Take away the stone," he said. "But, Lord," said Martha, the sister of the dead man, "by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days." Then Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?"
So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me."
When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, "Take off the grave clothes and let him go." (John 11:38-44)
Why Don't These Miracles Happen Today?
Well, whether you believe them or not, the miracles recorded in the OT and NT were big time miracles. If you saw one, you would have noticed it, but it wasn't like these things were happening all the time. Miracles in the OT reminded the people who was in control. Then when God came to Earth in the flesh, as Jesus, He did many other miracles, still reminding the people who was in control.
The people who constantly fueded with Jesus were the religious leaders; the Pharisees, the Saduccees, and the chief priests. They didn't care who Jesus was, or what He was doing, they only cared about people leaving their religion to follow Jesus. So from the start, they plotted together about how they might kill Jesus, and after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, they plotted about how they might kill Lazarus also. Their positions were that important, and they weren't about to lose their status, their power, or their authority.
After Jesus willingly gave up His life for the people of every age, tongue, and nation, He was raised three days later, and seen by the apostles and over 500 other witnesses. Before He ascended into heaven, He informed the apostles that He would be sending a Helper, whom they were to wait for and expect. The Helper, of course, is the Holy Spirit. Jesus told them to wait for the Holy Spirit because they would have been unequipped to go out and spread the Good News without Him.
Once the apostles received the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, they were then ready and able to go out and continue the work that Jesus had begun. They healed the sick, casted out demons, raised the dead, and did many of the same miracles that Jesus had done before He ascended. Even though the rulers would have been looking to take down the apostles also, the church spread like wild fire, and miracles were happening all over the place, as recorded in the book of Acts.
What does this have to do with modern day miracles?
I'm getting to that part... According to the BIble, in OT days, God spoke to the people through different prophets. After that, God came here Himself in the flesh, as Jesus. He taught us how to live, how to act, and how to love. He came here to redeem His people from sin, and once that was accomplished by Jesus' death on the cross, He then promised to be with us always, and I would like to suggest to you that by coming to us in the form of the Holy Spirit, He can be with us always and continue His work through us.
This is now how modern day miracles can take place.
Does God heal the bodies of those who are mildly, or severely ill? I believe that He can, and does, however, since it could be argued that the illness may have cleared up on its own, or there have been some kind of misdiagnosis, or whatever, I won't include such healings in this article.
Does God still feed multitudes of people who are hungry? I believe that He can, and does, however, since it could be argued that people are the ones who contribute and feed those who are hungry, I won't include those things here either. I have heard stories of hundreds of people being fed with only a few sandwiches, but perhaps it was an embellishment, or they were hiding more sandwiches within their jackets, or something like that. I've never tried it, and probably neither have you. Maybe we should try it some time.
Anyway, I'd like to address another kind of miracle, a kind that happens all the time and has to do with the heart. Hear me out because heart change is the kind of change that so many of us want, but are rarely able to achieve. Heart change is drastic, and means a total change in the way that one thinks, feels, and acts. I will use the apostle Paul as an example.
Paul's actual name was Saul. He was raised in a religious family as a Pharisee. He believed he was doing God's work by persecuting the followers of Christ. He would find them, put them in jail, torture them, and even kill some of them. He thought this was the right thing to do, he thought he was doing God's work. One day when he was traveling on the road to Damascus, he was planning to capture some more Christians and throw them in jail. This plan was foiled when a bright light shone out of the sky and stopped him, and the two others with him, dead in their tracks. Saul fell to the ground as he heard a voice say, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?" Saul then asked, "Who are you, Lord?" The voice then responded, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do". (Acts 9:1-6)
The two other men with Saul heard the voice, but saw no one. When they helped Saul up, he opened his eyes, but could not see. He did not eat or drink anything for three days until he reached the city. Once there, the Lord had someone waiting to meet him named, Ananias. Ananias knew who Saul was, and questioned God's instruction, to which God answered, "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name." (Acts 9:15-16)
After that, God restored Saul's sight and he stayed with the other disciples. Immediately Saul began to preach Jesus as the Son of God, and then the Jews conspired to kill him. After that, Saul was known as Paul because he was a new man. He had a total heart change based on something only God could do.
Everyone knows that people don't change, not usually by their own power anyway. That's why we have sayings like, "Once a cheater, always a cheater". People often desire to change and be different, but it rarely happens. That's why I would clasify Paul's case, and others like it as a miracle. It's something that does not naturally happen, and there is no explanation outside of divine intervention. Paul was a persecuter of Christ and His followers, and then one day he is preaching Jesus as the Son of God in the synagogues. It just doesn't make any sense. This kind of thing still continues to happen today, maybe not with a bright light, and maybe not with a loud voice from heaven, but we have proof that people undergo this exact kind of heart change with no explanation.
Maybe there are people in and around your life who have had this kind of heart change, or maybe there aren't. There are many documented instances of real people having real heart change where there is no human explanation. I will try to add some links to some of these instances as I find them because otherwise, this long article would become even longer.
Lets quickly go over some classic persecution scenarios. Things like these actually happen, they are documented, and victims have the scars and bruises to prove that they took place, if the victims survived at all.
Richard Wurmbrandt, was a follower of Christ, and he was imprisoned for many years by the Communists for that very reason. Yes, in restricted and hostile nations Christians do go to jail for just being Christian. Richard was constantly beaten and tortured by the communists in prison. The communists had no feelings, no love, no concern for human life at all. All they did was shout, and beat. One of the main goals of these communists was to get the Christians to deny Christ. Sometimes they even offered to free the prisoner, if that prisoner would just deny that Jesus Christ was Lord.
Richard, as well as other Christians that did not deny Christ, remained in prison, where they continued to be tortured for their faith. Why would anyone do that? Why wouldn't a person just say that Jesus wasn't Lord, and then go home and say, "Ha, ha, I didn't relly mean it". It just defies human reasoning, and I would suggest that it would be classified as a miracle. Why suffer for Jesus, when the option of freedom is right there? I believe that Jesus suffered for us in the first place, and that He also give strength, courage, and grace to those who are willing to suffer for His name, and not only that, but that He is right there with them in that moment as He promised to be. I believe it's divine intervention when someone is able to suffer for the name of Jesus Christ, instead of taking the easy way out. There's no other explanation for it.
There's also another part to that situation. Sometimes the persecuter gets a heart change just like Saul did, and if Saul's situation classifies as a miracle, then each situation where the persecuter suddenly repents of what has been done and turns to faith in Christ, could also be considered a miracle. Richard Wurmbrandt wrote a book called, "Tortured for Christ", which details exactly what he went through, and I believe that at least one of the Communists turned to faith in Christ. These Communists didn't care about anything. People were just like animals to them, and all they wanted to do was yell, and cause hurt. Why would one of these Communists suddenly repent of what he did, and begin to preach Jesus as the Son of God, just like Saul did long ago? It's not explainable. Only divine intervention can change a persons heart and life in that way.
These are just two of the sorts of miracles that I believe happen today. I'm sure there are many others, however, I wanted to concentrate on these two mostly, and this article has become quite long in the process.