Biblical Miracles

  Do miracles really happen? A new NBC series called Mysterious Ways is asking this question. It features a professor of anthropology who spends every spare moment investigating purported miracles. One reviewer calls the drama "an interesting combination of The X- Files and Touched by an Angel." Sometimes miracles enhance our faith -- but I've also found that the accounts of biblical miracles can be a stumbling block to belief. When I talk about the historical truth of the Bible, people often ask: What about Jonah and the whale? What about Noah and the Flood? What about the parting of the Red Sea? These stories are held up as so preposterous that no one could possible take the Bible seriously. But scientists who study these events tell us that they are not as impossible as they might seem. Sometimes they are just special instances of the application of perfectly normal laws of nature. Take, for example, the parting of the Red Sea. The Bible says God used the east wind, blowing all night, to push the waters back. Now, it's a well-known scientific fact that a steady wind blowing over a body of water can change the water level. So, two oceanographers decided to see if the same thing could happen on the narrow sliver of the Red Sea reaching up into the Gulf of Suez. That's where many scholars believe the Israelites crossed as they were escaping from Pharaoh's army. Writing in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, the scientists concluded that a moderate wind blowing constantly for about ten hours could very well have caused the sea to recede a mile or two. The water level would drop ten feet, leaving dry land for the Israelites to cross. According to one of the scientists, "The Gulf of Suez provides an ideal body of water for such a process because of its unique geography." Later, an abrupt change in wind could cause the water to return rapidly -- in a sudden, devastating wave. It could easily have trapped Pharaoh's troops, just as the Bible describes. The study, of course, doesn't prove that the crossing of the Red Sea happened exactly this way. It merely shows that God could have used perfectly normal forces to perform his miraculous deliverance. A skeptic may argue that if there's a natural explanation, then it wasn't a miracle after all. But if it was only a natural event, isn't it strange that the sea parted just when Moses held out his staff? And that it fell back just when Pharaoh's soldiers were in hot pursuit? No, God may use a natural process to accomplish his goals, but it's still a work of his hand, in his timing, and for his purposes. Our kids can't help seeing that the secular world is deeply skeptical about biblical miracles -- or about anything else to do with Christianity, for that matter. To help parents think through faith issues with their teens, I've just published a new book called Answers to Your Kids' Questions. If you call BreakPoint, we'll tell you how to order a copy. It will give your kids the confidence they need to tell a cynical world, "Yes, miracles -- God's miracles -- really do happen."


Chuck Colson


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