By Will Barlow


• Defining a Miracle
• Archetypal Example
• Other Examples

What is the big deal with miracles? Why are miracles important?

• Thomas Jefferson famously refused to believe in miracles - his edited version of the NT had all of the miracles removed
• In modern times, miracles are still controversial

Richard Swinburne on miracles:

“What the theist claims about God is that he does have a power to create, conserve, or annihilate anything, big or small. And he can also make objects move or do anything else…He can make the planets move in the way that Kepler discovered that they move, or make gunpowder explode when we set a match to it…”

“or he can make planets move in quite different ways, and chemical substances explode or not explode under quite different conditions from those which now govern their behavior. God is not limited by the laws of nature; he makes them and he can change or suspend them – if he chooses.”

Francis Collins on miracles:

A miracle is “an event that appears inexplicable by the laws of nature and so is held to be supernatural in origin.”
The Language of God, page 48.

William Lane Craig on miracles:

“You see, natural laws have implicit ceteris paribus conditions—that’s Latin meaning, ‘all other things being equal.’ In other words, natural laws assume that no other natural or supernatural factors are interfering with the operation that the law describes.”

What is an example of a ceteris paribus condition?

• Imagine that an apple is falling from a tree
• If you don’t intervene, what will happen?
• If you do intervene, is gravity wrong?

I offer the following definition of a miracle:

A miracle is when God acts in an improbable way. However, miracles often fit within the boundaries of the theoretical limits of science.

In other words, a miracle may be unexplainable by current scientific theories. That does not imply that God is “breaking His own rules.” We have limited knowledge.

In simple words, a miracle is not necessarily a miracle because of what happens, but it generally is a miracle because of:

• When it happens
• To whom it happens
• Why it happens

Archetypal Miracle

The archetypal example of a miracle is the crossing of the Red (or Reed) Sea.
Was the miracle the specific event only? Or was it that it happened in that place, in that time, to those people?

Exodus 14:21   Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the LORD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.

Exodus 14:22   And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.

Were the laws of physics violated in any way by the crossing of the Red Sea?


In fact, the Bible explicitly tells us how God performed this miracle.

So, then, what is the miraculous part?

In my mind, this is miraculous because:

• It happened to the Hebrews
• It happened when God said it would and when the Hebrews needed it
• It happened for the purpose of saving God’s people

Examples of Miracles

Are there ways to explain other miracles?

• Water from the rock
• Walls of Jericho
• Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
• Daniel and the Lions’ den

Water from the Rock

Exodus 17:6   Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink." And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel.

How can we explain water from the rock?

• God could have led Moses to a location where an underground spring existed
• In cases like this, even a relatively small amount of force could cause water to come forth
• This fits our understanding of geology

How can we explain water from the rock?

• Alternately, we could understand this as a large porous sandstone rock that absorbed a lot of water
• Again, even a relatively small amount of force could cause water to come forth
• This fits our understanding of geology

Walls of Jericho

Joshua 6:20   So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they captured the city.

How can we explain the falling of the walls of Jericho?

• Perhaps this is a case where God gave the priests the resonant frequency of the walls - and the people matched that pitch
• Every material has a resonant frequency

How can we explain the falling of the walls of Jericho?

• Think about a glass shattering when an opera singer reaches a certain note
• The Angers Bridge in France was destroyed in 1850 when French soldiers marched in lockstep over the bridge

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego

Daniel 3:22   Because the king's order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

Daniel 3:27   And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king's counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them.

How can we explain Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego surviving the fiery furnace?

• Perhaps God used a force field to separate the men from the fire
• Perhaps God created a micro-vacuum around the men

Daniel and the Lions’ Den

Daniel 6:17   And a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel.

Daniel 6:22   My God sent his angel and shut the lions' mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm."

Daniel 6:24   And the king commanded, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and cast into the den of lions--they, their children, and their wives. And before they reached the bottom of the den, the lions overpowered them and broke all their bones in pieces.

How can we explain Daniel surviving the lions’ den?

• Perhaps God caused the lions to enter a temporary hibernation or heavy sleep sequence
• Perhaps God hid Daniel from the lions by masking his scent, etc.

Other Miracles in the Bible

• The lengthening of the day
• Gideon and the fleece
• Duplication of matter
• Walking on water
• Healings
• Resurrection of Jesus

A miracle is when God acts in an improbable way. However, miracles often fit within the boundaries of the theoretical limits of science.

LHIM Weekly Bible Teachings
LHIM Weekly Bible Teachings

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