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"It's a Miracle!"

A variant of an email I once received:
“A dear old saint sat at the back of a sermon on the parting of the Red Sea where a typical liberal minister begins…
Almost immediately she stands up and cries out “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who drowned Pharaoh and the armies of Synod in the Red Sea!”.
Rather taken aback, the minister continues to outline how there was only 5cm of water at the time, etc etc. and Israel crossed across what was, technically, a shallow ford.
Not to be outdone, the saint rises again and exclaims, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who drowned Pharaoh and the armies of Synod in just 5cm of water in the Red Sea!”  (, accessed 10/13/2010)

While current archaeological/scientific evidence tends to support the Biblical account of the event, the anecdote offers an important clue about the nature of miracles, that of the agent behind the miracle, not the mechanism of its occurrence.

Continuing the theme discussed over the last several days, (and reinforcing a recent comment to Tuesday’s post) the existence or proposal of a natural mechanism does not negate the possibility of Divine action. When in my teens, I read a Reader’s Digest article about how the explosive destruction of the volcanic Mediterranean island of Thera (aka Santorini) could easily have provided the mechanism by which the various Mosaic plagues upon Egypt, including the Red Sea crossing, could have occurred.

Thus, the naturalist says that it isn’t a miracle. Well, how then do they explain that Moses predicted the beginning and ending of each plague? I somehow doubt he had sufficient understanding of geological processes and environmental impacts at the time to recognize the volcano’s eruption and know all of those details so precisely. It seems to me that many of the miracles in the Bible are predicted to occur ahead of time as a verification of their authenticity, so that even if they do occur via a natural mechanism, the foreknowledge would still be a supernatural event, and therefore still a miracle.

It is consistent with God’s MO in the Bible to use an efficient natural/historical process to bring about complex events at precisely the right time to accomplish His purposes. What is more amazing—doing a simple series of plagues, giving Moses the power to start/stop them or using one single event to cause a cascade of discrete and varied occurrences resulting in the liberation of a nation of slaves in an orderly fashion?

I find myself kind of hoping the Reader’s Digest version is right.


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