At that time Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, “Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.” And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord heeded the voice of a man, for the Lord fought for Israel. ~ Joshua 10:12-14
Sometimes we read verses like those above, and we think, “That seems impossible.” Many a skeptic take time to scoff at the miracles listed in the Bible. According to the laws of nature, they say, the sun won’t stand still, seas don’t split with walls of water, prophets don’t last three days in the belly of a fish, men don’t walk on the sea, and water doesn’t turn into wine.
And they’re right—these things don’t happen according to the laws of nature.
But these are not operations of the laws of nature. When it comes to the miracles in the Bible, our acceptance of them as followers of Jesus is rooted in a God who is bigger than laws of nature. The opening words of scripture begin to define our view of God: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
When we think about the way the universe works, we know that God has given it order. This order comes in what we call laws of nature, or physics, or mathematics, etc. We count it a good thing that the universe isn’t operated by chaos. We know that as we go about our day, the earth will make one rotation on its axis, so that the sun and moon appear to come up and go down. We know that it takes approximately 365 of these rotations for the earth to make one revolution around the sun—what we know as our year. We know this is normal and it helps order our lives.
Miracles, however, are acts of God that supersede this order. What makes them “miraculous” is that they aren’t expected in the norm of things. When we look at God, we don’t have a God who is limited under natural law. No, rather, as creator, he made natural law. Therefore, when he sees fit, he can act in contrast to this law.
We don’t know by what process God made the “sun stand still” while Israel fought the Gibeonites. We don’t know the details of how God kept Jonah alive in a fish. We don’t know how the molecules of the sea solidified under Jesus’ feet (and even Peter’s for a moment). But we know all of these things are possible because God is God.
God spoke creation into existence with words. God upholds his creation in all of its daily rhythms by his power. When we believe in a God this big, we might not expect the earth to stop its rotation and the sun to come to a halt in the sky as a normal course of order, but we can say that it’s not a big deal for God to make it happen.
If not for the bigness of God in working miracles, then our faith would have no foundation. After all, by natural laws, dead men don’t rise from the grave. Yet, our hope is found in this very act of God’s greater power.
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