Reading Exodus causes many 21st Century people to question the narrative. Stories about water turning into blood, frogs covering the land, the deaths of the firstborn in every Egyptian family, and the parting of the Red Sea make this book of the Bible hard for many people to believe.
The miraculous is the elephant in the room for some people. “Staffs turning into snakes? Killer hail falling from the sky? The 10 plagues displaying the LORD’s power over Egypt? Miracles? Nice stories, but I’m not buying that any of it really happened, at least not the way the Bible says it happened. This is fairytale stuff.”
These are the kinds of things that a scientific-minded, anti-supernaturalistic skeptic might say or think. (Any maybe that’s you! It’s OK! You are welcome at Cuyahoga Valley Church with your all your skepticism and doubt.)
But here are a couple of concepts to consider.
The Uncommonness of the Miraculous
People who believe the Bible and who believe that God is a God who sometimes shows up in this world in miraculous ways can also believe that miracles are not common. What makes miracles “miracles” is that they are uncommon. They’re rare. Generally speaking, even during long stretches of time in the Bible, God worked through normal circumstances and natural causes.
Biblical scholars have identified three major time periods in the Bible when clusters of miracles occurred:
1) Moses and the Exodus and the conquest of Canaan,
2) The ministries of the prophets, especially Elijah and Elisha, and
3) The ministries of Jesus, the disciples, and the establishment of the Church.
Often God’s way of working – even in the Bible – is through natural causes. But at certain pivotal, strategic times in redemptive history, God worked in miraculous ways. And that’s what’s happening in Exodus.
The Creator’s Right to Overrule Natural Law
If there is a God who has created the world and established laws of nature for the world, then it’s reasonable to suppose that this same God could overrule His own natural laws for His own purposes. In fact, if one has a theistic worldview, miracles might even be expected from time to time.
The very existence of a God implies the possibility of miracles. The LORD has the right and the power to do whatever the LORD wants to do whenever He wants to do it!
Example: A chef might have a typical recipe for a common dish. But that chef also reserves the right to add a surprise ingredient to radically transform the dish. Add dark chocolate to a classic chili recipe. Add small chunks of pineapple into guacamole. Rub coffee grounds onto a steak before grilling it. The chef can do what the chef wants to do with the recipe to make it something different, something unique, something special.
And God can add an ingredient called “miracle” to accomplish His purposes in the world.
In his book “The Everlasting Man,” G.K. Chesterton wrote, “The belief in miracles is the belief not in what is beyond [natural law] but in what is behind natural law.” And what is behind natural law? The LORD!
It’s no more difficult for the LORD to make things fly as to make things stand still. Both of them are acts of His divine will.
Often God’s way of working in the world is through what could be considered the non-miraculous. What we are looking at in Exodus with the 10 plagues and the parting of the Red Sea are divine and dramatic interruptions of nature.
The stories in Exodus are not fairy tales. These are historical events written down for us by Moses himself, who was an eyewitness to what happened.
“Now these things took place as examples for us” (1 Corinthians 10:6). The stories in Exodus were written for our instruction to give us faith in the same LORD who saved the Israelites.
We are meant to think, “Nothing is too hard for the LORD. If He rescued His people miraculously then, He can certainly rescue me today. So, right now, no matter what enemy is pursuing me and no matter what Red Sea I am facing, I can and will live with faith, hope, and love. God’s got this and God’s got me!”