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"For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect - if that were possible. So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time." (Jesus' warning to his disciples in Mark Chapter 13 verses 22-23)

What Is A Miracle?

Why Do Miracles Happen?

The origin of the English word goes back via Middle English and Old French, to the Latin mi-ra-culum, from mi-ra-ri-, to wonder at, from mi-rus, wonderful. The word "miracle" in the Online Encyclopaedia Britannica defines a miracle as "an extraordinary and astonishing happening that is attributed to the presence and action of an ultimate or divine power".

Bible Terminology

In some translations of the Bible the word "miracle" is used. In other translations, the terms "wonder", "mighty work" or "sign" are instead used. Each of these words draws attention to God's presence and power being manifested in the situation.

Why Do They Happen?

From the Bible's perspective, miracles are gracious and mighty works of God that display his unique power and dominion over all creation, including life and death. They are "gracious" because God in his mercy chooses to reveal himself supernaturally in a way that displays his willingness to interact with mankind. Biblical miracles serve to authenticate God's messengers. Some miracles demonstrate God's salvation, others his judgment.

In Joshua Chapter 4 verse 24 Joshua explains God's miraculous cutting off of the Jordan's flow to the Israelites:"He did this so that all peoples on the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God". Here we have a revelation that God's miracles can have a two-fold purpose, namely: a general revelation of God's mighty power to all nations and a particular purpose for his own people - that they might have a godly fear of him.

In both the Old and New Testaments, the miracles tend to fall into identifiable categories of revelation occurring at significant times in God's dealings with his people. After Creation and the Flood, the first main grouping of miracles appears at the time of Moses. These centre around the Exodus from Egypt, the giving of The Law through Moses and the entry into the Promised Land under Joshua. The next main grouping of miracles occurs during the time of Elijah and Elisha, when the "office" of "Prophet" was being introduced. The third Bible grouping of miracles occurs with the New Testament revelation by Jesus and, subsequently, by the Holy Spirit working through the Apostles in authentication of the Resurrection and the proclaimed Gospel message. The miracles proclaim Jesus' authority over nature and death. They also attest to his identity as the Son of God and the breaking in of the Kingdom of God.

On occasion the Lord requires action from individuals before a miracle can take place. In the natural, due to our pride, this can seem unnecessary. Before the walls of Jericho fell, the Israelites were required to march round the city no less that 13 times over a 7 day period. In 2 Kings Chapter 5 verse 10 Elisha tells Naaman to wash 7 times in the Jordan in order to be healed of leprosy.

Categories Of Biblical Miracles

  • Creative actions
  • Acts of destruction
  • "Wonders"
  • Miracles concerning Food/Water
  • Judgments
  • Control over Nature
  • Curing disease and disability
  • Healings and casting out of demons
  • Power over death
  • Supernatural knowledge
Careful study of the Bible and God's miracles throughout its pages will enable a Christian to understand God's ways and purposes better. This will also serve to enable the Christian to discern whether a claimed miraculous work in the present day is truly God's handiwork. For more on this, please go here.

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