The Prophetic And The Miraculous—A Reprise

Elisha011In debating the existence of God, presupposition is everything.

If you presuppose there is no God, as atheists do, then you demand evidence but rule out anything that smacks of “flying monkeys,” or the like, because whatever defies natural law is simply myth.

This approach eliminates fulfilled prophecy as evidence of God’s work in the world. It also eliminates miracles—those will be dumped on the myth pile as nonsense believed only by the delusional.

I thought about this fact as I read the account in 2 Kings of the amazing miracles that occurred during the reign of unbelieving kings. These were not atheists but rulers who no longer worshiped the one true God, or Him exclusively. They believed in prophecy and they experienced miracles. In some cases, the phenomenal work of God changed these kings, but more often than not, they went on acting as they had before—either taking God’s work for granted or crediting it to one of the false gods they worshiped.

The thing that I’ve overlooked in the past is how much prophetic and miraculous activity there was during those times. They did not have the Bible, but they were not short on God’s revelation. There were schools of prophets, and when Queen Jezebel, known for her worship of Baal, tried to eliminate the prophets of God, at least a hundred survived. A hundred! Survived!

For ages and ages, I’ve thought there were Elijah, Elisha, and the prophets who wrote the books of the Bible. Period. Well, not so. Scripture records the names of some twenty prophets who were actively communicating God’s message during the era of the Kings of Judah and Israel, but there is also mention of various schools of prophets or sons of the prophets living together in a kind of collective it would seem.

I’ve wondered about those. Did they inherit their job or need to be instructed in order to hear God’s voice? Did they volunteer to be prophets? Or were they “schools of prophets” like geese are gaggles? Just kidding on that last one.

Mostly the prophets recorded by name seemed to be called by God though Elijah apparently called Elisha to be his disciple, his heir apparent. I suspect those in the schools or the collection of sons of the prophets, then, would also have been called by God.

And the miracles seemed to be plentiful. Elisha was God’s instrument for an abundance of supernatural activity. He gave direction for Naaman, the Aramean military leader, to wash and be cleansed from his leprosy. Conversely, he spoke a word and his greedy servant Gehazi contracted leprosy. He gave a widow directions to gather many jars in order to collect a miraculous multiplication of oil to provide for her financial needs.

He spoke a word and a barren couple conceived. Years later, the son who was born died, and Elisha prayed and he was brought back to life. During a famine, he saved the lives of a group of those prophets by miraculously countering a poisonous ingredient inadvertently thrown into their stew pot. He even made iron float so that one of those sons of the prophets could retrieve an ax head that fell into the river.

There’s more—he repeatedly told the Israelite king where the Arameans were planning an ambush so he could avoid them. When the Aramean king sent a force to capture Elisha, he prayed and God opened the eyes of his servant so he could see the amassed forces of God surrounding the enemy. Then he prayed again and God blinded the eyes of the Arameans so that they didn’t know where they were and meekly followed Elisha where he wanted to take them.

I could go on. The point is, during this one period of history, there was an abundance of prophetic and miraculous activity. If people needed signs to believe in God, He gave those in abundance.

And yet, this period was one of great apostasy and ultimately of judgment. The various Israelite kings led their people astray. Baal worship was not just tolerated, but the religion of the ruling house. They instituted male cult prostitutes and prophets of Baal and sacrifices to Baal. They branched out to include worship of female fertility deities.

All the miracles and all the prophecy didn’t change the hearts of the kings bent on disbelief. Nevertheless, God was faithful to make Himself known. He gave them chance after chance to turn to Him in repentance. He allowed enemy armies to assail them, then miraculously delivered them; He brought famine then sent rain to relieve their drought. He foretold what He was about to do so that there would be no doubt His hand was on them. He wanted them to know that He is LORD.

And still, most went their own way.

All the evidence in the world can’t change a hard heart or make a blind man see. Instead, a person away from God must cry out to Him to give him sight, to soften his heart.

God alone can heal and save, but He doesn’t force anyone to come to Him. He pursues with everlasting love, and His abundant revelation—His prophecies and His miracles—testify of His faithfulness

This post is an edited version of one that first appeared here in November, 2014.

8 Comments

  1. “because whatever defies natural law is simply myth.”

    Well said Becky, this is true because if it cannot be explained with some demonstrable evidence it is either mythical or it is an apparition, voice or an event manifested within the individuals or collective brains expressed through emotionally unwavering passionate beliefs, feelings and faith.

    “This approach eliminates fulfilled prophecy as evidence of God’s work in the world.”

    There are numerous Biblical prophecies, some vaguely fulfilled, others strangely unfulfilled. Some Christians claim that fulfilled prophecies – if they actually existed – would prove that the Bible is inerrant or even literally true. Creationists conclude it is accurate even on scientific subjects. (Ref rational wiki)

    Truth is, if there were any clear evidence prophecies were accurately filled by God or anyone else from those days you would only have some evidence of a very good prophet at best. The most fulfilled prophecies we have are 11 shockingly accurate predictions from Nostradamus and even 15 times when the Simpsons accurately predicted the future. Not forgetting to mention Wi-Fi, the moon landing and debit cards were all prophesied by great thinkers more than a century before they came into existence.

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  2. “Well said Becky, this is true ” Apparently you missed the inference, Steve, that this line is something naturalists say.

    Of course, if you’ve already ruled out the possibility of the supernatural, then you HAVE NO OTHER choice. But naturalists think too small. THEY can’t conceive of anything beyond our physical senses, so clearly, they believe, there IS nothing beyond our physical senses. Really short sighted, wrong-headed, to dismiss the very possibility of there being something more in all the universe that humans don’t know or understand or can’t apprehend with their physical senses.

    You don’t know what Biblical prophecies are even in the Bible, Steve, so don’t pretend you do. And since you don’t really know what prophecies are in the Bible, clearly you have no knowledge of what ones have been fulfilled and what ones are yet to be fulfilled. (And I’m sorry, but Wiki can be wrong because atheists can add their two cents to an article about something they don’t believe. You are relying on Wiki for your knowledge of the Bible? The hole you’re in is getting bigger, Steve.)

    I’m sorry, but when Jesus said He would rise from the dead on the third day, then rose from the dead on the third day, that’s pretty convincing. Look at the results, if you don’t believe the actual Biblical account:

    When they had set a day for Paul, they came to him at his lodging in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening. Some were being persuaded by the things spoken (from Acts 28, emphasis mine).

    People of that day believed what Paul was saying, what the other eyewitnesses were saying. That’s why there are followers of Jesus today.

    We’re not following a dead person.

    Becky

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    • “Really short sighted, wrong-headed, to dismiss the very possibility of there being something more in all the universe that humans don’t know or understand or can’t apprehend with their physical senses.”

      Wrong Becky, I do not rule out something or anything I cannot comprehend physically. Religions are just one of these things in the universe that does not make the cut because atheists do comprehend. Religions have been around since the cave man and man and his god has had thousands of years to have presented some clear evidence that the god in question is the real deal.

      The written word for modern gods such as the Bible has been dismissed by science and much of it by historians and scholars as having any such evidence for God. Many of the events and individuals in the Bible are proven myths and the writers are mostly unknown with many alterations and forged inscriptions found over the years. There is far too much fantasy, myth and contradiction to allow sincere belief of any authentic truth, that is why you have belief through faith alone, and this is why you have thousands of different religious denominations claiming they are the true and righteous people.

      “You don’t know what Biblical prophecies are even in the Bible, Steve, so don’t pretend you do.”

      I do not need to know them, it is easy enough to find them on Google.

      “You are relying on Wiki for your knowledge of the Bible? The hole you’re in is getting bigger, Steve.)”

      Not at all Becky, you may not like what Wiki says and there will always be more than one opinion when something controversial has no supporting evidence.

      I do believe that Paul did convince people, it was much easier to convince a crowd of people who have always believed in one or many gods and deities to explain everything they could not understand. Paul had claimed he had a vision of Jesus, and he may well have done, but many people have had visions, therefore why would this a solid basis to believe without question everything Paul says?

      “We’re not following a dead person.”

      For you Becky maybe not, however I know exactly where all the gods exist including yours.

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      • See how blind you are, Steve? You say you haven’t ruled out things that you can’t apprehend physically , but IN THE VERY NEXT PARAGRAPH, you say, “Religions have been around since the cave man and man and his god has had thousands of years to have presented some clear evidence that the god in question is the real deal.”

        What “clear evidence” are you expecting, if not something physical? And what’s sadly ironic is that Jesus gave you exactly what you ask for. He came, God in the flesh. How much clearer can you get? What’s more, He rose again, just as He said He would. Certainly that has to qualify as clear evidence. But no. You just reject it out of hand. In truth, no matter what God does or has done, you will find a reason to dismiss it because you dismiss Him.

        Becky

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        • Real evidence is what I want Becky, for your God or any god to come to Earth as it has been done before, and on national TV do the impossible miracles like creating the food to feed the 20,000 kids dying from hunger every day, curing all forms of cancer and disease particularly for young children, creating new limbs for the disabled and resurrecting John Lennon over a single day on Earth would be a good start.

          You say impossible, yet you will claim he feed at least 5 thousand people with five loaves and two fish, healed heaps of people, died and came back to life, so this should be a walk in the park for him.

          Do not pull my leg Becky, logically these are made up stories about a man by a poor downtrodden persecuted ancient people many thousands of years ago and they are still believed as reality by people like yourself, just amazing how the brain works.

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          • No, Steve, “logically” these are not made-up stories—not if God is all powerful. What can’t He do? Of course He could feed and heal and raise from the dead. But your selfish demand that He do it now, for you, because you don’t believe He already did it, isn’t going to find God jumping at your demand. You can’t manipulate God. You can’t presume upon His power or goodness or love,

            In fact, the world system, of which you seem to believe, has rejected Him. Over and over in the Bible He makes it clear that He will simply let people have what they want. So the messed up world you describe, of children not having enough to eat and people suffering from various illnesses, is just what you ask for—a place without God’s intervention.

            What’s amazing, Steve, is what spiritual blindness does to a person, how you can deny the nose on your face.

            Becky

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          • “But your selfish demand that He do it now, for you, because you don’t believe He already did it, isn’t going to find God jumping at your demand.”

            Handy answer you used isn’t it Becky. I personally, as you know dis-believe that any god exists, therefore I am more than positive that God will never do what I want or what every atheist would like to see as evidence.

            “He will simply let people have what they want. So the messed up world you describe, of children not having enough to eat and people suffering from various illnesses, is just what you ask for—a place without God’s intervention.”

            Oh sorry, but I was of the thought that God was in some sort of control. You Americans have claimed God chooses the leaders such as your presidents, answers prayers and provides miracles when he sees fit. I cannot see how a small minority of atheists have asked for anything or were able to mess up the world. Let me remind you Becky, over all religions of the world it is Christianity that has the most followers and has had the most power over many centuries, so I have to ask, what excuses does Christianity have to justify the starving diseased children and why is the world in such a mess if Christianity has such a compelling influence in the world, especially in America, that is by far the richest country in the world mostly administered by wealthy Christian politicians?

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          • Since you don’t believe in God, Steve, you shouldn’t pull this “God is in control” argument either.

            But you actually demonstrate in your first paragraph that you aren’t looking for evidence of God because you’re already made up your mind. Well, He’s not going to argue with you. Except . . . for some reason you keep reading what Christians are writing about God. I find that interesting.

            As I’ve said many times, Steve, Christians are sinners. But we are saved by grace. Many people call themselves Christians but they are not. There’s a verse in Romans that says All who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. So if someone says they’re a Christian and they’re going to blow you away because you have offended them, or something, they are not Christians, no matter what they call themselves. So, yes, God will give those liars over to their evil desires, which is, they want to be in control. They do not want to be led by the Spirit of God.

            And of course atheists are in that same camp as are people who believe in false religions. By far, there are many more people, if we judge by what people do, who are not led by the Spirit of God than who are.

            And what does America have to do with anything? Not “administered by wealthy Christian politicians”! That shows ignorance of Christianity and of America.

            Becky

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