Monday, December 7, 2009

And trying my hand at an answer, part 1

The question posed by my friend that I referenced in this blog post was:

Why were miracles performed in biblical times, but, they aren't performed now? And I'm not talking 'the cancer is in remission' kinda miracles...I'm talking water into wine miracles...parting of the sea miracles.

I don't understand the mystery. Why does God have to be so elusive? It seems kinda mean, and unfair to us...the generations of people after Jesus...who don't get to see the works of God. In biblical days, they could see, feel, and talk to Jesus. If they had a question, it could be answered. I mean, for those people...they had cold hard facts.

We don't have that luxury. And I guess I kinda answered my own question...there is no physical manifestation of God here today, so we don't have miracles.

That still doesn't seem fair.

I want to start with the specific incident of the parting of the sea, and move to Jesus, since those are the two specific things that were mentioned by my friend, and hopefully this won't get too long, although, I'm not making any promises.

In the parting of the sea miracle that was mentioned, God had just freed the nation of Israel from slavery to the Egyptians through a series of ten plagues that only plagued Egyptians and not the Hebrews, or Israelites. When Pharaoh had experienced enough of God's wrath, he finally let the Hebrews go (Exodus 12:31) so that they could strike out and become their own nation. The Egyptians gave them all kinds of riches (Exodus 12:36) because God had inclined the Egyptians' hearts toward the Hebrews. Once they were out of Egypt, the LORD went before them as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, and in this way He physically led them.

Exodus 14 gives the account of how God hardened the heart of Pharaoh to pursue the Israelites, and that He would use that for His glory. The LORD led the Israelites to a place where the Red Sea was in front of them and the Egyptian army was closing in on them from behind. It seemed like a hopeless situation, and it didn't take the Israelites very long to turn in their hearts against their Deliverer. The mighty God that plagued Egypt with ten plagues that did not touch the Israelites even though they lived mixed together, the mighty God that delivered them out of the Egyptians slavery even though the Egyptians were stronger and had rule over them, the mighty God that physically manifested Himself as a pillar of cloud in the daytime and a pillar of fire at night, never leaving them alone in their journey from the time they left Egypt. That mighty God they questioned, as soon as their frightened hearts perceived an impossible situation.

Exodus 14:10-12 - As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the LORD. They said to Moses, "Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn't we say to you in Egypt, 'Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians'? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!"

But God is faithful, and He did not bring them out to die, so He did not allow them to die. He used Moses to part the Red Sea, standing between the Israelites and the Egyptians, shedding light on Israel and darkness on Egypt, keeping them apart to allow Israel time to cross. I don't know how many Israelites there were, but I have seen estimations of 3 to 6 million people, crossing the sea as if on dry land, with water piled up on either side of them as a wall (Exodus 14:22).

When Israel made it through and the Egyptians followed, then the LORD closed the sea and defeated the Egyptians.

Less than a chapter later, in Exodus 15:22-24, Israel is grumbling against Moses because they have not been able to find water in the desert yet. In Exodus 16, they complain because they don't have food, saying it would have been better to have died by the LORD's hand in Egypt than to die in the desert for lack of food.

These same people made and worshiped a golden calf when Moses went up to receive the Law from God. He brought the Ten Commandments down from Mt. Sinai and found the people worshiping an idol (Exodus 32:1).

Of this entire generation of people that were physically delivered from slavery by these amazing miracles, that my friend called "cold hard facts," only two of them trusted God and were allowed to live to see the Promised Land. Israel wandered the desert for forty years until the entire generation died except Joshua and Caleb (Numbers 32:12-14).

This has gotten very long, so I am going to pick up tomorrow with Jesus and then wrap it up, maybe with that post, maybe with a third. Thanks for sticking with me.