30 Days to Understanding the Bible Session 14

Faith Church May 1, 2004

Chapter 22-23

 

 

Today we look at Miracles in the Bible and the Messianic Prophecies.

 

I.  Miracles in the Bible

There exists much confusion about Biblical miracles in our time

People have wrong expectations of God and the wrong understanding of the purpose of miracles

Because of that they become discouraged or disappointed with God or with Christianity,

Most people doubt even the possibility of the existence of miracles altogether

 

INPUT: Do you believe in miracles? Are miracles happening today? Give examples? (probe and just see what is people’s understanding of this topic.  What I anticipate is that people do believe miracles can happen today—unexplained medical phenomenon such as a tumor was there one day and not there a week later—this is however different than the signs and wonders we see in the Bible.  God can still heal but these are not the same kind of wonders and signs that we see in the Bible)

 

INPUT:  What do you make of the fact that from 75-95 percent of people believe in God but many of those do not believe that miracles can occur?  (By definition then their god is not God!)

 

 

A.  The Nature of Miracles

First of all let us find out what miracles are.

What is the best source to discover that? (Bible)

The Bible actually uses several terms for miracles:

 

Wonder: This term focuses on the fact that these events are amazing.

Power: This term emphasizes God’s acting in strength

Sign: Indicates that they must be visible events.

 

Here is a definition that we derive from the Biblical words “signs”, “Wonders”, “powers”:  A miracle is an event that runs contrary to the observed processes of nature—that is what is known of nature.(Note we are talking also about the miracles that God works through human agents like Christ, apostles, Elijah, etc.  we are not talking about miracles like creation, the Flood, earthquakes, regeneration, etc.)

 

 

Review:

Miracles are supernatural events, wrought by God through human agency, that run contrary to what we know of nature and are possible if God exists.

 

INPUT:  Why are miracles only possible if God exists?  (because if nature always runs a certain way and there is no God, then there could not be any events that run contrary to nature, however, if there is a God over nature who made the natural laws and could circumvent them at any time then these miracles indicate there is a higher power than nature.

 

B.  The Purpose of Biblical Miracles

INPUT: What is the purpose of miracles?

 

There are a number of Scripture passages that tell us the purpose of miracles:

 

 

Ex. 4:5  5 “that they may believe that the Lord God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.”

 

In other words, miracles proved to the Israelites that Moses had actually received his instruction from God

In the same way, miracles supported Jesus claims.

Jesus miracles supported his claim that he is the promised Messiah of Israel

That was the reason why the Pharisees wanted to see him perform miracles to prove whether is or is not the Messiah

 

Matthew 12:38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You”

 

Look at Nicodemus statement when he came to Christ

 

John 3:2This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”

 

 

Review:

Miracles validate the authority of the divine messenger.

 

 

 

C.  The Periods of Biblical Miracles

Do you remember our initial question?  What we are ultimately trying to understand is this:  “Are miracles happening in the same way today that we see in the Bible?”

So far, we have seen that…

 

 

  1. Miracles are events that run contrary to what we know of nature and are possible if God exists.
  1. Miracles validate the authority of the divine messenger.

 

Now we will look at another important aspect to answer our question about whether or not .they are happening today.  Let me probe that question by asking this question. . .

Did miracles happen at all times throughout the Bible?

The answer is a clear, “No!”

As a matter of fact there are only 3 periods in which miracles occurred.

All of these periods revolved around the giving of new revelation

While these periods are comparatively brief, they are separated by hundreds of years without miracles.

Miracles are clearly not God’s typical way of working with his people in Scripture

 

1.  Moses and Joshua (1411-1370 B.C.)

You will surely remember many of the events during this period

INPUT:Name some of the main events.

 

As I said before, miracles usually revolved around the giving of new revelation

INPUT: What new revelation did Israel receive during this period? (The Law /The Covenant with Israel)

 

 

 

 

And, as we said, the purpose of miracles in the Bible is to authenticate the message and the messenger

(1) God authenticates Moses message  (2) He authenticates Joshua and his authority

(3) His own authority as the one true God (Ex. 10:1-2)

Exodus 10:1-2  1 Now the Lord said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh; for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his servants, that I may show these signs of Mine before him, 2 and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and your son’s son the mighty things I have done in Egypt, and My signs which I have done among them, that you may know that I am the Lord.”

 

2.  Elijah and Elisha (870-785 B.C.)

INPUT: What do you remember about the time of Elijah and Elisha?

The worship of the false god Baal had become a serious problem for the nation Israel

Although God had revealed Himself to Israel, many Israelites began worshipping this false god.

So God raised up two prophets, Elijah and Elisha to call the people to repentance

The miracles that were performed by the two were used top prove (1) that they carried God’s message and (2) that God was superior to Baal

[If time permits, read the contest between God and Baal in 1 Ki. 18:20-40)]

 

3.  Christ and the Apostles (c. 30-70 A.D.)

The final period of miracles was during the time of Christ and the apostles.

The purpose of these of Christ’s miracles was to authenticate Christ’ message and the fact that He is the long-awaited Messiah and Savior

The apostle John clearly spells out this purpose:

John 20:30-31And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. (go over the following seven signs in John if time permits)

The Changing of Water into Wine (John. 2:1-11)  The purpose of this miracle is to manifest Christ’s glory (2:11)

The Healing of the Nobleman’s Son (John. 4:46-54)  Jesus’ power is able to save from death even at a great distance.

The Healing of the Impotent Man (John. 5:1-9)  Christ’s power over sickness  He healed instantaneously and obviously

The Feeding of the Five Thousand (John. 6:1-14)  This miracle supports Jesus’ claim that he is the “bread of life”

The Walking on the Water (John. 6:16-21)  The two signs on the land and the lake reveal Jesus as the Provider of a “bread” which gives life and as the Savior who intercedes for and protects His own. He intervenes in their times of troubles and brings them to safety.

The Healing of the Man Born Blind (John. 9:1-12)  Jesus is master over spiritual blindness  That the man was blind from birth pointed out his seeming hopelessness. This illustrates man’s spiritual blindness from birth (9:39-41; 2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:1-3).  9:2-3. The disciples faced a theological problem. Believing that sin directly caused all suffering, how could a person be born with a handicap? Therefore either this man . . . sinned in his mother’s womb (Ezek. 18:4) or his parents sinned (Ex. 20:5). Jesus therefore answered, Neither this man nor his parents sinned. These words do not contradict the universal sinfulness of man (cf. Rom. 3:9-20, 23). Instead Jesus meant that this man’s blindness was not caused by some specific sin. Instead the problem existed so that . . . God could display His glory in the midst of seeming tragedy (cf. Ex. 4:11; 2 Cor. 12:9).

The Raising of Lazarus (Joh. 11:1-16)  Jesus is master even over death

Our textbook tells us to imagine to be Jews at the time of Christ

For thousands of years the Jews have waited for the Messiah

And suddenly a person called Jesus appears who claims to be just that person

Why would you believe Him?

There were many people during this time that claimed to be the Messiah.

Why would you believe this one?

The answer is miracles.

Certain miracles would clearly identify a person as the Messiah

His miracles directly supported his claims

He claimed to be the light of the world and then healed a blind man

He claimed to be the bread of life and then fed five thousand people

When Jesus said that He was the light of the world He refers to spiritual light.

As you know light usually represents God and His holiness.

So the purpose of making a blind man see was not just to heal him of his infirmity

The purpose was rather to demonstrate that Jesus Had the power and authority to enlighten those see who are in spiritual darkness

Another important miracle is that of raising Lazarus from the dead.

This showed that Jesus had power even over death

John 11:25-26

25 Jesus said to her,  “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

It is important to note that miracles began to phase out as the canon was being completed (Heb. 2:3-4, explain and develop if time—why couldn’t Paul just send Timothy one of Paul’s handkerchiefs as opposed to telling Timothy take a little wine for your stomach)

 

INPUT: What would you tell those who claim that miracles still happen today? Discuss.

 

 

Review:

Miracles occurred primarily in three concentrated times in history.

 

 

(if you don’t get to lecture on point number II below, please have the students go ahead and read the chapter on their own and tell them we will not specifically lecture over this material, we will move on to chapters 26 & 27.  We have already covered 24 & 25 in lesson 8)


II.  Messianic Prophecies

Now, speaking of miraculous events we turn now to predictive prophecy—specifically Messianic Prophecies

God's ability to reveal events long before they happen demonstrates his true divinity (Isa. 48:3)

The Old Testament contains more than 300 references to the Messiah and all of them were or will be fulfilled by Jesus Christ at his first and/or second coming

Those fulfilled prophecies of his first coming would help the Jews recognize the Messiah when he came.

Even with all these fulfilled prophecies Christ’s contemporaries and even many of his disciples did not really understand how he fulfilled all of the prophecies.

A good example of this can be found in the Gospel of Luke (Read Luke 24:19-27)

Later that same day, Christ appeared to the apostles and other disciples (cf. v. 33)

To them he also spoke about the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament

At this point the apostles and disciples finally understood how Jesus had fulfilled  the Old Testament prophecies

This then became a central part of the Gospel message that Christ’s disciples proclaimed

An example of that is Paul’s gospel presentation in 1 Cor. 15:3-4

 

3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,  4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

 

POINT:  Now, again all this points to . . .God’s ability to predict events before they occur and demonstrates his power

Now, however, there are many people who claim that Jesus Christ fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies by coincidence.

The textbook gives us a good illustration of the probability of only eight prophecies being fulfilled by one person

<Read pg 183>

 

INPUT: Now, after what we have seen so far, what was the purpose of prophecies in the Bible?

 

The purpose of the Messianic prophecies is obviously to announce the coming of Messiah and to help the Jews recognize Him when He is there

2 Pet. 3:11 shows us the more general purpose of prophecy  <Read 2 Pet. 3:11>

 

This statement comes right after the apostle Peter made some remarkable prophecies about the second coming of Christ and the end of the world

INPUT: So what, according to Peter, is the purpose of this prophecy?

 

His purpose for telling us about the future was ton purify our lives now.

Prophecy is often given to get us to live properly now.

INPUT:  How does it help us purify our lives?

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