Some of you will remember “THE HAND OF GOD—Intro” from February 16, 2017. The following explanation is meant to further clarify that post.
Declaring future events is not the same as foretelling the future. ‘Foretelling the future’ is generally understood to mean that God “foreordained” what was and is going to happen in the future, and then watches while the events transpire that He “foresaw or foreordained.”
The scriptures describe a very different pattern. First, God declares that there is no one like him (Isaiah 46:9). God is different in that he ‘declares the end from the beginning.’ Of course, this easily fits in the above pattern. However, the next verse shows a distinct difference. God doesn’t just watch the events come to pass but he says that he will “bring it to pass.” He purposes future events, and doesn’t ‘watch’ them come to pass but he says, “I will do it.” Watching something come to pass puts God in a passive mode with enough wisdom to know what will happen in the future—as if he isn’t the one who does it—but is wise enough to see what will transpire. In these and many other passages, God purposes to do certain things and then brings that purpose to pass.
John Calvin’s doctrine of God’s Omniscience, Foreknowledge and Predestination teach that God foreordained all things from the foundation of the world. That being true, nothing can change what God has foreordained, whether prayer, man’s human will or any response of man, whether good or evil. Whereas the doctrine of foreordination centers on the souls who are saved and those souls who are lost, yet the doctrine encompasses a God who has foreordained all things in advance. This is not the God described in the Scriptures.
Many confuse God’s work on earth in working all things after the counsel of his own will (Eph. 1:12, Rom. 8:28) with God’s miracles. Anything God does is obviously above nature. Why? If it were naturally going to transpire, it would happen without God doing anything at all. Thus, if God does something on earth, it is obviously more than what would naturally transpire and is thus called supernatural (by men). If God works all things together for good, it must be something other than what would naturally transpire. This is not the scriptural definition of a ‘miracle.’
What we call ‘miracles,’ the Lord (in the King James version) calls signs, wonders, miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit (Heb. 2:3-4). In the Greek, the word ‘miracle’ is almost always the word “indication.” Nine times the word ‘dunamis’ (power) is translated as ‘miracle.’
NT: 4592 shmeion semeion (say-mi’-on); neuter of a presumed derivative of the base of NT: 4591; an indication, especially ceremonially or supernaturally:
NT: 1411 (doo’-nam-is); from NT: 1410; force (literally or figuratively); specially, miraculous power (usually by implication, a miracle itself):
NT: 1410 dunamai (doo’-nam-ahee); of uncertain affinity; to be able or possible:
When God brings to pass an event that he foretold, it proves that his words came from him. Men know they cannot foretell what will happen in the future. God challenged the false prophets to show they were gods by foretelling the future. He says: “Let them bring them forth, and shew us what shall happen: (Isa. 41:22)” He further challenged them by saying: “Shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods (Isa. 41:23):”
When God tells what will happen, and then brings it to pass, we know that the author must be the God of heaven.
A very striking example is found in the book of Daniel. God first prophesied that two kingdoms in the near future would rule over the entire earth. The first kingdom in the vision was the Chaldean nation. The second kingdom that would rule over the entire earth was specifically named, namely the Meads and Persians (Dan. 8:20). This prophecy was fulfilled 20 years later in 586 B.C. The second kingdom God named that would bear rule over all the earth was the Greeks (Dan. 8:20). This prophecy was fulfilled 275 years later when Alexander the great conquered the world in 329 B.C. He then prophesied that a fourth kingdom would be established. This prophecy was fulfilled 575 years later when Augustus Caesar conquered the world and 29 B.C. It is during the reign of this kingdom that God prophesied he would set up a kingdom that would never be destroyed. That prophecy was fulfilled 639 years later in 33 A.D. He further prophesied that “the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.” (Dan. 7:27) This prophecy was fulfilled during what history refers to as the Church Age/Dark Ages/Middle Ages, which lasted until about 1,000 A.D. Thus God prophesied of specific events that would involve the governing powers of the whole world for approximately 1,600 years in advance. Is there any doubt that it was God who gave this prophecy? Men have a problem prophesying even what will happen the next day, much less for 1600 years.
The fifth kingdom was to be God’s kingdom. He said: “… in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever (Dan. 2:44). He further prophesied that “the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him (Dan. 7:27). This prophecy was given about 600 years before Christ, and was fulfilled in exact detail over the next 1600 years!
Men wonder what happened that destroyed the Chaldean, Medes, Persians and Greek nations. Formerly historians called the time period from 476 AD through 1,000 AD the Church Age. Then the name for the same time period was changed to the Dark Ages (because little history was written). Finally, men have designated that time period as the Middle Ages. Whatever that time period is called, Christianity was the major force that governed the world.
In 30 AD John the Baptist prophesied that the kingdom was at hand. Jesus prophesied also the kingdom of God was at hand. His prophecy came to pass beginning 50 days after his resurrection. God’s kingdom is described in many ways, including God’s Family, a Husbandry, Christ’s body, Christ’s church, God’s church, a Vine, a Sheepfold, an Olive Tree, a Temple, etc. Each description includes the same people as are in the kingdom of God.
Jesus further prophesied that Jerusalem and the Israelite nation would be destroyed in the lifetime of those who were listening to him (Matt. 24:15-22), which occurred thirty years later.
Who but God could foretell the future 1600 years in advance? As God foretold, his kingdom ruled over the world. Truly the book of Daniel must be God’s work, and not man’s!
All of these prophecies and events were God’s work, but are not designated as miracles. The purpose of the miracles was to bear witness to the ones who wrote the scriptures (Heb. 2:3-4). We see the same pattern in the Old Testament period. There is no record of any man doing any kind of miracle until Moses. Then, after Moses, we find other prophets doing miracles. Again, like God’s witness in the New Testament, God gave his witness of miracles to the prophets who wrote the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament. Thus the Lord has distinguished between miracles, signs and wonders, and his normal work that he does in ruling in the kingdoms of men (Dan. 4:17, 24), and working all things together for the good of those who love him and are the called according to his purpose (Rom. 8:28).