When we read an account in Scripture, we should think: what did the people involved actually see? Was a prophet or an apostle seen doing some miracle? Did the participants see a prophet or apostle do a “miracle,” which was an action beyond man’s natural ability to do? Keep in mind:
- God’s definition of his witness (miracle—John 15:24) is a work that no man could possibly do—above natural ability (John 3:1-2).
- The singular purpose of miracles was to bear witness to God Himself (e.g. on Mt. Sinai), a prophet or an apostle ( 2:3-4). God’s miracles (bearing witness) were to testify that what the prophets spoke were indeed the words that proceeded out of God’s mouth (Jer. 23:16).
- God foretold future events through the prophets to bear witness that the prophets were from God ( 8:7; Eccl. 10:14; James 4:13-14). Scriptures tell us that no ordinary man can know events ahead of time. God can tell events ahead of time, and he gave that ability to the prophets and apostles to show who was speaking his words (Jer. 28:9, Deut. 18:20-22, Lam. 3:37, Isa. 41:23, Isa. 42:8-9; Isa. 46:9-11).
- In opposition to a miracle is God’s every-day work where His hand is not seen (Luke 23:44; 1 Chron. 14:15; 108:10-13; Matt. 10:29 and Acts 5:1-11).
In the series of lessons, THE WORK OF GOD, we have tried to distinguish between the miracles (witness of God) and his ordinary work in the world (John 15:23-24). We studied each of the following scriptural accounts very carefully (making notes as we went). The following questions can be asked to discern God’s ‘unseen’ work.
- What did the people actually see? Was a prophet or an apostle seen doing some miracle? Did the participants see a prophet or apostle do a “miracle,” which was an action beyond man’s natural ability to do?
- Did God foretell (through a prophet or an apostle) that certain events would take place, which appeared to be from “natural causes?”
- Keep in mind:
- God’s definition of His witness (miracle—John 15:24)
- What he has said was the purpose of His witness to his apostles and prophets—his messengers ( 2:1-4)
- We took each event in scripture separately and tried not to confuse two types of accounts.
- The non-miraculous events are plain examples God uses to show how he works and yet man does not see anything with his naked (physical) eye. The events may appear to be from natural causes to those looking on, but God shows in these accounts that he does them.
- We have learned from myriad examples that holy men of God prayed and asked for his help and were told what to do and what to expect before his answers to their prayers took place.
With these things in mind, we also looked to the New Testament examples of how God worked in the early days of the church and how he works today. Another example of God’s non-miraculous work today may be found in Acts 16:14. “And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.”
(KJV+) And(G2532) a certain(G5100) woman (G1135) named(G3686) Lydia(G3070), a seller of purple(G4211), of the city(G4172) of Thyatira(G2363), which worshipped(G4576) God(G2316), heard(G191) us: whose(G3739) heart(G2588) the(G3588) Lord(G2962) opened(G1272), that she attended(G4387) unto the things which were spoken(G2980) of(G5259) Paul(G3972).
Note other passages which direct us to understand the same principle (Isa. 50:5; Luke 24:45; 2 Tim 2:25-26; John 6:44-45; Rom. 9:16; 1 Cor. 3:6-7; 2 Cor. 3:14-16; 2 Cor. 4:4-6; Eph. 1:11; Php. 2:13; 2 Tim 2:7; James 1:16-17).
My prayer is that we may all be encouraged to reflect on God’s loving care and his work today and every single day. Perhaps we can be encouraged to pray more because we believe the work of the Heavenly Father is real and ongoing (Matt. 21:22).