Ever noticed how people like to “explain away” miracles? I call them “just so” stories.
You know those “just so” stories…like the one about how the bear lost his long tail, or “why mosquitoes buzz in people’s ears,” or how the vulture poked his head through the night sky and burned it bald with the heat of the sun (and the hole he left is now the moon).
Silly little kids’ stories to “explain” why something is the way it is – which are often so much more complicated than the truth.
People like to come up with these “explanations” for the miracles in the Bible, too…but —
God knew about our explanations before we came up with them.
How do I know? Because, if you look at the Bible, you’ll often see details in the stories of the miracles that disprove whatever “just so” story the skeptics have come up with to “explain away” what God did.
Here are some examples to get you thinking. Those seminary professors may have nice stories, but if you actually read and believe what God said, even a child can tell that they’re just making up stories to sound good.
Turning the Nile to Blood
In Exodus 7, God ordered Moses to hit the Nile River with his staff and turn the water into blood.
The purpose of this was to convince Pharaoh that God was serious about wanting the Hebrew slaves set free…and also to punish the Egyptians for following false gods, show God’s strength to the Israelite people, etc.
Take a look:
And the LORD said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their rivers, their canals, and their ponds, and all their pools of water, so that they may become blood, and there shall be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, even in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone.’”
Moses and Aaron did as the Lord commanded. In the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants he lifted up the staff and struck the water in the Nile, and all the water in the Nile turned into blood.
And the fish in the Nile died, and the Nile stank, so that the Egyptians could not drink water from the Nile. There was blood throughout all the land of Egypt.
But the magicians of Egypt did the same by their secret arts. So Pharaoh’s heart remained hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the LORD had said.
Pharaoh turned and went into his house, and he did not take even this to heart.
And all the Egyptians dug along the Nile for water to drink, for they could not drink the water of the Nile. (Ex. 7:19-24)
Some people don’t believe this really happened!
The “just-so story” I’ve heard about this is that red plankton flowed up from the Mediterranean Sea or something, and that’s why the Egyptians couldn’t drink the water.
But God put in details that contradict this theory:
Notice that not only the water in the river, but even the water in “vessels of wood and stone” (vs. 19) AKA the water-pitchers and stored water in people’s houses also turned to blood (according to God Himself!).
Then Egyptians dug wells, and God allowed them to get water.
Crossing the Red Sea
Exodus 14 gives us the account of the Hebrew people crossing the Red Sea. God had rained such brutal plagues on the Egyptians that they were eager to set the Israelites free…but then Pharaoh and his officials had a change of heart.
They caught up with the Israelites at the Red Sea:
The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward.Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground.
“And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his horsemen. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.”
Then the angel of God who was going before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them, coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. And there was the cloud and the darkness. And it lit up the night without one coming near the other all night.
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.
And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.
The Egyptians pursued and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.
And in the morning watch the LORD in the pillar of fire and of cloud looked down on the Egyptian forces and threw the Egyptian forces into a panic, clogging their chariot wheels so that they drove heavily. And the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from before Israel, for the LORD fights for them against the Egyptians.”
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen.”
So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal course when the morning appeared. And as the Egyptians fled into it, the LORD threw the Egyptians into the midst of the sea. The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen; of all the host of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea, not one of them remained.
But the people of Israel walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.
Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. (Ex. 14:15-30)
Does this really need explaining?
Well, some people think so. Some people will tell you that it happened to be low tide or something, and so the Israelites actually walked through shallow water.
God knows better.
God actually told us explicitly that the Hebrew people walked on “dry ground” – with a wall of water on either hand.
And when the Egyptian army chased them into the sea, God made their chariots stick in the mud, and buried them with the waters.
Yeah, I know I literally just repeated what God said…but who’s complaining?
If the Red Sea was only a couple feet deep…then why did God say “walls of water”? How were the Israelites able to cross on “dry land”?
And how on earth did the Egyptians all drown – so that their bodies washed up on the shores – if they could have just waded after the Hebrews and re-enslaved them?
God meant what He said…and if you believe what He said, you have to accept what He meant.
The Wine at Cana
This example comes from John 2:
On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples.
When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”
And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.”
His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.
Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim.
And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it.
When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.”
This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. (vv. 1-11)
This “explanation” comes from Lloyd C. Douglas’ novel The Robe.
He suggests that the servants took water from vessels that used to hold wine (and so might have a residual taste) and then when everyone at the party tasted the wine, the magnetism of Jesus’ personality made them think it was really wine.
I call baloney-sauce!
Notice that our eyewitness account says the water came from “jars [used] for the Jewish rites of purification” — I don’t think they’d be storing wine in there at any time!
You’ll also notice that Jesus told the servants to take the wine in to the master of ceremonies…which implies (although it doesn’t explicitly say) that He Himself was in another room at the time.
The master of the feast didn’t know anything about where it came from – but thought it was the best wine he had ever tasted.
I doubt he would mistake water with a little lemon slice for real lemonade, regardless what scintillating conversation he was listening to.
God judged the world by sending a great flood of water, so that only Noah, his family, and the animals they took with them on the preservation-craft were safe.
Some people insist that this was a “local” flood. But that is very silly on the face of it.
Check out Genesis 7:
In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights.
On the very same day Noah and his sons, Shem and Ham and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them entered the ark, they and every beast, according to its kind, and all the livestock according to their kinds, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, according to its kind, and every bird, according to its kind, every winged creature.
They went into the ark with Noah, two and two of all flesh in which there was the breath of life. And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him. And the LORD shut him in.
The flood continued forty days on the earth. The waters increased and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. The waters prevailed and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the face of the waters.
And the waters prevailed so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered. The waters prevailed above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep.
And the waters prevailed on the earth 150 days. (vv. 11-20, 24)
Also Genesis 8:
Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” (vv. 20-22)
We know this was a global flood…
…because it covered the tops of all the mountains – as evidenced by fossils of fish found on high mountain peaks!
Also, God promised He would never repeat this show. He would never “strike down every living creature as I have done.”
There have been plenty of local floods, but nothing approaching the world-wide devastation that Noah saw. Either the Bible is right…or God broke His promise.
You do believe what God says, right?
Feeding the Thousands
We all know these stories, right?
The original accounts are in Matthew 14 and 15, Mark 6 and 8, Luke 9, and John 6.
For simplicity, let’s look at Mark:
And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. Send [the crowd] away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”
But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat?”
And he said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.”
And when they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.”
Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. And taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all.
And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish.
And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men. (Mark 6:35-44)
In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, [Jesus] called his disciples to him and said to them, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.”
And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?”
And he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?”
They said, “Seven.”
And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. And they had a few small fish. And having blessed them, he said that these also should be set before them.
And they ate and were satisfied. And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full.
And there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. (Mark 8:1-9)
Here come “some people”—
What do they say about this passage?
They say that when the people saw Jesus sharing his sack lunch with all the hungry people (only John mentions that a little boy brought the food – John 6:8-9)…then they all decided to pull out their lunches and share, too.
Because SHARING. (And hiding your snacks even though you’re hungry because someone else might want some…)
I think Jesus said it best:
And Jesus, aware of this, said to [the disciples], “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened?
“Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?”
They said to him, “Twelve.”
“And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?”
And they said to him, “Seven.”
And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?” (Mark 8:17-21)
Do you not yet understand?
The crowd of 5,000 was in a desolate place, and it was late in the day (so, dinnertime, not lunchtime – their sack lunch was already eaten, I guess).
The crowd of 4,000 was also in a “desolate place,” and had been listening to Jesus for three days. Chances are that – if they had packed some supplies for camping out, they were running low. Jesus even worries that they’ll pass out from hunger before they get home!
Notice how many left-overs they picked up! I don’t have the linguistic skills to prove whether it was a large or small basket…but just look at the number of them!
That’s way more food than you’d expect from some people hoarding rolls up their sleeves.
“Do you not yet understand?”
Jesus is literally teaching them that He is God.
When He’s done with the crowd in Mark 8, He takes the disciples and jumps in a boat. The disciples are worried because they didn’t bring bread – even though Jesus literally just created baked bread and cooked fish out of thin air.
Jesus warns them about “the leaven/yeast of the Pharisees” (v. 15) – meaning their wicked teachings which are contrary to God. Just like it’s “not what goes into a man, but what comes out, that makes him unclean,” it’s not physical food we should be worried about.
We need to be eating the spiritual bread of Jesus and His word…because when we do that, we will find we have just what we need physically.
Also…y’know…Jesus literally has the power to make literally anything…since He did literally make everything (Hebrews).
Why Do People Do This?
Maybe you were basically familiar with all my examples already…and you just wonder why anyone would do this?
Maybe you’re a “God said it, I believe it, that settles it” kind of person. It must seem strange that people make up reasons and little explanations to cut the metaphysical part out of the Biblical miracles.
Why would they want to?
First group: they don’t actually believe it.
These people may call themselves Christians, go to church, or teach in a seminary…but they prove by their actions that they don’t really believe what Jesus said.
They think “moral lessons” are the true heart of Christianity, and that teaching people to be “nice,” to share, and to “look on the bright side” is all there is to it.
Actually…that’s a very sad, pathetic view of the world.
Second group: well-meaning but clumsy.
These people want to make the Bible more “believable” – perhaps more “acceptable.” They might be embarrassed by the flame-strikes and the rising-from-the-deads, and they want to explain the “Bible stories” to their kids without looking like they don’t know physics exists.
They don’t seem to understand that – of course physics exists, God just out-ranks it. ‘Cause He made it. ‘Cause He’s awesome.
These people don’t realize it, but they’re really saying:
“Well – this is what really happened. Don’t believe the physical world obeyed God to part rivers, cover the desert with bread, rain fire on wicked cities and people, devour Herod with worms, shrivel fig trees, make a day last more than 24 hours, and return life to people who stopped breathing days before.
“But totally believe you should obey God to forgive your enemies, deny yourself lusting over the opposite sex, tell the truth in all circumstances, not let food control you, and practice kindness to everyone regardless of how annoying they are.”
The historical accounts in the Bible don’t need us to make excuses for them.
I hope these examples encourage you that the next time someone smart-sounding starts telling you this-or-that “didn’t really happen,” God probably put details into His Word that defies exactly what they’re suggesting!
So get out your Bible, and you can know what the real story is!
Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?
But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.
We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised.
For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. (1 Cor. 15:12-20)
For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.
And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.
For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:16-21)
This post is approved by my spiritual head.
She currently lives somewhere in the American Midwest with her family – including the brother people mistake for her boyfriend.
Subscribe to the mailing list for periodic updates on her latest reading and writing exploits! You’ll also receive a FREE e-copy of her post-apocalyptic adventure novella Soldier.
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.